Advice from admissions officers

Prepare for a Health Professions Recruiting Fair

Posted by Emil Chuck, Ph.D. on August 24, 2016

Health professions recruitment fairs are a great way to have a lot of schools representing the complexity and various aspects of the health care professions together under one roof. They provide an opportunity to learn about the roles and responsibilities of each vocation, talk directly with current health care practitioners and access the educational requirements for each career. While many admissions officers can provide plenty of advice on making the most of a recruitment fair experience, I will summarize some of the major pieces of advice to help better prepare you for the recruitment fair experience and potentially stand out as an exceptional student.

1. Do your homework. A health professions fair is not exactly like a job or internship fair. Most of the schools represented have central application processes with specific open and close dates, so depending on when the fair is scheduled, you are either someone who put in an early application or someone who will submit an early application at the next opportunity. No one can guarantee that your application will be reviewed more quickly if you attend a fair as a current applicant, though you can assist admissions officers by the manner in which you follow through, using the rest of the advice in this post.

Make your conversations easier by having a fundamental understanding about each school, its location, its class size and its general application processes. You should also have an educated impression of the school’s curriculum, student services and overall expectations for applicants. The admissions officers also want you to take their written information and will expect you to actually read the materials more than once.  

2. Come professionally dressed. Consider a visit with a recruiter during the fair along the same lines as a short informational interview. If you visit a table, shake hands with the recruiter and demonstrate that you have more than just a cursory understanding of the school. You will make a strong impression.

3. Map the recruiters you want to meet. Prior to any recruitment fair, the organizers will generally list the organizations that will be represented at the fair. This may include information for scholarships, internships and test preparation. Make sure you can effectively plan to meet with each table for approximately 8-10 minutes. While it is obvious that a dental school applicant should try to visit any dental school at the fair, applicants should also consider talking to recruiters from different programs in the same university (allied health, nursing, medicine, graduate programs). I have had deep conversations with prospective medical students who may not have any interest in dentistry but want to know more about how they interact with dental students interprofessionally and the university’s support for professional students in general. 

4. Ask your questions and let others ask their questions. While at many fairs you may be the only one talking to an admissions officer, it is possible there is at least a small group listening. The admissions officer wants to include as many people as possible in the conversation so be inclusive of others and try to allow room for everyone to ask a question. No one person should dominate the conversation, nor should someone engage in a lengthy discussion. Don’t be the person who thinks that talking to a recruiter for more than 10 minutes will be productive.

5. Use business cards! Most prospective applicants want to have follow-up contact by signing a sign-in sheet (or tablet for the more technologically inclined). The extremely prepared applicant will have a business card ready to hand to the admissions officers with name, contact information, online presence and some applicant information (including DENTPIN® or ADEA AADSAS® ID). It also helps admissions staff to quickly input your contact information for follow-up, as opposed to trying to interpret someone’s handwriting a few hours after the fair. Resumes or other portfolios are nice but since most admissions decisions are initially made from ADEA AADSAS or similar central application services, the resume’s usefulness is limited. I will emphasize, keep your business card professional with relevant contact information that can be found on a future ADEA AADSAS application.

6. Practice your one-minute “elevator” pitch. With a good business card, you should also have a good self-introduction to the recruiters. Again, it should be concise but informative about what you want the recruiter to know about you, your background, your educational plans and your general questions about the recruiter’s program. Your elevator pitches should not be fixed or over-rehearsed, but a natural extension of who you are that complements your business card and handshake.

7. Thank you notes are good, but frequent follow-up is more helpful. After your conversation with each recruiter/admissions officer, don’t forget to do appropriate follow-up communication within three days of the event. Depending on when the fair is scheduled, you may want to include your application ID number if you have already begun the process or once you begin the application process. My program often reviews thousands of applications each year, so a courtesy email every few weeks is helpful to remind us about your application. 

There are many other suggestions from other online articles that can give you more ideas, but don’t forget to ask for help from your career services office if you have access to their advisors. We look forward to seeing you at an upcoming recruitment fair!

About Emil Chuck, Ph.D.:

Emil Chuck New

Emil Chuck, Ph.D.
Director of Admissions
Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine

Dr. Chuck earned his Ph.D. in Cell Biology from Case Western Reserve University after his BSE in biomedical engineering from Duke. Formerly the Chief Health Professions Advisor and Assistant Professor at George Mason University, he has served as advisor to the AAAS Science Careers Forum and often sits as a workshop panelist on interviewing skills and competency-based evaluations.