How should I prepare in order to make the most of a career fair?
For savvy students hunting those elusive training contracts, careers fairs are about far more than replenishing stationery supplies for the next academic year. They are your opportunity to get in front of law firms and make that all important first impression, so it's essential that you approach them in the right way.
It may sound obvious, but the best way to prepare for a fair is to do your research. Approaching a firm and asking "So, what type of law do you do?" is a missed opportunity to find out something that is not easily accessible on the website. A quick Google search will do wonders and in the age of smart phones this can even be done at the fair itself (although a scan through the attendee list a day or two before will give you more chance to read up more thoroughly).
The most impressive students are often also the most well informed; you can then ask interesting questions, which will make it easier to build rapport with the recruiters or trainees on the stand. Careers fairs are often where 'talent spotting' starts, so give yourself the best possible chance to be spotted!"
Career fairs are an important tool because they are an opportunity for students to interact with future employers on a personal basis. This means that students must come prepared to not only ask questions but also to have conversations! So, think about your long-term goals and what you feel is important in order to have a satisfying career. Research the employers beforehand to find out if their values and principles match your interests.
Target the employers who you think would be the best match for you and those you would like to know more about. And, finally, decide what questions will help you understand how an employer can enable you to fulfil your interests. The thought you put into your interactions before the fair will allow you to have meaningful conversations while you are there. After all, career fairs are just as much about having your questions answered as they are about networking."
Norton Rose Fulbright
What should I avoid saying or doing if I don't want to be remembered for all the wrong reasons?
The hustle and bustle of careers fairs can be overwhelming experience for the unprepared, so here is some advice so you can maximise this valuable opportunity and navigate your way through the stands like a pro.
The Basics - Consider the overall impression you want to make with a potential future employer. Meet stand representatives dressed appropriately, with a firm handshake, friendly smile, eye contact and confident voice. Control any bad habits i.e. playing with hair, chewing gum, and fidgeting.
Prior to attending – It is unproductive for both parties if you have not invested time in researching the firms prior to attendance and float from stand to stand on the day. You do not want to give the impression that you are just looking for a / any job and remove any chance of you finding out crucial information, which will ultimately strengthen your application.
Questions - To market yourself as a talented and motivated individual, the questions posed asked are crucial. Avoid asking questions that any well researched individual should already know, such as "What does your company do?" Also do not focus too much about rewards ie compensation, holiday and benefits."
Of course all careers fairs are a chance for students to find out more about employers, but you should really be doing some research beforehand if you want to make the most of your time – and not waste ours! This should help you avoid saying things like "Are you a law firm?", "Do you do criminal law?", "Do you have an office in Manchester?", "What's the LPC?".
Law fairs also aren't really the time to ask the Graduate Recruitment team to check your CV or ask for feedback on why you didn't get an offer. Having said that, definitely do make contact and mention your name so you can follow up with individual queries later.
Always be polite and engaging, ask sensible questions and listen to the answers. Feel free to take notes and be patient if the fair is very busy. Finally, remember there is more to gain from law fairs than just the freebies!"
Shearman & Sterling
What kind of questions should I expect law firms representatives to ask me?
To get the most out of a law fair it is important that you do sufficient research and preparation ahead of attending. There will be a high number of law firms all in the same place at your university's law fair and it is crucial that you make the most of this opportunity.
First and foremost, make it clear to representatives whether you have recently considered law as a career or if you are committed to becoming a lawyer and already have a good understanding of the route to qualification. This will then steer what the representatives ask you and allow you to get the most out of the five minutes or so that you spend at each law firm stand.
The representatives will want to get to know you as an individual and the path that you have taken that leads you to their stand. Be prepared to answer questions that you already know, as well as honestly answering if you don't – do you know when you are eligible to apply for a vacation scheme or training contract? Is there a particular practice area that you have a specific interest in? What attracts you to this firm in particular?
Most importantly, enjoy the law fair, think about the questions that you want to ask, and give honest responses to those that you are asked – this may help you work out which law firm is right for you."
Careers fairs are an essential part of any law firm's recruitment strategy. As much as we're there to raise our profile and promote our career opportunities, we're also using these events for talent spotting so it's important that you come prepared. That said, we want you to walk away with a positive impression of our firm, so we're not there to trip you up with trick questions, or challenging interview questions.
We want to find out a little about you, what you're doing, what you're interested in and what you know about us already. Be prepared to answer questions about what you know about the firm, what you're enjoying most about your legal studies, any area of law captured your interest yet, or if you’re a non-law student why are you now thinking about law. We're also keen to find out if you've given any thought to the type of law firm you want to train at and in particular have you understood how life at a City firm may differ to life in a regional practice."
Womble Bond Dickinson