Recruting

For those of you who have already started their career in investment banking, you have probably learned a fair amount about the private equity recruiting process by now. However, the process isn’t always uniform and easy to understand.

 

Recruiting Timeline

Unfortunately, the recruiting timeline is incredibly difficult to generalize. It varies from firm to firm, and it can also vary from year to year for a same firm. However, there are a few consistent themes that you should keep in mind.

It all starts with headhunters reaching out to you.More about headhunters here, but this is the first part in the recruiting process. See below for a list of some of the best headhunting firms in the business, and if you haven’t heard from them within the first few months in your analyst job, find a way to reach out to them directly.

Meeting with headhunters.When headhunters reach out, they will ask you for your availability to meet with them in person (or have a call if you are not located in the same city). The meetings are usually scheduled for 30 minutes, so they don’t have a lot of time to get to know you. This is why it’s critically important to come to these meetings well prepared and with a clear message around what you want to do after banking. Headhunters will try to learn about your preferences in terms of investing strategy, fund size, and geography, and also assess you as a potential candidate for their clients. For more information on how to prepare for the interviews with headhunters, see ________________.

Headhunters reach out with available opportunities.If you impressed the headhunters, they will start sending you emails about their client’s hiring needs / openings that match your preferences.

Express interest in the opportunity.If you’re interested in the opportunity, just reply to the email and ask if you need to send any other information to complete the application (e.g. sending an updated resume).

Interview invitation.After you expressed interest in an opportunity, the headhunter will let the PE firm know that you would like to be considered in their recruiting process. If the firm likes you, they will notify the headhunter who will then invite you for an interview on the firm’s behalf.

Interview.Interviews vary from one another in every variable you can imagine – duration, rounds, number of interviewers, types of questions, and types of deliverables. To learn more, please visit _______________.

Offer.After you’re done with the interviewing process, you will either receive an offer or get one of those emails “Thank you but no thank you.” If you receive the offer in your first year as an analyst, don’t be surprised if you don’t hear from your PE firm until a few months before your start date.

 

Keep in mind, all of this is taking place during your first year as an analyst. If you do not find success in your first recruiting cycle, do not worry. This cycle will repeat itself in your second year as well so you can go through the process again. Usually in this situation you will have to take a third year as an analyst, which many believe to be extremely helpful as it allows you to gain a little more experience and standout against your competition.

 

Headhunters

So what exactly is a headhunter? Headhunters are essentially an outsourced hiring staff used by private equity firms (and many other businesses) to find top talent that would be a good potential fit for their firm. In other words, a PE firm will hire a headhunting agency to find them solid candidates to bring into their process. This makes headhunters extremely important for you because ultimately they get to choose which candidates they want to be an advocate for.

In order for headhunters to find the best candidates, they begin reaching out to investment banking analysts as soon as they can get their hands on the analysts’ email addresses (which happens within the first couple of months into your job). By this time, you should already be prepared and ready to begin building a relationship with them. Typically, after exchanging a few emails, a headhunter will seek to set up a meeting with you. Although these may initially seem to be more casual, they are actually a pre-interview screen to see what clients (PE firms) the headhunter thinks you would be a good fit for. During these meetings, the headhunter will ask you a series of questions to get a better understanding of who you are and what you want to do in the future.

 

Tips for meetings with headhunters

Know your story.Be able to concisely explain how you got to where you are in life.

Know your resume.Be able to talk about each point on your resume in great detail.

Keep your responses short and to the point.It is important that you feel comfortable talking at length about your story and experiences, but don’t assume that your interviewer wants to hear all that detail if he or she didn’t ask for it. Whatever the question is, try to keep your responses between 60 – 90 seconds, and before proceeding, ask your interviewer if he or she would like you to go in more detail about a particular topic.

Be ready to answer the following questions.Below are some examples of questions headhunters will almost always ask:

  • Tell me about yourself / Walk me through your resume.
  • Why investment banking?
  • Why XYZ bank?
  • Tell me about your experience so far.
  • What kind of opportunities are you looking for?
  • What cities do you want to work in?

Be specific about what you’re looking for.There’s nothing worse than telling a headhunter that you’re open for anything and everything they have to offer. Headhunters want to see that you understand the landscape of buy side opportunities and that you have a clear idea of what you want to do after your banking career.

For example, don’t say you’re open to hedge funds and private equity firms. These two are completely different career tracks, and even though you might be genuinely interested in both, the headhunter will likely perceive this answer as if you don’t have a clear idea of what you want.

On the other hand, it’s ok to be flexible around a certain kind of opportunity, say PE in a specific industry. You can say that you really want to work in healthcare PE, but you’re open to different geographies and that the fund size doesn’t matter that much as long as you like the people you will work with.

Prepare questions.Just like in any interview, headhunters will most likely leave a few minutes in the end for you to ask them questions. This is a great opportunity to show your genuine interest in the process. In general, good questions are honest, relevant, and ask for information that is not readily available online. See some examples below:

  • What firms do you work with in ______ (location)?
  • Do you have any insight regarding the recruiting timeline this year?
  • What can I do from this day forward to stand out as a candidate?

 

Headhunting Firms

Even though this is not an exhaustive list of headhunting firms, the firms below are some of the most active players in the buy side recruiting process.

Amity Partners – link

Bellcast Partners – link

Carter Pierce – link

CPI – link

Dynamics – link

Glocap – link

Henkel Search Partners – link

The Oxbridge Group – link

SearchOne – link

SG Partners – link

Opus Advisors – link

 

Interview Process

Getting an interview

The most traditional way of getting an interview is through the headhunters in the process described above. They are gatekeepers for the vast majority of more established buy side opportunities. Once you’ve met with the headhunters and hopefully made a good impression on them, they will begin reaching out to firms with your resume to push you into their process. Once they hear back that the PE firm would like to bring you in for an interview, the headhunter will come back to you with the opportunity for the first round.

However, there are firms that don’t use headhunters, and in order to get noticed by them, you will have to network your way in. In addition to talking to headhunters, you should network as much as possible with the professionals in the firms you’re interested in. Two of the most common and realistic sources of networking connections are (i) warm introductions to investment professionals and (ii) cold emails.

Warm introductions to investment professionals.There is nothing stronger in the world of networking than when a person of trust and influence introduces you to another person. For example, imagine you’re an employer and you have two candidates to evaluate. They look exactly the same on paper (same school, same GPA, same experience, same demographics, same everything). However, one candidate was referred to you by your good friend from school, and the other just came through the online application process and you’ve never heard of him / her. Even though these two candidates might be equally qualified to do the job, it is incredibly difficult for people to keep things “fair” in this scenario. The candidate with the reference will always seem like a safer / better choice because the reference is reducing uncertainty around what might happen in the future with this person.

The point is that if you can find friends, colleagues, bosses, university professors, and any other trustworthy people who can introduce you to a PE firm professional, it will almost always increase your chances of getting an interview. Even if a firm is working with a headhunter, the investment professional might contact the headhunter and make sure you get into the process.

Cold emails.This strategy can be very frustrating because most of your emails will go unanswered. However, it is still worth doing it because you never know who will respond back. As long as you have low expectations and see it as an option value (i.e. if it works, great, if it doesn’t, I didn’t expect it to), cold emailing can be a great strategy to spend time on in between meetings or lunch breaks.

In order to increase your chances of getting responses from people, do some research and try to find something in common with the person you’re trying to reach. Try finding something that will connect you on a personal level. For example, going to same school is always a strong connection – alumni are more likely to respond to you than somebody who didn’t go to the same school as you.

There are also other things you can do, such as attend industry conferences, university events, and even cold call people. However, given your busy schedule and people’s general tendency to ignore strangers, the two methods described above are probably your easiest and most realistic options.

 

Interview Structure

Interview structure is nearly impossible to generalize because different firms do it differently. However, there are common variables in the interview process that you should keep in mind and be ready to engage in any mix of them. Also, headhunters are a great resource to provide you with a clearer picture of what you can expect for each particular interview process.

Start of the process.There are generally two waves of interview processes, one in the Fall and one in the Spring, when a lot of buy side firms start their hiring processes around the same time. Unfortunately, it is impossible to predict the exact dates for when they start as well as who will be hiring because this changes from year to year. Outside of the two big waves of recruiting, there are usually plenty of one-off opportunities.

Total duration of the process.It could be a few days or a few months. More established funds with a lot of investment professionals (e.g. KKR, Carlyle, etc.) can afford to move a little bit quicker with the process, while some smaller funds can often take three to four months in order to make a final hiring decision.

Number of rounds.Minimum of two, but typically three to five. Sometimes, a round can consist of one to two interviews, and sometimes it is a series of five to ten interviews. Essentially, the number of rounds depends on how many investment professionals the firm wants you to talk to before they feel confident that you’re the right candidate.

Interviewers.Throughout the process, you will most likely need to talk to every level of the professional in the firm (from Associate to Partners). In smaller firms, you might have to talk to every professional in the firm before they are ready to make a decision about you. Junior people (Associates and Vice Presidents) will typically interview you on more technical material while senior people (Principals, Managing Directors, Partners) will typically be more focused on the fit. Obviously, you should be ready to answer any type of question to any seniority level.

Questions.The three most common types of questions are (i) work experience, (ii) technical, and (iii) behavioral. Please click hereto see examples of each.

Assignments.The two most common types of assignments are (i) modeling tests and (ii) case studies. Both of these can range from a simple 10-minute exercise to a very complex analysis that takes hours or even days. For more information and examples, please click here.

 

Types of questions & examples

Deal Experience.These questions are regarding any deal experience you’ve had at your current / prior job. In many cases, they will be directly related to the deal experience you have summarized on your resume, but can also be unrelated “tell me about a time…” deal related questions. Below are some examples.

I see here on your resume you were the advisor to XYZ on their sale to ____. Can you tell me a little more about the company?

Definitely. The company is a pharmacy retailer located predominantly in the Southeast of the U.S. They have roughly 450 store locations across 9 states with EBITDA of around $75 million and sales around $2.5 billion. The larger portion of their revenue is from retail products such as over the counter medicine and cosmetics, but their pharmacy is still a large part of their business.

Sounds interesting. Can you tell me a little about the deal specifically?

So I was the analyst on the deal team of only three – me, an associate, and an MD. Our bank had a long relationship with the client, and they’ve been pretty successful in the space so we were really excited about it right from the start. Because of the smaller deal team, I was running the model almost entirely by myself. Based on my valuation we thought we could sell them at a multiple of around 8 times. Many buyers expressed interest, both strategic and financial, but in the end it sold to another pharmacy retailer primarily due to the synergies the buyer could realize from our client’s locations and store layout. Because of this, we were able to sell it at a multiple closer to 8.5 times, so everyone was really happy with the outcome.

What specifically about the company’s locations and store layout made them a good fit for that buyer?

Well first of all, the buyer dominates just about everywhere besides the Southeast part of the country. So since our client was located heavily in that region, the buyer saw it as the best opportunity to expand there without having to worry much about cannibalization. More so, however, our client’s store layout and size is very similar to the buyer’s, so that minimizes the costs of rebranding the stores. Overall, it ended up being a really good fit

So 8.5 times EBITDA of $75 million is about $640 million. Is that around the price they were expecting?

Well initially when we discussed valuation with them we had them falling anywhere between $525 million and $725 million. This was right around what they were thinking, but obviously felt like they were on the higher end of it. So I think we did a good job of managing their expectations giving them the 8 times EBITDA valuation of around $600 million, and when they got a little more than that they were pleasantly surprised.

Makes sense. So backing it up a bit, when you constructed the marketing materials to distribute to potential buyers, what were some the main selling points of the business?

A big thing that we advertised was the company’s market share in the Southeast, especially by locations. They currently have around 35% of the market share in that part of the country and have more store locations than any other competitor. This was a really big selling point because the company had a proven track record of dominating that specific region, but was relatively small in size financially compared to some of its competitors. Another thing to highlight is that 90% of their stores have a quick stop clinic in it for people with more minor illnesses to stop in and get diagnosed. These clinics have become increasingly popular, but the clinics within our client’s stores had 10% more appointments than the national average, which means more people in their stores and ultimately more sales. Along with that, pharmacy retailers are a relatively steady business because they’re needed by everyone. People go into the store to pick up their prescription every month, and while they’re there they see a handful of items on their shopping list that they decide to purchase.

Need to add a few more questions / improve

 

Technical.By now you are probably already familiar with technical questions. These will consist of any type of accounting or finance concepts the interview wants to test you on. Here are some examples.

What is an LBO?

A leveraged buyout is where a private equity firm acquires a company using a combination of debt and equity (cash). In most cases, the firm will operate the company for several years (usually five), make any necessary changes or improvements, and then sell it at the end of their investment period to realize a return.

 

Why do LBOs work?

There are basically three main reasons why an LBO gives you a higher return than just buying the company with all cash. First, by using debt, the firm reduces the amount of cash it pays up-front, which improves returns. Second, the company’s cash flows are used to repay the principal and interest on the debt used, which also boost returns. Last, the firm sells the company several years into the future, which allows it to get back most of the cash spent to buy it in the beginning.

Why exactly do we use leverage to buy a company?

The short answer is to increase returns. Specifically, any debt raised isn’t the firm’s own money, so if you’re paying $3 billion for an asset, it’s much easier to realize a high return on $1 billion of the firm’s money (with $2 billion in debt to cover the rest) than on $3 billion of the firm’s money. Not to mention the fact that this also allows the firm to have more capital left over to buy other companies.

Walk me through an LBO at a high level.

First, you will make your assumptions for the purchase price, debt-to-equity ratio, interest rate on debt, and so on. Then you will construct a sources and uses table to show how the acquisition will be financed and what the capital is used for. This also indicates how much investor equity (the firm’s own money) is required. Following this, you will adjust the company’s balance sheet for the new debt and equity structure, allocate the purchase price and add in goodwill on the assets side to ensure everything is balanced. After this you will project out the company’s financial statements to determine how much debt is paid off each year based on cash flow and mandatory interest payments. Lastly, you will make an assumption regarding the sale after several years, typically in the form of an EBITDA exit multiple, in order to calculate the return.

What makes a good LBO candidate?

There are many factors to consider here, but the most important characteristics are:

  • Stable cash flows for repaying debt
  • Low-risk business (important for repaying debt, once again)
  • Do not have a large need for ongoing investments (i.e. CapEx)
  • Present an opportunity to improve margins / cut operating expenses
  • Be considered undervalued when compared to its industry peers

What are the 4 main drivers of an LBO’s IRR?

Purchase price (multiple), exit price (multiple), amount of leverage, and future cash flow assumptions (interest rate, revenue growth, margins, etc.). Purchase and exit multiples will have the greatest impact, obviously, because you buy the company for X and sell it for Y, directly affecting returns. Leverage is then the next biggest driver, as the more leverage, the higher the return, as long as the company can still meet its future debt obligations. Going off of that, assumptions that affect future cash flows will also make an impact, as this affects the amount of leverage that can be used.

What is the difference between senior and subordinated notes?

The primary difference is seniority. The term seniority refers to the order of claims on a company’s assets in the case of bankruptcy. Senior notes are considered ‘senior unsecured’, while subordinated notes are considered ‘senior subordinated’. This means that senior unsecured holders (senior notes) have claim on the company’s assets before the senior subordinated holders (subordinated notes) if it were to file for bankruptcy.

How would you decide what amount of leverage to use for a company and how to structure it?

This will vary depending on the company and industry. Generally, you will compile a set of debt comps, which shows the types, tranches and terms of debt used by similar companies within the same industry over the last few years. There aresome hard and fast rules, such as you would never lever a company at 50x, or even 20x for that matter. Other than that, it will completely depend on the company and what its peers have done in the recent past.

How would you decide what a reasonable coverage ratio is?

First, let’s clarify this ratio is EBITDA divided by interest. Assuming that, you will want a number that shows the company can make its interest payments without much trouble. At the same time, however, you do not want a ratio that is too high because it indicates the company could have easily taken on more debt, thus limiting returns. Specifically, 10x coverage would be too high because there is obviously not much of a concern for making its payment, but 2x coverage would be too low because any sudden decrease in EBITDA could prove disastrous.

How do you incorporate PIK notes in a model?

Unlike other forms of debt, a PIK (payment in kind) loan doesn’t require interest payments. Instead, the interest on the loan will accrue to the loan principal, which increases continually over time. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a PIK is a riskier form of debt, thus carrying a higher interest rate than other forms. So in the debt schedule a PIK note will be similar to other forms, except the interest is accruing to the principal instead of cash interest payments. Additionally, you will still include the interest expense on the income statement, but you will then add back any PIK interest on the cash flow statement because it is a non-cash expense.

Let’s work on a real-life example. Say we have $100 million of debt with 5% cash interest, 5% PIK interest, and amortization of 10% annually. How is this reflected on the three financial statements?

On the income statementthere will be $5 million of cash interest and $5 million of PIK interest, so a total of $10 million in interest expense, which reduces pre-tax income by $10 million. Assuming a tax rate of 40%, this will then decrease net income by $6 million. On the cash flow statementnet income is down $6 million, but then you add back the $5 million in PIK interest, resulting in cash flow from operations down by only $1 million. Then, since there’s amortization of 10% per year, you will have a cash outflow of $10 million from the debt payment in the cash flow from financing section. All of this results in cash decreasing by $11 million. On the balance sheetcash has decreased by $11 million on the assets side so total assets is down by that much. Then, on the other side, there is a debt increase of $5 million because of the PIK interest accrual, but also a decrease of $10 million from the principal repayment for a total decrease in debt of $5 million. Finally, shareholder’s equity has decreased by $6 million due to the decline in net income. So both sides are down a total of $11 million and balance.

How do you assess credit risk?

Why would a PE firm use a convertible preferred note?

 

Behavioral.Behavioral questions will consist of anything related to yourself and your background. In the case of private equity interviews, we’ll also throw investor questions under this category.

Why did you choose investment banking?

Early on in college I already knew I enjoyed digging deep into analyses and learning about different companies and how they run. Like many, I wanted to pursue a career that was both rewarding and challenging. I also knew that I wanted to be in a role that allowed me to learn as much as possible in order to develop an extensive skill set that could be applied across all areas. Because of the nature of the work and the intelligent people you are surrounded by, investment banking undoubtedly offers all of that and more.

Why did you choose XYZ bank?

Coming from a non-core school, my initial focus during my junior year was just breaking in. I was fortunate enough to have multiple offers for my summer internship, and ultimately decided on XYZ because I felt it would offer me the best experience in terms of deal exposure and responsibility. Additionally, I had spoken with over 20 people at the firm and felt like it was a particularly good fit for me. Thankfully all of that proved true, so when I received the full-time offer there I didn’t hesitate to accept.

Why do you want to pursue a career in private equity?

Growing up I had an uncle that owned a small business so I had the opportunity to watch him run it and see how things worked. Because of this, I have always been particularly drawn to how companies are managed and operate. Private equity offers a unique opportunity to get exposure to all of the operations of a company while also making investment decisions. As a PE associate, you still get to dive deep into analyses and learn about different companies like investment banking, but now you get to work with the company for an extended period of time rather than just the length of a deal. Because of this, you get to understand all aspects of the business rather just the financial ones. Additionally, it provides invaluable experience in regards to investing and understanding how a company can deliver solid returns.

Are you risk-averse or risk-seeking?

By definition, I would likely be considered risk-averse as a whole. That being said, I do not have an issue with risk when I’m confident in my analyses and understanding of a business. I believe the key to investing is understanding all facets of a company with absolutely no gaps in information. When that’s the case, and an investment makes sense, then I’m confident in my knowledge base and am comfortable with taking more risk. 

Company A has a potential IRR of 20% and company B has a potential IRR of 30%. What are two questions you would need to ask before deciding which one to invest in?

 

If you could ask the CEO of a company you’re looking to invest in three questions, what would they be?

 

Modeling Test.At any stage of the interview process you might be given an in-office modeling test. These tests will consist of a potential private equity investment opportunity, and are almost always LBO scenarios. Here is an example.

360 Games, Inc. is a developer of mobile game applications for a variety of cellular devices. The company currently offers two different games; Jump Ultra and Skier Pro. Both games have a large online community that allows users

 

Case Studies.TBD

Interviewing tips

Know your story.Be able to concisely explain how you got to where you are in life.

Know your resume.Be able to talk about each point on your resume in great detail.

Keep your responses short and to the point.It is important that you feel comfortable talking at length about your story and experiences, but don’t assume that your interviewer wants to hear all that detail if he or she didn’t ask for it. Whatever the question is, try to keep your responses between 60 – 90 seconds, and before proceeding, ask your interviewer if he or she would like you to go in more detail about a particular topic.

Be ready to answer all types of questions.Refer to interview questions and examples here.

Practice modeling until it becomes second nature.In other words, consider yourself unprepared if you can’t create a fully functioning three-statement model from scratch (blank Excel spreadsheet) in less than two hours.

Show how you think.Instead of trying to memorize all aspects of your deals, try to truly understand them (e.g. Was this a good business? Why or why not? Did the transaction make sense?). Using your own words when discussing businesses and transactions will show to an interviewer that you understand what you’re talking about and not just memorizing the list of investment highlights.

 

Private Equity Job Market

[Description of the ecosystem]

Players & their role – PE firms, banks, headhunters, bankers, mentors

Firms – megafunds vs middle market

Geographies – most active in NY and SF; good opportunities in Chicago and Texas; there are good firms in other places too, but case-by-case basis

Competition – extremely competitive. Need to be a great performer, work at a reputable place, and have strong references in order to play the game.

Compensation – wide range, depending on fund size, type of strategy and geography, not always better than banking

 

 

As you probably already know, the private equity recruiting process is extremely competitive. For those of you who started their careers in investment banking, here is a good way to think about it. Recruiting for your analyst role was extremely competitive, and many strong candidates didn’t even successfully place at a bank. Now, with private equity recruiting, many of those candidates who were able to land a job in investment banking are trying to land a job in private equity. So what does this mean? In short, recruiting for private equity is even more competitive than investment banking. Only the top analysts from every bank will successfully place in private equity roles, which is just another reason why you need to be on your ‘A’ game every day.

 

Finding Opportunities

There are several different players in the PE recruiting process. As we discussed previously, headhunters are typically the most important as they are directly connected to the firms hiring and have a large say in who gets an interview. The opportunities don’t stop with them though. One of the things many analysts don’t consider are their bosses’ connections with PE firms. For example, you are sitting in your MD’s office one day as he/she reviews some of the edits you just made to a pitch. Just then, your MD’s phone rings and on the other line is a VP at XYZ firm down the street wanting to talk about an opportunity they are considering. You can’t help but hear that they started their conversation asking about each other’s families and talking about getting together for another round of golf next week. You know this firm is very prestigious, and you had been hoping to get in the door there for a while. Suddenly, it clicks. If you are a top analyst at a bank that supports their analysts pursuing exit opportunities, this is a phenomenal situation. After your MD has hung up and finishes discussing their comments with you, you mention that you’re really interested in the firm that VP works for and have been hoping to interview there. Based on your MD’s response, you can ask them to make an introduction or recommend you to their friend, and suddenly a door has been opened that might not have been otherwise. This is just an example, but the point is that your MDs, Directors, and even VPs will usually have close relationships with many key decision-makers at PE firms around the country so you shouldn’t hesitate to ask for their help. With that in mind, you should obviously be conscientious about how you approach the topic, and be mindful of people’s personalities and your bank’s views on pursuing other opportunities.

 

PE Firms

As you can imagine, the recruiting environment is different between megafunds and middle market funds-LINK. Because of their prestige and desirability, the megafund process is usually more competitive than the middle market funds. That isn’t to say that middle market firms’ process isn’t competitive, because it is incredibly competitive, but megafunds typically interview only the top analysts from the top banks, making it even more difficult to stand out.

 

Geographies

The majority of opportunities will be found in New York and San Francisco primarily because the firms located in those cities are the most active. After that, Chicago and Texas are probably a close second in regards to recruiting activity. That being said, there are many good firms located in other cities across the country, but it will really vary on a case-by-case basis. Finding good opportunities in less-active cities such as Minneapolis or Denver is not impossible by any means, but those firms’ recruiting processes won’t be as widely known as others. Additionally, though there are still good firms in those cities, you should keep in mind that those funds will usually be focused on the lower middle market. Once again, this isn’t set in stone, but is a reasonable generalization to make.

 

Competition

As mentioned previously, the PE job market is extremely competitive. So what do you need to do to get an offer? First of all, in order to even be consideredyou must be a top performer in your current role (the ‘top bucket’ of analysts), work at a reputable place, and have strong references from either headhunters, an employee within the firm, a current MD you work for, or others. Once you have checked the boxes for all of those, then you can feel confident in at least having the opportunity to interview at a few a places. That is where the real competition starts though. PE firms aren’t seeking out enormous analyst classes like the investment banks do. In many cases, they are hiring maybe five to ten associates. So in order to be selected, you must absolutely nail every question of every interview. This alone isn’t enough though because you can count on every candidate you’re competing against doing this. Due to their smaller size, PE firms will place a greater emphasis on cultural fit. This is where the offers are won, everything else is just expected and a check in the box. That is why it is important that you have a compelling story that is interesting and makes you likable. It is imperative that you make a lasting impression on everyone you speak with, and that you are always being aware of things you can connect with the person sitting across from you on. This is much easier said than done, but if you are able to do this and check all of the other boxes, then your chances of receiving an offer greatly increase.

That being said, it is important to keep in mind that a firm’s selection is not down to a science. There are so many variables that can affect the outcome of your interviews, so even if you do everything ‘right’, you could still end up not getting an offer. If this happens, it can be incredibly demoralizing, but it is important to keep this in perspective and just continue to be persistent and confident.