As a brand ambassador for PwC I was one of the firm’s representatives at the Manchester Law Fair last November, alongside trainees and associates. My role was to communicate with fellow students and share my experience on the PwC legal insight event which I attended in April, when I spent a day at the firm’s London office. Representing the firm at the fair gave me an interesting perspective from the other side of the stand, so here are a few of the lessons I learned!
- Prepare in advance. Generic questions like "so what do you do?" and "what is your firm like?" are likely to make your interlocutor’s heart sink for a split second, as there are 100 possible answers. When you don’t know what you want to ask, it’s very difficult for the other person to know what to answer!
- Remember that it’s not a job interview. Being anxious and self-conscious will only build pressure within the interaction and a natural conversation will be more difficult to develop. A good approach is to put yourself in the shoes of the person you are talking to – they will be happy to come across someone they can have a good time with.
- Identify who you are looking for. Careers fairs are a great way to find out more about the recruitment process, discover what they look for in applications and learn more details about online testing and assessment centres. By speaking with someone from the graduate recruitment team you can get insights that are not on the website. Alternatively, you can use careers fairs as a way to network with professionals and find out more about their work, the challenges they face, the types of client they interact with and so on. It is best to have a look at their badge and match your questions to the person in front of you. When you know who you are talking to and why, you eliminate the friction generated by being signposted to someone else, making the whole interaction more efficient.
- Should you carry around a notepad? Here I am entirely subjective! Usually, I carry around a notepad in case I have to write down specific details such as dates. Otherwise, I rarely use it. The reason for this is that jotting down breaks eye contact and sometimes creates unnecessary pauses in the conversation – a moment of silence when the speaker has finished talking but you are still scribbling everything down. This can feel unnatural and may diminish the two-way communication. It makes the interaction seem more like an interview. But that’s just me! Some recruiters might appreciate you demonstrating organisational skills and thoroughness.
In reality, the way you communicate is closely related to your personality, and so every instance will be unique. Finally, when preparing for a fair think about this question: what are your expectations from the people you meet there?