Private Equity Interview Guide: How to Nail Your Private Equity Interview (whether you have finance training or not)

Do you have a private equity, growth equity, or venture capital interview coming up soon and aren’t sure what to expect or how best to prepare for it?

Or are you planning to interview for buy-side investing jobs in the near future, but are confused about exactly how the recruiting process works and how to make yourself stand out in the interview process?

The private equity interview process can feel like a “black box” and hard to understand, because there isn’t a lot of comprehensive info available about it.

But the stakes are high, because compensation for private equity associate positions can be very lucrative — often ranging from $200,000 – $350,000 or more annually. That’s 4 – 7x the national household median income by the time you are 24 or 25 years old.

Our Private Equity Interview Guide “How to Nail Your Private Equity Interview (whether you have finance training or not)unlocks critical knowledge by teaching you step-by-step strategy, technique, and mindset of the distinctive private equity / venture capital job interview candidate. It provides a clear step up in comprehensiveness and quality over typical finance careers websites and buy-side investing blogs because of its focus on:

  • Recruiting at the hardest, most elite private equity firms in the world: Bain Capital, TPG, Blackstone, Carlyle, GS Capital Partners, KKR, Warburg Pincus, Apollo, Clayton Dubilier & Rice, Huntsman Gay, Golden Gate, Silver Lake
  • Candidates with no previous buy-side experience or no formal finance training at all
  • How to analyze the most important investment scenarios you’ll get asked about – not useless brainteasers found in other finance prep guides
  • How to think flexibly on your feet in difficult interview situations
  • Key insights about the mindset and motivations of private equity interviewers
  • In-depth breakdown of the structure and format of interviews used by many brand-name LBO firms, and general advice for venture capital and growth equity interviews

This guide is NOT focused on boutique firms, firms without industry-respected partners, or firms with low AuM (e.g., family offices)

We’re so confident our guide is packed with actionable, insightful tips that if you don’t find the material insightful after reading it, just e-mail us within 5 days and we’ll give you a refund.

Read praise and testimonials for the e-book, preview the first chapter for free, and buy the guide today!

Also be sure to check out our step-by-step PE modeling training videos for walk-through tutorials on how to build an LBO model, navigate Excel with ruthless efficiency, and rapidly create an LBO PowerPoint deck to present to your PE interviewers.

 How to Nail Your Private Equity Interview

Only $99!

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MY TRACK RECORD IN HELPING OTHERS GET INTO ELITE BRAND-NAME PRIVATE EQUITY FIRMS

I was an unlikely candidate for getting an offer to join an elite private equity firm as an investment associate, but I passed the rigorous interview process and received an offer — on my first attempt at applying.

Since then, I have helped hundreds of applicants refine their resumes and hone their interviewing skills, and many of them have subsequently received offers at leading PE firms.

Because of this experience, I decided to share every secret I know about the interview process — from the PE interviewer’s mindset and questions they are asking themselves about you during the interviews, to exactly how the PE recruiting timeline unfolds, to best practices for interview prep.

My 104-page guide, “How to Nail Your Private Equity Interview (whether you have finance training or not),” is like a 15-hour personal coaching session where I sit down and tell you every secret I know about breaking into elite brand-name private equity firms.

What can you expect to learn in the guide? See the table of contents below!

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS
How to Nail Your Private Equity Interview (whether you have finance training or not)

Read praise and testimonials for the guide here!

Forward (PREVIEW THIS CHAPTER FOR FREE)

    • My background
    • What this guide contains

–  What this guide focuses on

    • How to get an offer even with no previous buy-side, investment banking, or other finance experience
    • Step-by-step breakdown of structure, format, and questions asked by brand-name, blue-chip LBO firms
      • Firms with a management consulting tradition
      • Firms with an investment banking tradition
    • How to think flexibly on your feet in difficult, complex interview situations
    • General advice for growth equity and venture capital interviews (where complex financial modeling isn’t critical)
    • This guide is NOT focused on boutique firms, firms without industry-respected MDs, or firms with low AuM (e.g., family offices)

– What exactly is private equity?

    • Overview
    • How do PE firms make money?
    • What are the key drivers of PE returns?
    • Types of PE funds
      • Leveraged buyout funds
      • Venture capital funds
      • Growth equity funds

– My background before private equity

    • Why all the odds were stacked against me
    • A few things I had going in my favor

– What do I mean when I say finance experience is not necessary for getting a PE offer?

    • What it does not mean
    • What it does mean

– 5 key qualities private equity firms are looking for

    • Judgment regarding strategy and operations (and why it is important)
    • Strong working knowledge of accounting and corporate finance
    • Financial modeling skills (but a caveat)
    • Knowledge of how private equity works, how PE investors evaluate deals, key drivers of strong PE returns
    • Communication skills (and why they are important)

– Questions they are asking themselves in the interview

    • Do you have “safe hands”? Can you be on top (or ahead) of a complex, busy deal process with many moving parts and multiple stakeholders?
    • Can you take on large volumes of work and process deliverables accurately and quickly? Are you going to make careless mistakes?
    • How proactive are you in anticipating different financial and operational analyses needed?
    • Can you think methodically and communicate concisely?

– Anatomy of the PE interview process

    • How does the PE recruiting season unfold chronologically?
    • How are PE interview rounds structured and what should you expect?
      • Phone screens
      • Round 1
      • Round 2
      • Round 3
      • Additional rounds
    • What are the roles (and incentives) of headhunters throughout the process?

– Best practices for interview preparation

    • Key skills you are being evaluated on – and how to demonstrate mastery of them
      • Financial modeling
      • Operational modeling
      • Macro / market due diligence
      • Strategic analysis (as tested through case interviews)
        • 2 ways to think about all case questions
        • Case interview structure
          • Opening and clarification
            • Confirm that you clearly understand the problem
          • Hypothesis, analysis, and refinement
            • Structure your analysis
            • Hypothesis
            • Analysis
            • Refinement
          • Synthesis and summary
        • Final tips
      • Creating slide presentations
      • Personality fit
      • Sourcing?
    • Understanding the firm’s investment thesis
    • How to get key details about the major stakeholders of the firm – leadership, LPs, portfolio companies
    • What are key trends and macro issues impacting the private equity industry
    • How to develop a viewpoint on industries, sectors, and specific companies that are attractive to PE investors
    • How to appear impressively polished about your own work history
      • Your past projects, cases, and deals
      • Your personal history – past jobs, career moves, schools, majors, and more
      • Length of your soundbites

– The right mindset for private equity interviews and preparation

    • Be curious (and how to show it)
    • Be energetic, creative, and ready to ideate (and why it’s important)
    • Be personable (and how to do it with maximum impact)
    • How to turn your interview into a back-and-forth conversation
    • How to hone your communication skills

– What happens when you get an offer

    • When you have to respond
    • How to rapidly do due diligence on the firm
    • How to handle interviews with other firms that may still be in process
    • How you should assess your offer depending on if you ultimately want to go into…
      • Finance / banking
      • Business / executive management
      • Other fields
    • Happiness

– How to prepare for the transition into a private equity job

– What the day-to-day experience in private equity is like

    • Pacing, timeline, and team structure of deals
    • Work hours and lifestyle

– What PE is good at teaching vs. what it is not

– Life beyond PE

    • Finance / financial services / investing
    • Business / management
    • Entrepreneurship

– Further suggested reading on corporate finance, valuation, and LBO modeling

How to Nail Your Private Equity Interview

Buy the guide today for only $99!

Also be sure to check out our step-by-step PE modeling training videos for walk-through tutorials on how to build an LBO model, navigate Excel with ruthless efficiency, and rapidly create an LBO PowerPoint deck to present to your PE interviewers.

 

REVIEWS AND TESTIMONIALS FOR “HOW TO NAIL YOUR PRIVATE EQUITY INTERVIEW” GUIDE

“For anyone looking to understand how the private equity interview process works from someone who has been on both sides of the table, this is it. No other source I have picked up gives this kind of intuition behind the questions and what someone who is interviewing you may be looking for. This interview guide will put you in the perfect mindset to be 100% on your game when you walk into the interview. Fully recommend.”

– Current analyst at Jeffries Investment Bank in New York City

 

“Great refresher! How to Nail Your Private Equity Interview is a quick read and a great overview of the interview process for those considering private equity as a career path. Though I have an investment banking background and I’ve been working with a single family office for the past 3 years, my recent experience has been in a much more entrepreneurial structure. Andrew’s book has been a good refresher as I start interviewing with higher profile blue-chip private equity firms.”

– Consultant at a $1 billion+ family office, former investment banker at a Bulge Bracket bank 

 

“For people who don’t have banking experience, this is the best private equity interview guide. Written by someone who understands how to deconstruct PE interviews from the viewpoint of a smart candidate who doesn’t have an i-banking background, this book breaks apart each step of the interview and teaches you how to use your case interviewing skills (if you’re a consultant) and combine them with basic finance skills to knock your interviews out of the park. I received two incredible private equity offers based on what I learned in this PE interview guide.”

– Associate at a multi-billion dollar New York private equity firm, former consultant at Bain & Company, graduate of a public state university

 

“I’m glad you wrote this! There aren’t any comprehensive private equity guides out there for somebody coming from industry like me. The interview process and how to work with headhunters is opaque, but your interview guide clarified these aspects immensely. It was a hugely helpful tool packed with great tips and strategies and makes the PE interview process more transparent. Very insightful!”

– Former corporate strategy professional at Fortune 500 company 

 

“I interviewed for PE jobs this year, and there were a few resources at BCG to help you prep, but they weren’t very extensive (at least in my office). Your PE guide is invaluable because it walks you clearly through each step an interviewee should expect in the process. That knowledge helped me land an offer from a PE firm in New York. It was also interesting to read in your guide about exit paths after finishing a PE program. I think a lot of kids don’t think about what the ‘exit’ looks like after PE because they are so awestruck just to get in, but it’s very important in planning your career and your guide does a great job talking about exit paths, how you should consider your PE offer in that context, and the pros and cons.”

– Current associate at a multi-billion dollar New York private equity firm, former BCG consultant, graduate of a public state university

 

“As a recent college graduate, I found the guide very helpful and informative. If you are looking for an insider’s perspective on how the PE industry operates, what skills are crucial for entry-level associates, and how to successfully navigate the recruiting process this private equity interview guide is a great purchase. I received offers from both private equity and growth equity firms when I interviewed, and I was able to prepare much more thoughtfully with your interview guide.”

– Current associate at a multi-billion dollar Chicago private equity firm, former McKinsey consultant 

 

“This was just great. I totally agree about the importance of how to practice and refine your communication and delivery specifically for buy-side job interviews (given the interviewer’s mindset). The detailed explanation on how the interview format works and how to approach it was awesome. I was never an investment banker so it was great to get coaching in this area. I suspect a lot of people not coming from Wall Street will find that part particularly useful.”

– Associate at a $750 million Los Angeles private equity firm, former McKinsey consultant, graduate of a public state university

 

“Your guide isn’t necessarily targeted to people from Wall Street finance backgrounds since many of us already know how to do modeling pretty well. But a lot of bankers are great at modeling but aren’t necessarily trained to think through all the strategic and operational implications of a deal. Your interview guide really brings that important aspect to the forefront. It definitely helped me prepare for my interviews more thoughtfully by reminding me to talk about points in a deal that aren’t strictly found in the financial statements. I got an offer to join a major private equity firm in San Francisco with the help of your interview guide. Thanks!”

– Current senior associate at a multi-billion dollar San Francisco private equity firm, former banker at JP Morgan Chase

 

“Andrew’s guide does an excellent job of demystifying the private equity interview process for candidates that don’t come from the traditional investment banking background. The guide does not presuppose prior finance experience, making it perhaps the most accessible guide on the market. Andrew’s unique ability to thoughtfully anticipate potential questions and concerns also helps set this guide apart from others. It is worth every penny.”

– Graduate of U.C. Berkeley 

 

“The guide book offers well-structured and actionable advice from an atypical candidate who has experienced the challenges involved in breaking into private equity and has been able to navigate them successfully. The book doesn’t offer sugar-coated advice or magic pills but rather seeks to lay out the difficult path to a career in arguably the most competitive sub-sector of the financial world. If you are willing to implement the advice offered and you are NOT looking for a quick-fix this book will get you to where you want to be.”

– Graduate of the London School of Economics and Political Science 

 

“I found your guide to be super helpful in my preparation.  It explained the quick wins and laid out the roadmap for how I should prioritize my study plans to prepare for my private equity interviews.”

– Consultant, Gotham Consulting Partners

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q. Will this interview guide really help me interview successfully for private equity jobs?

Successfully breaking into an industry as elite, lucrative, and opaque as private equity requires a strong understanding of how the industry operates and how the interview process and format are structured.

Our industry-leading interview guide demystifies the interview process by explaining exactly how it works, the timeline when it unfolds, exactly what interviewers look for, the mindset and prep you need to interview successfully, and what happens tactically round-by-round at each step of the interview. This knowledge provides you with a tremendous advantage in knowing what to expect, so that you can use your time preparing for your interviews wisely.

Our readers repeatedly give us feedback about how valuable they find the insights in the interview guide, and how it sharpened their prep and made them far more effective and successful interviewers. See our customer testimonials here.

 

Q. Is it worth it to pay $99 for the interview guide?

We feel strongly that our PE interview guide offers tremendous value for PE interview candidates.

Quite simply, the stakes for success or failure in your PE interviews are high. Compensation for entry-level PE associates is very lucrative — often $200,000 – $350,000 or more annually. That’s 4 – 7x the national household median income by the time you are 24 or 25 years old. Once you’ve been in the job for several years, the pay can quickly rise to half a million or more per year.

That means your investment in yourself through purchasing our PE interview guide will pay off many hundreds of times over just in your first year on the job, and it only goes up over time when you look at your earnings over the years after getting your foot in the industry.

What’s also important to remember is you usually only get one shot interviewing for private equity roles. If you don’t land a PE job in the year your “class” is being recruited, it’s really hard to come back in a subsequent year and recruit / interview again. By then, there will be a new class of PE recruits flooding the market from consulting firms, investment banks, accounting firms, and corporate strategy departments. PE headhunters will be focusing their time on this new class and it’s super hard to get their attention when they’re so preoccupied with fresh candidates coming out of 2-year rotational programs.

That makes the risk of not being totally prepared for your PE interviews very, very costly, because it could mean missing the chance of a lifetime to enter the buy-side investing world — and all the big paydays that come with it.

So ask yourself, how much is it worth it to not be totally informed and prepared for your PE interviews, and potentially lose the opportunity to break into the profession altogether?

By contrast, how much is it worth it to invest in yourself by purchasing our PE interview guide and potentially winning a lucrative private equity job? Think about it this way: with your new PE salary, you can earn back your investment in our PE interview guide in just your first DAY on the job — with more than enough left over to buy your friends and family beer to celebrate! 

 

Q. Why is this guide better than other commercial finance prep guides out there?

Most finance interview guides are actually written by professional writers or journalists who research the industry and summarize interviews with a hodgepodge of industry players. The problem is they haven’t been through the wringer themselves. They haven’t prepped for the actual experience of answering finance questions or case questions under pressure, or building an LBO model from scratch. At best, they are writing second-hand summaries that are basically glorified research papers. The insights in these papers are generic and vague because they lack the visceral detail of someone who has actually been in the trenches and observed and practiced key strategies and techniques first-hand.

By contrast, our interview guide is written directly from both personal experience successfully interviewing for private equity jobs as well as from synthesizing key insights from conversations with successful PE interview candidates, PE recruiters / headhunters, and PE general partners. This first-hand perspective along with insights from key stakeholders in the PE ecosystem is what sets up apart from other finance guides. We provide very concrete, actionable advice that is grounded in actual knowledge and experience successfully interviewing for private equity jobs. Because of this, our insights are much more tangibly relevant to PE interview candidates who need tactical advice and coaching about how to nail their interviews.

 

Q. How does the refund guarantee work?

A. Simple. If after reading it you don’t feel the interview guide is insightful or helpful, just e-mail us within 5 days of receiving your guide and we’ll refund your payment.

 

How to Nail Your Private Equity Interview

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In just a short while, you’ll be reading about every secret we know about the PE interview process — from the interviewer’s mindset, to the recruiting calendar timeline, to best practices for interview prep.

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