10 tips to prepare for an actuarial interview

The actuarial profession is growing quickly and competition for jobs is high - whether you're a recent graduate or an experienced actuary.

Your CV/resume can open doors with potential employers, but it's your interview that will determine whether you land your dream job. This is your chance to stand out from other applicants, so preparation is really important. Here are ten tips to help you make a great impression on the hiring manager and get the job.

1. Know your motivations.

Most interviewers will ask why you want to become an actuary early on in the conversation. Your response to this question can either make or break the rest of the interview, so it's important that you have an answer prepared. Be ready to discuss your motivations for choosing this career path and what drew you specifically to actuarial work.

You don't need to go overboard and profess your love for actuarial science, but interviewers want to understand what drives you and if it's more than money.

2. Revise fundamental concepts.

A few simple actuarial interview questions include:

An interviewer may ask similar basic actuarial questions to test your knowledge. Even if you know the answers well, practice speaking out loud ahead of time.

3. Practice competency questions.

In many interviews, you'll be asked to describe a time when you've worked in a team, handled conflict or dealt with failure. These open-ended questions aren't trying to catch you out - they're a great opportunity to demonstrate your skillset (e.g. how you're a team-player, how you pay close attention to detail or how you stay calm under pressure).

Try using the STAR method (situation, task, action and result) to structure your answers in a clear and concise way.

4. Be punctual.

Arriving early is essential for any interview, especially if you're interviewing for an actuarial position. In this highly competitive field, employers expect applicants to be meticulous and detail-oriented. Being late to your interview shows exactly the opposite of what they're looking for, so make sure you're there ahead of time.

5. Give specific examples.

Even if your interviewer doesn't ask for examples, be sure to give them anyway. It's more effective to talk about the Excel formulae you use to manage your household budget, rather than just saying you're good with spreadsheets.

6. Show your worth.

Make sure you know your strengths and what sets you apart from other job applicants. Do you have experience with the actuarial software your prospective employer uses? Do you have excellent communication and interpersonal skills? Don't be modest here - you're much more likely to get a job offer if you can articulate why YOU are the best person for this particular job.

7. Research the company.

Strengthen your case by researching the company before your interview. This allows you to show that you have an eye for detail by mentioning specific departments, events and industry news relevant to the company. It will also help you to answer the typical interview question "what do you know about our company?".

8. Research actuarial news.

Try to stay informed about news in the actuarial industry, as well changes in regulations that could affect the company. An interviewer may ask questions to test your commercial awareness.

If you're a recent graduate, your interviewer is likely to ask about your knowledge of actuarial exams. This is an excellent opportunity to show that you've done your research, you know how the exams work and you're serious about becoming an actuary.

9. Ask questions.

Remember that interviews are two sided - you should be using the time to not only sell yourself, but also to decide whether the role and company are a good fit for you. Asking relevant questions about the company demonstrates that you've listened to the conversation and you want to learn more about them. Not only will this leave a good impression, but it could also save you from taking a job that isn't right for you.

10. Believe in yourself.

Your CV/resume has already shown that you have what it takes in terms of academic knowledge and experience for the job - your interview is simply a chance to sell yourself further. If you're confident and self-assured in your abilities, then your chances of getting the job will significantly increase.

We hope these actuarial interview tips will set you up for success and help to improve your chances of getting the job. Good luck! 🤞