Graduate Application Guide
At APR, we understand that it can be daunting when you start applying to professional jobs for the first time! We want you to feel able to put forward the best version of yourself during our application process, so we have compiled some helpful information on what to expect at each stage and tips on how to prepare.
The flowchart above colours each stage of the application process according to the type of assessment conducted. Click on the dropdown boxes below for more information relating to each type of assessment.
Remember our goal is not to try and trip you up, but to give you a chance to demonstrate your experience, skills, and qualities that would make you a good candidate for the role. We aim to make the application process as enjoyable as possible for you. If you require any further information or have any questions about any stage of the process, please contact the recruitment team at email@example.com and we’d be happy to help.
Last of all, good luck!
Becoming a qualified actuary requires a number of years of exams and involves a lot of hard work and determination, so, before spending any time applying, research the qualification and be sure that this is what you want to do. The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA)’s website is essential reading – it contains lots of information about the profession, what actuaries do, and how your journey to qualification might look.
If this still appeals to you, the next step is to look through APR’s website to understand the type of work we do, the company culture, and whether this fits with your desired career.
For example, APR is different to many actuarial employers in that we do mainly short-term resourcing projects. This might appeal to those who want lots of variety in their work, or aren’t sure which area of actuarial work they will enjoy, but might not be ideal for those who would prefer to stay working in the same team for a number of years.
It’s also advisable to do some research on the insurance industry – you don’t need in-depth knowledge, but you should aim to know some basic vocabulary and key concepts. Investopedia is a great source of introductory information on these key financial concepts. It can also be helpful to subscribe to news alerts so you’re up to date on any large recent industry developments.
There is a huge wealth of information online which will help you to write a good CV but at the minimum you should aim to cover:
- Personal details including contact number and email address.
- Education and qualifications.
- Right to work in the location you are applying for.
- Professional experience – as well as the job title you should list any responsibilities performed or skills gained during that experience which you think will be relevant to the role you are applying for.
- Skills or other relevant competencies (e.g. coding).
You will also be able to find plenty of guidance online about how to write a good cover letter. Your cover letter does not need to be longer than 1 page of A4 and should primarily focus on your motivation: why you are applying to APR, why you want to become an actuary, and why you would be a good candidate for this role. The answers to these questions should hopefully be clear to you from your research. It is also a good opportunity to provide any additional context to your CV (e.g. if your grades are below our suggested requirement) and highlight anything else that we should be aware of.
You should also:
- Maintain a professional tone in your CV and cover letter.
- Ask someone to proof-read your drafts to spot any errors that you may have missed.
- Re-read the letter yourself before submitting.
- Be truthful!
We ask candidates to complete an online test if they are successful at the CV and cover letter stage. In addition, the final stage of the Assessment Centre is a written test.
Both of these tests are designed to examine your aptitude in a number of relevant key areas such as mathematical reasoning, probability and statistics, programming (although no specific language knowledge is required), insurance industry knowledge, and written communication. As such it is a good idea to brush up on the basics of any of these areas you feel less confident in. We also have sample questions for the online test available on our website, which we recommend you attempt as practice.
During the online test, be aware that we award marks for the best 6 out of a possible 8 questions so it’s a good idea to read all the questions before deciding which 6 to put maximum effort into.
The Assessment Centre test has a large number of questions, and we don’t expect candidates to have time to finish all of them, so for this test it is also recommended to read the whole paper before deciding which questions to focus your efforts on.
Where appropriate, you should state any assumptions made that are material to your solutions; for numerical questions, ensure you show your full working as this will help you to gain marks even if the final answer is not correct.
Finally, set aside some time at the end to read over your answers. This will help you avoid losing easy marks for spelling and grammar.
If successful at the online test stage, you will be invited to a telephone interview with one of our actuarial staff. The Assessment Centre also includes an interview section with two members of senior actuarial staff.
When preparing for telephone or video interviews, you may find some of the following techniques helpful:
- Make a list of the competencies we are looking for and, for each, prepare an example of a time you have demonstrated that quality.
- Have notes on any key summary points from your research (e.g. on the actuarial profession, the insurance industry, or APR) at hand to refer to.
- Have a pen and paper handy to take notes during the interview, as it will also be your opportunity to find out more about APR and the role. All telephone and Assessment Centre interviews will be with a member of actuarial staff who performs the same role you’re applying for so make sure to think of a couple of questions in advance in order to get the most out of the interview.
- Find a quiet place with a good telephone (or internet) signal to take the interview. If your circumstances prevent this being possible, please reach out to our Recruitment team (firstname.lastname@example.org) prior to the interview and we will do our best to accommodate you.
During interviews it is good practice to:
- Speak clearly and not too quickly.
- Try to keep your answers as concise as possible. If you find yourself repeating yourself or running out of things to say, try and wrap your answer up with a short conclusion which brings it back to the question you were asked.
- Don’t be afraid to take a moment to form your answer before you start.
- If you’re describing a past experience, ensure you don’t spend more than a couple of sentences setting up the context of the situation. Instead, focus your answer on what you did and, even more importantly, what you learned, and how it is relevant to the role you’re applying for. This is what the interviewer will be most interested in hearing about.
- When answering technical questions involving calculations, try and talk through your working aloud where possible. Not only will this allow you to form your thoughts more coherently, it also helps the interviewer to spot if you go wrong and guide you back on track.
Our Assessment Centre will begin with a 10-minute presentation by you on a topic of your choice. The topic needn’t be directly related to actuarial or insurance topics, but you should aim to talk about something you are knowledgeable about. It will be much easier for you to give an interesting presentation if it’s about something you have a genuine interest in. You could also use the presentation as an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge or skills in a relevant topic, e.g. by creating graphs in R or Excel to use as visual aids.
When preparing the presentation:
- Ensure the presentation has a clear introduction at the start and conclusion at the end.
- You will not be able to share your screen during the presentation, but you can send handouts in advance. If you are providing handouts, ensure your visual aids are clear and you’ve made a note of anything which will need explaining during the presentation.
- Try and make brief notes / prompts for you to elaborate on rather than reading directly from a script.
- Practice speaking the presentation aloud and time yourself to ensure you are within the 10-minute time limit.
- Our interviewers will ask you questions at the end of your presentation. It may be helpful to prepare answers to potential questions by putting yourself in the audience’s shoes and thinking about what questions you would ask.
When delivering the presentation:
- Speak clearly and not too quickly.
- Looking at your audience will help them to feel engaged. It can also let you know whether they’ve understood a point (and therefore you should move on) or not (and therefore you may want to explain the point in more detail).