Notice the tense atmosphere at job fairs. The sweat, the anxiety, the blank mind – we’ve all experienced those. Should it be called the first time jitters? What do we do?

Imagine the job fair as a first time conversation. What happens when two people meet? One person says hi. They ask the other person about their day. The other person responds. Each person emphasizes positive attributes about themselves. Each person works to present a good first impression.

At a job fair, the student greets the employer with a smile and a firm handshake. They present a 30 second pit which includes college major, skills, and interests. Then they ask the employer a few questions about the position. Similar to a first time conversation, the student focuses on making a good impression.

So what do these two interactions have in common?

Confidence. A firm handshake comes as part of the package. This allows employers to recognize who wants the position. A weak, sweaty palm handshake says otherwise. Practice these handshakes with friends and family. Also, stand straight with shoulders back and arms off to the side. It’s imperative to feel and look confident. Believe in yourself. Believe everything will turn out alright and it will. Just relax. Take a few breaths.

Enthusiasm. Show employers interest in the position. Why show up to their area otherwise? Think about admirable qualities the company exhibits: location, awards and recognition, field, etc. Let them know you want the position. Try to take some notes on information mentioned. The notes help later when deciding positions to apply for. Always simile! Present an image of someone with genuine interest. It helps lighten the mood. Also, watch the tone. Please, don’t talk on a monotone fashion. It sounds boring and dull. Instead, use variations in the voice to maintain interest.

Most of all have a list of 5 questions to ask the employer. There’s nothing wrong with using career service generated questions. Still, prepare some original yet professional questions from the research. It shows both interest and knowledge – plus, it keeps the experience from getting too generic. With this in mind, the confidence ultimately lies within. Good luck at the job fair. Display that inner confidence and have fun.

Here are some career service websites for job fair questions:
GMU Career Services
Questions to Ask at Career and Job Fairs

Brooke Jones is an NSCS member majoring in English and History at George Mason University. She enjoys reading Jane Austen, fantasy, and science fiction books. In her free time, she can be found at the Center for the Arts enjoying performances, such as operas, theatrical acting, and even ballets. She’s also a part of Alpha Lambda Delta honor society and Film Society.