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  #41  
Old 11-21-2005, 11:25 PM
keeya9 keeya9 is offline
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any updates Jack?
more interviews, landed a job?

Good luck - this post is awesome.
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  #42  
Old 11-23-2005, 01:11 AM
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Grue Grue is offline
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Yep, a great thread. The only bad thing about it is that it's incredibly depressing: The author seems to have decent credentials and be doing everything right but still can't get a job even after looking for a year.
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  #43  
Old 11-23-2005, 01:43 AM
jackj109 jackj109 is offline
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Great, Now I'm depressed.

I think I need to "step it up a notch" and "get professional" and have the "x factor". I think I'm smart enough and personable enough to get one of these jobs, but maybe just barely. I'm not sure.

It's funny, for one interview I had to answer some simple technical questions from an Excel spreadsheet. When I went in I saw some of the answers from other people's sheets--they were the same answer, worded almost exactly identically as mine. It makes me realize how much more I have to do if I'm going to distinguish myself.

Anyway, I've been looking since May, it's not a year yet if that makes you less depressed.

Thanks for the good luck keeya
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  #44  
Old 11-24-2005, 02:52 AM
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Grue Grue is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jackj109
Great, Now I'm depressed.

I think I need to "step it up a notch" and "get professional" and have the "x factor". I think I'm smart enough and personable enough to get one of these jobs, but maybe just barely. I'm not sure.
Sorry, didn't mean to depress you! But really, you should have mentioned earlier that you didn't have the X-factor. How can you possibly get a job without that?? But seriously, it may not be necessary but it definitely helps. I bet this guy does really well in interviews.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jackj109
It's funny, for one interview I had to answer some simple technical questions from an Excel spreadsheet. When I went in I saw some of the answers from other people's sheets--they were the same answer, worded almost exactly identically as mine. It makes me realize how much more I have to do if I'm going to distinguish myself.
Do you get asked Excel questions often? I had always thought employers would let you learn on the job (considering Excel is relatively simple compared to programming languages like Haskell or whatever), but maybe this isn't the case. If Excel is a must for interview questions what study materials would you recommend?
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  #45  
Old 11-24-2005, 08:57 AM
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I got nailed down with an excel question last week. I've used excel not-so-recently in preparing for exam M, but I had a difficult time describing all those exercises as "applications".

Side Note: My phone interview was for a major insurance company. The interviewers were all actuaries (and there were more than two of them; it was a conference call). What really threw me off was the silence with which I was greeted after almost every answer. Aside from the times the head interviewer softly mumbled something about "ok, that was a good answer", I just didn't know if I was expected to elaborate or not. I chose to elaborate-BIG mistake! I found out afterwards that they felt I spoke too much ("non-stop", I was told!). Oh, and I was prepared for the questions (except for that excel one). What they wanted to know, I told them (granted, this is my perspective, not theirs).

Advice Note: If you're told at the onset of the interview that one of the reasons they would like to speak with you is to "hear your voice", don't believe it! I think they're just looking for an excuse to do some weeding, especially if we're discussing a large firm. And these were actuaries, mind you all! Not HR.

Just my (unfortunate) experience.
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  #46  
Old 11-24-2005, 12:25 PM
jackj109 jackj109 is offline
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"Uh, yes, we just would like to hear your voice and then decide we don't like it."

Anyway, like it's been said in this thread, I think the point of the phone interview is to find out whether you can actually talk, and whether you can make them like you.

Grue: Excel isn't a must for interview questions, but most places I've interviewed with are basically assuming you're already pretty handy with it. Generally the only question they'll ask is how good you are with it. The only way to learn it is to start using it, so just balance your checkbook or analyze a math problem or sports stats or whatever in it.
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  #47  
Old 11-24-2005, 12:31 PM
Westley Westley is offline
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"hear your voice" - that's similar to "how are you doing today?" - it's introductory chatter to get everybody comfortable and set up the call. Meaningless.

I have to think Excel skills as part of an interview is still pretty uncommon. Never heard of anybody that does that, although I'm not surprised that there are a few that do.

Speaking too little/too much is a tough line to draw. Two things to consider: are you still answering their question or have you gone onto a tangent? Are you telling them something that gives them a reason to hire you? If you can't answer yes to one of these (preferably both), then you should definitely stop talking. Other than that, it's a lot of personal preference. Bear, you could do the exact same thing in your next interview and have them extend an offer because you are such a great speaker, and they are used to having shy actuaries interview.

And, all interviewing is about weeding, as are all resume screens, etc.
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  #48  
Old 11-24-2005, 02:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Westley
Bear, you could do the exact same thing in your next interview and have them extend an offer because you are such a great speaker, and they are used to having shy actuaries interview.
I understand this, Westley. Thank you.

Still, that 3-5 second pause after you've answered their question can be very disconcerting. Over the phone, you're somewhat guessing as to what they want from you. I know it's been suggested to guide the interview into a more discussion-like atmosphere, but that just can't happen over the phone, unless you're dealing with some very wishy-washy interviewer(s). Jumping in with your own questions, however related they may be with the last one you've just answered, comes across as quite tactless (read: "Yes! We didn't know how to deal with you, so we'll let you show us the way thankyousomuchitwasgettinghotinhere..."). An in-person interview may well be different, as the aspect of eye contact/ facial expression plays a role.

In short, while I agree with your assertation that a future interviewer might very well appreciate a more talkative candidate (several hiring managers on the forum have posted sarcastic remarks about the strong, silent types), it really comes down to a guessing game. Oh well, nobody said life was fair!
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  #49  
Old 11-24-2005, 07:45 PM
jackj109 jackj109 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BearID
Still, that 3-5 second pause after you've answered their question can be very disconcerting.
Maybe they're taking notes or trying to figure out which question to ask next.
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  #50  
Old 11-25-2005, 03:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BearID
Still, that 3-5 second pause after you've answered their question can be very disconcerting.
I think you just need to feel at home with those pauses. This is a silly way of looking at it, but I've heard that when there is a pause whoever speaks first "loses". People, especially when insecure or nervous, tend to hate conversational pauses and feel they have to jump in. But most people love the sound of their own voice and won't hold it against you if you let them talk most of the time. (If they wanted to hear more they could ask you a followup question.)

Here's one trick for teaching a discussion seminar when none of the students want to say anything: ask them a question and then wait for someone to say something. If no one says anything just patiently wait there, looking at them. It can be disconcerting because dozens of people are just staring at you for 30 seconds while you stand there doing nothing, but it always seems to work---one of them will cave first. Uhh so anyway when in doubt shut up I think.
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