Come for the Job, Stay for the Challenge: Career Fairs in 2022

Come for the Job, Stay for the Challenge: Career Fairs in 2022

Samantha Badr


What a time to be alive, HR professionals. Let’s add recruitment to the list of functions that has completely shifted in the last few years. Forget everything you thought you knew – because I guarantee it has changed. This past week I attended a career fair, except I was looking for applicants and not looking for a job (weird, right?). I also had the luxury of attending from my “home office”. Yup, even career fairs have now become virtual, folks. If I had to guess, I would assume at least 80% of the students attending this career fair were not wearing shoes. Nevertheless, it was an experience – and as always, I will share my thoughts.

Every aspect of HR has been altered, so it’s no surprise that recruiting has changed too. Believe it or not, organizations are having a hard time recruiting talent, even with internet job portals at their disposal. Recruiters have tried to look internally to fill vacant job roles, but it’s simply not enough. With the virtual space at our fingertips, it would be a waste to not participate in any virtual career fairs this year. Virtual hiring event platforms are using chat technology and teleconferencing to replicate the interactions job seekers and recruiters once shared. Job applicants can meet with companies individually in a specified time frame, use chat functions to ask questions, and have “face-to-face” meetings with recruiters.

Virtual career fairs are easier to promote and manage. They can effectively capture attendee data and offer some sort of a personalized experience, but with a lot less overhead. The cool thing about this career fair was that organizations were provided a master list of all attendees, their anticipated graduation date, their majors, and their resumes. Job seekers waited in a virtual lobby before being admitted by recruiters into their own personal meeting room. It was almost like speed dating – five minutes to ask questions and have some light banter before going onto the next meeting.

According to a survey conducted by a recruitment marketing agency, Recruitics, 46% of employers are not using virtual hiring events. But why is that? In a few short hours, I was able to meet with 15 future job applicants. That’s 15 more people than I knew yesterday. That’s 15 more job applications. Why are organizations not utilizing these resources? I know recruiters thrive with on-the-ground efforts and conversing with candidates face-to-face, but that’s becoming more obsolete. The new candidate pool is tech-savvy, and it’s time recruiters match their energy

The most common question I received was “do you have any internship programs”? I was shocked at how many students preferred that over the part-time jobs we had open. It got me thinking though, and maybe it makes sense. College students are more likely to join your organization on an internship basis. Almost like a “free trial” – they get to experience company culture for half a semester without fully committing to the job. Additionally, most internships qualify for college credit and university stipends.

Maybe we’re approaching recruiting all wrong. Maybe organizations should start focusing on providing competitive internship opportunities, instead. These students want to be coached, and they want to get their feet wet without fully drowning in a job and schoolwork. The goal is to get more people in the door, right? I guess it’s back to the drawing board..

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Recruitment Strategies: The Interview of Champions

Recruitment Strategies: The Interview of Champions

Samantha Badr


Join me on this HR journey as I try to navigate my way through *Recruiting* and all the fun stuff that comes with it. To provide some background – I’m not technically my company’s recruiter, rather an HR professional that wears many hats. Our interview process begins with the recruiter reading through a bazillion resumes. But luckily for me, I showed up just in time to showcase my one true talent – “chitchatting”. This last week was filled with structured panel interviews and I can’t wait to tell you ALL about it.

Interview Types

Before we dive into the good stuff, let’s educate ourselves on interviews in their entirety, because who knew there were so many different techniques? For starters, interviews can be either structured or unstructured. Structured interviews provide the interviewer with the information needed to make a hiring decision. This technique is crucial in defending an organization against allegations of discrimination because all applicants are asked the same questions. In an unstructured interview, applicants can set the stage while many open-ended questions are asked. However, a lack of structure can make it difficult to compare and rank applicants that are not asked the same set of questions.

The most widely used types of interviews are:

  • The telephone prescreen interview
  • The direct one-on-one interview
  • The panel interview

Before being hired in my current HR role, I experienced all the interview types listed above. The recruitment process started with the telephone prescreen interview. The second round included the direct one-on-one interview, and the final round was a panel interview. Now that I’m sitting on the opposite side of the table, I get to witness just how much this process can be designed in different ways.


The three most common approaches to interviews are behavioral, competency-based, and situational. These approaches are used to discover how the interviewee performs in specific situations. The logic is based on the fact that past performance can predict future behavior. In a behavioral approach, a candidate’s experience, personal attributes, and job-related skills can be determined by this style of questioning. In a competency-based approach, questions are designed to determine if the applicant possesses certain attributes or skills. The situational approach provides candidates with hypothetical scenarios and focuses on their past experiences, behaviors, knowledge, and abilities.

Some examples of interview questions are:

  • Behavioral: Give me a specific example of a time you set a goal and how you were able to achieve it.
  • Competency-based: Tell me about a situation in which your spoken communication skills made a difference in the outcome. What did you learn?
  • Situational: You have been hired as the HR director in a 300-employee company and are struggling to perform the necessary HR administrative work by yourself. The CFO tells you that you need to be more strategic. How would you handle this situation?


Now that we’ve discussed interview types and approaches, it’s time to figure out an interview style. Interviews can be either one-on-one or conducted in a group setting. The most common style is the traditional one-on-one interview, where just the interviewer and interviewee are present. As for group interviews, there are two types – a panel group and a candidate group. In a panel group interview, a candidate is interviewed individually by a panel of two or more people. Panel interviews can create a broader picture of the candidate given that there are differing perspectives amongst the interviewers. The less common option, a candidate group interview, is when a candidate is interviewed alongside other job applicants who may be applying for the same position. Each candidate listens to information about the company and position then may be asked to answer questions or participate in group exercises.

Formatting Interview Questions

Most interviews will consist of a combination of open/closed-ended questions and some follow-up questions. Open-ended questions encourage candidates to provide longer answers and expand on their knowledge, strengths, and job experiences. Closed-ended questions can enable the employer to receive direct responses and specific information from the candidate. Follow-up questions are needed if an interviewer does not fully comprehend a response, if answers are vague, or if more specific information is required. Understanding the different styles of questions can help interviewers be creative during the interview design phase.

Some examples of interview questions are:

  • Open-ended: What are you looking to gain from your next position?
  • Closed-ended: How many years of experience do you have as a team leader?
  • Follow-up: Could you please tell me more about . . .?

Something to note: Because interview questions can be pre-determined, it is important to not make any statements that could be misconstrued. It is best to avoid using terms such as “permanent” or “long-term” when describing the job. To minimize the risk of discrimination lawsuits, interviewers must also familiarize themselves with topics that are not permissible as interview questions.

Closing the Interview

The most popular method of closing an interview is to say that the interview is ending and to offer the candidate the opportunity to ask any questions. This enables the candidate to gain clarification on aspects of the position such as hours, salary, and benefits. The interviewer should answer the candidate’s questions as candidly as possible while avoiding compensation discussion if others are present. The interviewer may want to ask if the candidate is interested in the job based on the information provided in the interview, the time frame of the rest of the interviews, and when a decision is likely to be made.

This past week was my first time conducting interviews and I couldn’t wait to learn something new. Candidates started with a pre-screening phone interview, with rounds 2 and 3 being virtual panel interviews. As time progressed, I found that it might be beneficial to play around with different interview styles since some questions could overlap or not provide enough background. Throughout the week I altered introduction styles, interview questions, and scenarios, to observe the outcomes. The key takeaway is that people love me and I’m really good at chatting. With all jokes aside, the one thing that really stood out to me was the interview style. Although my colleagues and I had naturally inviting demeanors, some candidates were more reserved in their speech, which made it harder to judge. However, the best observations were made from the questions that produced personal responses. These last two years have shown the significance of human interaction and how we have lost that through our computer screens. At the end of the day, we are all human beings first, and the more we focus on that, the greater we can be.


Some laughs to get us through the week…

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