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  #1  
Old 04-24-2008, 10:13 AM
TZK TZK is offline
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Default How to get a job when you're smarter than the person interviewing you?

A lot of people have insecurities about their own level of competence. People who rely extensively on social structure to get through life. It's relatively easy for these people to mimic the average level of knowledge, but they secretly fear what will happen when they are asked to solve a truly novel problem. But they are good at running around glad-handling other people to boost morale or whatever. So sometimes they get promoted. More so in a developed economy, and in established big business where a large amount of capitol may favor a more conservative approach. But when difficult problems need to be solved, these people are just in the way - and they know it.

People with a natural understanding of the physical world and with a natural competence challenge these people's sense of self worth. It's like looking at the person you were afraid you were supposed to be but aren't. The natural human reaction in a situation like that is of course to try and assault that person's character and beat them down any way you can.

If you are that person with that natural understanding, it can be difficult to hide it completely in case you are being interviewed by someone with these insecurities. Think of all the difference in mannerisms afforded to someone with a natural understanding of the world around them.

The competent person is not reactive. They do not have genuine emotional reactions to things said in a conversation because it's not their first time hearing that idea. You can't fake that. An interviewer with the above insecurities likes seeing that re-activeness, because it makes them feel in control.

This has absolutely nothing to do with, and cannot be related in any way to friendliness or people skills.

Last edited by TZK; 06-12-2011 at 09:08 AM..
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Old 04-24-2008, 10:17 AM
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i still can't figure out if you are real, or the greatest troll in history
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Old 04-24-2008, 10:20 AM
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I'd start with knowing the difference between your and you're and work from there.
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Old 04-24-2008, 10:21 AM
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I didn't get a job in math stuff because I wanna read that much. Long story short, hang with 2pac and you'll be more accepting of the people.
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Old 04-24-2008, 10:28 AM
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With practice, you could learn to respond without memorizing in advance. Actuaries are notoriously poor communicators. Great ideas are worthless if nobody will do anything about them, including giving you a job.

Good actuaries solve other people's problems. Doing it well means understanding and appreciating their perspective. Otherwise they're likely to shelve even your best solutions.

Being "smarter" depends upon the field; "solid" school subjects (e.g., math, science, language) are not the only important areas. Nobody is smarter than everybody else at everything, and thinking you are is evidence of deficient human perception. Excellence in human relations, especially if you're not a "natural" at it, requires real effort.

You might try The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey for starters.
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Last edited by kazh; 04-24-2008 at 10:33 AM..
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Old 04-24-2008, 10:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glassjaws View Post
I'd start with knowing the difference between your and you're and work from there.
It's the internet expect typos

Quote:
Originally Posted by kazh View Post
With practice, you could learn to respond without memorizing in advance. Actuaries are notoriously poor communicators. Great ideas are worthless if nobody will do anything about them, including giving you a job.

Good actuaries solve other people's problems. Doing it well means understanding and appreciating their perspective. Otherwise they're likely to shelve even your best solutions.
That is true, but IMO it is still memorization. It is when you respond to the same questions over and over, you already memorized the best answers a while ago. I do that all the time on certain subjects, but it doesn't work when you go outside the subjects you most deal with.

Think of communication as a gap with two people reaching to pull one of them to the other side. If the other person just pulls back when you reach for them, there is nothing you can do. To connect this to what I am saying, I am implying that if people don't like you for some reason they don't understand they will always refuse to elaborate on their points of disagreement. They will just pretend to agree with you with a defensive smirk, as if they are trying to convince themselves you really don't know anything. What do you do with these people?

In terms of interviewing, I feel like the idea of a newbie being (naturally) self confident is offensive to people who don't have that much self confidence themselves. No matter what I do or say they seem to pull back...

Last edited by TZK; 04-24-2008 at 10:52 AM..
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Old 04-24-2008, 10:50 AM
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Some jobs do require seat-of-the-pants thinking, and actuarial work generally is not one of them. I think it's fine to give the answer "I would have to think about this for a while; could I get back to you on that?" during an interview (not that they'll necessarily like that answer, but it may be a better response than some on-the-spot BS). It's fine to give that answer in a presentation, too.


However, if the job involves explaining actuarial findings to a non-technical group, then you do have to be able to be able to explain certain concepts with a certain degree of fluidity. Having teaching experience helps in this area (and, actually, teaching at a remedial level can really prepare you for this. I've taught GED math, and being able to explain the exact same concept n different ways without losing patience comes in handy here.)


For some things, it doesn't really matter that you understand it - you shouldn't have the job otherwise - but you're not as effective if you can't talk about the bottomline effects of an analysis to other people. You need to realize what level of detail different people need. Some people only need the broadest detail, as they will rely on your abilities that you did whatever analysis correctly; where they have questions, they will probe specifically in that area.


It doesn't matter that you know more than everybody else (or are faster than everybody else) in a particular subject if you can't communicate results so that action is taken. If you cannot communicate with non-experts, then you are going to be very limited in the business world. That may be fine - some positions will require you to talk only with other actuaries and techies - but it will limit you in what positions you can take.
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Old 04-24-2008, 10:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TZK View Post
I honestly believe that the only reason I get a bad reaction from some people is because I don't look like a "math nerd" and I am self confident...

What do you do to make average people feel like you are one of them? Are you female?
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Old 04-24-2008, 10:57 AM
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Heh, this is quality trolling.

I'm sure the rest of society is wrong, and the difficulties you've experienced with communication is entirely our fault. We'll work to match your standards if you can just give us a bit of time. Sorry.
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Old 04-24-2008, 10:57 AM
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I have a hard time believing that folks still take TZK's bait. Oh well.
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