Open Interview and Hiring Event: How to Prepare and Stand Out

It takes a special set of skills to succeed at an open interview and hiring event. Sometimes referred to as career expos, job fairs or recruiting events, they require special preparation. In this article, you’ll learn how to stand out at an open interview and hiring event so you can get your next job.

What is an open interview and hiring event?

An open interview and hiring event is an event held by recruiters, employers or universities that offers interviews on the spot. Companies often hold or attend such events when they are hiring for a variety of positions, at a range of times when interested applicants can attend.

Open hiring events are a great time to meet potential employers face to face. You can often move directly from the application to the interview phase, and may even receive an offer on the spot, cutting down on the wait time in your job search significantly.

At an open interview event, you are likely to be in a pool of applicants. You may be applying for the same job, but the company could very likely be hiring to fill a number of roles, so don’t be overwhelmed about the competition. Open interviews may be held in a designated meeting room or at open tables where recruiters and companies can meet informally with applicants. After a successful interview, you may be offered a second interview at the company’s offices or with a specific manager.

How to Prepare and Stand Out for an Open Interview and Hiring Event

Follow these steps to prepare for an open interview and hiring event:

1. Research and prepare in advance

A large part of succeeding at an open hiring event involves preparation. Gather all the information you can in advance, including the time and location of the event, which companies will be there and what jobs they could be hiring for. Make a list of companies you’re particularly interested in, and do some research on them. Gathering basic information will impress the interviewer and show that you are serious about the job.

Additionally, read the event description in advance to understand the process. Some companies may make offers on the spot, while others will treat the event as a preliminary interview. The description may also contain other pertinent information such as necessary certifications or what to bring and wear.

2. Dress appropriately for the jobs you want to be hired for

Dressing the part is critical to making a good first impression. Recruiters will decide on the spot whether they want to interview for a position, so the impression that you make is important. Do your research to determine whether there is a dress code, but in general, business casual is a safe bet. You will be more comfortable if you are slightly overdressed than if you are conspicuously underdressed for the event.

3. Update your resume in advance and bring copies to share

Your interviewer will only have a minute or so to review your resume, so it should be clear, typo-free and attention-grabbing. Review your resume in advance to make sure it is framed appropriately. Tailor it to the position you want and the type of employers you will meet.

Since you will be speaking to recruiters and having cold interviews, bring multiple printed copies of your resume and provide one to every interviewer or recruiter you talk with.

4. Seize your opportunity to network and learn more

Talking with recruiters at the event is how you can get your foot in the door for an open interview. Be ready to speak with company representatives: after all, that is what they are there for. Be professional but let your personality shine through. Be sure to highlight your background and experience in your initial conversations.

5. Be prepared to answer questions about your qualifications and skills

Since your interviewer will not have time to review your resume in detail, they will probably have questions about your background. Be prepared to speak in greater detail than you would at an ordinary interview about what you have done and the specific kind of job you are looking for. The interviewer is likely to ask, especially if they are hiring for different positions.

6. Be prepared to wait for opportunities to meet with hiring managers, employers and recruiters

Because interviews occur on a first-come, first-served basis, you may spend some time waiting. Bring reading material or something to keep yourself occupied, as well as water and snacks–anything you might need to stay energized, comfortable and positive as you wait.

7. Follow up by email to show your interest

Like any interview, it is important to follow up. Your follow-up email is especially important after a hiring event since you will likely only have a brief amount of time to meet with the hiring manager or recruiter. They will likely have met a number of applicants, so your follow-up email can help you stand out.

Get the business card or contact information of everyone you meet at the interview, and send them a thank-you email. In your message, thank the interviewer for their time, stress your continued interest in the role, mention a few details of how your experience aligns with the job description and highlight what makes you uniquely qualified for the job. Also, attach a copy of your resume.