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.

Do You Have Questions for the Interviewer? You Better

At the end of almost any interview, you will be asked, “Do you have any questions for me?” How you respond to this can make or break the interviewer’s overall impression of you—so make a plan to respond to this prompt wisely.

Here are a few do’s and don’ts to help you develop a strategy for asking questions after the interview:

Do aim to elicit valuable and relevant information from your interviewer that would help you decide if the opportunity would be a good fit, should you be offered the position.

Don’t feel limited to asking only about the specific position you are interviewing for. Aim to learn about the organization’s culture so that you can assess whether you would both feel comfortable and flourish there.

Do ask questions that demonstrate your knowledge of the field, organization, and position.

Don’t ask questions that could be easily answered through research via the organization’s website or other resources. Instead, use the information that you glean from such pre-interview research to demonstrate your knowledge, as advised in the preceding tip.

Do explore how the position at hand might fit into your larger career path. With that said, however, be careful not to suggest that you see this position as a simple stepping-stone. Instead, you might ask about where the last person in the position has moved on to or what skills you can expect to hone in the role.

Don’t inquire about salary, benefits, or perks—you haven’t yet been offered the position, so now is not the time to request this information.

Do come prepared with multiple possible questions and don’t ask those that have already been addressed throughout the course of the interview!

Looking for more guidance on formulating smart questions to ask an interviewer? Check out this article from Business Insider for inspiration.

Tips For Interview Success

Plain and simple: interviews aren’t easy. They are undoubtedly high-stake interactions that can make or break an opportunity for you. You obviously want to make a positive impression with the potential employer, but, more than likely, you’re also battling nervousness. The fact is that interviewing is a skill, and like other skills, you can build your competency through preparation and practice.

Last month, I offered advice for tackling the “What’s your greatest weakness?” question that inevitably finds its way into most interviews. That post took a deep dive into proven strategies for addressing that specific question. This month, I’m excited to share an article I recently wrote for Eye on Psi Chi, a publication for members of the international honor society for psychology students. The piece takes a broader look at interviews in hopes of giving you a more comprehensive guide to preparing for success.

Check out the article online to learn about:

  • What you can expect in each of the four most common types of interviews
  • Actions you should take prior to your interview, including conducting research and developing a clear sense of the skills and characteristics you wish to convey to your interviewers
  • Strategies for answering three commonly asked questions. In this section, I dissect why employers often choose these questions and how you might wish to craft your responses
  • How the STAR method can help you ace behavioral questions
  • And finally, additional pointers on body language and self-presentation that will help you achieve the impression you are aiming to make

As a DePaul student seeking career advice or interview help, you have full access to the university’s Career Center. Schedule an appointment with your advisor today!

How to Talk About Weaknesses in an Interview

“What’s your greatest weakness?”

If you have interviewed for a job or internship, chances are you have been asked this question. In a brief video posted to Forbes’ website, Kathryn Dill provides sage advice on how to handle this question.

Some important themes in her message to take note of include:

Be authentic: It is important to both be aware of your weaknesses and avoid clichés, especially those that are not actually weaknesses (e.g. perfectionism) and can make you seem arrogant.

Be professional: Stick to examples from the workplace. Other formal settings like the classroom, student organizations, or volunteer experiences are OK too.

Be proactive: Select something you have been successful in addressing and share the tactics you have adopted. This approach will allow you to both communicate your problem solving abilities and assure the employer that the weakness will not lead to problems in the workplace.

In my work with advisees, I often share these very same tips. Being able to talk about your weaknesses and how you have addressed them shows that you have a self-awareness that allows for growth. Besides, no one wants to hire someone who cannot recognize their own growing edges, rendering them unteachable and often unpleasant to work alongside.

Being able to talk about your weaknesses and how you have addressed them shows that you have a self-awareness that allows for growth.

In preparation for your interview, take time to reflect on where you have struggled. Select weaknesses that are not vital to the type of position you are applying for as not to raise red flags, and be prepared to talk about how you have succeeded in addressing these weaknesses. I also recommend being prepared to talk about at least 2 or 3 separate weaknesses. Some employers, knowing that you have likely prepared at least one response, may push you to provide additional examples to see how you respond under pressure.

Of course, weaknesses are just one topic you should be prepared to negotiate in an interview. Learn more by meeting with your career advisor or conducting a practice interview with an ASK alumni mentor!