On Campus Recruiting 101: What to Expect

College career fairs are excellent opportunities to get a sneak peek at the most talented up-and-coming members of the workforce, and many companies use these events to find excellent candidates for in-school interning opportunities and entry-level positions.

If you’re heading to a college recruiting event, here are four things you can expect from the experience, the students and the other recruiters in attendance:

Students will be students

Except for the rare polished job seeker, most college students haven’t fully come into their potential as interviewers. Have a few questions on hand to draw them out from the answers they researched online. You can get more impromptu answers from questions such as, “If you could be a superhero and have any power, what power would you have and why?” A random question like this will give the student the opportunity to show off a unique creative ability or ability to think on their feet..

Focus on questions that will really help them distinguish themselves from other candidates, such as “If you were in charge of your campus, what action or issue would you take on as college president and why?” An environment-specific question such as this will allow the student to display his or her critical thought processes around a relevant topic.

Your employer brand matters

Recruiting on campus is a great way to find interns and entry-level employees, and it’s also an opportunity for candidates to assess you and your employer. Your employer brand will linger long after the sting of not getting a call-back fades away, so implement some memorable branding activities to help all potential students see the best in your company.

This slide share from AfterCollege presents some great ideas, including refining your information sessions to be professional and attractive, speaking with respect and interest to everyone you meet and connecting directly with influential faculty, graduate assistants and teaching assistants who communicate the most with students.

You’ll need reinforcements (and snacks)

Depending on the size of the career fair, you may be representing your organization to thousands of students over the course of several hours. You don’t want to be the only person representing your company when there’s a line of 30 candidates waiting patiently to speak with you; not only will you be tempted to shorten each meeting time, but it will be difficult to record answers or get a good vibe from candidates who would otherwise stick out. Bring enough staff, food and drink that you can get through these hours with reasonable breaks to refresh yourself.

You’re there for more than the students

While student interviewing is a primary goal of on-campus recruiting, it’s not your only goal. Before, during and after the career fair reach out and engage with other companies and universities via email and phone calls. Then use the career fair as an opportunity to touch base with industry contacts, former coworkers and coworkers who are there to recruit, too.

These contacts can help you (and you can help them) in a number of ways. You’ll be refreshing your network of candidate referrals so that if you miss a candidate another company may introduce you to them, you’ll be in the know about upcoming changes and schedules for the career fair, and you’ll represent your employer brand to lateral stakeholders in other industries and at the university level.

Are you heading to a on-campus recruiting event? What other questions do you have about what you can expect?