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Public Service Job Fair Tips
Feb 05, 2019

Job Fairs


  • Arrive early:  20 minutes before scheduled interview or before start of table talk session
  • Be prepared: Wifi and copiers are often not available: research ahead and bring all materials
  • Bring shoes: if the weather is bad, wear street shoes and carry dress shoes
  • Your stuff: coat check may be available, but be prepared to carry everything all day


  • Interviews are conducted concurrently in shared space (often a large, noisy room)
  • Arrive early to interview room and wait nearby your interviewer's table
  • Approach/hover near the table at your interview time
  • Watch interviewer for signal to sit down

Table Talk Basics

  • What is Table Talk? Informal discussions with employers on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • What does it look like?  Employers sit at individual tables in a big room across from empty chairs.  Job seekers sit in chairs and strike up conversations.  
  • Do people really get jobs this way?  Yes!  If you are prepared and active, table talk can lead to employment. 

Table Talk Tips

  • Arrive early to the first session.  The room will be quiet, the interviewer fresh, and you'll demonstrate that you are on the ball.
  • Make your number #1 choice your #2 visit.  Use your first visit a warm up. 
  • Don’t visit every employer.  Have a list, visit those employers, leave.  Rooms are loud and crowded: hanging around is stressful.
  • For your favorite employers, be prepared.  Before the fair, research and draft a cover letter.  (Read our cover letter advice and if you can, have your career office review your letter before the fair.) At the fair, give your materials to the interviewer as you sit down.  
  • At the end, get a business card so you can send a thank-you note.
  • Right after your conversation, leave the room and make notes about the discussion.
  • What about employers you haven’t researched?  Quietly take materials from their table, leave the room, review handouts, do on-line research.  Return ready to answer “Why do you want to work here?”
Generously contributed to by Cornell University Law School.