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How to Interview - Questions and Answers

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  • How to Interview - Questions and Answers

    Please post interview questions, suggested type of responses, tips and suggestions in this thread.
    Last edited by admin; November 3 2005, 09:05 PM. -
    Email - [email protected]

  • #2
    Tell me about yourself.
    Why do you want to be an actuary?
    How did you study for your exams?
    Why haven't you taken/passed exams yet?
    What were your scores on these exams?
    Tell me about a time where you had to work hard to achieve your goals.
    Tell me about a time when you worked in a group and:
    had a member that was difficult to work with.
    What do you do in (organization/activities on resumé).
    What are your strengths?
    What are your weaknesses?
    Where do you see yourself in 5/10/20 years from now.
    What are your goals in life?
    Why should I hire you/ Why do you want to work for (our company).
    What do you do in your free time?
    What do you think about (some current event).
    Do you consider yourself a team worker or an individual worker?
    Tell me about a time when you were the leader of a project/demonstrated leadership.
    How familiar are you with Excel and Access?
    What languages can you program in?

    I know there's more, but none come to mind.
    Whether you are the lion or the gazelle, when the sun comes up, you better be running.


    • #3
      If you were a vegetable, what kind would you be and why?

      Despite being a stupid and silly question, you will more than likely get a similar type question at some point during the interview process. Its designed to see how well you "think on your feet". There is really no way to prepare for a question like this but its nice to know that this type of question may come at you so you aren't stunned by the question itself.

      Another type of question is one that tests your problem solving skills and thought processing. An example would be, "How many people work for microsoft?" (This is an actual question someone I know was asked in an interview). The idea is they want to see how you derive an answer (the interviewer probably doesn't even know the correct answer).


      • #4
        Here's an incomplete list of suggestions:

        1. I can't stress this enough - go get advice, counseling, help, whatever on how to interview. This alone is the best thing you can do to help you get a job - more than "what class should I take", "how many exams do I need", and other commonly asked questions, how well you interview will make or break your chances of getting a job more than anything else.

        2. The single best piece of advice I got: when you're asked a question, answer the question and then stop. Don't give a long, 2-3 minute answer where you elaborate on everything you did right in a given situation, answer the question briefly but leave the interviewer room to ask follow-up questions. Talking and talking and talking will just cause the people interviewing you to tune you out.

        3. Show a real interest in being an actuary. Show that you understand the exam process and the time involved in passing exams, and that you are serious about earning your FSA/FCAS. When you're asked why you want to be an actuary, don't answer with something like "Well, I'm good in math and know that actuaries use math, and I didn't know what else I could do with a math degree so I figured I'd give this a shot." Be able to explain exactly why you want to be an actuary.

        4. In virtually every face-to-face interview you will be asked to go to lunch, dinner, .... some meal. This time is still part of the interview - it's more relaxed, but people can (and have) blown their chances to get hired during this time. Be able to carry a conversation - if you sit through the meal without talking or asking questions, you won't get hired. Generally you'll be with people you might one day work alongside - the question they're trying to answer is, "If this person worked in the cubicle next to me every day, would I have a problem with it?"

        5. Ask questions. Ask about the job, the company, the department, .... make the questions relevant. Also try to make a personal connection with the interviewer in a friendly, casual way - show that you're interested in them and their experiences too. Not asking questions indicates that you either aren't interested or haven't researched the company (a sign that you can't prepare for important tasks).

        Things you should NEVER say during the interview:
        -- "So, how much do you make?" This is considered very personal and will get you tossed from consideration before you make it out the door.
        -- "So when I get hired, ...." Implying that you know you're going to get hired will get you not hired.
        -- "I hated my last job because ...." Even if you did hate your last job and there was a great reason, spin it in a positive light. Employers generally believe that if you were unhappy at your last job, you'll be unhappy in your next one as well - and they don't want that.
        -- Never give your life history. You'll just be giving the company an easy way to find some reason not to hire you. (If nothing else, this indicates you can't keep quiet on things you need to be quiet about - something you will have to do as an actuary.)
        "You better get to living, because dying's a pain in the ***." - Frank Sinatra - where I talk about the Blues and the NHL.


        • #5
          I'll add the folowing. For everything, gives examples from your own experiences...this helps draw a picture in the interviewers mind that you can do certain things...rather just saying you can do things...examples give evidence and proof that you are who you say.
          1) How much do you want to make. - tell them you are looking more at the opportunity, company, chances for advancement than the money.
          2) Some employers will want to know that you will want to "remain" where the job is located. Many people move back to their roots and employers look for people who won't want to relocated after a year or so. They might ask where you grew up or why you want to live in there.
          3) What are your computer skills - find out what they use beforehand, give examples of projects you have worked on, spreadsheets, writing macros in excel, programming in c, sas, etc. are all good to have
          4) Tell me what an actuary does.
          5) They may test your thinking ability - For example, How many gas stations are in texas? - go through the logic of figuring that many people, so many cars, so many miles trips to the gas station, etc.
          6) Why did you choose to be an actuary - tell of your love and passion for math, solving problems, etc.
          7) What was your biggest mistake - they want to know how you dealt with it
          8) What was your biggest success - they want to know you did something you were proud of
          9) How do you deal with difficult people
          10) How do you handle a situation when you think you are right but your boss tells you differently
          11) What activities have you been involved in? - they want to see that you are well rounded, socialable, etc.
          12) Do you work better individually or in a group? - they want to make sure you can do both
          13) When can you start - find out what they are looking for first, then answer.
          14) Have you had any jobs while in school?
          P. S. I'm Denny Crane


          • #6
            If they say we dress casual, it does not matter. Always where a suit and tie. Better to overdress than underdress. If they should question you, just tell them I thought it was best to look my best for something this important.
            P. S. I'm Denny Crane


            • #7
              thanks!!! :>

              i'm having an interview for an actuarial job on tuesday, and i'm so glad i found this post. =D it had been really helpful in giving me clearer ideas on how to handle the interview. =D i've been to numerous interviews before, and until before i was able to read this, i had always been wondering whether i blurted out the 'right' answers during the conversation. thanks a lot!!! :>


              • #8
                I've been knocking off some interviews this past week and here's a couple more that are fresh in my mind.

                What was your favorite/least favorite class and why?
                Tell me about a time where you demonstrated initiative.
                An actuary must explain technical work to people outside their practice. Tell me about a time where you had to explain something to someone who had no idea what you were talking about.
                Sometimes clients can call and need work done immediately. Tell me about a time where you had a hectic schedule and how you dealt with it.
                Whether you are the lion or the gazelle, when the sun comes up, you better be running.


                • #9
                  Instead of just reading through the questions and thinking up answers, I actually typed them out so I had a clear idea what I was going to say. No need to print it. It just makes sure your answers are well thought out. I felt like it helped.
                  Whether you are the lion or the gazelle, when the sun comes up, you better be running.


                  • #10
                    Here is a good list I found



                    • #11
                      Can we share and discuss our interview experience for others' reference?

                      Just like Irish Blue said, interview skill is the king to find a good actuarial job in the United States. For the benefits of our members and those new comers of this profession, why not let us share and discuss our real interview experience here for their reference?

                      Here are some challenging interview questions I have experienced in the past six months:

                      What is your top skills ? (Aviva Life Insurance)

                      Why should I recruit you? (ING)

                      Please describe youself with five words? (ING)

                      How do you deal with the disputes in the teamwork? (Hewitt)

                      Give me an example of your decision process? (Hewitt)

                      What is your favorite course in your college? (Birkshire)

                      I do not think I answer them well so I fail to secure a job offer so far. Maybe some senior members here can help us analyze these questions and give us some hints how to deal with such kind of questions.

                      As a new member of this forum, I strongly suggest some senior member to open a new section to improve our interview skills by means of case study. We can analyze our members' real interview experience and show how to be a great interviewer. I am currently not too busy and I can assist our senior members to start this section.

                      Thanks for your reading and feedbacks!
                      Life can always find its way out


                      • #12
                        Have you checked the sticky?

                        I thought, Who is your role model?, was a difficult question.
                        Whether you are the lion or the gazelle, when the sun comes up, you better be running.


                        • #13
                          Behavior-oriented questioning ... I think at some point I went on a tirade about it. IMO, it's perfect if you're one of those people who would fall inside the "bell-shaped curve" when it comes to personality. I don't.

                          I'm not the target audience for advertising by any stretch of the imagination, I'm not Joe Average when it comes to learning, and I'm not Joe Average when it comes to problem solving; I don't solve problems like "normal" people. As a result, I think behavior-oriented questioning does a very poor job assessing me.

                          How did you handle the situation? I handled it - I don't feel a need to go through a 13-step description of what I thought, when I thought it, and how I thought it. I handled the situation as best I could, I didn't stop to ask for a mid-situation review so I knew I was doing OK.

                          How did you feel afterwards? It was done, it was over - it was time to move to the next thing. I didn't have time to dwell on it, write a 4-page story in my diary so I could reflect on it for years to come, ... I was glad it was done, I was ready to do whatever was next.

                          I'd love to give suggestions on how to handle these questions, but I can't. I'm not someone who can wax poetically about, "Well gee, I remember this time when ...." - I'd much rather the employer say, "Here - show us what you know."
                          "You better get to living, because dying's a pain in the ***." - Frank Sinatra

                 - where I talk about the Blues and the NHL.


                          • #14
                            I think at the lower levels, it's fair to say that you don't really know anything. I suppose they could open up excel and say, show me how you would copy this data from here to here. I don't think it would be very informative. Plus, they can change what you know, but it's a lot harder to change someone's personality/ behavioral traits.
                            Whether you are the lion or the gazelle, when the sun comes up, you better be running.


                            • #15
                              I'm going to school and working part time. I will be starting a second job to try to get some experience in something other than a no-responsibility student worker position at my university, but essentially I am just getting into an almost-no-responsibility position at a brokerage as an intern, doing bottom-rung activities.

                              When I go into interviews and they ask me about what I've implemented, or about challenges working with coworkers -- I don't have experience in these regards. I've only had two 'real' jobs in my life, including the one I'm about to start as the 2nd. My plate is pretty full with full-time school and two part-time jobs, and studying for the exams.

                              I feel like the entire interview process is me trying to spin what I've done to make it seem bigger than it is. What can I do to increase my competitiveness to employers?