2016-09-05

As you already know, doing an interview (whether you are the interviewer or the interviewee) is an unavoidable part of progressing in the actuarial world. Many actuaries have developed an interview style that fits them comfortably, but as with all sectors of the population, many actuaries find the interview process a nerve-wracking experience. Answering technical questions with fact based answers is a lot more straight forward than answering questions from HR Managers - questions that you may not be ready for. Regardless of your experience, preparation is the best way to ensure a successful interview. The primary thing we here at Raretec believe that you should focus on when preparing for an interview would be your communication style. How many times in our lives are we told about the importance of communication? It is arguably the most important skill you can have. The list of places a good set of communication skills can take you is endless and without a doubt, it will set you apart from your peers. Actuaries have the advantage of logical thought and the ability to practically apply knowledge, so make sure to use these skills to perfect your interview communication style. The best way to look at an interview is to think of it as a presentation. In the same way that you would practise a presentation the same principle applies to preparing for an interview. The key point is to practise out loud, perhaps to a friend or to a partner or even in front of the mirror, but what is crucial is that you listen to your answers and you would be surprised how much you may improve. Practising out loud will prevent you from stumbling over your words in the main event when nerves may make your brain and mouth a little less co-operative!

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The majority of interviews start with the interviewers positioning both the company and the role. Before they launch into their prepared set of questions most interviewers start by asking you to tell your story, in other words your career to date. This is your opportunity to shine.  Tell the interviewers when you started your career and how you progressed. Make sure that you are clear and concise when highlighting the salient points such as skills gained and reasons as to why you made the choices that you did.  Furthermore, show your enthusiasm - the days of being coy and humble are over.  If you want something you have to go and get it. When you practise you should try to be confident in your delivery - relax your shoulders, smile and make eye contact with your audience.  By the time you move on to the questions your audience should already be enthusiastic with you. Your story should have given them enough points to validate their decision to invite you for an interview and give them a platform to dig deeper to get examples to answer their questions.

Most interviewers ask competency based questions. Competency based questions work on the premise that past performance dictates future success. You can prepare for competency based questions by really going through the role profile and analysing each line of the requirements and thinking of at least two examples that show the interviewers that you have used this competency in the past. Make sure that your examples are clear. Each example should have an explanation for your action and an explanation of what came about as a result of the action.  Remember that after the interview the interviewers need to remember your examples and be able to discuss it – if you are vague they will forget what you have said.  If it's an area that you don't have experience in, then show the panel that you have thought about this aspect and explain how you intend to address this development opportunity.  Most people move roles to develop their skills, not to do exactly the same thing so it’s completely acceptable not to be a 100% match. Another skill to focus on in preparation for an interview is your listening skills. When you are nervous it is all too easy to misinterpret or miss a question altogether.  If you are not sure what the question is then ask the interviewers to repeat the question (a much better option that going off on a tangent). Once the question phase is over then it is your turn to ask the interviewers some questions. Go for it - you need to know about them as much as they need to know about you.  It could be that during the course of the interview that the interviewers answered any questions that you had and if this is the case then say so. Don't ask a question just for the sake of asking a question! We have a number of help sheets for candidates attending interviews.  We also offer one to one coaching if required.

 If you are looking for further information on interviewing then get in contact with Jacqui van Teutem on 015311400 or through email at jacqui.vanteutem@raretec.ie