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Thread: How to Interview - Questions and Answers

  1. #21
    Representative for The Hartford on Actuary.com JHufford's Avatar
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    As a whole companies are looking for specific examples of how you have handled different situations. Always take your time and think of a good example that pertains to the question. As an Actuary your technical skills are very important, but your ability to navigate, communicate, interact, and build synergy within the team is equally important.

    When preparing for an interview, make sure that you think of difficult situations that you have been in, and how you have handled them. In our organization we are looking for people that are energized, want to be challenged, can deal with and work through difficult situations, and embrace our core values.

    JHufford
    The Hartford

  2. #22
    Actuary.com - Level I Poster
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    This is a silly question about interviewing, but I am still new at all this...

    I have a full-time job now as a school teacher. When should I schedule interviews if they want me in while I am at work? I was told before that it can be considered unethical to take time off of work to go to an interview...but that's the only way I would have time!

  3. #23
    Actuary.com - Level V Poster djerry81's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BillyMac View Post
    This is a silly question about interviewing, but I am still new at all this...

    I have a full-time job now as a school teacher. When should I schedule interviews if they want me in while I am at work? I was told before that it can be considered unethical to take time off of work to go to an interview...but that's the only way I would have time!
    I've always thought personal time was for personal matters....

  4. #24
    Actuary.com - Level I Poster
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    Interview

    If you decide to tell them how great you think their company is and how much you want to work there (which you should) you need to be prepared to answer the question "Why does our company appeal to you, and why do you think you want to work here?" Trust me they will ask!

    Also, I interviewed for a position with 8 other candidates on the same day, and I couldn't believe my eyes when one of the other female candidates walked in wearing an obviously cheap suit and cheap un-ironed button down shirt which she spilled ketchup on at lunch. It's worth it to spend $50 on a nice shirt and spend 10 minutes ironing it, you will look more polished and professional and will be taken more seriously. Also, if you tend to be a messy eater and they take you to lunch or dinner, don't get anything messy, like spaghetti or huge hamburgers, you'll only end up spilling something on yourself. I stuck with a chicken salad just for this reason, I did not want to be wiping ketchup off my face the whole time.

  5. #25
    Actuary.com - Level IV Poster
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    And try to get them nice and liquored up at the lunch. This will make the interview go more smoothly.

    - junk

  6. #26
    Actuary.com - Level II Poster
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    On that note, never accept an offer for wine/beer if it's a lunch or dinner interview.

    A standard pre-interview prep book is Ron Fry's "101 Greatest Answers to the Toughest Interview Questions". Read it. Another great (and very quick) read is "Don't send a resume (and other contrarian rules for landing a great job)." You can find it at Borders bookstore; I skimmed it in about 2 hrs or so.

    If you have a camcorder, you might videotape yourself answering questions like those our veteran posters suggest and like those found in Fry's excellent book.

    Your words are not nearly as important as your non-verbals. Posture, eye-contact, directness (when appropriate) or demurral (when appropriate), bearing, and appearance of being at ease tell the interviewer much more than the syntax and diction of your response. You are being judged on how strongly and pleasingly you project yourself to another person. This is the crucial part of the interview. Unfortunately, it's not something that you can just turn on for an interview. However, you can coach yourself with a feedback technique like the video recorder or another person. It doesn't take that much effort to make big strides. Another great read along those lines is a book titled "Act Natural: How to speak to any audience" by Ken Howard. If you look at it in a certain light, you are auditioning for the part--so it never hurts to cultivate some stage presence!

    Finally, it never hurts to ask if you have the job when the interview is concluded. Sometimes they'll tell you they have other candidates, yadda yadda, but at least you are showing you are earnest. Sometimes the answer is yes. But you'll never know unless you ask!!

  7. #27
    Actuary.com - Newbie Poster
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    How to handle the salary question?

    What are the opinions on how to handle the question of expected salary in an interview? Some say get the employer to throw out a number first, others to not even discuss salary/benefits unless an offer is on the table. How do I get a number out of the interviewer first without being too persistant? Personally, I would prefer not to discuss salary until an offer is made, but how would I do this when the question is brought up during the interview without being too bold?

  8. #28
    Actuary.com - Level V Poster
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    An approach that worked for me:

    Q: What salary do you expect?

    A: Always an interesting question. Let me ask you first, do you think I'm qualified for the job?

    [If not a clear 'yes', pay doesn't matter, you can't get an offer.
    => Resolve the qualification issues.]

    Q: Yes, but what do you expect for pay?

    A: Every company has a budget, a range of pay for each job. Considering the strong reputation of this company, and its competitive position, I'm confident that there's a competitive range for this position. I'm sure I'd be satisfied with a competitive offer.

    [Most will be satisfied with that answer. Some might still press.] Q: What would you consider competitive?

    A: If you'll share the range for this job with me, I can tell you whether it would fit in my budget.

    [If they won't share, you might explore whether they're ready to offer the job.]
    I thought this WAS a real job

  9. #29
    Representative for The Hartford on Actuary.com JHufford's Avatar
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    As a person that has hired over 1000 people in the P&C industry, I would have to say that you need to have an open dialogue about salary from the beginning. If both parties have very different expectations, that is a recipe for wasting a lot of time assessing and interviewing. Most organizations look at market data, internal equity (what people doing the same job are making), and quality of the candidate in developing a pay range.

    If you get to the offer stage it should be pretty clear that both parties are on the same page as far as salary goes. Negotiating for every dime is a bad way to start a new role, and almost all managers do not want to low ball or pay under market value for valued employees, that just leads to disgruntled employees and high turnover.

    The most important thing to keep in mind as you go further in your career is your ability to be challenged, have passion for your job, take advantage of opportunities, and enjoying your work. If you have all those things the salary will take care of itself. If you talk with the more tenured employees they will tell you that the money is not as important as the challenge and passion.

    Feel free to PM me with further questions, as I negotiate offers on a daily basis for one of the largest P&C organizations in the US. Thanks!
    P&C Actuarial Recruitment for The Hartford
    www.thehartford.com/careers/actuary/

  10. #30
    Actuary.com - Level IV Poster
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    Good points. And I would second the "not nickel and diming" sentiment. I don't feel salary discussions should take up a lot of time during the interview. Actuaries are, as JHufford said, valued employees so why would anybody want to ''''' us? Notwithstanding, it is important to at least compare your offer to the national average.

    In my case, the national average for a college graduate with a BS and 1 exam passed was around 58.6 as of April 2007. My offer was lower but came with great rewards including a ton of paid study hours which more than made up for the difference, as well as great facilities (like an on-site library for one) and a lot of support including free study guides, seminars, classes, student actuarial organizations, etc.

    There is nothing wrong with hearing the offer, asking for a little time to think, and calling back before the deadline. Just don't wait too long. And remember that salary is not the only measure of a position's value.

    - junk

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