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Actuary Interview Questions

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  1. Please tell me what actuarial life tables are and why they are useful? See answer
  2. Have you taken all the actuarial exams yet? Why or why not? See answer
  3. Can you tell me about the most interesting actuarial project you have worked on during your career or education? See answer
  4. What do you consider when analyzing risk and what software do you find most useful in your day to day work? See answer
  5. Can you tell me about the pros and cons of some of the actuarial software you have worked with before?
  6. You noticed a mistake you made on one of your actuarial spreadsheets that’s already been sent to the client. How do you resolve the issue?
  7. How would you describe the cumulative distributive function and the appropriate time to use it to someone without a technical background?
  8. Why do you want to work for this company?
  9. What skills do you possess that makes you best qualified to perform the role of an actuary?
  10. Can you explain a time you encountered obstacles in your previous role and what you did to overcome them?
  11. What consulting experience do you have?
  12. Can you work under pressure and meet deadlines?
  13. Describe a project where you reached a goal and the steps you took to get there.
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6 Actuary Interview Questions and Answers

Q:

Please tell me what actuarial life tables are and why they are useful?

A:

When you ask this question, you get to see whether the candidate has the basic understanding needed to be an actuary. This question also allows you to find out whether the individual fully understands the purpose of this tool. What to look for in an answer:

  • Concise definitions of life tables
  • Understanding of the importance of life tables
  • A confident response to the question

Example:

“Tables show the probability a person will die before their next birthday for each age. They have some very useful applications in insurance and healthcare.”

Q:

Can you tell me a little about the pros and cons of some of the actuarial software you have worked with before?

A:

Knowledge of actuarial software is an essential part of any job, so this question helps determine if a candidate has a good grasp on the tools of the trade to help them succeed in their field. Phrasing the question like this encourages the applicant to elaborate instead of just giving you a basic list of the software they have used before. It gives you their opinion on common software, allowing you to see if they are a good fit with your company. What to look for in an answer:

  • Detailed information about software
  • A positive attitude towards software your company uses
  • Expertise with multiple software types

Example:

“I like how flexible Moses is, but it can be a little challenging for new users. Prophet is easy to install and simple to use.”

Q:

Have you taken all the actuarial exams yet? Why or why not?

A:

Depending on the type of position you are trying to fill, you may need a candidate who has taken certain exams. You can use this question to figure out exactly what qualifications the person has. Including an inquiry about their motivations with this question can let you find out more about their career goals. What to look for in an answer:

  • Completion of all exams required for the position
  • Interest in taking future exams to advance
  • Passion in actuarial science

Example:

“I’ve currently passed the seven standard FSA exams needed to get an associateship. Eventually, I’d love to study more and take the three fellowship exams as I’m motivated to excel and advance my career as an actuary.”

Q:

You notice a mistake you made on one of your actuarial spreadsheets that’s already been sent to the client. How do you resolve the issue?

A:

Asking this question is mostly about testing the actuary candidate’s ability to resolve any issue in a way that is not damaging to the company. It helps you gauge whether they have the social skills needed to work with clients and interact with co-workers in the office. How they reply can let you know if they would properly notify their boss or potentially cause a problem. What to look for in an answer:

  • A desire to be sure that clients get correct information
  • A polite and humble response
  • Interest in following company policies

Example:

“I would fix the initial spreadsheet problem. Then I would alert my supervisor about the mistake, apologize and send the corrected spreadsheet to the client.”

Q:

Can you tell me about the most interesting actuarial project you have worked on during your career or education?

A:

When you ask this question, you give the candidate a chance to show off and tell you about their strongest project. The answer they give you can let you know about the sorts of actuarial work they are interested in, so you can see if they are passionate about what your company does. What to look for in an answer:

  • Excitement and enthusiasm for the subject
  • Impressive examples of detailed and accurate work
  • Ability to work well as part of a team

Example:

“I really enjoyed the research I did to establish some new statistical models. My information was eventually used in creating a whole new insurance line.”

Q:

What do you consider when analyzing risk and what software do you find most useful in your day to day work?

A:

A candidate's response to this question can help you determine their level of experience and expertise in the field. Complete knowledge of actuary tools and software is essential to their job success. The phrasing of this question encourages a candidate to offer extra information in regards to the process they use and encourages personal opinion which will help you to determine if they are a good fit for the culture of the company.

The candidate's response should emphasize:

  • Confidence in their process and skills
  • Knowledge of multiple software programs and tools
  • Ability to effectively communicate and support an opinion

A response to this question may look like this:

Example:

"When working on any project I first look at already available data to determine if there is some more information I need to gather. I typically collect extra data because I want my analysis to be as comprehensive as possible. Using a combination of statistics, math, and financial theory I focus on making the best determination. There are many available tools like Towers Watson and PTS, but the two I depend on the most are Moses and Prophet. Moses can be difficult for new users but I had a mentor that helped me navigate my way through to really optimize its use. The other software I use consistently depend on is Prophet because it is so user-friendly and easy to install."

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