You have put in the work to prepare for a career as an actuary, and now you are seeing the results. The interview you are preparing for could be your first real job with your actuarial science degree – which could ultimately lead to a lucrative career in an in-demand job with a six-figure median salary. There are several important things candidates should keep in mind when preparing for an actuary interview. In particular, you need to be ready to provide detailed and pertinent answers to different kinds of questions and to learn as much about the company as possible before the interview.
Be Prepared for All Kinds of Interview Questions
An interview is supposed to be a back-and-forth conversation between you and the representative of the company. However, the focus is, of course, on answering questions that will establish whether or not you are a good candidate for this position in this organization. The questions you will encounter as an aspiring actuary are varied. Expect to answer traditional questions about your educational background and experience, including prompts such as, “Tell me about yourself” and queries like, “Why did you decide to be an actuary?” Think back over your experience in internships and extracurricular activities, coursework, preparation for certification exams and previous jobs so that you will be ready for behavioral questions about how you have or would handle certain situations.
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One type of interview question that actuaries often get but job candidates in other fields might not be asked is technical questions meant to test your mathematics, analytical and computer science skills. Your interviewer may ask you to solve a math problem, use mathematical reasoning to answer a hypothetical question or explain the syntax of coding using a certain computer programming language. There might be a time limit or other restrictions on how you can work on solving the problem posed to you.
Often, the focus of technical questions, especially those asking you to estimate values or work in hypothetical situations, is not so much to arrive at one “right” answer but instead to see how well you apply analytical and reasoning skills.
Have Specific (and Relevant) Answers and Examples
It is important to practice your answers to interview questions. The purpose of practicing for an interview is not to memorize what to say, but instead to give yourself time in advance to think through your experiences and be able to provide solid reasons why you are the right fit for the position. Without rehearsing, you might stumble when answering open-ended questions like “Tell me about yourself,” because you are not sure where to start. You might draw a blank when asked about a time you showed leadership abilities or resolved a conflict among teammates.
When you practice answering common interview questions, you aren’t just working on building up confidence. You want to have specific answers that highlight the best of your experience, skills and personal qualities. A vague response will leave your interviewer thinking that you don’t have the experience, the knowledge or the ability to apply what you have learned in the classroom that the employer is seeking. If you can’t provide the relevant details to make your answer compelling and interesting, it also won’t stand out from the answers other candidates are giving to similar questions.
Of course, it is important to keep responses to interview questions appropriately concise as well as detailed. Practicing the answers, especially to behavioral questions, can help you sort out what information is relevant to include in your answer and what you can leave out.
Research the Organization
It is never a good idea to go into an interview for a job you want without doing your homework first. Although your interviewer will certainly provide you with some background information about the company during the interview, this shouldn’t be the first time you are learning what the company does or what its core values are. Employers expect an enthusiastic candidate to make the time to learn about the organization prior to coming to the interview. Your research does more than impress an interviewer. Learning about the organization’s history, reputation and culture can also help you determine if the company and the position are the right fit for your personality and your professional goals.
At every interview, you should be prepared to ask questions about the job, the organization or workplace culture. Researching the company beforehand can help you come up with intelligent questions that help you get a better feel for the opportunity.