I’ve never been a recruiter, but I have interviewed a ton of people throughout my career. I’ve been a hiring manager for a handful of roles for my team, and I’ve also interviewed people for positions ranging from physical performance coach to software engineer to CFO. Regardless of the role, there is one thing I place a lot of weight on during the interview process. >>> Questions.
More specifically, the strength of a candidate’s questions. Did they come prepared with questions to ask me? Do their questions demonstrate that they have done their research on the company and/or my involvement with the company? Were they actively listening throughout the interview and developing follow-up questions as conversation flowed?
While the upcoming career fair on your college campus is not an interview, it is a pre-interview. This is your opportunity to interact with a lot of recruiters, on one day, in one place. Your goal should be to make the most of it. In order to do so you better be prepared, and ask some quality questions.
Questions will vary depending on your specific situation and understanding of each company you are speaking with. Since this is The Intern Hustle, I’ve rounded up some sample questions below that would be relevant if you’re a student looking to get an internship. Review them, tweak them for the companies you’re targeting and have them on hand during your next career fair.
General Company Questions
These questions are a good way to kick off conversation with a recruiter, because it gets them talking about the company through their lens. You get some insights, and you can gauge people’s enthusiasm for where they work. You can also demonstrate that you’ve done your research by adding some specifics to the questions. I’ve included an example of this in parentheses after the first question below.
- How would you describe the company culture? (On the website there appears to be a healthy mix of work and play, how would you describe the company culture?)
- What is one thing that most people are surprised to learn about [XYZ company]?
- Why do you love working for [XYZ company]?
- What is the number one thing you look at when evaluating a potential hire at your company?
- I’m majoring in [X]. What positions have you seen others excel in at your company with similar education backgrounds to mine?
- How does the company evaluate employee performance, and do you have career development plans that people can track to?
Definitely make sure you are tailoring these questions to what you already know about the company. If the company includes a lot of detailed information about their internship program and process online, don’t ask the recruiters questions about that same information. Instead, use your research and ask for them to expand on, clarify or confirm any information that you are still unsure about.
- Are there specific skills you recommend someone work on obtaining before they begin as an intern with your company?
- I’m interested and will be applying for an internship with your company. What does your interview process consist of and by when do you anticipate making your hiring decisions?
- Are there specific internship application deadlines, or do you accept applications and hire interns on a rolling basis throughout the year?
- Who manages interns at your company? Is it under one coordinator or separate managers for each department?
- What on-boarding and training programs do you have interns participate in?
- How would you describe a typical day for an intern with your company?
- What are some examples of projects that interns at your company get to work on?
- How often do interns go on to work for the company after completing the internship?
Close the Loop Questions
This part is pretty straight forward. Have your business cards on hand and ready to go.
- What is the best way to follow up with you if I think of additional questions? (Exchange cards, connect via LinkedIn, etc.)
- I’d love to keep a pulse on what your company is doing in the future — What other events will you or your team be participating in that I can attend as a student?
You won’t have a lot of time with each recruiter. There are a lot of other students waiting to get some face time. In order to optimize your window, keep these guidelines in mind:
- Before you walk up to a recruiter, have a few questions picked out that you’d like to ask them. (Make sure they make sense for the company/person you are speaking with.)
- Avoid asking questions with yes or no answers.
- Don’t ask questions that you could easily find the answers to online.
- Listen carefully to what they say, take notes and ask thoughtful follow-up questions.
What other questions have you asked recruiters in the past that are not mentioned here? Leave them in the comments below. And check out this video with all my career fair prep tips so that you’re ready to go!