Public Service Job Fair Tips

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
  • Contacting OPS: email Karen Comstock or Liz Peck: they will be on-site and checking email


  • 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 have OPS 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?”