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Actuarial and maths applications and interviews

Bruce Woodcock

University of Kent Careers & Employability Service

You can download a copy of this presentation at

Actuarial and Maths Applications and Interviews

Research by forum3 found
Research by forum3 found:

  • The average graduate will send out 70 CVs when looking for their first graduate job. The average number of responses is 7 including 4 rejections and the remainder inviting the graduate to interview or further contact.

  • The more CVs you send out the more interviews you get.

  • Applicants who addressed their application to the correct named person were 15% more likely to get a letter of acknowledgement and 5% more likely to get an interview.

  • Applicants sending CVs and letters without spelling mistakes are 61% more likely to get a reply and 26% more likely to get an interview. The most common mistakes not found in a spell check were: fro instead of for, grate: great, liased: liaised, stationary: stationery.

Check yore speling
Check yore speling!

  • BSc. And MSc. Not Bsc or MSC!

  • I am a prefectionist and rarely if if ever forget details.

  • Proven ability to track down and correct erors.

  • At secondary school I was a prefix

  • But I was not aloud to be captain

  • In my spare time I enjoy hiding my horse

  • I hope to hear from you shorty

  • [email protected]

Competency questions
Competency Questions

  • The hardest part of the form for most applicants - asking for examples of specific skills such as teamwork, leadership, problem solving e.g.

  • Describe how your personal planning and organisation resulted in the successful achievement of a personal or group task.

  • Give an example of where others have disagreed with your views. How did you deal with this?

Competency questions1
Competency Questions

Answers could come from

  • vacation or part-time work;

  • university clubs and societies;

  • voluntary work;

  • study at school or university – especially projects;

  • holidays and travel or personal and family experiences. Planning and organising a week’s independent travel in Scotland is as valid an example as a trek through the Himalayas.

The star approach
The STAR Approach

  • One way of answering these questions is via the STAR approach - Situation, Task, Action and Result.

  • It's a bit like a mini essay.

  • Situation and Task are usually combined and form the introduction

  • The Action you took, should form the main body of your answer

  • The Result should be your conclusion

The star approach1
The STAR Approach

  • S Whilst employed at Weaver Bros. last summer

  • T I was given the task of rationalising the stock control system

  • A I would look at factors such as when the stock was last ordered, what it was used for and how often it was used. I worked out a method of streamlining the paperwork involved in this process and redesigned the relevant forms, which I then submitted to my manager.

  • R My ideas were accepted and implemented and a 15% reduction in stock levels was achieved“

The good
The good…….

Please describe a time when you saw an opportunity to really make a difference for the future of a group, an activity or yourself. What did you do?

During the summer of 2003, I was recruited to be part of a two-month, six-man roadshow travelling around the M25 area promoting tennis and Ariel Liquitabs. Within the first week of the roadshow the event manager resigned and I applied to take over this role. Although I had no specific previous experience, I felt it was a great opportunity to stretch myself and make a difference to my future. I was accepted as the new event manager and took over the very next day, it was extremely difficult initially, but I drew on my experiences of Head of School and captains of numerous sports teams and settled into the role relatively quickly. My role necessitated dealing with a vast range of individuals from Sainsbury’s Managers to children as young as 5 years of age, which improved my interpersonal and communicational skills. In addition, my motivational skills were also tested, as I was constantly required to motivate my staff due to the roadshow becoming monotonous in the latter stages. The roadshow appeared to be a real success with the tennis clubs receiving a 10% increase in applicants and rival soap powder brands putting on extra promotions. The feedback I received on how I managed the roadshow was extremely positive and I have subsequently been put forward to manage numerous other events.

Rising to the challenge

Selling self

Influencing a variety of people

Tangible results

The ridiculous
The ridiculous...

  • Mealtimes are a difficult and challenging time as this is one affair when my friends and I are truly tested in our decision making skills.

  • There has been more than one occasion where a unified agreement on what to do about dinner has proven to be a problem. I therefore take it upon myself to be the spokesperson for the group. One example would be where two of my friends wanted chicken nuggets and hence wished to go to McDonald’s while three others preferred the Chicken Royale from Burger King as opposed the the McChicken Sandwich one can get at McDonalds. Using my initiative, intuition and lateral thinking I suggested that we all go to KFC instead. My reasoning was that this was that KFC do chicken popcorn and are a far better choice than chicken nuggets. While their Fillet Tower Burgers are a step up from the standard Burger King Chicken Royale as they have a hash brown in them as well. Thus using some originality of thought, a certain degree of diplomacy and a persuasive tongue I convinced them all to join me at KFC.

Does not bring the group with them.

No explanation of how.

No recognition of others’ opinions.

And the hopeless
And the hopeless …

  • "I have a criminal record but I'm not in jail at the moment"

  • "I have good writen comunication skills"

  • "I want experience in a big sex practice"

  • "I enclose a tea-bag so you can enjoy a cuppa while perusing my form"

  • "If called to interview I would like to discuss the salary, pensions and sickness benefits"

  • “Would you say their are any skill shortages in the UK for actuary's ie their enough out their, is their a shortfall of any kind of actuary?” In an email from an HBOS HR manager!

Hypothetical questions

  • "How would you deal with an irate customer?”

  • Interviewer picks up an object from the desk. "Sell me this pen".

  • BA pilot - asked what he would do if he met the captain wearing a dress in the hotel bar.

Why do you want to join us
Why do you want to join us?

  • NOT “Because you are a prestigious international organisation”!

  • Demonstrate that you have carefully researched the employer and tie your knowledge of them into the skills and interests that led you to apply.

  • Find some specific feature on which the employer prides themselves: their training, their client base, their individuality, their public image.See our Commercial Awareness

Aptitude tests on computer
Aptitude Tests On Computer

  • Many organisations now have tests during your on-line application) to quickly reduce the number of applicants to manageable quantities.

  • Practice on our on-line practice tests. Aptitude Test Web Page Numerical and verbal reasoning tests plus links to on-line tests

  • Also eFinancialCareers – 3 maths tests

Streamed videos
Streamed videos

  • On-line Applications

  • Interviews - KPMG

  • Selection Centres


Other links
Other Links

  • Help with applications and interviews

  • Actuarial CV

  • Maths CV

  • What can I do with an Actuarial degree?

  • What can I do with a Maths degree?

  • Inside Careers Actuarial Careers Guide

  • Vacancy

Moodle careers employability award
Moodle Careers Employability Award

Comments from students who have completed the award

The amount of time put into this is astounding! I actually spoke to friends from other universities who said they wished they had something like this.

I enjoyed the depth of the module. It went far beyond some general tips on how to write a good CV and prepare for an interview. Rather it went in to detail about the whole process of graduate job search from the beginning to the end. It was very instructive .

The module is very, very useful! I really love how it makes you to think about your personality and helps you to identify your strengths and weaknesses.

Comments from students who have completed the award

It really blew my mind with some ideas I’ve never known before, such as portfolio working and working from home. I never thought about obtaining happiness from my work before.

It was so easy, quick and I learned a lot.

I found the module to be highly thought-provoking as it really encouraged me to consider how my degree will benefit my future and what I can be doing now to improve my graduate employment prospects.

Without realising, you have finished the course and have already put together a very good CV and covering letter.

You get a really nice certificate!

It has made me feel a lot more confident when it comes to applications and interviews and has also made me think about skills that I didn't think I had before.

It would be mad to apply for a job or attend an interview without doing it!

Before the course I had only a vague idea of my career path and opportunities. Now I am applying for summer internships and know how to effectively sell my skills to a prospective employer and have a much more focused plan for my future.

I recently had a very successful interview largely because I put the advice on the module into practice.

Location of the careers service
Location of the Careers Service spoke to friends from other universities who said they wished they had something like this.

  • Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays including vacations.

  • The Careers Web Site is available 24/7

Making applications

Bruce Woodcock spoke to friends from other universities who said they wished they had something like this.

University of Kent Careers & Employability Service

You can download a copy of this presentation at

Making Applications

INTERESTS spoke to friends from other universities who said they wished they had something like this.

  • Reading, cinema, travel,

  • Cinema: member of the University Film-Making SocietyTravel: traveled through Europe by train this summer in a group of four people, visiting historic sites and improving my French and ItalianReading: helped younger pupils with reading difficulties at school

Action words
ACTION WORDS spoke to friends from other universities who said they wished they had something like this.

Numerical examples
Numerical Examples spoke to friends from other universities who said they wished they had something like this.

Which is the missing number in the sequence?

2 ? 8 16

A. 3 B. 4 C. 5 D. 6 E. 7

? 14 12 11 11

A. 13 B. 15 C. 16 D. 17 E. 28

ANSWERS Q1. 4 Q2. 17

  • Administered under timed examination conditions. spoke to friends from other universities who said they wished they had something like this. These assess logical reasoning and increase in difficulty during the test. Multiple choice with right and wrong answers e.g. numerical and verbal reasoning tests.

  • You are not expected to finish the tests. Your score relates your performance to a 'normed' group.

  • Your score can be used in different ways. There may be a pass mark or the employer may have planned to interview a certain number of candidates, or your score could simply be a further consideration