2015-11-10
The question that I am most frequently asked, by actuaries and trainee actuaries alike, is how to prepare for an interview. Let’s face it, many people have very little experience when it comes to doing an interview and furthermore, the success of an interview is often reliant on not just your performance, but on the person interviewing you as well. Contrary to what some people might believe, the people interviewing you, do generally want you to do well and succeed in your interview. Employers call applicants in, to interview them, in order to further explore something positive that they believe the potential candidates may have. They believe an applicant might be a potential match who can meet their companies' needs and therefore, of course, find it disappointing when an applicant does not reach their required standard. And so, it is important to keep in mind that although the prospect of doing an interview might be a little nerve-wrecking, it certainly should be viewed as a positive event. There are many things you can do to prepare for your interview, but in particular there are two basic areas that you as an actuarial candidate can prepare in order to increase your chance of success: Be able to tell your story.  Typically, interviewers once they have positioned the role and set the scene, start interviews by asking the classic question of “can you give me a summary of your situation and career to date." The interviewer wants you to speak clearly and concisely about your career to-date, starting from your college degree up to the present day.  This is something that you can practise and the key here is to make sure that you make this interesting and include some positives from each role. If you were doing a presentation at work it would be unlikely that you would deliver this with no advance preparation and an interview should be no different. The more prepared that you are the better the likelihood of a successful outcome. By telling your story it is your chance to allow your interviewers to get a view of your personality and to see how you would interact with your new possible workmates. It also allows your interviewees to then delve deeper into specific areas of your background for their competency based questions. Prepare for competency-based questions in advance. Competency-based interviewing is used by employers to ascertain whether your skills, abilities and motivation, match those required in the job specification. This method is based on the view that past performance is an indicator of future success, or in other words, if you have excelled at something in the past then it is likely that you will do so again.  Equally, if there are areas of your background where you have not excelled (and none of us are perfect) then this is likely to come out as well.  It's important to show where you have made mistakes and how you have learnt from these so as not to repeat the experience. This method of interviewing is a method that looks below the surface to ensure that you have the right knowledge, application of skills and aptitude for the role in question. You can prepare in advance for competency-based questions.  The key here is to analyse the role profile and really understand what competencies your potential employer is looking for.  At Raretec we can point you in the right direction in terms of what competencies to prepare for. Once you know what the competencies are then you should pick 2 to 3 examples to show where you can display practical delivery of the competency in question.  To give an example lets pick the area of problem solving and judgement which comes up a lot in actuarial interviews. The questions will be something similar to the following: "Tell me about a time where you had to analyse a particular problem and come up with a way to solve this problem." Or perhaps it could be something like: "Tell me about a situation where you had to identify a problem and find out what the underlying cause was . Was your solution accepted and if so how did you go about implementing the solution?" For this questions if you have examples ready that you are happy to talk about it means that you will deliver your answer with less hesitation. Make sure your examples stick to the point and bring in your actuarial skills that you have used. You are talking to an audience that deals in facts so give them facts about your experience. If you know that competency-based questions are coming and you have prepared in advance, it means that the way that you communicate will come across as much more natural and confident, which  allows your audience to believe that you are the person with the skills, aptitude and attitude for the role in question. If you are an actuary or trainee actuary looking for help or advice in relation to doing a particular interview then feel free to get in touch with me at jacqui.vanteutem@raretec.ie or at 015311400.