Job Fair Recruiting Tips – Best Practices for Success

August 11, 2017

Looking to do some recruiting? Job fairs are a proven winner for many companies. They’re a brand-builder, for one thing – and they present the opportunity for both the employer and job seeker to sniff each other out before anyone invests a lot of time in filling out applications, rewriting resumes and interviewing a potential bad match.

They also put your company in front of a lot of motivated, active job seekers who are ready to make a change.

Define what positions you are trying to fill.

Sure, it’s nice just to be out there talking to people. But if you’re sending people out there to man the booth, they need some direction. And if it’s you out there manning it, you need to obtain that direction for yourself. This enables whoever is out manning the booth to short-list the hottest prospects, and puts your company in the best position to field good referrals. People know when they’re not a good match for a given opening – but they’ll still refer their friends who may well be perfect matches! Have the job descriptions and qualifications for each position you know you are actively trying to fill with you at the booth.

Research who will be attending.

Many fairs look to attract specific types of job-seekers, such as women, veterans, or workers with a specific skill set and background. Of course, you may be participating in a campus event. Make sure the fair matches your opening and attracts the skill sets you seek. If you’re looking for accountants and attorneys, skip the art school fair, or expect to be recruiting a different population.

Your population will also have a tremendous effect on the materials you bring. If it’s a veterans job fair, your promotional materials may going to be very different from materials you’d bring to an event focused on women.

Be proactive. 

Don’t expect a lot to happen just because you show up. Contact influencers in the area and let them know you’ll be setting up there. Think, professional associations, professors, teachers and colleagues in the area. Ask for referrals and contact them, too, ahead of the fair. The people who are referred to you and who agree to come to your booth or arrange to meet you are your hotlist.

Don’t rely on HR to staff the booth alone.

HR can take the lead on setting up the event and getting all the materials there. But recruiting should be a joint effort. Ideally, you’ll want a manager from the department you’re trying to recruit for there at the event with your HR staffer. This just makes for a much better conversation at the table, because you have someone there who can answer specific, detailed questions about the jobs to be filled – and you have someone there who can ask specific, detailed questions of the potential applicant as well.

Pack your van the day before.

Make a packing list and put it neatly in the van the day before you leave for the job fair. At larger events there is always some confusion and coordination to be done – everything from dealing with traffic to figuring out where to park to where to unload to where your booth or tent is located. And then you have to physically schlep your stuff out to your booth. There’s plenty to do in the morning. Don’t complicate it by failing to prep yourself at least the day before.

Demonstrate your diversity. Your booth personnel and your promotional materials should include people of different ages, sexes and races.

Allow time for printing.

If you are relying on printed materials and you can’t do the printing in house, give yourself plenty of time to get your material from the printer. Call your printer and ask for the turnaround time. Then double it – just in case there’s an error on the proof. Remember: Kinkos is convenient, but expensive.


Unless someone on your team has a disability, stay on your feet. Studies show that sales and marketing personnel are far more effective at engaging with passersby on their feet than they are sitting at chairs. The only time you want to be sitting down is when you’re actively interviewing someone and filling out paperwork with them.

Think carefully about premiums.

Premiums are those little promotional items that advertise your company and brand. The best premiums bring people to your booth. Ideally, you’ll have other people seeing recent visitors to your booth carrying some cool item and asking “where did you get that!?”

On the other hand, you don’t want to break the bank, either. These promotional premiums aren’t free. But a well-chosen, creative premium can really produce some “buzz” around your recruiting booth.

Follow up, follow up, follow up!

Always follow up all quality contacts with a phone call and an email or thank you note. Get them all done that night, or the next day at the latest.

Move quickly on interviewing and hiring. The strongest candidates probably have a lot of nibbles – and by showing up for a job fair, they’re signaling that they’re ready to move. If you don’t move quickly, someone else will snatch up your best prospects. If you’re ready to hire, start scheduling interviews within the week.