Digital Retail Giant Amazon Is Holding Job Fairs. What?

No Amazon chatbots, virtual reality, or Artificial Intelligence recruiting screens? Amazon is using old fashioned, face-to-face job fairs! What gives?

They work! And Amazon is not alone in turning to older, but reliable, recruiting methods in this tight labor market.  Across The Pond in Sweden, high technology company Ericsson recently held a full day “Swarm Stockholm” to recruit R&D engineers. During the “Swarm,” the company sent out 90 interns to hit the streets and talk to people about career opportunities at Ericsson. The company reported that it engaged with more than 500 people and raised the awareness of thousands more, in just one day.

While I have not used a Swarm, I have a lot of experience planning and executing job fairs across the United States. I have used job fairs to attract engineers, as well as other high-demand employees, such as financial analysts, clinical researchers, and regulatory affairs workers. I’ve had great success:  attracting up to 400 interested candidates at a single fair, with a hire rate of 10% to 20%.  The fairs provided a good return on recruiting investment.

An additional benefit of job fairs is that they help get your recruiting and screening procedures in order. Successful recruiting fairs depend on a fast moving, interesting and fun process. If you don’t have your recruiting and screening honed to run smoothly, candidates will lose interest and walk out the door!

Here is are my suggestions for holding a successful recruiting fair:

  1. Get a great site with a bright, cheerful atrium to greet candidates and conduct initial, face-to-face screens. You’ll also need an interior auditorium with small side conference rooms for in-depth interviews! It is best if you hold your fair at your main office, but an offsite location will do.
  2. Do fantastic outreach. Now is the time to crank up the social media and reach out to all your passive candidates. Also, use media ads on radio, job boards and social media to get the word out to your target audience. Pick up the phone and call passive candidates. Consider billboards in front of the offices of your workforce competitors or companies having layoffs. Reach out to outplacement firms.
  3. Provide exciting information about your brand. Link your company’s purpose with your future employees’ passion. In your atrium greeting space, provide easy to read (or video display) summaries of your organization’s purpose, work culture, exciting work projects, work environment and benefits. Play upbeat music.
  4. Do a quick recruiting screen. You need to immediately welcome your candidates and conduct a quick, structured recruiting screen in less than 15 minutes. Have enough personnel available to keep lines to a minimum. For those who fail the quick screen, offer them a snack or some “gift” for coming, so they feel good about the process. Then, send them on their way.
  5. Provide product demonstrations. Invite those candidates who pass the initial screen to come into the auditorium to meet with managers in their field and discuss the projects they could work on. Also, provide product or service demonstrations.
  6. Hold structured interviews. After getting candidates excited about the company’s future, have your managers conduct structured interviews in side conference rooms to determine if candidates have the technical skills, competencies, successful track record, and teamwork and collaboration skills to join your team. It’s OK if these interviews go on for an hour.  However, to handle the volume, you’ll need to have a cadre of management interviewers. If your company uses selection tests, now is the time to administer them, but make sure you have enough tablets available to prevent delays.
  7. Based on the outcome of the structured interviews, you can make offers on the spot, pending background and reference checks, and drug tests. Or, you can invite these candidates back for one more round of interviews at your offices, but for no more than a half-day.  You must keep the process, quick-moving and focused.

What has been your experience with career fairs or Swarms? Join the conversation. For more information on how to plan and execute career fairs, contact me.

Victor Assad is the CEO of Victor Assad Strategic Human Resources Consulting and is a Managing Partner of InnovationOne. He consults on innovation, global talent management, developing agile leaders and teams, and other strategic initiatives. Questions? Please e-mail Victor at or visit For innovation visit

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