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  #21  
Old 01-28-2005, 01:30 PM
GefilteFish144 GefilteFish144 is offline
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Whew! Makes me glad I don't have to go through that entry-level search again.

Just one thing to add -- if you're graduating in May and don't have a job lined up yet, don't sweat it. I got my first job offer the day I took my last final exam, and there are many companies that don't even start hiring till September. There's still plenty of time.
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  #22  
Old 01-28-2005, 05:39 PM
jackj109 jackj109 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A:Tony
well...i realize it's 27 pages..... :???:....maybe, I'll print it later....but going to SAVE it anyways! Thanks....
I know, it's almost too much to even read...I tried printing it too but I think I'll do it at the library instead.
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  #23  
Old 01-29-2005, 06:44 PM
dude dude is offline
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Thank you very much. As a first year university student, I find it very helpful.

I guess you are a dedicated person. Well, that's what is special about an actuary.

I will save it so that when I graduate in 4 years I make sure I do not forget to apply all advices you gave out.
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  #24  
Old 02-03-2005, 12:42 PM
Axsuetarian Axsuetarian is offline
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Very nicely done!
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  #25  
Old 03-18-2005, 12:38 AM
jackj109 jackj109 is offline
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.....one informational interview and a phone interview later......

I'm updating this thread with some info about phone interviews (and a bit of other stuff thrown in).
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  #26  
Old 03-18-2005, 12:40 AM
jackj109 jackj109 is offline
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QUOTE:


HI all, I've been contacted by a company who would like to conduct initial phone interview, and I'd like to know what type of questions they generally ask as I really want to kick butt on this (my wanted practice area in an ideal location) and been secured further interview.


Most companies ask general questions about your background and classes. Do you prefer to work in groups or by yourself? Tell me about this job you had. Why did you go into actuarial science? Just general stuff like that.

Basically, sound professional, and a little bit excited about the prospect for working for this company and in this city, and somewhat knowledgeable anbout the company and city (what lines they write, rough estimate of how big, what the major tourist attractions are in the city) and you are fine, if it's this kind of interview. I don't think most companies do initial phone interviews using behavioral description interviewing techniques (like described above). However, assuming they might, google "behavioral description interview" and be ready.
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Just keep in mind who you are talking to -- all phone interviews that i had where with the HR people, not the actuaries. So you will get few "give an example in your life when you ..." type questions, few general questions about your background to clarify something in your resume, and any "off the wall" type like "What do you expect ideal company to be like?". The main point of all this is to make sure that you are still looking for this job, that you can talk, and to give you a chance to find out that the position they are really looking to fill in has nothing to do with waht YOU want to do.
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We did behavioral interviewing for the face-to-face interviews, but not the telephone interviews. (No need to scare people off right away , and you also don't get the full benefit of behavioral interviewing if you can't observe their body language.) And we always had the actuaries doing these interviews. (We kept HR as much out of the entire process as we could!) The telephone interview is a pre-screening to see if there are any red flags and to see if there is a possible fit. In addition to the questions that the other posters have already mentioned, be prepared to answer one or two questions about your salary (no point in a second interview if you're already making more than the top of this job's salary range), why you are in the job market, what your are looking for in a new job, what sort of ties you have to the city you're currently in and to the city where the new job is (assuming you're changing locations).

Originally Posted by vincewy
What are typical signs of red flags? If anyone can be more specific, is it due to not been able to answer questions.

As far as behavioral questions, what are they related to?

:P


The behavioral questions that I've heard before (okay, I have asked them) were things like....

"Tell about a situation in which you persuaded a large group to change their course of action" or
"Tell me about a time in which you had to teach/train others and what was the outcome" or
"Tell me about a time in which you had to deal with ambiguity and what the outcome was"....

Sort of tough for college students, but you're looking for someone who can understand the question, think on their feet, and I was hoping to surprise them enough that they give you some real info about how they have actually behaved at some point. So an answer like "my frat was planning a party and I helped us avoid a disaster by buying more grain alcohol and inviting the cheerleaders" or "I tutored this complete blockhead and got him/her through calc by relating the problems to.....".

It is not uncommon for HR to make initial contact via a phone interview. HR is basically the first filter in what can oftentimes be a fairly extensive filtering process.

If you're currently employed, be prepared for the "Why do you want to leave your current job?" question. Say something nice about the company and position you are interviewing for to maneuver across this land mine of a question.
Sometimes the only way to describe a red flag is "I'll know it when I smell it". Possible examples:
* Wanting to leave their current job because everybody they work with is a complete idiot. (OK, sometimes it's true, but more often than not, the person who thinks that way is really the problem, not the people around him.)
* Having passed only 1 exam in the last 10 sittings. (You can try to blame this on your employer, but it's going to be tough if it's been that many sittings. Even if it's true that the employer wasn't giving you the support you needed, you probably showed poor judgement in staying so long.)

Behavioral interviewing involves asking questions about actual situations and events from the person's past. It allows the interviewer to get around the candidate's "canned" answers about how they would handle a particular situation and gets them to focus on how they did handle it the last time it arose (and maybe what they learned from that experience). You might want to check out this thread which got into a discussion about behavioral interviewing toward the end.
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think you will be much better off passing your exam and flanking this interview than other way around. And as far as behavioral questions go, B&N will not help you much. There usually enough follow up questions (if the person talking to you knows what they are doing) to make sure you are talking about YOUR and not somebody else's expirience. One more thing -- don't be afraid to take your time and think. It is better to have a silence for a minute, then start talking before deciding what you want to talk about.

DTNF " My advice is to refuse HR interviews."
In theory, good advice. In practice -- do you really want to miss a chance of your life just because they have a general policy to start with HR?

Favourite behavioural question which helps bring up red flags:
"Tel me about a time when you had to work with a difficult person and how you managed the process"

You can think about group work in school, or part-time jobs or internships, whatever, just make sure that you identify that you got the job done, and that increasing the level of communication was key.
For example:
"I once worked on a project with someone who was very difficult to get along with. I recognized that if we spent more time clarifying exactly what we needed from each other that the job progressed more quickly and with fewer difficulties. I found it effective to provide detailed requests by e-mail and then follow them up with a personal visit or a phone call in case there were any questions"

Do not, EVER, even if it is true, respond that you stayed as far away from that person as possible, avoiding them at all costs. Yes, I did get that answer once, and it was effectively (in my mind) the end of the interview.
Also, there are two types of HR interviews I have seen:

They may spend a half hour getting a good summary of my background, verifying that I speak fluent English (or whatever language is required), and finding out why I want to leave my current company, write it all down and pass it to the actuaries, then tell me about the available positions. I think most good companies do this. I think this is the kind of HR interview mentioned above regarding retirement firms.

The HR may ask Behavioral and other "true interview" questions. This means that the actuaries are not allowed to go outside of the normal recruiting process, and is a bad sign, I think.


As far as passing on the exam, I think there's nothing wrong with saying "I really am interested in this job, but I know your company is interested in me passing exams, can we do this Nov X?". Give yourself at least a couple days after the exam to recover and research.


And, the ONLY WAY to be good at behavioral interviewing is to practice with somebody. Don't bother just reading up on the questions, it won't help. Tell your mom about the time you took a strong leadership role - and make sure she asks the tough follow-up questions (did you feel like you stepped on anybody's toes by asserting yourself?). Tell you bf/gf about the time you performed as a team under pressure. Practice, practice. And, when you are interviewing, even when you think "wow, this is painful, and going really badly, I will never get this job", just keep going - it's probably going better than you think.

would like me to ask if I have ?? about the position. Obviously, I'll only ask intelligent and educated ??s.

My favorite question to ask when I was looking for an entry level position was "If I get this job, what my first assignment most likely will be?" Also useful to ask about on-job training -- people usually like to talk about how much time they spend training new hires, so they will bill be talking and you listening which is a nice thing for any interview.---
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The way I approached it was as follows. I identified a city I thought I wanted to work in, went to the library and found the address and phone for every insurance company in that city and went home, called the company to ask who to direct an actuarial resume to, and then sent out my letter and resume. After a week, I followed up to see if they received it and if there were any questions I could answer about my qualifications.

After 54 rejections, I got two phone screens and finally a face-to-face and landed my current job. After I started, three other companies called me based on the resumes I sent in. It was a brutal process, but like now, the market was tight and it took a lot of work.
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Like I've said in a number of other threads, I think a good cover letter (or introductory email, with resume attached) is key. In your case, you should include something along the lines of:
"I would appreciate the opportunity to discuss my qualifications in more detail, if you would care to arrange a 20 to 30 minute phone conversation" (I'm not loving the wording but, hey, it's not my cover letter )
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No reason to sugar-coat it. The job market is tight. If you don't want a job, don't bother working to find one - plenty of other people will be glad to take the work. If you want to find a job, you may as well know what you're up against - you're up against plenty of people willing to send out resumes by the hundreds in the hopes of landing 10 phone interviews, 3 onsite interviews, and getting one job offer in a crappy economy. Unless you have great exams, outstanding communication skills, 4.0 GPA, etc, expect to work harder to find a job than you will at the job.

By the way, how hard is it to get 54 rejections - I mean, 54 phone calls to follow up on sending a resume, that's really just a couple days, right? Most of them don't have an opening, and you just chat for 2 minutes, ask them to keep you in mind if something opens up. Maybe 10 do you get anywhere, and you spend a half-hour to an hour on the phone. Doesn't seem like that big a deal. If being rejected bothers you, get used to it - it happens a lot, and to really good people.
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hat being said, don't blather, answer the questions that are asked, study a little about the company and the business they are in, and have questions ready to ask. But please, don't say as little as possible.
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We generally try to get a bit better feel for what your specific responsibilities are, how much you do on your own vs. under direct supervision, how well-versed you are with software packages (Microsoft Office, TAS/PTS/other pricing software, Visual Basic, etc.), what languages you have programmed in, what your current salary is (or at least what salary you're looking for), and why you are looking for another job. We also want to know if we are just one of dozens of companies you are considering, if you are desperate to move vs. just checking to see what the market is like, do you have any ties to the city we are in (assuming this involves a relocation for you) and/or why you would want to move here, what you know about our company, and why you would want to choose us. HINT: Look up the company's website before your interview and have some idea of what the company is all about, what products they sell, how big they are, etc.
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Originally Posted by Ballack
Thanks for the advices. I read somewhere that for a phone interview, you shoud dress nicely, stand up, have a mirror in front of you, among other things. Does anyone practice this? Also, what should I say at the end of the interview? Should I ask specific questions about the company just ask what the next step is?


Definitely ask a few questions about the company. It shows you're interested and that you took the time to do a little research. When you're ready to wrap up, then ask what the next step is.


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Good question. I normally call the candidate (at home, either after work hours or on the weekend) to let them know that we would like to have a telephone interview with them, and that it will take about 20-45 minutes. Then I ask them if now would be a good time, or if they would like to schedule it for a later time. About 90% of the time, they are willing to talk now, but if you have applied to numerous companies and haven't had a chance to research them, you could ask to have the phone interview in a couple of days, which would give you time to do your research for that particular company.

Getting back to questions that we normally ask, I thought of another one. I typically ask about the person's exam history IN DETAIL, i.e., when did you first start writing, what did you write each sitting, what grade did you receive, etc. Assuming that they started when they were in college, I ask if they had all or just some of the courses they needed for the exam when they wrote it, and let them talk as much as possible. There are no right or wrong answers to this question, but it sometimes gives you a lot of insight into the kind of person they are.
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Ballack, I see two key differences between a phone interview and an in-person interview: (1) A phone interview is a "screening interview", not a selection interview. You can't get hired based on what you say in a phone interview, but you can get excluded from further consideration. (2) Depending on the company, a phone intervew may be conducted by an HR person who may or may not be terribly knowledgeable about actuaries. For example, in one recent phone interview, the interviewer noted on my resume that I had passed two exams last November and then asked me, "Have you taken any more since then?"

So as far as strategy goes, I would never say "as little as possible", but it might be worthwhile to save some of the "hard sell" for an in-person interview. Mostly they'll want reassurance that you can back up the statements on your resume with documentation and examples, that you really are interested in the job they're offering, and that you're a decent, personable communicator who won't embarrass the screener if he or she sends you on to the next stage for an in-person interview.

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for interviews in general (phone, face2face, other) rule of thumb is talk 50% listen 50%. the phone interview is the great seive (might be spelled wrong, too bad). used to filter OUT people, cut down on the volume of strangers shuffling through the doors (read this as "let's not waste my time, let's not waste your time" - it's a good thing).
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I'd let them know that the position sounds interesting to you (so they know you're not wasting your time), but you've got to be careful not to sound too eager to join the company (since they may feel they don't need to make as favorable an offer to entice you).
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School reputation and GPA are indicators (but not necessarily good indicators) of future performance. From the resume, employers can quickly assess whether or not someone has the ability to learn the work.

The key characteristics employers attempt to discern, particularly for entry level candidates, are:

1. "Fit" -- Will your personality and abilities mesh well with other team members?

2. "Attitude" -- Do you display alacrity with respect to performing your proposed duties or does it appear to sound as dull as a butterknife?

3. "Honesty" -- Do you appear to be a generally trustworthy individual or do you give us the "willies" when we see you?

4. "Maturity" -- Do you appear to take responsibility for your own actions and for matters under your control (e.g., "I'm sorry I was late to the interview, but I was out partying with the girl of my dreams, whom I just met" = one indicator of immaturity)?

For clarification, wheenies fail #3 and #4 simultaneously.
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* You will need to have a good reason why no internships. No a huge deal as long as you have an explanation handy. Not sure what your explanation is but have a ready answer to this question.

* You will need to have a ready answer to questions about the gap between university and seeking actuarial employment. I think traveling and working in Japan with some additional detail should suffice. If you are interviewing with an international company this experience can even be played for bonus point as it makes you a possible candidate for international assignment after you gain some experience.

* Research some of the business aspects of your potential employer. Go to their website and read through recent press releases. Do a google and see what info you can turn up. If you can demonstrate some knowledge about their general business then you are likely a step ahead of most entry-level actuarial candidates.
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Interviewing, especially on the phone, is a lot like a blind date. It's a delicate mixture of first impressions, spin, honesty and politeness.

There are fine lines between honesty, positive spin, bluffing, and lying. Know which side of each of those lines you're on at all times.

Ask. Listen. Take notes if it helps you remember.

If, after the interview, you don't think the company is a good fit, say so. They don't want an unhappy employee any more than you want to be one.

And if they ask about the RF, deny all knowledge!
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I finally have a chance to grab a job interview (Actuarial Assistant) given by a pension+ life insurance company.

Could anyone let me know what kind of knowledge is most likely to be possesed (or asked in the interview) as an Assistant?


Definately go to the company's website and be able to talk intelligently about the company.

Not much is expected technically from a new assistant, but it probably wouldn't hurt to learn what you can about FAS 87. Be able to display a mastery of excel and databases. Of course, demonstrate your committment to completing the exams.

Hope this helps. Good luck.
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Default Re: To the interviewer
Quote:
Originally Posted by urysohn
Week tops, for us. More likely about 1/2 day or so. But others could do all their phone interviews and then pick off a couple candidates, so maybe 1-2 weeks.


So do you think I should call to follow up after a week has passed? And what should I say to the interviewer? Thanks, Urysohn.
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Old 06-23-2004, 01:15 AM
annabel lee annabel lee is offline
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Can't speak for anyone else, but I prefer e-mail to phone calls for this kind of thing.

Dear So-and-so,

I enjoyed speaking to you last week. I'm following up to see if you have any additional questions for me, and to let you know that I'm very interested in the opportunity with XYZ Co. Could you let me know when I might expect to hear back from you?

thanks,
unsure

--
If there's no direct question, you may not get a response. That's why I suggest asking for an ETA on follow-up as a question, rather than saying, "I was wondering when I might hear back from you."
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Don't:

1. Eat or drink anything during the interview
2. Do any other activity during the interview
3. Focus on "what's in it for me?"

Do:

1. Pause (and think) before responding to each question
2. Jot down notes immediately after the interview
3. Research the company and the position as much as possible before the interview. Even research the interviewer, if you know who it will be
4. Have fun. It's only an interview.
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You need to perform well enough to convince the interviewer that you're worth bringing in to the home office. In my experience, that's the easy part. LVB3.5's suggestions are very good.

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ve just been through a lot of phone interviews with consulting companies and all of them were very basic. (Tell me about yourself, why do you want to be an actuary, tell me a time you worked as a team, tell me a time when you made a mistake, do you know the difference between consulting and insurance, and for your situation, what do you bring to the table that will enable you to succeed at a consulting firm, etc.) Of all the phone interviews I've had I never was asked a question that really made me think. No hypothetical questions or anything. Just make sure you know your resume real well and are able to describe all the past experiences you listed. Also, make sure you do some research on the company you are interviewing for since many consulting companies will ask you what you know about them.
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Two phone interviews is a little unusual, but not unheard of.

You must have done OK, or you wouldn't have gotten called for the second interview.

My guess would be that interview one is HR or HR-driven, with behavioral questions and all that hoo-hah to weed out the totally inarticulate and unprepared, and to detect a padded resume. Interview two could be the actually hiring manager who will then do a job related interview and weed it down to the few he/she actually wants to interview in person.

Just a guess.

Try not to stress too much, and good luck.
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It would be similar to phone interview in a consulting firm..
why actuary?
why insurance?
why p&c or why life?
which city?
why nationwide?
exam history etc
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Originally Posted by Dhibs
I have a phone interview with Nationwide Insurance next week. Does anyone have any experience with Nationwide Insurance? I have had 3 interviews so far but all of them with the consulting companies. This is an insurance company, and I was wondering if there would be anything different.. Any help will be greatly appreciated.



I had an interview with Nationwide Insurance. It was for an hour and mostly behavioural questions. The hiring manager didnt call, but there is a designated Actuary to do all interviews. After that, they would want to see your writing skills.
Mine was an entry level position. If yours is higher level, I don't know how it works.
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Originally Posted by chicago_buy
Do HR people sometimes conduct phone interviews for fun or are they serious about it.


Do you have a story you would like to share with the group?
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Old 02-16-2005, 06:32 PM
Sleepy Sleepy is offline
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For Fun? No. They have a few better things to do with their time. For screening purposes? Yes. That is what they are basically for before spending the time, money, and effort to bring someone into the office they want to make sure they can at least have an intelligent conversation and know, somewhat, what they are talking about.
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I agree with Sleepy. When I was screening candidates for my department, it was a way to gauge communication skills and, to some extent, personality. My favorite example of someone who flunked this was a guy with a Ph.D. from Princeton and 2 exams... but NO personality. He answered all my questions in monosyllables.

One thing I began to measure was the ratio of offers to in-office interviews. If it was too low it meant that I was wasting everyone's time bringing in unqualified candidates.
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Regarding percentage of time to talk in an interview. I have heard that it is best to take control of an interview. Then you are asked a question, answer it fully and before they can ask you another question, ask them a question. This does a lot of things.

1) You talk less and therefore have less of a chance of saying the wrong thing or screwing up something. Interviews are a weeding out process, and if they can't find anything wrong with you, this is good.
2) You show interest. Not only can you answer their questions, but you have done some research on the company or position enough to be asking questions.
3) You have changed the interview to a discussion. They ask you questions, you ask them some. An interview that turns into a discussion is a very good thing.
4) You show great communication skills. You listen well, answer their questions and transition to asking them questions.

Talking only 20% in an interview sounds like a good thing to me.
[[[[[[
Interesting advice. If I am interviewing for my company, I will be in control. If you try to take control and dominate, you will not be getting a job. But, there should be some give and take, and somebody who just waits for a question does not score points, either.

Points 2, 3, and 4 are good, but young candidates are not necessarily that adept at doing this without coming off as pushy, problematic, rigid, or scripted. If you can do it conversationally, that's probably good.

Point 1, I generally disagree with. If you want to get invited into the office, and you have a solid resume, then probably the objective is simply not to screw up. If you have a weaker resume, or have already been invited into the office, you need to show me why you are the right person, not just avoid convincing me that you are not the right person. I think that it depends on the company and the interviewer's style, though - it will work for some people, not for others.
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Originally Posted by pali
answer it fully and before they can ask you another question, ask them a question.

To hit on this one specifically: if you ask a question while I am looking at your resume for my next question, then you are likely making it into an interesting conversation. If you cut me off before I can spit out what I want to say, that's strike one.

Also, for all of those interviewees who are struggling and trying to figure out whether you can even find a job in this field, read pali's sig line.
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Don't talk too fast, and don't be nervous if there is a small pause in the conversation.

Good luck!


Given that you're speaking to me right now, I would say your chances of getting hired are slim. You need to "wow" me.

You're pursuing actuarial work because you want to do something with your math skills.... blah, blah, blah.

What I really want to know is how will you improve my bottom line?


Stumbled on this in an old issue of Reader's Digest (Aug 2003, pg210). Maybe it'll help someone.

Making More Confident Calls
Nearly 80% of workers prefer e-mail to the phone. blah blah blah
(Here are the tips)
Stand up Your voice will be more energetic. Supersonic mentioned this.
Don't cradle the receiver Instead hold it 3 inches away from your mouth. You'll sound less muffled and more like you're there in person.
Just talk Don't multitask. You'll sound distracted,
Take a pause If you get flustered take moment to collect yourself. silence is better than ums and ahs because it projects thoughtfulness.[/u]



Originally Posted by glenn
Deepen your voice (women too). The three inches from the mouthpiece is sound advice.
Actually, that's an interesting point. Why do you think so? I always wanted to have a higher pitch, sometimes even try to speak higher when I practice for the phone interview. Thought that's more vibrant or dynamic or something.


Originally Posted by glenn
Deepen your voice (women too). The three inches from the mouthpiece is sound advice.
Actually, that's an interesting point. Why do you think so? I always wanted to have a higher pitch, sometimes even try to speak higher when I practice for the phone interview. Thought that's more vibrant or dynamic or something.

It's a 'well-known' technique, along the lines of keeping the phone about two fingers-widths away from your mouth.

I spent a lot of years on the phone and used to occassionally get told I sounded like a radio announcer. I did some reading on the subject to better my self in my job - the deep voice thing does sound better on the phone.
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Here's are some good tips I have heard from my sales manager during my brief sales stint in college: during the conversation go someplace quiet where there are no distractions; dress up for the phone conversation - this will give you additional confidence; sit in front of the mirror and look at yourself as you speak; write up several questions for the interviewer in advance and if the conversation stumbles, ask those questions; be overly enthusiastic as the interviewer cannot see you and it is harder for your enthusiasm to get through to her.
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It sounds like you're focusing more on "saying the right thing" instead of just stating the truth.

If that is the approach you are taking, be very, very careful - most people will see through the canned answers, especially if they aren't sincere.

(And if I'm way off here in your case, I apologize, but it's still good advice in general.)
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"Because the actuarial profession is the perfect marriage between math skills and business skills."

Pretty good answer, eh? I once gave that answer in a phone interview and the interviewer replied, "That's a good answer." Unfortunately, I did not get invited for an on-site interview, so that tells you how badly I did in the rest of the interview; but luckily rishi is only inquiring about the part that I aced. So there you go, rishi -- the perfect one-sentence answer. When you get the job, I will be requiring a fee of ten percent of your first-year's salary.
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Old 04-12-2005, 12:05 PM
zeroEthix zeroEthix is offline
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priceless

thank you
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Old 07-27-2005, 07:29 AM
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There's one thing which I dont comprehend much. I know people like to hire someone with experience (believe me, this pretty much is the case everywhere). Many employers just assume that if you have none, you're gone. In the world where there are freshies searching for a kickstart, where do the inexperience get to experience?
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Old 07-27-2005, 08:38 AM
SykoChikka
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I'm a newbie, can anyone tell me how to save this thread! As someone said earlier, this stuff is PRICELESS!!!

How would I save this?

Thanks jackj109 for that post!

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  #30  
Old 07-27-2005, 10:33 AM
Westley Westley is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SykoChikka
How would I save this?
If you're using MS IE, you use "File, Save as". Just like every other MS product.
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it's almost like you lack some self awareness, which would not be a first in the actuarial community ---tommie frazier

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