Does your college have a career fair coming up? Don’t wait until the last minute. Should you shake hands? What do you say when someone asks, “Tell me a little bit about yourself?”. These are reasonable questions about college career fairs. Fortunately, many people have shared how they successfully navigated these murky waters. Let's start at the beginning.
Know How to Shake Hands.
This might seem like second nature, but surprisingly it can be difficult for many. A good handshake gives a positive impression. There's a great article on Monster.com detailing how to shake hands.
Here's a quick summary:
- Be the first to extend your hand. This shows confidence.
- Make eye contact.
- Scoop your hand into the handshake so that you make palm-to-palm contact.
- Get the grip right. Practice with a friend to make sure you aren't gripping too much or too little.
- Pump only once or twice, then release hands.
Handshake etiquette varies with geography, industry, and culture. One excellent tip is to observe other handshakes at the career fair then make any adjustments necessary.
Know How to Introduce Yourself.
Give the recruiter your first and last name while you are shaking hands. Release hands, then give a 20-second introduction of yourself. Twenty seconds isn't much time, but it's enough to cover the basics:
- Your first and last name
- When you will graduate
- Your degree or major
- End with a specific question about the company.
Customize each introduction with information that you found on the Career Fair Plus App. Asking about a specific job opening is a good strategy.
Here are a couple of good examples:
- Hi! My name is Chris Smith. I'm graduating with a BS in accounting in May. I'd like to know more about your open positions in fraud detection.
- It's good to meet you. I'm Riley Miller. I won't finish my degree in computer science until next year, but I'd like to learn more about the internships listed on your webpage.
Know How to Answer: "Tell me about yourself."
This is a tough question that you will have to answer many times in your career. Recruiters attend several college career fairs, so it's important to stand out from the crowd. This is your opportunity to share your strengths and make a memorable impression, but keep the answer focused on professional job skills. Pamela Skillings always has good interview advice on her Big Interview blog. She writes that a good answer to the "Tell me about yourself" question has three components.
- List professional achievements. You may not have any professional accomplishments yet. That's okay. You can substitute an academic achievement or skip on to the next question. This is not the time to share personal background or experiences.
- Highlight 2-4 things that make you stand out. Are you meticulous? Do you have good problem-solving skills? For more ideas, read this list of 10 Top Employability Skills.
- Explain why you want to work for this particular company. This is your chance to show that your prepared and are genuinely interested. Read the company's blurb on the Career Fair Plus App and their website. What draws you to this company? Maybe it's the satisfaction of helping others at a non-profit. Or you might want to challenge your analytic skills in a management training program. Be ready to give a concise, but specific answer.
Sometimes a recruiter will ask a follow-up question, so be ready to share details about anything you say. It's important to think about these answers before the career fair. Otherwise, you run the risk of your mind blanking out and stumbling through an awkward answer.
Knowing these three things will get you off to a good start as you begin to navigate college career fairs. Dig into all the information on the Career Fair Plus App to learn about the companies and recruiters who will be attending. For more things to know about college career fairs, check out our article: 5 Things to Know Before You Attend a Job Fair.