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Top Actuarial Interview Questions for Experienced Actuaries

Irene Yang7 months ago by Irene Yang
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Have you secured an interview for your next, exciting job opportunity in actuarial? Excellent! But what comes next?

It is important to recognise that an interview is not merely an evolution but rather a selling process. It is about showcasing your strengths by presenting your previous experience and underscoring the value you can bring to the position. Moreover, to highlight your alignment with the organisation’s culture and ambition, which can be achieved through thorough research.

To help you stand out from the crowd in your next interview, this blog will walk you through the following common actuarial interview questions:

  • General questions about you 

  • Technical questions 

  • Soft skills questions

  • Questions about the organisation you are applying to

  • Questions to ask Hiring Managers in the interview

General questions about you

General questions are frequently asked at the beginning of an interview; although it may appear like an icebreaker, it plays a crucial role in establishing the tone for the remainder of the interview. These enquiries enable the Hiring Manager to quickly assess a candidate's technical skills, soft skills, team fit, and career aspirations. Some common questions are:

1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

It might be challenging to know where to begin with the more generic questions. Why not prepare your "elevator pitch" ready in advance? So, you can briefly sell yourself while giving a general overview of your background.

Starting from your past experience, you can highlight the experience you had that are relevant to the position you apply to. Describing your transferable skill sets that would help you to develop further in the position you apply to.

2. What are your career goals? What career aspirations do you have?

It is an opportunity for the Hiring Managers to understand your passion in specific areas of actuarial, and whether it is matched to the position you apply to.

You can start from preparing a long-term career plan. This will show you have a clear career goal in mind and take actions on building your career path to achieve those goal. Try to link your career plan to the position you apply to by answering three questions:

  • Why do you want to work for this organisation?

  • Why do you apply for this position?

  • Why do you think this position can drive you to achieve your career goal? And why you are the best candidate to be considered for this position?

Here is the general outline to help you prepare for the general questions:

  • Select an area you’re genuinely passionate about, such as, Valuation, Pricing, Capital, ALM, Consultancy etc

  • Explain why you’re passionate about it

  • Share your past relevant experience and transferable skills

  • Show your career plan for the next 5 years

  • Highlight how the position you apply to can help you further develop your career profile

Some Hiring Managers may dig deep into your CV and want to know about the details of a specific experience, even it has been long time ago. To be well-prepared for this, spend time on refreshing your memories of each working experience on your CV before the interview. And think about your wins and achievements on the position you’ve done before for different companies.

Technical interview questions

Technical questions are usually used to explore your professional knowledge in specific areas of actuarial and to show the research you have done. The interviewer will be looking for you to show your capacity to provide solutions to practical problems.

This is a fantastic chance to showcase your professional knowledge, strategic thinking. When you structure your answers, try to think about the pros and cons behind the solution you provide, explaining the methodology behind it.

The technical questions can be broken down into the following types:

  • Methodology of the technical principles

  • Questions about reporting process

  • Questions around optimising return on capital under various bases or regimes

  • Consideration related to balance between marketability and profitability for product engineering

  • Statistical or scenarios questions 

  • Coding or actuarial software

  • Presentation of a complicated calculation

Here are some examples of the technical questions that can be asked in the interview:

4. Distinguish between the Hong Kong regulatory and economics capital requirements?

5. What are the pros and cons of each capital requirement?

These questions will need you to refresh your knowledge of actuarial terminology and their definitions.

6. How does a capital management actuary help drive the business of the company?

7. Can you compare the different reporting basis of the organisations you’ve previously worked for?

If you have experience from previous roles, this is an opportunity to show your understanding of the interactionsfor insurance liabilities, capital, product, EV, financial reporting, and risks.

To prepare for this question, you could start by analysing the pros and cons of each reporting basis of different organisations and prepare your own comments.

Some other technical questions could include:

8. How can modelling help to facilitate management decisions?

9. What are the considerations in managing participating fund or products?

10. Can you distinguish reversionary bonus products and cash dividend products? Any different consideration when declaring bonus/ dividend?

11. What are the top sales products in the current market? And why?

12. What are the considerations when pricing medical products? And what kind of associated services do you think are important to policyholders?

Situational questions

The situational handling questions require you to provide examples of your previous experience, to help Hiring Manager to explore your soft skills. There are 3 key soft skills needed by actuaries that you may want to show when answering situational questions:

  • Complicated situations handling

  • Communication with counterparts

  • Team management

The common situational questions are:

13. Describe a time when you perform at your best. 

A common technique to answer situational questions is the STAR technique which structures an answer in a logical way:

  • Situation: What were you doing and what was the challenge?

  • Task: What is your goal and targets?

  • Action: What did you do in response to the situation?

  • Result: What was the result? And your takeaways?

14. Examples on how you have managed conflict between different counterparts/ stakeholders?

Actuaries often work closely with different counterparts, such as, finance, product, sales and risk. It is common to face a challenging situation when you liaise with different stakeholders.

Describe a project or a situation when you successfully manage the conflicts of different shareholders’ interests. This can show the Hiring Manager that you are able to read situations, adjust behaviours and build an effective communication.

15. Questions to explore your managerial skills.

If you are applying for a leadership position, the Hiring Manager may want to see your excellent people management skills through the following questions:

  • What is the process and consideration when reviewing the subordinate’s reporting/ work?

  • Examples on how you supervise junior members within the team, and coaching them on the knowledge about actuarial, product and the industry.

Questions about the organisation or company

Try to learn everything you can about the organisation's development and value by checking out its website and social media channels. Look at their product portfolio, new products, and the market trends or regulations affecting the sector, consider how they differentiate themselves from other competitors and where they are positioning in the sector.

Some common questions include:

16. What are the current market trends, regulations, or legal framework in the sectors that affect our organisation?

In year 2024, the new financial reporting standard IFRS 17 and the new Hong Kong RBC Regime will be implementing in Hong Kong. These represent the most significant change to the insurance industry including the product design, investment strategies, reinsurance treaties and many other aspects.

Therefore, relevant questions may be asked in the interview:

  • How does the new reporting standards towards IFRS17 impact our products?

  • How does IFRS17 affect the accounting process and actuarial system?

  • What are the potential changes to Strategic Asset Allocation when implementing RBC?

  • How does the Hong Kong RBC impact our product design?

Try to demonstrate your understanding of how these new standards influence actuarial practices, financial reporting, risk management and underwriting decisions. You can start with your opinions towards the pros and cons of the new standards, and the potential challenges the organisation may be facing. This knowledge will impress interviewers and showcase your ability to navigate the complex regulatory landscape.

Questions to ask Hiring Managers in the interview

It is helpful to prepare a variety of examples of your work, that you can then tailor to a question.

Hiring Managers will also give you an opportunity to ask questions. These are some of the great questions to ask in the interview:

  • What is the team culture like? 

  • What is the future career path for the position?

  • What are their expectations or measurement of success when first starting the role? What are the key goals for the first 3 years in the position?

Remember one of the goals of the interview is to make a great impression. Therefore, try to avoid asking the following questions since these can be covered with HR and recruiters.

  • Working hours & work flexibilities

  • The budgets of the position

Key takeaways when preparing for your actuarial interview

In summary, here are the key points you can consider when preparing for your next actuarial interview:

  • Research the organisation and learn about the job role. 

  • Look at the current industry trends and new regulations that are applicable to the organisation. 

  • Refresh your knowledge of actuarial technical areas and their definitions. 

  • Create a timeline of your own career and any key achievements. 

  • Prepare a few situation-handling examples in your previous roles. 

An interview is a selling process to show your positive attitudes and your strengths to the Hiring Managers. If you don’t fully understand some of the questions, don’t be afraid to ask questions to clarify your understanding. If you can’t answer a question, be honest that you don’t know they exact answer, but instead use the opportunity to demonstrate what you do know, and how you would find an answer to their question.

Do you need help finding your next actuarial position?

Visit our actuarial page to explore the exciting current job opportunities in insurance, reinsurance and consulting across Hong Kong and mainland China. Or submit your CV and one of our specialist consultants will be in touch.

About the author

Irene Yang - Director in Actuarial, Hong Kong

Irene joined Gravitas in 2014. She is incredibly passionate about recruitment and has consistently won awards for being the Top Biller in both Asia and Globally, along with Top Manager Awards. In her role as Director, Irene leads over 25+ experienced consultants to deliver professional recruitment services for Gravitas clients.

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