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APR’s Approach To Graduate Recruitment

Ever since the formation of APR way back in 2006, recruitment at graduate level has been our main way of acquiring talent. The way we do this has developed over that time – we’ve previously written about how the move to a hybrid working environment has provided opportunities and challenges, as well as how we have optimised the process to improve efficiency for candidates and our staff that run the graduate recruitment.

The 2021-22 cycle has been our most fruitful graduate hiring season, as for the first time we will be welcoming a double-digit intake in September, in addition to three graduates who have joined us already this year. This article provides a summary of the steps in our graduate recruitment process, what we are looking for at each stage, and how we ensure high quality outcomes. We also recruit school leavers and senior hires in a similar way.

Our Graduate Recruitment Process

We use a 4-stage process to determine which of approximately 1,000 applicants will join us on our graduate programme. The process has been designed to be time-efficient for both our staff running the process and the candidates taking part – we recognise applicants will be navigating many recruitment processes and the right thing to do is ensure each stage adds value to our decision-making process and that graduates hear from us as quickly as possible. As such, it is not uncommon for successful candidates to receive their offer within 6 weeks of applying. Details of each of these four stages are below.

CV and Covering Letter

Candidates apply by submitting their CV, a covering letter, and some basic personal information via a form on our website. There is no need for candidates to manually enter information that would be communicated by a CV. This approach reflects our desire to value candidates’ time (we have all experienced tedious processes that require the manual entry of each individual qualification!). We also ask some optional questions to allow us to monitor our assessment process from a diversity and inclusion perspective.

At this stage, we are looking for candidates that meet our baseline requirements, are motivated and want to join us. CVs should demonstrate that candidates meet our requirements. The best covering letters communicate why the candidate wants to join the actuarial profession and demonstrate some thought as to why APR is the place for them to launch their actuarial career.

Online Test

Candidates who make it through the initial filter are invited to our online test – a mainly numerical test to allow candidates to demonstrate that they have the quantitative skills necessary to become a successful actuary. Candidates are presented with 8 questions and can choose 6 of these to answer, which are then marked by our actuarial staff.

Our test is more challenging than the numerical reasoning tests required by some larger companies. We believe a test with basic numerical questions (calculating averages, reading numbers off bar charts) does not allow a candidate to demonstrate the advanced level of numerical skills necessary for actuarial roles. We provide a selection of previous questions on our website to let candidates know what to expect.

Telephone Interview

We then arrange a call between the candidate and a member of our actuarial staff to discuss a candidate’s reasons for applying to APR and their current understanding of the industry, and to work through some technical problems set in an actuarial context.

The telephone interview is also used to assess verbal communication skills. We believe the client-facing nature of an actuarial associate role at APR means successful candidates will need stronger communication skills than may be necessary in a standard actuarial role.

The final stage is the assessment centre, which consists of three parts:

The assessment centre will be held with two members of senior actuarial staff, at least one of whom is from the APR office location the candidate is applying for. Assessment centres have been held virtually for the last two years, but we are planning on offering candidates the choice between an in-person and virtual setting this coming year.

We allow candidates to select their own topic of presentation and there has been a real variety of choices. The subject area itself isn’t crucial (topics of successful presentations this year include gymnastics, the golden ratio, and sustainable investing), but the best presentations have a clear purpose, are well-structured and perhaps demonstrate some skills that are transferrable to a role at APR.

The interview allows us to explore more deeply a candidate’s academic experience (and industry experience, where applicable), motivation for joining the actuarial profession and APR, and depth of industry knowledge.

The written test is similar to the online test, but broader and more in-depth.

2021-22 Recruitment Cycle Outcomes

From the thousand or so applicants, we have selected 13 to join APR. Three started earlier in the year, and we look forward to welcoming the 10 who will be joining us in September. The intake has studied subjects including actuarial science, mathematics, statistics, data science, and economics, and we have new recruits with PhDs, Masters, and Bachelor level degrees. Additionally, we have several senior hires and school leavers joining us.

We will be commencing our 2022-23 recruitment cycle shortly. As APR’s headcount approaches 100 people, we look forward to supporting clients with our growing capacity.

Adam Smith

August 2022