Skip to main content

Tips for Success at the Boise State Career Fair

Review Tips for Success

Connecting with Candidates

Career Services works hard to properly educate and prepare students for a career fair. Despite that, most students have little professional networking experience, and many are intimidated by the thought of approaching and starting a conversation with a stranger. It can be helpful to remember that students may be inexperienced and nervous, while leveraging YOUR experience and confidence to connect with a broad audience and have meaningful conversations with prospective candidates. Below are a few tips that may help you be successful at Boise State Career Fairs. 

Staff Selection

  • Your selection of WHO will represent your organization at the event, as well as how they interact with students, will both play a critical role in your success. It’s people, not the display, that candidates will remember.
  • It’s a good idea to send at least 2 people. This not only allows you the option of speaking with more than one student at once when necessary, but also provides diverse perspectives for the prospective candidates, and, of course, allows staff to take breaks without leaving your booth unattended.
  • Select staff who are highly knowledgeable about the types of positions open to interns or new grads AND the organization as a whole. High quality candidates look for in-depth information about both the finer points of the role, and how the position fits into the larger organization.
  • Select staff whose knowledge base and strengths compliment each other. For example, if you’re recruiting for a particular position, it may be helpful to have someone who currently holds that position in attendance, along with a general recruiter or HR staff.

Interacting with Students

  • Stand, don’t sit, at your booth. This little detail can make a big difference to students in how engaged you seem. Keep in mind that because the prospective candidate will be standing, it will be difficult to have a meaningful conversation if you are seated behind the table.
  • Remember that students are likely to feel uncomfortable approaching a stranger and striking up conversation, so take that pressure off by being approachable and helping to facilitate the conversation. Ask lots of questions to help move the conversation forward.
  • Students are potentially long-term leads; don’t expect an immediate “sale.” Candidates may get turned off if you try a “hard sell” with them.
  • We tell student to think of the career fair as a networking event, and we encourage employers to do the same. All conversations and connections can be valuable. DON’T turn away students because they’re interested in a role within your organization other than the one you’re there to recruit for, or because they’re not graduating yet, etc.
  • Wear name tags prominently – this is helpful for students, just like students’ name tags are helpful for you.
  • Give out your contact information and encourage students to follow up with you. This extra level of approachability can go a long way.

Raising Your Brand Awareness on Campus

  • One of the biggest complaints we hear from students is that a representative simply told them to go apply online, and they didn’t feel like the representative was willing to really interact with them or provide anything they couldn’t have gotten from the company’s website. Remember, raising brand awareness on campus takes more than just being present, it’s about making a positive impression on every student you have the opportunity to interact with, whether they are the right fit for your organization or not.
  • If a student isn’t the right fit for you, refer them to someone who might be. If you make a positive impression, you will have achieved positive brand awareness, and that student may refer others to you.
  • If a student is interested in a position within your organization outside your area of expertise, offer to connect them with a more appropriate person in your organization.

Preparing for the Fair

  • Establish clear goals for the event and focus on strategies that will help you achieve those goals.
  • Anticipate problems before the event and be prepared for anything (i.e., computer problems, need electrical extension cords, etc.).
  • Take advantage of Early Set-Up the day before the event.  Often, the most motivated students are waiting at the door and you don’t want to be unpacking boxes when they walk by. 

Your Display

  • While a visually engaging table display is helpful in attracting students’ attention, remember that it is simply a stage for information exchange – you are the focus, not your display.
  • While we teach students to research the companies attending the fair ahead of time, it’s possible that highly qualified students may have overlooked your company in their initial research. Therefore, it is helpful for your visual message to give even a casual observer a clear idea of what you do.

Literature and Materials

  • Brochure, flyers, job descriptions, and other literature should be a supplement to conversation rather than a replacement for all or parts of the conversation. Use them strategically to help facilitate conversation or to help students remember some of the details of your discussion later. Try to avoid overloading the student with more paper than is necessary.
  • Bring something that includes contact information or information on how the student should follow up. Business cards or something with your name and contact info is preferable, as it helps the student remember you and makes you seem more approachable.
  • While video or multimedia materials can seem like a good way to draw students to your booth, keep in mind that the room will be noisy, and space around your table will be limited. We recommend you focus on having meaningful conversations. If you have a great video to share, mention it in your conversation and provide the student with the link to watch it later.

After the Fair

  • Respond to all inquiries personally as soon as you can.  It will reinforce your good image and allow you to “strike while the iron is hot.”
  • Arrange for On-Campus Interviews to interview your quality group of prospective candidates gleaned from the Career Fair.  For more information, contact Emily Davies, Associate Director of Employer and Alumni Relations, at (208) 426-2157 or