1. Ask About a Particular Role
Most people will come up to a table, say hello and give a little spiel about their background, and then ask, “Do you have any open roles?” according to Muse career coach Chelsea Williams, who in a previous position at an asset management firm attended dozens of career fairs to look for talent. “The recruiter will sometimes say, ‘We do. Check the website.’ That’s not a powerful way to maximize your time,” she says. And it tells the recruiter that you didn’t take the time to do any research and you’re not serious about their company.
Don’t be one of those people. You can stand out right away by taking a different approach. Spend some time ahead of the event looking through the list of companies attending, finding a handful that seem most enticing to you, learning what you can about them, identifying any roles that seem like a good fit for you, and ideally submitting your application before you walk in.
That way, you can use your time to delve deeper into anything that wasn’t clear in the job description and to gather information beyond what’s available online, which could help you continue to evaluate whether it’s really the right fit and come in handy later if you move forward in the interview process.
You can try to get right to the heart of the matter by asking, “What are you truly looking for in this role if you could have your ideal candidate?” Morell suggests. Not only can you get the inside scoop on what’s most important to them, but it also “gives you an opportunity to say, – ‘Oh, this is how I’ve done that!’”
Try questions like:
- Is the [open role] you currently have listed more focused on [some function or aspect of the company] or [some other function or aspect of the company]?
- I noticed the job description for [open role] listed [some vague item] in the responsibilities—what do you mean by that?
- In a typical day, what does [open role] do?
- What’s the biggest challenge the new [open role] can help solve?
- Who’s the manager/direct report for this role?
- What’s this team’s biggest goal in the next six months?
- I don’t have a traditional background in [field or function] but I have worked on [something relevant]. Would that be a good fit for [open role]?
- I noticed you didn’t have any [type of role or roles on a specific team] open just now. What kinds of opportunities in those areas do you foresee down the line?