Interview season has descended and as aspiring actuaries, there are great internship and full-time job opportunities within arms reach. This can be an extremely exciting, as well as intimidating time for those of us relatively new to the actuarial career. As a current college senior majoring in actuarial science and looking for a full-time job, I use every interview and information session as a learning experience. The purpose of this blog is to pass along my advice and opinions on how to be as prepared as possible for your upcoming interviews.
1. Do your research.
There are many different paths actuarial careers can follow. Before applying for a position, make sure you know what the company does and if that position is for you. Actuaries can venture in the direction of small and large, domestic and international, consulting companies and insurance companies. The more research you do, the more you will learn about what your job or internship should involve. Many companies also hold information sessions. These are great opportunities to learn about a company from current employees, ask questions, and hear about the actuarial programs they offer.
2. Develop your resume.
Interviewers ask a lot of questions based on your past work and extracurricular experience. They want to see your leadership skills, academic accomplishments, relevant work experience, and of course your exam achievements. Make sure that you present yourself as well-rounded as possible. The interview questions typically require you to back up your answers with specific instances – so do not put down anything that you are not able to talk about.
3. Be enthusiastic.
Most likely the actuarial candidates you are competing with all have consistent grades and similar academic backgrounds. We are good test-takers and learn quickly. The more important quality that recruiters have mentioned they look for is enthusiasm. We can all compute numbers, but if we are not passionate about the work, it makes the job much more difficult. Interviewers have mentioned that they want to hire students who they would sincerely enjoy working with. Try to connect with the interviewer in some way. From my past internship experience, work days are much more enjoyable when you are surrounded by great people that like you on a professional and personal level.
5. Practice your delivery.
Many interviewers look for your use of the S.T.A.R. method. This approach to answering questions requires that you outline your answers by the Situation, Task, Action, Result order. If you hit all four of these points in a concise, thoughtful way, you could turn a boring leadership experience into a presentable response to a behavioral question. Many colleges offer career services and mock interviews. These have proven very beneficial in the past for my own preparation. In addition, utilize your older classmates and alumni. Many people have prepared for similar interviews and would love the opportunity to pass along helpful tips.
6. Utilize the recruiters.
Most likely the recruiters that conduct your interviews were, at some point, in your seat with the same objectives. Their success in graduating and finding a job may not even be too long ago. Come prepared with questions for them. Their advice may lead you somewhere unexpected, so find out a little bit about them. In the end, thank them, shake their hand, ask for a business card or email contact, and follow up with them the next day.
I would like to end this post by inviting everyone to share their experiences with interviews. What are some questions you have fielded to help others prepare? Happy interview season and good luck!