How to Prepare Questions for the Winter Career Fair, With Examples

Tips for developing questions that will help you learn more about employers.

Guidance Provided By: The Handshake Team

Attending DePaul’s upcoming virtual Winter Career Fair (Feb 24) on Handshake will help you get an internship or job as employers focus on hiring students virtually. Virtual career fairs sessions are a great opportunity for you to connect with and learn more about the organizations hiring DePaul students. But how can you stand out to employers and make a great impression? One way is by showing up prepared and having thoughtful questions to ask. Here are some tips for prepping questions, and some examples to help get you started.

Learn about the employer

The first step is to do some research on the employer. Start by reading through their Handshake page, where you’ll get an overview of the organization, see student reviews, and check out the open jobs and internships. Then go through their company website and do an online search for recent news articles, press releases and other relevant information. 

Spending some time before the session to learn more will pay off because it shows the employer your interest in their organization and in getting a job. It’ll also keep you from asking something that is easily found on their Handshake page or website. If you go the extra mile and demonstrate that you’re informed, the employer ambassador will definitely be impressed!

Create a list of questions

Now that you have more information, you can start writing your list of questions. Take time to think about what interests you the most about this employer. What do you want to learn more about? What qualities are important to you in a potential employer? What will help you decide if they are a good fit for you? 

Make a list of your priorities and then fill in questions for each. It’s a good idea to have several questions for each session, in case some are answered by the employer before you have a chance to ask them.

When to ask a question

There are group and one-on-one sessions during virtual career fairs. If you’re attending a group session, make sure to wait for the host to announce that it’s time for questions. Depending on the session, you may have an opportunity to ask your question on video or type it into the chat. One-on-one sessions are an open conversation with the employer, so you should feel free to ask questions as you go. 

Examples of questions

Here are a few examples of questions you can ask during virtual sessions. These are inspiration to help you get started. It’s important to tailor your questions depending on the type of session and your unique interests. 

General employer questions

  • How would you describe the culture of the organization?
  • What is the office environment like? Is it formal or more casual?
  • How does leadership promote diversity and inclusion within the organization? 
  • What support, initiatives, and/or training around diversity and inclusion are available to employees (i.e. employee resource groups, mentorship programs, leadership development)?
  • Are there professional development opportunities?
  • Does the organization encourage employees to pursue advanced degrees? 

Questions about a specific team or job

  • What does success look like in this role? On this team?
  • How would you describe this team? The manager?
  • What are the opportunities for growth in this role? On this team?
  • Do managers encourage innovation and creativity? 
  • How do managers measure success for employees/interns?

Questions for one-on-one sessions

  • What do you like most about working for [employer]?
  • Do you participate in employee resource/social groups?
  • What other teams do you work closely with?
  • What is the best part of your job?
For more tips, check out our guide to attending virtual career fairs.

DePaul Career Center January Programming

Happy New Year! Just as before, the DePaul Career Center is here to help you have a successful and productive year.  

We are excited to share our January 2021 programming schedule below! These regularly scheduled virtual events and workshops will help you stay on top of your career goals, gain new skills and navigate the ever-changing job market.

Our career advisors are also available remotely for one-on-one appointments and tailored advice.

Jan 145 Free Online Certificates

Jan 22: Public Speaking for Scientists

Jan 29: Designing High Impact Presentations



Jan 19: Mapping Your Career Options

Jan 26: Tailoring Your Resume and Cover Letter

Jan 26: Alumni Masterclass: Planning A Pivot


Jan 20: Hospitality

Jan 28: Research Biologist at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Jan 29: Foreign Service Officer

Jan 26: Winter Meet the Firms 

Jan 27: Student Teacher Resume Workshop

Jan 29: 2021 Hospitality Virtual Career Fair

Virtual Career Fairs: What You Need to Know

If you are seeking a new job or internship, check out a Virtual Career Fair! Virtual Career Fairs such as the upcoming DePaul Spring Career Fair provide an opportunity for students and employers to connect in an online environment about job and internship opportunities through video and text chat.

How Do I Prepare?


Research the Companies

Treat a Virtual Career Fair the same way as you would an in-person one, by researching the companies that will be in attendance beforehand. Pay attention to the work that they do, the opportunities available, and the mission statement of the organization. Develop questions for the recruiters based on your research in advance. 

Find a Quiet Space

Log in to a Virtual Career Fair from a quiet place where you’ll be able to stage a professional background. Don’t forget to tell your family and/or roommates that you’re attending a virtual fair, so they don’t accidentally interrupt you. This will help ensure that employers have their attention on you rather than your surroundings.

Tech Double Check

Make sure to test your internet connection prior to attending a Virtual Career Fair by opening up Handshake and CareerEco. We’d recommend using your laptop or computer rather than your phone to avoid tech issues. 

  • Pro-tip: Don’t forget to check the Browser you are using, ensuring that you have Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox installed on your computer. These are the ONLY browsers that will support the chat functions in CareerEco. 

Make (Virtual) Eye Contact

When your focus is elsewhere on the screen during a virtual career fair, it can be seen as unprofessional. Make sure that you keep your eyes on the employer to show your interest and excitement.

FAQs for the DePaul Virtual Spring Career Fair



When is the DePaul Virtual Spring Career Fair
?

Wednesday, May 13th 2020, 3:00pm –  6:00pm CDT
Register at: careereco.com/events/depaul
*please use the same email address you used to register for Handshake*

What steps should I take to prepare?

  1. Create your CareerEco Account. Visit careereco.com/events/depaul to create and confirm your account. Then, complete your profile and sign up for the fair. 
  2. Prepare your documents. Career Advisors are available to help you with your resume. Click here to Schedule an appointment to have yours reviewed before the fair. 
  3. Check your Browser. Ensure you have Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox installed on your computer. These are the ONLY browsers that will support the chat functions in CareerEco. *Use a desktop or laptop for this event* 
  4. Review how CareerEco works: We encourage you to watch the entire CareerEco tutorial to best understand how the career fair will work.

    • Employer Messages: Employers can send you messages in the system, so be sure to check in frequently to make sure you aren’t missing anything. 
    • Review Chat Hours: Employers will have different schedules of availability during the virtual career fair. Know when the employers you are interested in will be available so you don’t miss the opportunity to chat with them.
  5. Dress Professionally: Although this is a virtual fair, employers can request a video chat, so dress just like you would if you were going for an in-person interview. Looking professional helps you get in the right frame of mind to talk with employers and exude confidence in the process.

How do I find job postings?

Once you are registered, log into CareerEco and click the Job Board tab. Job postings will be available from each company with instructions on how to apply. 

How do the chat rooms work?

The virtual fair will be a series of chat rooms.  Each employer will have a chat room (just as each employer has a booth/table at an in-person career fair).  View job postings and general company information in each chat room, and chat with employers in a group.  You can also chat 1:1 with employers via text, audio or video.  

What is a private chat?

Recruiters can invite individuals to a private chat room. There will be a notification next to the recruiters name, participants will be able to accept the chat once opened. Only the recruiter will be able to initiate the private chat room. 

How can I make the most of this virtual fair?

Prepare, research, and be resume ready! Research the companies either on Handshake or CareerEco to see available job postings, express interest before the fair on CareerEco by clicking the blue checkmark next to the company’s name. Prepare to talk about your skills and work experiences. 

How do I stand out at a virtual career fair?

Upload your resume to CareerEco when you set up your account. Companies may begin screening resumes prior to the event and also invite you to visit their specific chat sessions and/or schedule video interviews before, during, or after the event hours.

5 Career Fair Prep Tips

By: Lorne Bobren, Technology & Design Career Community Advisor

The DePaul Career Center hosts several job fairs each year. The companies who attend are eager to learn about your qualifications and why you may be a good fit for their company. Whether you are looking for a full-time job or an internship, here are some tips on how to best prepare for the next fair:

1. Create an action plan

Job fairs at DePaul can have as many as 40-60 companies attend. It’s unrealistic to think you’ll connect with all companies attending, so the best approach is to review the company list on Handshake and make a list of 3-5 target employers. These companies should be your primary focus while attending the fair.

2. Research

One of the worst things you can do at a fair is ask a company, “What positions are you hiring for?” This information is easy to find on Handshake and the company’s website. Once you’ve created your target list of employers, you should review the company’s website, mission, social media, and job openings. This information will let you naturally converse with companies at the fair rather than asking questions that are found online. Show the recruiter you did your homework and that you’re genuinely interested in the company.

3. Have your resume reviewed

Having a polished resume prior to the fair is essential. Some companies may host on-campus interviews a few days after the fair or look to bring in candidates for onsite interviews a few days after the fair. The best way to ensure you’re prepared is by visiting the Career Center prior to the fair to have your resume reviewed.

4. Develop a 30 second pitch

You’ll have limited time to speak with recruiters at job fairs, so it’s best to develop a quick pitch that summarizes your skills and interest in the company. The purpose of an elevator pitch is to create a brief, impactful message that touches on the following key points:

  1. You! Your most important characteristics and interests
  2. What you can offer to the employer and workforce
  3. Your goal in connecting with the individual or company you’re pitching

Think about what qualities you possess that will leave an impression and bundles your strengths, what you can offer, and your intentions.

5. Connect with alumni mentors

DePaul’s ASK network is a great way to calm nerves and relax prior to the attending the fair. Alumni mentors are available before and during the fair to help with crafting your elevator pitch, resume reviews, and tips on how to approach employers.

 

Careers fairs may seem a bit intimidating, but creating an action plan and following through that plan is the best way to enhance your experience!

Job Fairs for Introverts

By: Ellen Barrett, DePaul University women’s and gender studies major ‘17 and peer career advisor

Networking is about finding connections in every corner, and using any opportunity to make the most of those connections. It’s not about walking into a job fair and feeling as if you’re forcing yourself upon employers; networking should feel like a natural process, one in which your curiosity and genuine interests are your best traits. Job fairs are the perfect way to make connections. You may not get the job you want right away, but that’s not the only reason why job fairs are so important.

Remember you are worth their time

Recruiters are at the job fair because they want to talk to you. They know you are a student and don’t expect you to have much professional experience. No matter how inexperienced you may feel, though, you do belong there. Remember, a major reason job fairs are important is because the employers you meet are capable of providing you with invaluable connections.

If you are only going to the fair because you want a specific job being advertised with one company, then you’ll automatically have a major advantage by meeting the employer face-to-face compared to your competition who is sitting at home filling out the same job application. I always recommend students to visit the job fair even if they’re not looking for a job at that moment because you never know whom you’ll meet or what conversations you’ll have.

Creativity engages your audience

Are you a storyteller? Telling a quick story about a positive, related experience you’ve had at work or school is a great tactic for networking, as it shows that you’re able to recognize your skills and accomplishments. For example, “As a communications intern last spring, I developed a marketing strategy that increased our social media following by 200%, which is why I am now interested in pursuing business marketing and learning more about your team’s current projects.” If you don’t have any internship or work experience, you can talk about class projects or coursework instead.

Set small goals to overcome anxiety

Psychologists will tell you that avoidance of a fear only increases anxiety, and this is also true in the case of job fairs. You can begin to overcome your fear of fairs by setting small goals for yourself. Make a goal to meet with 2-3 companies, for example. Know that you should always have some background knowledge about the company before you walk up to their table.

The dreaded elevator pitch

Keep it simple. The employer should know who you are, but also what you are looking to learn from them. Introduce yourself with your name, the degree you are pursuing, and explain why you are interested in their company. You don’t need to go into extensive detail about everything you’ve done and hope to accomplish, but if you’re genuinely enthusiastic about the company, it should show.

Workshop your way to confidence

Use DePaul resources to prepare for the fair. Check out Handshake for upcoming Career Center events, including the workshop, “Maximize Your Job and Internship Fair Experience,” which is usually held the same week as all job and internship fairs and designed to teach you the skills to make you confident when approaching employers.

The final touch

Ask for the recruiter’s business card and send a follow-up thank you email. Reflect on the conversation you had and what stood out to you. Thank them for their time, and show your enthusiasm about their company by mentioning one part of the conversation you found particularly interesting or exciting. An example might be, “I really enjoyed learning about your strategies for creating engaging social media initiatives, as this is a skill I’ve been interested in developing since my experience as a communications intern last spring.” This is a best practice for introverts and extroverts alike.


Meet with a career advisor today, and learn ways to overcome job fair anxiety and gain the confidence you need to have meaningful conversations at your next career event.

Is Your Resume Career Fair Ready? Let’s Find Out

By: Lynn Gibson, Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) mentor and DePaul University marketing graduate

DePaul’s first major career fair of the season is days away—are you ready? Your time with each recruiter will be limited. So, using every moment strategically is a worthy goal. Making a great first impression will “condition” the recruiter to expect a good conversation; so, appropriate attire, good posture, eye contact, a firm handshake and a smile are your first steps toward achieving that goal.

After the introductions, it’s time to get down to business. This is where your resume takes center stage and provides the foundation for answering the one question in every recruiter’s mind: Why should we call you in for an interview?

When anyone looks at a written document, they start at the top. And, just like your “visual” first impression conditions a recruiter, so does what they read first. So, how does your resume create a positive impact that influences recruiters desire to know more? It starts with a compelling summary that highlights your strengths and values.

Here are two before and after summary sections. Can you see the transformations?

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-3-19-15-pm

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-3-22-37-pm

While your summary is the key to getting recruiters’ attention, your bullet points are what reel them in, and what will get you the interview. These points should validate your brand and potential to add value in two ways:

  • They define the scope of responsibilities and the types of challenges you have faced in past experiences.
  • They identify specific accomplishments and achievements.

Here are examples that illustrate ways to make the most impact in the experience section of your resume.

Accounting Intern

Recorded and tracked financial transactions using QuickBooks Software. Wrote checks, made deposits, and prepared monthly bank reconciliations to prevent accounting errors. Helped prepare an annual financial report, enabling a firm to assess its financial status and compute tax obligations. Computed taxes owed and prepared a corporate tax return using Drake Tax Software.

  • Met all deadlines and expectations by accurately completing a wide variety of accounting functions (example of value added)

Staff Accountant (Entry level)

Completed bookkeeping, billing and monthly bank reconciliations for four high-value companies as well as monthly payroll and quarterly employment tax returns for 15 companies. Performed analytical reviews of financial statements to ensure accuracy and prepared tax returns including 1120, 1120S, 1065, 1040, and additional forms for 50+ clients

  • Generated a 10% increase in company revenue by cultivating strong client relationships through outstanding accounting service, professional demeanor and communication skills
  • Successfully won 10+ new clients by demonstrating ability to perform tests of internal controls, identify and resolve issues, and make recommendations to enhance business efficiency
  • Professional Skills: QuickBooks, Excel, individual and corporate tax returns, sales tax, payroll tax, bookkeeping

Allow these examples to guide you as you prepare for upcoming career fairs and fine-tune your resume. Although what is covered in this article is limited, your resources are not! Make sure to contact the Career Center and Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) for resume and interview help before and during your next job fair visit.


Reminder: To connect with Lynn and other ASK mentors like her, visit Handshake!