Career Fairs: Top 10 Student Questions – Answered

The University of Missouri campus is gearing up for a series of career fairs over the next few weeks! Here are your answers to the Top 10 career fair related questions.

1. Should I stand in a long line …and why are there long lines? Most events have large crowds of students so I would suggest having a strategy to best manage your time: research who is coming and what they are recruiting for. This information should appear on HireMizzouTigers and/or the career office website. Then create a ranked list of employers that you want to speak. Longer lines often occur with larger companies with name recognition. Consider smaller and lesser known firms and keep your mind open to possibilities!

2. What do I do once I arrive?
Before jumping in line, first walk around the site to see where your favored employers are located and then casually listen to what recruiters are asking students. If you can subtly grab some literature or business cards, without interrupting, do that as well. This way you know what to expect and gain some confidence

3. What do I say to recruiters?
Be prepared to make a brief introduction sharing your name, class year, major and possible career interests. Smile, shake hands and make good eye contact. Then ask interesting questions that show you have done your homework. Instead of “What kind of internships do you offer?” you could say “I have an interest in Marketing and see you have two internships in Marketing and PR. Could you explain more about those positions and the type of student you are looking to hire?

4. Why don’t employers take resumes?
A lot of employers require online applications as part of their HR policy. Candidate information is all managed digitally using smart technology that carefully tracks all applicant information. Don’t be upset or offended if companies don’t accept them. (And be aware that some do so out of courtesy but throw them away). Apply in the manner the recruiters tell you to do so – following instructions is a simple but critical step on your application journey!

5. Is it really worth going?
Yes!  Nothing can replace the value of a positive first impression and meaningful personal connection that can lead to a longer-term relationship. I know of many students who made key contacts at fairs and learned of new job leads or had their application expedited because of the connection. And even if you don’t get an offer, you can get invaluable information about a company, a position, and feedback about your resume and job prospects

6. What is “business professional attire mean (a.k.a. What should I wear?)
Career fairs are formal events so wear a business suit (that could be a pant or skirt suit for women). You can see more about appropriate attire on our Dress for Success Infographic.  If you don’t have a business suit consider wearing a blazer with khakis or a skirt. You can also borrow professional attire from Truman’s Closet, a free service for all Mizzou students

7. How do I prepare?
Go to or the sponsoring career office website to see the full list of participating employers and available positions. Search the company website to learn more about their mission and services. You can also go the Employment or Careers portion of their site to discover details about job vacancies, benefits and company culture. And oftentimes you can find web pages devoted specifically to college students.

8. What’s the secret to success?
It might seem cheesy but simply be yourself! Being yourself means you need to know a bit about who you are: your strengths, your personal attributes, your career goals. You may not have a specific job title in mind (Senior Youth Specialist) but you should be able to express things you are excited about (advocating for youth). Doing some self-reflection is an important part of your career fair preparation

9. What can doom my chances?
Employers often categorize two kinds of behaviors as major turnoffs: lack of professionalism and distracted candidates. If you are chewing gum, wearing inappropriate clothing, asking obvious questions, or are socially awkward or rude, you have pretty much sealed your fate. That is also true of distracted candidates that are focused on their phone or conversation with their friend

10. What do I do after the career fair?
Follow up!  After the career fair do what you were asked to whether that’s uploading your resume, attending an info session or sending an email.  Employers often complain to me that students simply don’t follow through on what they have been asked to do. Also, it is always a great idea to send a thank you reminding the recruiter who you are and politely thanking them for their time. This polite gesture can go a long way!