As you start out your day at the career fair, there are a few things to remember if you are going to start out on the right foot.
Arrive early: This gives you a few advantages. Not only do you have time to review your plan for any changes you need to make, but you also reach the Recruiters while they are still fresh and eager to meet new people.
Check for new additions: It is not unusual for companies to join a fair at the last minute and so it is important to check and see if you need to update your plan for the day. Remember that time is at a premium, so you may want reprioritize your day, as well!
Wear a nametag: Make it clear and legible and make sure it is on your right lapel so that when you shake hands, it is right in the Recruiter's line of sight.
Remember first impressions: You know you only have one chance to make a first impression, so it is important to keep in mind what a strong first impression will look like:
Don't just get in line: Take the opportunity to approach the side of the table where information about the employer can be found. Stand a polite distance away and review the information and take the chance to listen to what the Recruiter is saying to and asking the current interviewee.
Don't look bored or impatient: The Recruiter will be paying attention to the people in the line as well as the person they are talking to. You say a lot about yourself in how you handle idle time.
Talk to your fellow candidates: The question, "What are you looking to get out of today's job fair?" is a perfect opening to a conversation. Not only do you get practice talking to people you don't know (which you'll be doing a lot over the course of the day), but you make new contacts and potentially build your professional network.
Be polite: When your opportunity comes, approach and confidently introduce yourself. "Please", "thank you", and "you're welcome" can go a long way toward demonstrating professionalism. Be sure to use the Recruiter's name when speaking with him or her, and never interrupt a conversation that is already in process.
Don't overstay your welcome: Remember that both you and the company representative have many people to meet today. Don't cut a good interview / conversation short but don't linger when it is clear that you or they are ready to move on.
Be open to learning: You may find as you discuss your background with Recruiters and colleagues that there are areas of your skill set that need expanding or freshening. Remember, this is not a setback or an attack; see it as an opportunity to make yourself more attractive to employers!
Prepare yourself for a follow-up: It is difficult to follow up if you cannot remember your contact's name! Get the Recruiter's card or mentally revisit his or her name before leaving the table; then take a few moments to make some notes about your conversation while it is still fresh in your mind.
Ask about the next steps: A company is almost never looking to make an offer at a career fair, so it is important to know what their next steps will be. This helps you make a plan for when and how to follow up regarding your interest in the company.
Be considerate: You can be sure to stand out in the interviewer's mind if you show some simple consideration. Areas to consider include...