Researching companies – and questions to ask them at the job fair

The guest list has just been posted! Check out the CPCC Job Fair link to find out which companies are scheduled to attend the event being held Thursday March 7. There are three reasons why researching the list and doing further investigating about companies you plan to visit is important.

1. Save you time. You can’t visit every employer at the job fair. With the variety of companies attending, you won’t want to. Take the time to research the companies attending that match your job search needs and goals. You can look for companies according to position type (full-time, part-time, internship, etc.), job category (accounting to writing and everything in between) and degrees sought (certificates, associates, bachelor’s etc.).

Hint: Don’t enter too many search criteria. Search criteria are based on information the companies provide when they register to attend. Searching for companies with too many criteria checked may eliminate potential matches.

2. Learn about the companies attending. When you enter the Grady Cole Center in three weeks, you’ll encounter a sea of companies. By taking the time to research the organizations, you’ll know which tables you’ll want to visit, as well as some information about the companies you’re targeting. By researching the companies, you’ll be ready to engage in conversation when it’s your turn to speak with the recruiter. Company recruiters can tell you all about their organization; but, they prefer to hear what you know and why you’re interested in working for them.

3. Prepare to ask some questions. After learning a bit about the companies you wish to speak with, what questions do you still have? Hint: None isn’t the right answer!

Asking questions shows the recruiter you’ve done your homework and are really interested in learning more about the company.

Questions to ask

What makes a candidate for your positions stand out?

The answer to this question lets you know what skills and qualifications to highlight.

What is the typical career path for employees who start in the position(s) you’re recruiting for?

In addition to learning about promotional opportunities, you’ll show the recruiter you’re interested in long-term employment.

What type of training is offered?

You’ll find out what’s expected of you before your first day and what on-the-job training takes place.

What is the application and interview process like?

This answer lets you know when to expect to hear about a potential interview.

What do you enjoy most about working for this company?

Find out the positives about the organization.

Questions to avoid asking

What does your company do?

If you’re asking this question, it tells the employer you either have  no idea what type of job you’re interested in, or didn’t take the time to learn more about the company.

What are starting salaries?

It’s best to let the employer lead salary-related discussions, which usually take place during interviews. You can learn salary ranges for the occupations through sites like the Occupational Outlook Handbook and

What type of benefits are offered, including vacations and holidays?

Avoid asking about time off before you are involved in the interview process. Again, this topic is best led by the employer at a later time.

Remember, a job fair is an opportunity for brief face-to-face meetings with employers. Don’t monopolize their time. Present your elevator speech (details about this in next week’s blog), ask questions, ask for a business card, confidently shake hands and move on.