Advice from Krzys' Ostaszewski for actuarial students facing an interview
This represents ONLY Krzys' personal opinion
- To simplify the description of the process, we will refer to the person interviewing you as the Intimidator. That sums up the situation properly. This means that you talk up to the Intimidator, and the Intimidator talks down to you. The Intimidator determines the topic of the conversation, and that topic flows down to you, not the other way around. You accept it. If you think that you can make the conversation flow from you to the Intimidator, recall from your physics class which way gravity operates. What's that? You did not have a physics class? Then make up for it by taking more and more mathematics, and just trust me on this one.
- The interview is not about you. It is mostly about the Intimidator meeting his/her needs. You should prove to the Intimidator that hiring you fulfills that objective. If you think the interview is about you, start your own insurance company or consulting business (this is not meant to be sarcastic: if you indeed can start your own business, you should).
- Your objective is to
convince the Intidimator to spend valuable resources to hire and train you.
Make the case for this being an investment. Show that hiring you
will bring your employer valuable benefits.
- If you do not know a topic, do not try to fool anyone, as you can't fool the Intimidator. Instead, ask for advice. Humans enjoy feeling superior, and the Intimidator is very likely to offer help when asked.
- Make every effort to create an interesting conversation. Instead of cliches, come up with a story from your life. If you do not have a collection of stories of interesting things that happened to you, you are setting yourself up to be a person who can't get a job and can't get a date. And yet you are responsible for long-term survival of your species. Isn't it time to work on such a collection?
- Audacity is interesting in millitary confrontations, but relaxed self-assurance is best in dealing with the Intidimator. Emperor Napoleon Buonaparte was audacious, while Prince Mikhail Illarionovich Golenishchev-Kutuzov and Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington were not, and the results are well-known. Respect the Intimidator. Know your strengths and work on your weaknesses.
- On the other hand, if you feel intimidated, please remember your responsibility for the survival of your species, and treat every interview as practice for the dream date. Extinction is not an option. I hear that dinosaurs became extinct because they listened to all that post-modern self-doubt psychology that they taught you in high school, instead of making you study calculus and physics. Remember: "If God meant for people to fly, He would have given them brains." (Robert Heinlein).
- Find a way to compliment the Intimidator. But this must be a true compliment, something that you believe in. Find the highest possible, yet truthful, compliment and state it. Start practicing today: Pay compliments to people truthfully. Watch their reactions. You will see why this is important. It is a great skill to be able to find the good in people. Work on it.
- Know the company you are interviewing for. Know it fully, passionately and lovingly. Project that knowledge. If you have not studied that company before the interview, you clearly do not want the job, so do not waste the Indimidator's time and your own time. Remember: You will be asked "Why do you want to work here?". You musy have an answer, and the answer must be truthful. "I need a job" will not do. If you ever say "I need a job" in an interview, you will not get that job.
- When asked: "Do you have any questions?", you must have a question. And the simplest question to ask is: "What kind of person are you looking for?" The answer can help you understand to what degree you are the kind of person they need, and what you need to work on. There is no such thing as a perfect candidate for a job. The best candidate is the one who is serious about doing the job, will do it with joy, and will work to improve himself/herself in the process.
All information contained here is, to our best knowledge,
correct, but it is merely a representation, and should not be considered
to be any form of professional advice. This electronic publication should
not be misconstrued as the official position of Illinois State University,
or its Department of Mathematics.
We are glad to provide as much information as possible here, but
we kindly ask that in any decision related to matters listed here you
seek additional counsel and information. Comments on this page are welcome
and should be sent to Dr.
at his e-mail address: