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.

How to Prepare Your Virtual Career Fair “Elevator Pitch”

Learn how to create the perfect elevator pitch ahead of your next career fair – with examples!

Guidance Provided By: The Handshake Team

So, you’ve registered for the DePaul Winter virtual career fair. You’ve scoped out the attending employers, registered for a few group and 1:1 sessions, and you’re feeling excited about the connections you’re about to make. You’ve got your outfit picked out, you’ve chatted with your roommates about keeping quiet and avoiding distractions during the fair, and you’re hopeful that you’ll make a good impression and find the job or internship you’re dreaming about. So, what else can you do to prepare? It’s time to work on your elevator pitch.

One of the best things you can do ahead of any virtual event is to prepare a few talking points to succinctly make the case about why you’re a great candidate. The employers that you meet with want to learn more about you! So think of a short overview about your background, studies, and career goals. Practice with a friend or family member ahead of the virtual fair so you’re ready when it’s time to introduce yourself to a recruiter.

Ahead, read our tips for how to prepare an elevator pitch.

What is an elevator pitch?

An elevator pitch is essentially a short and sweet synopsis about yourself for a prospective employer. It’s called an elevator pitch because it’s meant to be brief enough to deliver convincingly during a quick elevator ride to your floor.

How long should my pitch be?

Think about the length of your average elevator ride. Not long, right? It’s a best practice to keep your elevator pitch to a minute or less! The key to an impactful elevator pitch is to stay short and sweet, avoid rambling, and prioritize truly pertinent information.

What should I include in my elevator pitch?

Focus on the skills and qualifications that’ll make you uniquely appealing to your audience. Give some top-level bullet points about what makes you an awesome candidate! 

  • Your field of study
  • A couple relevant skills or certifications
  • A nod to relevant experience 

Your elevator pitch should also touch on your professional goals: if you hope to find a job at a mission-driven startup, or want to relocate to Denver, or aim for a role where you’ll flex your coding skills, mention these. 

If you plan to meet with a few different types of employers during your career fair, don’t be afraid to tailor your pitch to different industries and roles. For example, your proficiency in Photoshop might not be relevant to a corporate sales role, but it is for marketing! Be aware of your audience. 

How to deliver an elevator pitch

When it comes to your elevator pitch, practice makes perfect. You might feel silly running through a 30-second spiel about yourself, but becoming confident in your delivery can make a huge difference when you’re face-to-face with a recruiter! Aim for your pitch to be brief, persuasive, and confident—not boastful. Ask a trusted friend or family member to run through your pitch with you a few times, give constructive feedback, and help you nail it! 

How should I wrap up after my pitch?

Typically, it’s a best practice to have a business card or a copy of your resume to hand to somebody after delivering your IRL elevator pitch during a career fair. However, since you’ll be meeting recruiters during virtual fairs, have a link to your Handshake profile handy to send via chat! If relevant, you can also share a digital portfolio during this time.

Elevator pitch examples:

  • “I’m Brinton and I just graduated DePaul University with a degree in English! I’ve worked as a freelance writer for lifestyle publications like Bustle for the past two years, and now I’m looking to grow as a full-time reporter in the entertainment, travel, or breaking news space. I’m proficient in Photoshop, certified in Google Analytics, and have experience managing social media channels for small businesses.”
  • “I’m Luke, and I’m a software engineer with a background working with high-growth e-commerce startups in the Chicago area. However, now I am looking for an opportunity that will bring me closer to my family and friends in Raleigh. I specialize in iOS and have four years of experience writing C++ code in a POSIX environment.”
  • “I’m Rey, and I’m a rising senior at DePaul University. I’m studying finance and spent last summer as an analyst for Goldman Sachs, where I focused mainly on comparative financial performance analysis. Now that I’m graduating in June, I’m hoping to find a full-time role as an investment banking analyst.”