If you’d like to be hired as an actuary, you’ll need to equip yourself with some basic knowledge of what the job requires, including how to manage risks for businesses. Acing the interview is one of the first steps you’ll need to take and this guide will help you do just that.
Read on to find out common actuary interview questions and learn about other relevant information like actuary skills, interview preparation tips, how to find jobs, and FAQs about interviewing for an actuary position.
What Is an Actuary?
An actuary gauges financial risks for companies by employing mathematics and analytical skills. They use statistical data to help their clients minimize financial risk and analyze the potential outcome of financial uncertainties. They have a good understanding of financial systems and use their mathematical skills to solve complex financial issues.
They typically have an academic background in mathematics, statistics, economics, actuarial science, physics, finance, or insurance, and work in financial institutions, insurance companies, and government organizations.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for actuaries in 2020 was $111,030. Actuaries have a job outlook of 24 percent, 16 percent above the average for all occupations. Actuaries generally have at least a Bachelor’s Degree in Actuarial Science, Mathematics, or Business.
Answers to the Most Common Actuary Interview Questions
Actuarial interview questions and answers will vary, but some common questions can be expected. This section will cover some of the most frequently asked behavioral, general, and technical questions asked during a job interview.
Top 5 Technical Actuary Interview Questions and Answers
Technical questions test your practical ability in the specific role you’re applying for. The interviewer wants to know your skill level and your thought process.
What are the most important actuarial software and which ones are you proficient in?
This question gauges how much you know about software commonly used in the industry. Interviewers want to know if you can use the software they use and if you have any further knowledge that could help them utilize different software in the future. It’s important to know actuary tools that could help you in the specific position you’re applying for.
An example answer would be: “A few of the most important actuarial software products are Milliman Actuarial Software Solutions, Moses, Prophet, RMISWeb, SAS, TAS, and Towers Watson. I am most familiar with Moses, Prophet, and SAS because I used them in my previous roles. I am also currently learning Milliman Actuarial Software Solutions.”
What topics and skills should an actuary be proficient in?
The interviewer wants to know your skills as an actuary and wants to see if you can perform the role efficiently. There might be follow-up questions after this so your answer should be straightforward.
Here’s an example answer: “An actuary needs to be proficient in mathematics, statistics, regression analysis, accounting, finance, and economics. I also have computer science knowledge and excellent communication skills, which have aided me in my career.”
What are actuarial life tables? How are they used?
To be employed for an actuary role you need to be familiar with basic knowledge of the field. This question is asked to see if you know the essential duties of an actuary.
An example answer is: “Actuarial life tables are statistical charts that are used to show details about life expectancy for a specific group. They show the probability of occurrences in the lives of individuals. For instance, a life table can show you the probability of a person dying before their next birthday for each age. They are very useful in the insurance industry and healthcare.”
What is an actuarial report? How is it used?
Actuaries have processes you need to follow when performing duties. This question is to see how familiar you are with those processes.
“An actuarial report is a statement on an organization’s current and future conditions to determine if it is on track to meet the expectations of its stakeholders. When it comes to a specific risk, it will include an assessment of the risk as well as the factors that influence it.”
What is lognormal distribution in insurance?
The purpose of this question is to test your expertise and see if you have enough experience to fit the role you’re applying for. To answer this, you should get straight to the point and explain what the term is and how it is used by insurance actuaries.
Here’s an example answer: “Lognormal distribution is a positively sloped probability distribution with a range of zero to infinity that is used as a model to claim size distribution. It is best used for a statistical model of insurance claim sizes.”
Top 5 Behavioral Actuary Interview Questions and Answers
Behavioral interview questions are to see what kind of personality you have and how you might fit in with the company culture. The interviewer wants to know your work ethic, level of interpersonal skills, and how you deal with stress.
What is your biggest motivation?
This question is to see if you are self-motivated and can keep going even in difficult times. The interviewer wants to know if you will let losses and pressure affect how you work. To answer questions like this, you can frame it in terms of personal accomplishments.
For example: “I am highly self-motivated but I always find it externally motivating to work for a renowned company like yours. Being able to make an impact on so many lives with the inclusiveness of your company is enough to keep me motivated and do my best job.” This answer can be tailored to fit the specific career option you are applying for.
What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
Most times the interviewer can tell what your strengths and weaknesses are from your mannerisms during the interview. To answer this question, you should be aware of the strengths needed for the role and tailor your answer to them. You should also ensure that your answer fits your personality and is not overreaching.
An example is: “My greatest strength is my commitment to my work. Whatever role I find myself in, I always give it my all and strive to learn and better myself. My greatest weakness is that I find public speaking difficult. Although I don’t enjoy speaking in front of large groups, I know that practice is what combats this fear, so I am taking a public speaking course.”
What does your ideal workplace look like?
This question is to see if the company is the right fit for you and vice versa. You should be honest about the question as you need to work in a comfortable environment. You should do some research on the company before the interview to see what their work environment is like and tailor your response to it.
“I like a work environment where I can showcase my skills and not feel restricted. I see that your company encourages employees to be individuals while also promoting teamwork. This is my ideal workplace because I know that teamwork fosters creativity but solitude fosters productivity.”
Tell me about a time you made a mistake and what you learned from it?
You should not go on instinct and say you have not made any mistakes. That is impossible and the interviewer knows it. They want to see if you take responsibility for your own mistakes and if you learn from them.
An example is: “I once made a mistake with an actuarial spreadsheet I had already sent to a client. When I noticed it, I corrected the initial spreadsheet and sent it to the client along with an apology explaining my mistake. This taught me to pay more attention to detail and always double-check every task before moving forward.”
Tell me about a time when you had to make a difficult decision.
This is a question to test your decision-making skills and see if you can be left to make important decisions on your own. To answer this, you should consider your professional experience and the job description.
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An example is: “In my previous role as an actuary, a colleague made a costly error. No one other than myself was aware of the mistake and I was conflicted about the next step to take. I decided to approach the colleague directly and have them inform our superiors that they made a mistake. They were hesitant at first, but eventually agreed, and the case was settled without significant damage.”
Top 5 General Actuary Interview Questions and Answers
General questions are used by the hiring managers to get to know you and gauge what research you have done about the company. They are typically straightforward and not as difficult as technical and behavioral questions.
What are relevant actuary skills?
The purpose of this question is to test your knowledge of actuary requirements and skills. The interviewer wants to know how much you know about the profession and if you have the skills needed for the role.
A good way to answer this is: “An actuary needs to have skills in math and statistics, business and finance, and basic programming skills in spreadsheets, databases, and statistical programs. They also need to have strong critical-thinking, problem-solving, decision-making, and communication skills.” You can also provide an example of when you used one or more of these skills.
What are the responsibilities of an actuary?
With this question, the hiring manager wants to test your understanding of the actuary role. Your answer should be clear, concise, and confident to ensure you know what you are talking about. It should also be in line with the job description.
“An actuary is responsible for compiling statistical data and information for analysis, developing and testing hypotheses about company risk factors, assessing the likelihood of an event occurring, and predicting the possible impact. They also brainstorm solutions for managing financial risks and report their findings to company executives and clients.”
What are the benefits of working as an actuary?
The hiring manager wants to know if you find your work fulfilling. Your answer to this should be straight to the point and mention the benefits of the role as described in the job description.
An example is: “Working as an actuary comes with benefits like flexible working hours, high salaries, and solving problems, which I find very engaging. All of these align with my career path which lets me enjoy my job.”
What is the role of an actuary in an insurance company?
The hiring manager needs to know that you understand the role that you are applying for and also determine your expertise level. This question will also determine how the rest of the interview will go.
“The role of an actuary at an insurance company is to analyze specific risk factors for events that will affect the company’s customers using statistical models and analysis. They analyze all events covered by the insurance company.”
What makes you stand out from the other candidates?
The point of this question is for the hiring manager to know your strongest qualities. Your answer should focus on your top skills, knowledge, and experience that fit the role you are applying for.
“I have three years of experience as an actuary and multiple certifications that have helped me improve my skills over time. I understand the role and know what to expect from the job and I have worked on projects similar to those that your company focuses on. I understand what it takes to achieve good results.”
Tips to Prepare for an Actuary Interview
1. Research the company
You should do some research on the company before your interview. This will help you understand the job description better and know what kinds of questions to expect.
2. Read the job description
Job descriptions contain a lot of information that you need to know before the interview. You will know the roles and responsibilities of the job, the expectations of the company, and the required level of expertise. It will also help you know what to expect from the hiring managers and what to prepare for.
3. Have an interview prep session
The job description will give you an idea of what to expect from the interviewers. You should use this to research possible questions, have question lists, and have a mock interview to help build your confidence and familiarize yourself with potential questions.
What Skills Should I Put on My Actuary Resume?
Actuarial analysts are known for their skills in mathematics, statistics, calculus, analysis, project management, communication, and critical thinking.
Specialized Math Knowledge
Actuaries must have specialized mathematical skills in calculus and statistics as they deal with numbers regularly. They need to be able to do basic arithmetic quickly and correctly since actuaries deal with quantifying risks and determining the probability of specific events.
Strong Analytical, Project Management, and Problem Solving Skills
Actuaries work with a large amount of complex data, identifying patterns and trends to determine the factors that influence specific outcomes. To evaluate and weigh the significance of determining factors, they must have strong analytical and problem-solving skills.
Excellent Communication Skills
Actuaries must have strong verbal and written communication skills because they work with a variety of people within organizations. They should be able to write reports and explain complex statistical details to a wide range of people.
How to Find Actuary Jobs
There are various mediums that can be explored to find a job as an actuary. You have the option of checking company websites, career sites and applications, industry communities, and professional networking.
Career Sites and Apps
There are various career sites and apps that post general job vacancies in a variety of industries and also sites specific to actuaries. Some examples of general sites are LinkedIn, Indeed, Glassdoor, and ZipRecruiter. There are also specific job sites for actuaries, including theactuaryjobs.com, actuary.com, jobs.soa.org, and actuarialcareers.com.
Most companies have a career page where they post job vacancies in their company. You can use this to your advantage by checking for vacancies in companies you would like to work with and apply online.
The majority of industries have communities you can join. The communities can be used to build a professional network and make connections with others in the industry. This way you are likely to learn about available any actuarial analyst position in the industry and apply.
Actuary Interview Questions FAQ
How do I prepare for an actuary interview?
To prepare for an actuary interview you should research the company, understand the job description, and get familiar with common actuarial analyst interview questions and answers through interview prep.
Why do you want to become an actuary interview question?
“I want to become an actuary because I am passionate about math, I enjoy challenges, and the career is top-rated. Also, it offers good job opportunities, job security, the opportunity for growth, and high pay. It aligns with career goals and I like the prospect of personal and professional growth.”
What qualities make a good actuary?
The qualities of a good actuary are analytical problem-solving skills, math and statistical skills, business and finance skills, and communication skills.
Why do you love being an actuary?
“I love being an actuary because I get to practice what I love, I get to exercise my brain, and also solve problems. It is also a well-respected career with many opportunities for growth, flexible working time, and a high salary.”
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