Best Practices for Recruiting at a Virtual Job Fair

Posted by Ashley Jones
Woman on a computer during a virtual job fair

Virtual job fairs are a great supplement to your talent acquisition efforts, offering the ability to connect with countless prospects without physical limitations. No need to worry about travel arrangements, traffic, or social distancing protocol—simply log in and chat with job seekers in real-time, review resumes, and set up interviews to funnel candidates through the recruitment process efficiently. With a little pre-event preparation and a clear strategy in place, make the most of your virtual job fair experience and enjoy effective communications that move the recruitment process forward.

Before the Event

As you prepare for the big day, think to what you can accomplish ahead of time to guarantee your conversations are as efficient as possible. Keep in mind that each chat has a timer. While you have an option to extend your chats, your goal is to assess as many candidates as possible within the duration of the event. So instead of manually typing your questions or responses to FAQs in each conversation from scratch, draft a few talking points in a text document that you can copy and paste from. This not only saves time during the event, but also allows you to organize your thoughts on the front-end to promote consistency.

Consider including these items in your cheat sheet:

1. Greeting – Create a standard message that you can use for each job seeker, such as “Welcome! What specific positions do you have an interest in? Please give me a moment while I review your resume.”

2. Questions – Compose a list of standard questions that you plan to ask each candidate to ensure you gather necessary screening information. You might also break these down into questions that are specific to individual positions.

3. Answers to FAQs – You likely have an idea of common questions that job seekers will ask you. These inquiries can span company culture questions to the next steps for applying. Composing your responses ahead of time will allow you to quickly respond and get back to getting to know the job seeker. This also supports consistency in company branding, especially if you have more than one recruiter working your virtual booth.

4. Exit Sentence – You might be anxious to end a chat quickly and move on to finding a more qualified candidate when talking with someone who is not the right fit. Developing a graceful exit sentence that you can call upon will come in handy during these situations. Crafting a thoughtful exit message on the front end will help to create a better candidate experience for those you won’t be moving forward with at this time.

5. Contact Information – While you’ll have the contact information that’s provided in candidates’ resumes, attendees won’t have your contact information unless you provide it. If you want them to be able to follow up via email or another avenue, note your preferred contact information so you can easily share it with them in the chat.

While you prepare for these virtual conversations, also give thought to what your next step process looks like for promising candidates. Will you be handing off top candidates to a hiring manager for an immediate interview? If you plan to move attendees through the pipeline during the event and pass them off to hiring managers or other team members, be sure you have those email addresses at the ready so you can get back to meeting with other attendees seamlessly.

It’s also important to check your technology in advance. This includes updating your browser, checking your internet connection, making sure your device is fully charged or plugged in, and turning up the volume so that you can hear notifications that signal you’re connected with a candidate. We recommend that you log on five to ten minutes early to ensure there are no technical issues the day of the virtual job fair.

During the Event

Once you’re set up in an environment with limited distractions, it’s time to start chatting with attendees. While it’s often possible to chat with more than one candidate at a time, start with just one until you’ve gotten your feet wet. It might take a couple chats to get in the groove of timed, text-based chatting, so ease into it and lean on your cheat sheet to help guide you.

When you begin a chat, greet the job seeker by asking an open-ended starter question and let them know that you’re reviewing their resume —you can pull this straight from your cheat sheet. This greeting keeps them engaged and let’s them know what you’re doing, so they don’t think they’re being ignored. You’ll find these chats are a bit of a balancing act. If you’re reviewing a candidate’s resume or profile information, you want them to be typing a response during that time.

Once you’ve read their initial introductory response you’ll see the conversation begin to take shape. Ask an applicable question, gather further screening information, and answer any questions they might have for you. The pre-written blurbs you put together before the event will allow the conversation to move forward quickly without much wasted time. Using those will also create more consistency among your candidates’ experiences. If you feel you need more time, extend the chat. But avoid extending too much, especially if the candidate volume is high.

Chats are an efficient way to quickly create a personal experience, and having a time limit keeps the conversation focused. So keep an eye on the time and be sure to leave a few minutes at the end to figure out next steps for qualified candidates, or even schedule an interview. For candidates who are not a good fit, feel free to use your graceful exit phrase and end the chat early. After each chat, take a moment to rate the candidate on the exit screen, select any follow-up options, and enter some notes before moving onto the next candidate. These notes will allow you to easily reflect back later and plan your next steps accordingly.

After the Event

Once the virtual job fair comes to a close, the follow-up process will resemble that of an in-person hiring event. You can share resumes and information about top candidates with hiring managers and others on your team, reach back out to candidates to schedule interviews, and so on. However, the added bonus of a virtual event is that you will have a transcript of your conversations to reflect back on, along with any notes you added after each chat concluded. So it will be easy to go back and spot your best leads to organize and prioritize your next steps moving forward.

Though you may be new to recruiting via a virtual job fair, a little preparation and planning will go a long way to maximize your efforts and help you come through the other side like a pro. At ClearedJobs.Net we offer training to our employer representatives before our virtual events to ensure everyone participating is comfortable before show time. We also offer training for our job seekers as well, so they can be better prepared to talk to you. And just as with our in-person events, we encourage attendees to talk with all participating employers. So come ready to expand your talent pool, strengthen your employer brand, and find your next great hire.


  • Ashley Jones

    Ashley Jones is ClearedJobs.Net's blog Editor and a cleared job search expert, dedicated to helping security-cleared job seekers and employers navigate job search and recruitment challenges. With in-depth experience assisting cleared job seekers and transitioning military personnel at in-person and virtual Cleared Job Fairs and military base hiring events, Ashley has a deep understanding of the unique needs of the cleared community. She is also the Editor of ClearedJobs.Net's job search podcast, Security Cleared Jobs: Who's Hiring & How.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 21, 2020 7:32 pm

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