5 questions to put on your career fair questionnaire for campus recruiting

Nov 11, 2020 - Cat DiStasio

Every recruiter understands the challenges of campus recruiting. Students and recent graduates may not have much professional experience, if any, and may also lack interview skills that help them sell their talents. It’s incumbent on recruiters to know what questions to ask in your career fair questionnaire. The right set of questions will help you gain the most insights into a candidate’s potential job fit in the least amount of time. We don’t recommend racing through interviews to beat the clock, but there are a few key items that should always be part of your campus recruiting interviews. These questions reveal the truths about your candidates that you need to know in order to make the best hiring decisions.

Deciding on interview questions before your recruiting events helps you move through candidates efficiently, and also helps you consistently pose the same questions to each candidate, which reduces the impact of implicit bias on hiring decisions. Planning which questions to ask during a job fair should be a consistent part of your preparation checklist for every recruiting event you host or participate in.

What Questions Should Recruiters Ask at Career Fairs?

These five questions help recruiters get the most out of career fair questionnaires for campus recruiting.

Why do you want to work for us?

This question is deceptively simple and the responses may vary widely. Asking a question like this helps you assess a candidate’s motivation. For instance, a candidate may discuss salary potential or career path opportunities focused on prestige or social standing. Others may highlight a desire to belong to a team and help others. By listening carefully to the response, you may also gain clues on how to engage the candidate throughout the recruiting process, based on their priorities.

That’s not all. The candidate’s response may also reflect whether or how well they searched your organization prior to attending the recruiting event. This gives you insights into the candidate’s general ability to prepare and take proactive steps, important characteristics in determining job fit in many cases.

What do you want to know about the job?

Ideally, every candidate you interview at a campus recruiting event will have some questions for you. Like their responses to the first question above, the questions they ask about your open positions often reveal insights about their personal values. Are they more focused on how they can make a contribution to larger organizational goals? Or are they primarily interested in what they will get out of the experience?

When you respond to these questions, it can be tempting to stick to the specifics the candidate asked about. However, savvy recruiters can use these topics as jumping off points to share other information candidates may be interested in. Use the clues you collected in earlier parts of your conversation to help guide you in sharing things that are important to each candidate.

How do you organize your day?

This question may surprise some job seekers or catch them off guard, since it may not seem directly relevant to an employment opportunity. If that’s the case, you can learn about their personality by the way they handle the unexpected topic. Their response will speak volumes about time management and prioritization skills. Look for answers that show candidates can evaluate their daily priorities, goals, and responsibilities, and can plan accordingly. You might also ask follow-up questions about what they do when things don’t go according to their plan, to gain further insights into their ability to adapt to change and respond to factors outside of their control.

What do you do when you discover you’ve made a mistake at work?

We’re all human, and thus we all make mistakes. Even so, many people don’t like to talk about their mistakes (or, in some cases, even admit to making them at all). The ability to discuss mistakes in general is a desirable trait in entry-level employees for so many reasons, and this interview question will help you assess that comfort level. A candidate’s responses also illustrates their problem-solving and communication skills, and the conversation you have around mistakes reveals insights into a candidate’s emotional intelligence.

What in your life has prepared you the most for this role?

When recruiting candidates who may not have much, if any, professional experience, it’s always important to learn about the other life experiences that may have helped them build the skills your organization needs. This question gives candidates a chance to talk about life events, internships, or other experiences that have shaped who they are. A candidate’s response to this question also reveals what they think it will take to be successful in the role you’re recruiting for, which gives your further insights into their critical thinking skills and ability to apply their experience to current and future circumstances.

Ask and answer all the right questions

By using a career fair questionnaire designed to reveal what you really want to know about your campus recruiting candidates, recruiters can make better informed decisions about moving candidates through the recruiting process. Getting to know candidates’ motivations, priorities, soft skills, and dispositions helps you identify who will be the best fit for your organization’s culture as well as the individual role you’re trying to fill. Remember that you have as much to learn from the way candidates answer your questions as you do from the questions they ask you, so evaluate the entire conversation when you think about how to rank a candidate and whether or not to advance them to the next step in the recruiting process.