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Alexandra Sunderland
Alexandra Sunderland

Posted on • Originally published at Medium

50 Questions to be ready to answer when you’re on booth duty at a career fair

The start of the new year means that summer is just around the corner, and with that comes intern season! At we host a few engineering interns from May to August every year, and in January we start to ramp up our recruiting efforts by attending career fairs. Hosting a booth at a career fair is a great way for companies to meet a lot of candidates in a way that online applications can’t compare, but it can be daunting when on your first-ever booth duty time slot someone asks you “What is your typical day like?”. Suddenly time freezes, and you start questioning everything you’ve done in the last few days and try to find a way to explain that one time you spent an afternoon taking pictures of the office succulent friends because it doesn’t sound “professional”.

Four succulents with Xbox controllers
We really did do an office succulent friends photoshoot 🌵📷

Having been to dozens of career fairs over the years at conferences and schools across North America, and having run booths for startups and post-IPO companies alike, I’ve been caught off guard by all sorts of questions from the thousands of people I’ve met. Some of the hardest questions to answer are the ones that are opinion-based: “What do you most enjoy about your job”, and “What’s something you found challenging in the last year” are oddly similar to interview questions, and it can be difficult to come up with answers on the spot that make both you and the company look good.

In preparation for the upcoming career fairs we’ll be attending, I put together a list of commonly asked questions so that everyone can get a head start on answering them before the events — and avoid being stuck in front of someone when you can’t remember what projects your team has on the go.

The list below is in no particular order and has been generalized to fit most companies. Whether you’re representing a company at a booth for the first time or putting together your own list of questions for your team to prepare, I hope that these questions give you reassurance that you’ll be able to get through booth duty without worry.

Tip: Create a living document with these questions and outlines to your company-specific answers. I use Fellow to add the questions to a note that’s linked to the career fair calendar event, so that everyone going can find the document easily.

50 top questions to be ready for

  1. How do I apply?
  2. Are you hiring full-time/part-time right now?
  3. Are you hiring for [role that isn’t listed on careers page] positions?
  4. How many people are you hiring?
  5. Do you hire interns in the non-summer terms?
  6. What is the interview process?
  7. How long does it take from application to hiring decision?
  8. Do I need to know [technology/skill] for the interview?
  9. Do I need to know [something listed as a job requirement] specifically?
  10. What skills are you looking for?
  11. Do you hire first year students / entry level?
  12. Do I need to have [x] education to apply?
  13. Can I work part time during the school year?
  14. When will I hear back about whether I’m getting an interview?
  15. Will I hear back from you if I’m rejected?
  16. Who can I contact if I have more questions?
  17. What are your company’s diversity initiatives?
  18. How much do you pay?
  19. How much do you make?
  20. What kinds of projects do you give interns/new hires?
  21. Will I be working alone or as a part of a team?
  22. Are there mentorship opportunities?
  23. Do you need to know [spoken language]?
  24. What does someone in your position do in a typical day?
  25. What’s the company/team’s culture like?
  26. If you could, what would you change about the company?
  27. What are some perks of working at [company]?
  28. Why should I work at [company] instead of [company you haven’t heard of]?
  29. Does [company] offer job-related training?
  30. What’s the tech stack / what tools are commonly used on the job?
  31. What projects are being worked on right now?
  32. Why is [company] better than [competitor]?
  33. What does [company] do?
  34. Startups are sketchy, how do I know you’ll still be around in a year?
  35. Enterprise companies are bureaucratic, how do I know I’ll be able to do meaningful work?
  36. How big is the company? How many offices are there?
  37. What’s the breakdown of roles?
  38. What does the management structure look like?
  39. Are you profitable? What’s your revenue strategy?
  40. Who are the main investors in the company?
  41. Why should people care about your product?
  42. What are some challenges the company is currently facing?
  43. What do you like about working there?
  44. What’s your least favourite part about working there?
  45. Why did you choose to work there?
  46. What do you think the company will be like in 2/5/10 years?
  47. Can I give you some feedback on your company’s product?
  48. What are the opportunities for advancement?
  49. Can I connect with you on LinkedIn?
  50. What was the interview process like for you?

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