When I was an international school principal I used to love attending job fairs.  The buzz of the fair, plus the chance to meet with friends from around the world all helped make recruiting season something I anticipated and loved.  I would be able to get away from school for a while and focus on the most important job of hiring the best teachers for my school.

The Reality is Sometimes a Little Different to the Illusion. 

In truth going to a recruiting fair is just hard work.  You fly in on the day before a fair starts, and start reading files of candidates.  Then you attend a recruiter’s function, have a few drinks and something to eat and then get ready for the whirlwind of the next few days.  It starts early with hopeful candidates lining up in front of your school table.  You may have asked some candidates to see you early, so they come along and book interview times.  Then you talk to the people in your line.  Some schools have more lines than others, but after about two hours your dance card is full and you then have a quick lunch and then head back to your hotel for two days of interviewing.  That’s it for the socializing.  By the time your day is finished, you are exhausted but have to decide who you will call back for a second interview.  Of course, some of those will have already accepted jobs by the time you go back to them.  By Day 2 you have narrowed down your list, done some reference checks, and are ready to offer positions.  In reality not everyone will accept your job, and you are lucky to come away from a job fair with one or two positions filled.

So, then it’s on to the next job fair in the next country where you steadily pick away at your list of jobs.

As well as looking for the best teachers at the job fairs, you are still in charge of your school.  It’s not unusual to be dealing with urgent issues that no one else can deal with while you are away.  I’m not sure how effective I was at dealing with these when I was so far away from my school.

5 Common Hidden Costs of Job Fairs

It’s all very well to say that you have to go to job fairs to hire the best people, but what is the real cost of doing that?  So consider the following:

FEES: You will have to pay a fee to attend the fair.  This can be up to US$1,000 per participant   

TRAVEL COSTS: Then you will need to pay for flights &  accommodation.  If your school pays for business class flights this could be around US$6,000.  Hotels are at least US$250 per night.

DAILY ALLOWANCES: The food and drink bill will be something to consider as well, though in truth this is not a big deal. 

RECRUITMENT PLACEMENT FEES:  Any teacher you hire will likely cost the school a placement fee.

YOUR TIME:  Apart from the actual cost of flights, hotel accommodation, what is your time away from school worth?  If you go to more than one job fair you can be away for weeks. 

In the age of accountability we are all in, how much does it really cost to attend a job fair? This bill definitely runs into thousands, and raises your recruiting costs dramatically.

What are the alternatives to doing this?   We decided that it just wasn’t cost effective to attend so many fairs, and the best way for us was to hire using Skype and when interview candidates if they were in town on holiday.  Our recruiting cost went down, we hired more efficiently and effectively, and the school wasn’t without key decision makers for extended periods of time.

It is true to say there are questions routinely asked about the effectiveness of video interviewing compared with face to face interviews. If you’d like to know what the research says about this topic – which could help you decide whether to continue the costs of attending recruitment fairs, download our FREE Research Paper  “Does Video Interviewing Mean Bad Hiring?”

Rob Graham taught in Europe and Asia before becoming principal in Stavanger, Brussels and Hong Kong. He then joined Search Associates and was responsible for job fairs in Australia and Hong Kong. With this deep knowledge he saw the need for innovative and cost-effective solutions to the recruitment problems faced by schools. And Schrole Connect was the result.