Interview

17 Actuary Interview Questions and Answers

Learn what skills and qualities interviewers are looking for from an actuary, what questions you can expect, and how you should go about answering them.

An actuary is a business professional who analyzes the financial consequences of risk. They use their expertise in statistics, finance, and business to assess financial risks and recommend solutions to businesses and individuals.

If you’re looking to become an actuary, you’ll likely need to go through a job interview. To help you prepare, we’ve gathered some common actuary interview questions and answers.

Are you comfortable with data analysis?

Actuaries use data analysis to make predictions about the future. Employers ask this question to see if you have experience with this skill and how comfortable you are with it. To answer, think of a time when you used data analysis in your previous job or another one. Explain what tools you used and why they were effective for you.

Example: “I am very comfortable with data analysis. In my last position as an actuary, I was responsible for analyzing large amounts of data every day. I would use Excel to organize the data into tables and graphs. Then, I would analyze the data using probability theory and statistical methods. This helped me find trends in the data that allowed me to predict future events.”

What are some of the actuarial certifications you have?

Employers may ask this question to see if you have the necessary certifications for the job. They want someone who has experience and can get up to speed quickly. If you don’t have any actuarial certifications, explain what other certifications you do have.

Example: “I currently hold my FSA certification as an associate actuary. I am also working toward my ASA certification. In addition to these certifications, I have a bachelor’s degree in mathematics with a minor in statistics. I have three years of experience as an entry-level actuary.”

How would you explain a complex actuarial problem to a non-actuarial colleague?

This question can help the interviewer assess your communication skills and ability to simplify complex information. Use examples from past experiences where you had to explain a difficult concept or process to someone who was not familiar with it.

Example: “I would start by explaining what an actuary does, which is calculating risk and probability of events happening. Then I would give them an example of how actuaries use data to make predictions about future outcomes. For instance, if my colleague wanted to know more about life expectancy rates, I would tell them that we calculate this based on age, gender, race and other factors. From there, I would explain how we use these calculations to determine insurance premiums.”

What is your process for identifying and prioritizing problems?

This question can help the interviewer understand how you approach your work and determine which problems to address first. Use examples from past experiences to explain your process for identifying issues, analyzing data and implementing solutions.

Example: “I start by reviewing all of my calculations to ensure that I haven’t made any mistakes. Then, I compare my results with those of other actuaries on my team to see if we have similar findings. If there are discrepancies in our reports, I’ll review the client’s data again to make sure it’s accurate. After confirming the accuracy of the data, I’ll analyze the information to identify trends or patterns that may be causing the problem. Once I’ve identified the issue, I’ll develop a solution to solve the problem.”

Provide an example of a time when you used your math skills to solve a problem.

Employers ask this question to learn more about your math skills and how you apply them in the workplace. When answering, try to choose a time when you used advanced math concepts or solved a problem that helped your employer or another person.

Example: “When I was working as an actuarial intern at my current company, I noticed that our models were predicting lower-than-expected claims for some of our clients. This meant we would have to pay out less money than expected, which is good for the client but not so much for us. So, I decided to investigate further. After looking through all of the data, I realized that there was a mistake in one of the calculations. Once I fixed it, our predictions matched up with what actually happened.”

If you had to choose one skill to help you succeed as an actuary, what would it be and why?

This question is a great way to show the interviewer that you have an understanding of what it takes to succeed in this role. When answering, make sure to choose a skill that you possess and can explain how it helps you be successful as an actuary.

Example: “The most important skill for me to succeed as an actuary would be my ability to analyze data. I am very good at finding patterns within large sets of data, which allows me to find solutions to problems more quickly than others. This skill has helped me save my company thousands of dollars over the past few years.”

What would you do if you were working on a project and you realized you made a mistake?

This question can help the interviewer determine how you respond to challenges and whether you’re willing to admit when you make a mistake. Your answer should show that you are honest, humble and eager to learn from your mistakes.

Example: “When I was working on my bachelor’s degree, I realized I had made an error in one of my calculations for my thesis project. I immediately contacted my professor and explained what happened. He told me he would accept my new work as long as I completed it by the deadline. I worked hard to complete the assignment before the deadline so I could avoid any consequences.”

How well do you work under pressure?

Actuaries often work under tight deadlines. Employers ask this question to make sure you can handle the pressure of working on a project with a deadline. In your answer, explain how you manage stress and stay productive when you have a lot of work to do in a short amount of time.

Example: “I am very organized, so I usually feel prepared for any deadline. However, I also know that unexpected things happen. If I find myself needing to meet a deadline quickly, I will prioritize my tasks and focus on getting the most important ones done first. Then, I’ll move onto the next priority until I’ve completed all of them. This way, even if something comes up, I should still be able to complete the task by the deadline.”

Do you enjoy working on teams?

The interviewer may ask this question to learn more about your interpersonal skills. Actuaries often work in teams, so the interviewer wants to make sure you can collaborate with others and communicate effectively. In your answer, explain that you enjoy working on a team because it allows you to share ideas and opinions with other professionals. Explain that you are willing to take on different roles within the team as needed.

Example: “I do enjoy working on teams because I find it beneficial to have multiple perspectives when solving problems. When working on a team, I am happy to take on any role necessary to help my colleagues succeed. For example, if someone needs me to lead a project, I will gladly take on that responsibility. If they need me to perform research or collect data, I am happy to do that too.”

When was the last time you learned something new?

Employers ask this question to see if you are open to learning new things. They want to know that you’re willing to adapt and grow as an actuary. When answering, think of a time when you learned something new in the past year. Explain what it was and how it helped you with your work or personal life.

Example: “I recently took a course on coding for actuaries. I found it very interesting and helpful because now I can code my own models instead of having someone else do it for me. It’s also more efficient since I can create my own models without waiting for another person to finish.”

We want to attract more millennials to our company. What would you do to appeal to this demographic?

The interviewer may ask this question to see if you have any ideas for attracting younger employees. If you are a millennial yourself, share your thoughts on what would appeal to other people in your age group. If you’re not a millennial, think about the things that attract you to a company and explain how those same factors might appeal to millennials.

Example: “I’m actually a millennial myself, so I know firsthand what appeals to my generation. For one thing, we want to feel like our opinions matter and that we can make an impact at work. We also value flexibility and transparency from our employers. In fact, I’ve noticed that many of my friends who graduated with me are looking for jobs where they can telecommute or work remotely.”

Describe your experience with risk management software.

Actuaries use risk management software to calculate the probability of a financial loss and determine how much money an insurance company needs to keep on hand. This question helps employers understand your experience with this type of software and whether you’re familiar with the types they offer at their company. In your answer, describe what kind of software you’ve used in the past and what you liked about it.

Example: “In my last position, we used Riskalyze for our calculations. I found that it was easy to use and provided me with all the information I needed to complete my work. It also had some great features like being able to compare different scenarios so I could see how changing one variable would affect the outcome.”

What makes you stand out from other actuaries?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your unique skills and talents. They want to know what makes you a valuable asset to their company. When answering this question, think of the most important qualities that make you an effective actuary. You can also mention any certifications or education you have that set you apart from other candidates.

Example: “I am passionate about helping people understand complex financial information. I enjoy working with clients to help them find solutions to their problems. In my last role, I helped a client who was struggling to save for retirement. After analyzing their current budget, I found they could increase their savings by cutting back on their spending. This allowed them to retire early and spend more time with their family.”

Which actuarial certifications do you plan on pursuing?

Employers may ask this question to see if you are committed to continuing your education and professional development. Actuaries who pursue certifications show that they have a desire to learn more about their field, which can be beneficial for the company. In your answer, explain which certification you plan on pursuing and why it interests you. You can also mention any other certifications you might consider getting in the future.

Example: “I am currently studying for my FSA, but I would like to eventually get my CFA as well. I find financial modeling to be very interesting, so I think pursuing the CFA would help me develop my skills even further. I also plan on taking the ASA exam next year.”

What do you think is the most important skill for an actuary to have?

This question is an opportunity to show the interviewer that you have a strong understanding of what it takes to be successful in this role. You can answer by identifying one or two skills and explaining why they are important for actuary professionals.

Example: “I think the most important skill for an actuary is math, as it’s essential to understand complex formulas and calculations. I also believe communication is key because it allows me to share my findings with others and collaborate with other professionals on projects. These two skills allow me to perform my job well and ensure that I’m meeting all of my responsibilities.”

How often do you perform audits?

Audits are an important part of the actuary’s job. Auditing helps you determine if a company is following its own policies and procedures, as well as federal regulations. Your answer should show that you understand how audits work and what they’re for.

Example: “I perform audits at least once per year. I also make sure to check in with my clients on a regular basis to see if there have been any changes or updates to their policies or procedures. This allows me to update our records so we can continue to accurately predict future outcomes.”

There is a mistake in one of your calculations. How do you handle it?

This question is an opportunity to show your problem-solving skills and ability to admit mistakes. When answering this question, it can be helpful to describe a specific situation where you made a mistake in one of your calculations and how you fixed the error.

Example: “When I was working on my actuarial exams, there were several questions that required me to calculate the probability of certain events occurring. In one of these questions, I calculated the probability of a person dying within five years after receiving a life insurance policy. However, when I calculated the probability of death for someone who had already died, I realized I had made a mistake. To fix this mistake, I recalculated the probability of death using only those people who were still alive.”

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