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Preparing for a careers fair

Tips and advice to help you prepare for careers fairs and get the most out of them.

How to prepare

  • Think about the career options that suit you best
  • Find out which employers will be at the fair and decide who you'd most like to speak to
  • Research your preferred companies’ websites and consider what you want to say and ask

A programme listing attending employers will be available on the Events page in MyFuture. Find out more and access MyFuture. If you need help thinking about your career options, see MyFuture resources or drop into the Careers Centre.

Be prepared, do some research into companies that you would like to work for. Be confident and inquisitive, ask questions.

Mark, Principal LCC & MRMS Business Analyst, Rolls Royce

Careers fairs are for all students

Many employers look for students from any discipline because they are interested in the skills and attributes you have gained from your degree and your extra-curricular activities – not necessarily the degree content. It is a myth that careers fairs are only for engineering and business students. If you can’t find any employers that could meet your career needs, come to the Careers Centre and we will help you identify relevant employers and appropriate job-search strategies.

Employers to speak to

You can speak to any company that interests you. Be open-minded and consider learning about companies you haven’t considered before. Be confident when meeting an employer. Introduce yourself, find out their name and role within the company and ask if they could answer some questions.

Remember that a fair is not an interview but a chance to find out more from people that work for that organisation. They are often recent graduates so ask them about their experiences. If you are prepared you will be in a position to gather more information that may benefit your application.

Tamsyn, Student Recruitment Manager, PricewaterhouseCoopers

Sponsorship for international students

You'll probably want to know if the employer will sponsor you. But don’t make it the first thing you ask. Ask some good questions, impress them with why you want to work there and then ask whether they can sponsor you.

The people you meet are often recent graduates who might not know the regulations around employing overseas graduates. If you can't get the information you need on the day, politely ask for the name and contact details of someone to take your questions to.

Learn about the schemes under which you could apply for employment in the UK. UKCISA explains the options for employment in the UK. You could take some information with you to the fair to help explain your situation to employers.

Company websites and/or job advertisements sometimes state whether the employer accepts applications from international graduates and whether they have any particular schemes for international graduates. Have a look before you attend the fair.

Questions to ask

  • The work: day-to-day activities, highlights and challenges, what new graduates actually do. How will the work change over time?
  • The workplace: culture, location, size of the teams, impending changes.
  • Skills and attributes needed: What exactly are they looking for? What makes a candidate stand out? Where can you draw evidence from to show that you have these skills and attributes?
  • Experience: what sort of experience do they like graduates to have, do you need relevant experience, and do they offer any work experience opportunities?
  • Training and development: how will you be developed as a graduate? Are there opportunities to gain further qualifications?
  • The industry and the business: how much/what are applicants expected to know, where are the best places to look for information, and what are the issues and developments within the industry at the moment?
  • Opportunities to work abroad/use your languages: is this a possibility? When might the opportunity to work overseas arise?
  • Their experiences: ask employers about their experiences working for that organisation, and why they chose this company/role. What do they wish they had known when they were applying for jobs? How much have they used their degree?

Questions to avoid

  • How much can I expect to earn?
  • What does your company do?
  • What can you offer me?
  • Can I have the teddy/pen/chocolate?

What is it you really want to know about the industry or organisation? Take full advantage of the opportunity to speak to people who are doing the work you are interested in. This is a chance for you to find out what the day to day work, lifestyle and culture of the organisation is really like.

Jennifer, Recruiter, McKinsey & Company

Final tips

  • Make notes about your conversations with employers
  • If an employer gives you their contact details, it is an invitation to contact them
  • Ask about the work and the company and avoid seeming overly interested in the salary and benefits
  • Always be professional


If you have any questions, please contact us.

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