Zurich Insurance Assessment Centre - Any ideas?
Hi there! First post on TSR! I have been invited to an Assessment Centre later on in the month with Zurich Insurance for a Global Service Consultant role and have been advised that I will take part in a group exercise and further interviews if successful at the former stage. Could anyone shed some light on the format of the Assessment Centre and in particular the group exercise? I have researched online to no avail! Any advice would be much appreciated.
Beth hi, I worked for Z in the UK for 30+ years. I participated in ACs and reviewed candidates. Z like other large organisations are looking for people who will 'fit in'. They often say (especially HR) however will say that they are looking for stars/exceptional people/entrepreneurs etc but they really want people who can get on with other people.....so the managers who assess you/others have in mind (conscious or otherwise) 'will this person fit in'. Right having said that the assessment centres/group exercises IMHO are poor indicators of talent/potential/fit HOWEVER they are the hoops they choose to use....So to be successful in a group exercise and in no order: you have to be liked by the assessors (so make sure you are likeable but not false) so smile and engage withe themyou have to take the lead in discussions and INFLUENCE outcomesyou must be stronger, more forceful, talk over (sometimes but not always) other candidatesput arguments for and against and be logical and put forward your views/recommendations (they don't have to be right!)you must support others BUT don't overdo this (they want influencers not social workers)ask sensible questions, make sure you contribute ALWAYS, watch your body language it will give you away, don't roll those eyes, cross arms, put your arms behind your head, etc. They are looking to make notes and comments about each candidate, they will have a scoring sheet for each exercise, how much your contribution, how much influence, sound bites, etc. BE AWARE you are being assessed ALL the time, at the coffee machine, at lunch, etc. and smile, say positive things but not madly optimistic. AND in a nice way make sure you assess Zurich and whether you want to work there/with them so ask good questions and do your research. Too many managers 'look good' on the surface but then we are becoming superficial as a society....I'll shut up now and wish you best of luck. Ed Mountain.
Beth hi, I worked for Z in the UK for 34 years. I participated in ACs and reviewed candidates. Z like other large organisations are looking for people who will 'fit in'. They often say (especially HR) however will say that they are looking for stars/exceptional people/entrepreneurs etc but they really want people who can get on with other people.....so the managers who assess you/others have in mind (conscious or otherwise) 'will this person fit in'. Right having said that the assessment centres/group exercises IMHO are poor indicators of talent/potential/fit HOWEVER they are the hoops they choose to use.... So to be successful in a group exercise and in no order: you have to be liked by the assessors (so make sure you are likeable but not false) so smile and engage withe them you have to take the lead in discussions and INFLUENCE outcomes you must be stronger, more forceful, talk over (sometimes but not always) other candidates put arguments for and against and be logical and put forward your views/recommendations (they don't have to be right!) you must support others BUT don't overdo this (they want influencers not social workers) ask sensible questions, make sure you contribute ALWAYS, watch your body language it will give you away, don't roll those eyes, cross arms, put your arms behind your head, etc. They are looking to make notes and comments about each candidate, they will have a scoring sheet for each exercise, how much your contribution, how much influence, sound bites, etc.
BE AWARE you are being assessed ALL the time, at the coffee machine, at lunch, etc. and smile, say positive things but not madly optimistic. AND in a nice way make sure you assess Zurich and whether you want to work there/with them so ask good questions and do your research. Too many managers 'look good' on the surface but then we are becoming superficial as a society....I'll shut up now and wish you best of luck. Ed Mountain.
Thank you so much for your very detailed insight into the AC process, Ed. Much appreciated!
Hi Ed! Thank you so much for your insight! I have also been invited to Zurich's Assessment Centre on 22nd Jan for the Actuarial Summer Internship. I wonder if you could shed some light on format of the case study (and the presentation and Q&A afterwards). HR told me that this was probably the most challenging part of the day!
Thank you very much!
Claire hi, I've no direct experience of assessing or recruiting actuaries, they tend to like to keep that to themselves........ I think the case study(ies) will be much more fact/figure based with gaps (all data we need to use in our business decisions has gaps that's just the way things are so DON'T make a big deal about it). The actuaries MAY be looking to see how you factor in these gaps to your answers. I've seen answers to very big spend questions given in ranges e.g. the return on product X will be somewhere in the $30-40m range. Zurich HO seemed to distrust exact or single figures, they seem to like the range response. Also on a personal level the actuaries may most likely be looking for a more collaborative individual than say the Zurich mainstream so how you work with others to achieve the objective. Also the Z actuaries dress conservatively so if you have orange dyed hair then make sure you have a fall back internship................ Zurich talks a lot about CBAs, pay back periods, combined ratios, expenses (direct and indirect), claims ratios, Return on capital employed (hurdle rate). etc. Regrettably the Sales and IT management side have never heard of these so if you bump into any of them don't frighten em with technical questions. I think the actuaries want people who know their stuff, don't bull**** (those folk go to IT management or Sales) and say where the gaps are but give solutions albeit with caveats, are team players and are generally a bit 'nerdy/studious' looking BUT who are not a pushover when confronted with a loud person basing his/her CBA on a wing and a prayer (back to Sales and IT management again). Be on time, be nice, be knowledgeable, be helpful, be collaborative, say you want a job there, be yourself. Ask good questions and listen to the answers, but don't be pushed around by bull****, facts are friends and business needs all the friends it can reasonably muster.
Let us all know how you get on so you can contribute to this thread with real experiences (using pseudonym I suggest).
Ah, do get up and use the flipchart or whiteboard; they like that. But don't use the marker to point at people and don't hog it. Us a bit of innovation in presenting your solutions (but no too whacky), these are actuaries. The HR folk there mean well but generally know little about the real business of insurance and absolutely nothing about actuarial science. They also are easily fooled by bad candidates who just happen to get through because they have already failed but learnt from participating in lots of assessment centres elsewhere. Got any good questions for when asked? I'd like to know that if we base our forecasts on the past then how do we take into account new factors such as the impact of driverless cars on motor insurance rate tables?
All experience is useful and don't forget to do your research about Z.
Hi Ed! Thank you for the great insight! Seems like I have the personality of a typical actuary! This will be my first assessment centre, so please bear with me if I am asking too many questions. I am still a little confused -- will I be assessed by both actuaries and HR managers? And, will I be having my assessment centre with people applying for non-actuarial roles?Also, I know that you said you had no direct experience of recruiting actuaries, but would you suggest preparing handouts for the assessors for the case study presentation? And what kind of questions should I expect for the Q&A session after the presentation? Thank you very much!
Claire, lots I can't say for sure as circumstances vary. So you will have a mixture of assessors, all should have been on an assessors course and all should know to be evidence based. You'll often see 'no evidence of xyz demonstrated/given' on their notes (which by the way you can ask to see at any time during and after but that request is unlikely to endear you to them!). The HR assessors are used to making appropriate notes but some are easily fooled by superficialities, so there will be business people in there some of whom are also easily fooled. Big drawback is that many recruiters look/favour people who are perceived to be similar to them. Just be your best self as at least that way you get the job because of you. Ask good questions, don't make other people out to be dicks by showing them up (even though there will be some epic dicks there). Treat the assessment centre as a learning experience. Don't get flustered or if you do don't go into melt down. The assessment centre is a shocking poor way of recruiting but I am in a minority and HR people love them and won't hear a bad word said against them..... You will all be given a brief to read and on which to work from. Danger, danger, the brief may NOT be the same for every one and subtle bits of info may be missing/added/different in your brief to that of other candidates (why should it be the same as we all come to decisions differently). Time will be short purposely so you will not have time to prepare handouts BUT you may have time to record bullet points onto MS Powerpoint presentation and then link to a pc they will have prepared. ASK. They are looking for your thinking process and how you work with others, whether you'll fit in, etc. They aren't looking for Einsteins. Each assessor has a sheet with headings on and a marking scheme. They will also look to capture verbatims/soundbites from the candidates to play back in the wash-up sessions (which will happen on the day normally or VERY soon after). Your job is to do well and give the assessor something positive to write about. Assessors may be allocated a number of candidates to observe in each session (to ensure adequate focus on the candidates rather than all assessors reporting on all candidates) so make sure you contribute to each exercise/activity.
They are observing you all teh time, at lunch, coffee, when they say the exercise has finished so you can all relax etc. One person I worked with even asked the taxi driver what the person was like they brought from the train station........but like I said be your best self and not someone else. People like to recruit like people, they also like to recruit nice people UN LESS it is a senior role in which case ignore everything I have said so far.....that's a whole new ballgame.
Thank you very much for your detailed advice, Ed! Strange because I was told that there would not be a pc for the case study so no need for preparing a powerpoint...I would probably check this with them later. Well, that's all the questions I have for now! Your insights have been really helpful! Thank you so much for sharing!
Claire, if they say there isn't one then there won't be one. Sometimes there is and sometimes there isn't. There will be white boards/flip charts and the like so use them if you feel it appropriate. Zurich is an OK company to work for but where ever you go plan to move on after 3-4 years. That way you dictate your career progress not the people blocking you ahead, Also you'll learn more. Don't tell them that is your career plan though! There is no such thing as loyalty to employees any more....we're all expendable so either they make you redundant or you make them redundant (one or the other eventually).
Hi everyone! I took part in Zurich's AC last month and have received an offer! I thought I would give some advice on the AC and I would love to answer any questions. There were ten candidates in the AC and we were divided into two groups. My group did the case study first while the other group went to their interviews, and then we switched. The booklet for the case study contained much more information than what I used for the presentation, but I think it was meant to be this way. Overall the time (45mins) proved to be quite short. I had hoped to use the last 10 minutes to prepare the flip charts but it turned out I was running out of time, so I just wrote on the flip chart while I was giving the presentation. There was 15-minute Q&A session after the presentation, although I think my Q&A session was a little shorter than 15 minutes. The questions I got asked were based on my recommendation: how would I deal with the problems with the solutions I proposed? How could I make sure the project is carried out through completion, etc. Basically the assessors were trying to see if I really considered the viability of my recommendation and thought a little about the details. I didn't have time to prepare for the Q&A during my preparation, but I managed to think on my feet and came up with an answer to each question (or at least most of the questions!). So I think remaining calm is the key, even if you are challenged!
As for the interview, the questions were very structured and based on Zurich's values. There were two interviewers. In addition to the 'tell a time when you demonstrated these values' type of questions, I was also asked to talk about my understanding of these values, ie what are their meanings and why are they important. No hard questions, really.Then there was the lunch break. Afterwards I had the group exercise. We had some new materials in addition to the materials for the case study in the morning. The advice I would give is to listen carefully what the other candidates were saying and make notes if you need to. To be honest I was quite worried after the group exercise because I felt that I didn't talk very much. A candidate in my group was talking for the most of the time, but I guess it is not good to talk TOO MUCH and don't give other people chance to talk. If similar things happen to you, just continue to do your part and try to help the team to make progress. Finally there was the speed interview. It was supposed to be like a speed dating, but we were behind the schedule so we ended up having a 5-minute interview for 5 questions in front of 9 interviewers! It was pretty intimidating! And because I was expected to give only short answers, I couldn't go through the whole STAR format. The assessors said that the speed interview was not assessed...but I guess this only meant that this was not 'scored'. After all, you will be assessed all the time!
I hope this helps!
Category: Auto Insurance