6/6/16

I am about 3 weeks removed from receiving three PE offers (from MFs and top MM firms), both elated and relieved to be done with such a crazy process. I saw that another user commented saying he'd do a write-up about his experience going through the recruiting process and figured I'd wait to write up mine until after, but I haven't seen his so figured I'll just go ahead with my post. This community was absolutely instrumental in helping secure the offers, so I think it'd be incredibly selfish to not give back and write about my experience.

To give you a little bit of background about me: 1st year analyst working at a mid-level BB in a mid-level coverage group. Top-25 (non-Ivy) school, solid GPA, didn't summer in banking and recruited full-time.

I think this post is best served in 4 distinct parts:

1) initial headhunter meetings
2) preparation for the process,
3) coffee chats, dinners and the actual interview process, and
4) miscellaneous.

1) Initial Headhunter Meetings

Plain and simple, everything starts with the headhunters. They are the gatekeepers to basically every interview process and are incredibly important. If you work at a BB or an elite boutique, the headhunters will begin reaching out to you in October / November. You do not need to email them before you start working or anything like that - it'll serve you no benefit and will only hurt you in the process. They'll reach out to you. With that said, I have a funky email address that includes my middle initial, so when all of my peers received the messages from Dynamics/CPI/Amity/Glocap/etc., I did not. This sucks, but just have one of your coworkers forward you the email they received. It is perfectly fine if they haven't emailed you, and I'm sure they'll be more than happy to speak with you if you email them introducing yourself and asking to meet in person.

There are a few important points to note with these headhunter interviews. First and foremost, you only get one shot at meeting/impressing them and proving that you'll be capable of going through PE/HF recruiting and being in front of their clients. Treat these initial interviews as you would any other important interview. I see people on here saying "ah yeah the headhunter meetings don't matter much" - this is the wrong attitude. Unless you're at BX/other top groups, you absolutely have to come off polished when you meet with them. I prepped for these meetings like I was prepping for a 1st round interview. They'll ask you to walk them through your resume, what you're looking for, why PE or why HF, where do you want to work, what kind of funds are you targeting, what are some names you're targeting, things like that. One of the ways I think you can differentiate yourself here is knowing EXACTLY what you're looking for. If you can name specific funds and why (e.g. is it their specific strategy? Is it because you worked on a deal with them? Do you know somebody there? Did somebody from your group go there? Is their head of C&R/Healthcare/Tech investing really well known? etc.), it'll help you immensely. I think I got interviews at a few places because I specifically listed those firms as firms offering what I could consider a dream opportunity.

If you have a deal on your resume, expect for some of the headhunters that are former bankers (e.g. CPI, Glocap, HSP) to ask you to walk through the deal. I had kids in my group not prepare for these meetings and get sort of grilled (CPI did this) and not receive any interviews from that respective headhunter, while I received multiple interviews because I came prepared. You can't come off wishy-washy here - you need to know that you're either doing HF or PE, what size fund (i.e. middle market/large cap/MF/lower middle market/growth equity), where, and why. You can tell different recruiters different things (i.e. tell one you want PE, another you want HF), but unless you're at a top group that consistently sends people to MFs/top HFs, then you need to know what you want.

Another thing I'd like to note is that, while the headhunters are the middle men in the process, you also play an important role and it is in their best interest to meet as many candidates as possible to try to place as many people as possible. That's how they get paid. They understand that you're a banker and there are a lot of demands on your time/life, so it is perfectly reasonable to wait to respond to their introductory emails several weeks (or months) later to make sure you're ready. I waited until December to meet with the headhunters and I was fine. If you need to cancel and reschedule, that's fine too so long as you do it professionally. If you know one week you're going to be getting crushed and you have a headhunter meeting scheduled for 8:00am that Wednesday, email them and ask to reschedule; they understand. Just don't do this several times.

Lastly, not all headhunters are created equally. Some of them, for whatever reason, just won't click with you, which sucks but it is what it is. Some of them are just dicks and aren't worth your time. I had a particularly awful meeting with one of the recruiters at SearchOne where the person essentially told me I was an idiot and I didn't understand the size distinctions between PE firms. Jokes on them, I got 3 offers in PE despite "not knowing what it is".

2) Preparation for the Process

It's true that the interviewing process is grueling and seems to pop up out of nowhere every year. It catches people off-guard and I know quite a few people in my group felt underprepared for everything. Each year the process gets earlier and earlier, so it's absolutely crucial that you're ready for the process. This means prepping in your down time at work at any chance you get. That said, you have to be discreet about it. You don't want to give off the impression that you're only there to work for 6 months, get a PE/HF offer, then cruise for the next 18 months. Make a pitchbook with a generic cover and put a guide in it so it "looks" like you're working, when in reality you're studying. Read websites/articles about your deal and take notes. Read initiating coverage reports on the two companies involved in one of your deals, read comprehensive research reports on the sub industry that the companies are from, understand everything there is to know about the business models. Do practice lbo models in your free time. Even if you have a Saturday off, if you're just gonna be lying in bed hungover, go into work and practice.

The Wall Street Oasis PE guide I think was probably the most important part of my prep process, but on its own, I'd say it's incomplete. I think it's the best one out there and 150% worth the investment (seriously, $300 price tag for a $200k+ job? Sign me up), but you need to supplement your preparation with other things as well. People on this site love to stress the importance of modeling, and I always see kids on here saying "oh that group doesn't model, it's not a good group" but that couldn't be more misguided. I come from one of the groups that, according to people here, apparently "doesn't model" (news to me lol). Every group models, and every group will have practice LBOs for you to get your feet wet with (...I hope). Sure, maybe some of the product groups get a more "technical" modeling experience but it's not that important. In reality, the models in my PE interviews were not very difficult. One of the megafunds I interviewed with had a template-based cash sweep model and it was a joke. Another firm just had us do a debt paydown from scratch and it wasn't very hard either.

This next paragraph will go against the conventional wisdom of this site a bit, and it's my own personal opinion so take it with a grain of salt. I don't claim that it's the right view, but it's my belief and it's what I would do if I went through the recruiting process again:

The single most important part of your interviewing experience with PE firms will be your deal experience. I would say a solid 30% of every single interview I had was spent talking about my deal in depth. If you don't have an announced M&A deal on your resume, or you don't have an unannounced deal you feel comfortable talking about on a very granular level, I don't see what you would talk about in your interviews. I was incredibly fortunate to have a $1-2bn sell-side on my resume that got announced two months before everything started (conveniently, right when I met with the headhunters). I think it was the single most important factor in me landing the interviews (and ultimately the jobs) that I received. If I hadn't had an announced M&A deal on my resume, I likely would have waited until next year to go through the process. People here say it's a detriment to your chances, but I met quite a few people throughout the process from BAML/JPM/GS that were second years going through the interview process for the first time. Perhaps there is a stigma against them, I'm not sure and I don't know where they ended up, but there were a few second years at my interviews with 3 megafunds and 2 of the top MM firms. I understand the desire to get out of banking, and if your bank doesn't have a 3-year model like the aforementioned banks, then maybe that won't work for you, but my bank generally lets people stay on for a third year if you're on good terms, so I probably would've waited an extra year had I not felt prepared. After all, you only have one shot interviewing with each firm so you can't really screw it up.

In terms of preparation though, I don't want to get to in depth because I think you should have to figure that out on your own, but I will say that the three biggest areas to focus on are first and foremost, the deals on your resume, secondly understanding everything there is to know about an LBO (on a theoretical and conceptual level), and third, being able to walk through paper lbos/case studies. In some of my interviews, we got REALLY granular into my deal experience, and it was good that I had prepped so thoroughly, so you have to know everything about them. The case study part caught me off guard and I think it might be the one area that the WSO guide didn't exactly prepare me for, but a lot of my interviews had a case study where they wanted me to talk through how I would approach a potential PE investment so it was something I picked up throughout the process which was nice.

3) The Actual Interview Process

This is where things get really hectic. Everybody sort of knew interviews were coming towards the end of January. I had been contacted for coffee chats/dinners at several different firms in early January. These, I think, are mostly used to drum up interest and allow you to get a feel for some of the firms and the people that work there. While I think they're a good indication of whether you'll get an interview, I agree with the other poster who said that they're not the end-all, be-all of the process. There were a few firms that I got coffee with an associate/VP and I thought it went great, and I didn't hear back/get an interview. There were some firms where I thought the drinks went poorly and I received an interview. There were even more firms still that had dinners and coffee chats that I wasn't invited to, and I received interviews (and an offer!) from them.

Anyway, the process kicked off on a Friday or something this year. I got the gobuyside email saying "The following firms have started their interview process" and I hadn't heard a thing and I got nervous. But then, over the course of that weekend, I received probably 3 or 4 emails asking me if I would be available to interview with XYZ firm at 10am/1pm/5pm/etc. the following day. For some interviews, I would literally find out at 1 a.m. that they wanted to interview me at 9 a.m. the following morning. The good thing is that you can push back a little bit to see if there is any other availability (i.e. 12pm instead of 9a.m.), but know that things move REALLY quickly and it probably is in your best interest to accept the time they give you, if you're available.

On one day, I had interviews with 3 or 4 firms, and got called back to two of them for things in the afternoon. I am lucky in that my group is receptive to recruiting, so I was able to ask my associates to cover for me, but some people might not be as fortunate. I met a few kids who said that their group doesn't allow recruiting, and that they hadn't been in the office all day and were dreading the lecture they'd get when they show up 5 hours late to work.

While it does suck that things move quickly, the good news is that you know where you stand pretty quickly as well. For the three interviews that I eventually converted to offers, I found out I got a second round interview right before I was leaving their. In terms of offers, I received them probably within 3-4 hours of leaving their offices.

This section is pretty short, but for some reason I'm blanking on what to write here, but feel free to ask me any questions about the actual interviews and I'm happy to answer them.

4) Miscellaneous

There were a few ideas I held about the whole PE recruiting process that I had read here that ended up not being 100% true, so hopefully I can shine some light on those. One thing that stuck out to me, and that I continued to believe all the way up until I received the offers, is that I'd be handicapped by my group. I feel stupid saying this now, but I was sort of led to believe that unless I was at GS/BX/MS I wouldn't be getting looks from any of the top funds. This was wrong. All told, I interviewed with 3 megafunds and 4 top upper MM funds. I received three offers from those before I ended my process. Throughout that first week, I also received offers to interview at ~5 or so other really quality funds (think Welsh Carson, GTCR, Genstar, Vestar type firms) that I had to decline as I'd already accepted offers. Not to mention the 10+ interviews I got for some lower-MM funds. This is coming from a decent BB in a decent coverage group, not a top group.

People also try to make it out that it's impossible to recruit for west coast opportunities from NYC. While I will be staying in NYC for my PE gig. I received interviews at several top funds on the West Coast and had all of my interviews in NYC. A lot of the top west coast funds will fly out to New York City to do their process. I had two final rounds in NYC for west coast shops. I think the important thing is that you have ties to the west coast. I am from just outside of San Francisco, so it was easy for me to say why I want to move to SF or LA. If you don't have ties to the west coast, I wouldn't expect to have as easy a time getting interviews there.

This post is long enough as it is so I will end it here, but feel free to ask any questions here and I will do my best to answer them.

Mod Note (Andy): Make sure to see Northsider's response to this post in the comments or by clicking here

Best of WSO, this was originally posted March 2015

Comments (113)

3/7/15

Darn, need another banana to edit my post.

Private Equity Interview Course

3/7/15

First of all congrats on your offers and thanks for doing this!

In hinsight, what would you have done differently? Preparing for the case studies, if so, how?

3/7/15

That's a little bit tougher for me to say because I think I did about as well as I could've hoped, but there were a few things where I felt I was more 'reactive' than 'proactive' I guess in preparation. Thankfully I was able to build off of those from my first two interviews (coincidentally, two of the three interviews where I didn't move past the first round).

As you mentioned, the case study parts caught me a bit off-guard just because I'd only really practiced one or two, and even then, the reason why I practiced them was for the sake of building the model. In my experience, you need to be able to work through a case study and come up with a compelling investment recommendation using the information available in the packet they give you. One of the MFs gave me a ~10 page packet with a bunch of graphs and a couple blurbs about a specific company, the industry it operated in, competitive dynamics, and industry outlook. You should be able to look at that and say, "A is a great business, it has B, C, D, E & F going for it and given my preliminary read through it seems like it'd make for a compelling investment. That said, X, Y and Z are things I'd want to diligence further before I'd actually make a bid for the company." Obviously with much more fleshed out reasons than that. For example, one of the case studies, I said "This telecommunications business looks great, it has a really strong growth profile, its revenues are growing at 6% a year, their EBITDA margins are incrementally improving, their business requires very little fixed costs, their FCF profile is very attractive, and these assumptions seem reasonable/conservative." And that was one of the points I raised among 5 or 6 other.

I guess the best way I'd recommend prepping for this is going through sell-side and buy-side CIMs that you've gotten from private equity firms looking to exit/buy into a business, and go through it thinking how a PE associate would. i.e. Does this business check all of the boxes of what makes a compelling PE investment? And work through it that way.

Which I guess leads me to my next point, where I felt I was weak on but was able to steadily improve as I moved throughout the process. And that's the whole "thinking like an investor" idea. Understanding what creates value in an LBO on more than a simple cursory level. You can't get by just saying that paying down debt increases equity returns. There are several levers you can pull - revenue growth, margin expansion, cash generation/deleveraging, and multiple expansion. Ok great, you listed those, now lets walk through why each one is important, which is most/least valuable, why that's the case, which you'd look for and why, etc. etc. They give you a company to review, so talk about it in terms of those ideas.

Lastly, I think coming off "rambly" is a huge mistake (if that makes sense). Don't talk for the sake of talking. Don't let your answers be long-winded. Answer things concisely, explain thing clearly, get your point across, and allow the interviewer to lead the conversation. Obviously don't be too brief, but if you're shooting blanks, answer what you know, and then say something like "I don't know if this is correct, but this is how I'm thinking about XYZ" and hopefully they can lead you in the right direction. Don't be afraid to say when you don't know something, but also don't BS your way through things where you have no idea what you're talking about, because it's plain to see. You can obviously make things up (e.g., on the deal I worked on, I had questions like "where does this company trade in its peer group, what was its multiple, what was the revenue CAGR of this division, etc." and you can make those answers up so long as it's not an insane number like 150% revenue CAGR and 200x multiple. The PE professionals likely don't know where the company was trading relative to its peers, so if it's 17.5x forward EPS, but you say it's 15 or 16x, that's fine).

3/7/15

Thanks so much for your response.
I'm also having trouble with SBing, will def come back later!

Best Response
3/14/15

Great post, the preponderance of which rings true from my experience. Having been through this process on both sides of the table now, I have a few reactions:

1. I heartily disagree with the idea that having a closed deal at all differentiates you as a candidate - especially the suggestion that you're better off postponing recruiting if you haven't announced a deal by recruiting season. If you feel unprepared for the process, that's one thing; and, insofar as navigating a deal from start-to-finish buttresses your understanding, I wouldn't contest that the experience is valuable. That said, being able to list the names of the parties involved because it's announced offers you no edge, ipso facto.

After interviewing dozens of candidates and debriefing with others on still more dozens, I can report that I've never once heard an interviewer credit a candidate for having completed a transaction. You're 7 months on the job: the lion's share of candidates (even from top groups) haven't had the opportunity to close a deal, and for many I interviewed, the deals they had announced weren't the ones in which they were most involved (due to double-staffing) or that were best to discuss in an interview setting. Literally the only time I heard deal experience mentioned by an interviewer was an occurrence in which a candidate had been staffed on a transaction involving one of our portfolio companies.

2. Not being long-winded can't be stressed enough. Most candidates for PE are near-professional status with respect to buzz word memorization. Nothing will derail your interview more than a palaverous answer. Keep it short, mention the most essential details and let the interviewer determine whether more investigation is necessary. If you don't understand the question, ask for clarification rather than pontificating and hoping to cover your bases.

3. I think the OP would be floored by the proportion of interviewees with significant mistakes on the model test. Even candidates who reported confidence at the beginning of the interview (I always ask how they felt about the model) often had calculation errors, errata on signs (please, please, please use negative presentation - it will save you from countless embarrassing gaffes), miscues on returns waterfalls and omissions or double-counts on their S&Us. Generally, if it was clear the candidate understood the concepts and was slipped up by time pressure, it wasn't a 'ding', but those who submitted a perfect model undoubtedly differentiated themselves.

Separately:

Candor:
You should be able to look at that and say, "A is a great business, it has B, C, D, E & F going for it and given my preliminary read through it seems like it'd make for a compelling investment. That said, X, Y and Z are things I'd want to diligence further before I'd actually make a bid for the company." Obviously with much more fleshed out reasons than that. For example, one of the case studies, I said "This telecommunications business looks great, it has a really strong growth profile, its revenues are growing at 6% a year, their EBITDA margins are incrementally improving, their business requires very little fixed costs, their FCF profile is very attractive, and these assumptions seem reasonable/conservative." And that was one of the points I raised among 5 or 6 other.

Although I agree with your outline and sentiment, your illustrative answer blunders into a category I would describe as "I can read numbers". If I give a candidate a case study that includes historical growth information, reporting that information back to me will score them no points. Quite the contrary, that kind of answer suggests to me that you aren't "thinking as an investor", as it were.

The most frequently attributed reason for snubbing a candidate is "P&L cathexis", if you will. For instance, when I ask candidates, "If you could only have one statistic to assess investment attractiveness, what would it be?" A plurality of banking analysts mention growth rate. Alternatively, if I present a simple comparison, "Company A with 15% EBITDA margins and Company B with 10% EBITDA margins, in which would you rather invest?" A frustrating portion of interviewees have a knee-jerk preference for Company A. In short, I would submit that the example answer you provided is negatively correlated with receiving an offer.

Now, obviously some candidates demonstrate their judgment when pushed further in the interview; clearly you gave plenty of satisfying answers, given your results. That said, I think the "top candidates" generally offer more thoughtful answers out-of-the-gate. For example (granting that I know nothing of the specifics in your telecom case study), "A telecom company growing at 6% organically with expanding EBITDA margins in a GDP-growth industry is clearly taking share and will likely trade at a steep multiple. However, its defensive end market exposure should mitigate cyclicality and provide juice on leverage. Given its strong cash flow conversion, even at market-clearing multiple the company should offer a solid pro forma FCF yield. And, if I think about what kind of businesses I would want to buy in this environment, I'd rather pay up for and hence over-equitize a business with defensive demand drivers that will have air-tight coverage if we hit a down-cycle during the hold. Couple that with an out-executing management team, we can probably accelerate share gains in a recession, use our high FCF yield to push out the exit a year or two without compromising IRR and grow into an exit multiple that still results in attractive returns."

That answer is a bit longer, but it sticks to the essential details, avoids rambling and demonstrates second-order investment judgment without requiring your interviewer to pressure test your thesis. The problem with your answer is that it makes no headway re: whether the business is an attractive investment. Strong growth, expanding margins, strong FCF conversion and reasonable projections are all nice in a vacuum, but some of the least attractive LBO candidates out there exhibit all four. If you're going to point to expanding margins, I'd prefer you frame it as a diligence point: "One thing that gives me pause is the rate of margin expansion on what should be a fairly variablized cost structure. Perhaps management is pushing through price increases with limited volume growth and is at risk of ceding share to lower-cost providers in the future or being unable to maintain its growth trajectory. Alternatively, perhaps this company has fat corporate overhead expenses and there's an opportunity for cost take-out to bump margins up to industry standard. Either way, it's a key point of diligence."

Lest I seem like I'm being unnecessarily critical, I want to reiterate that I found your post very informative and I agree with the majority of the advice you propose.

+1

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

3/29/15

NorthSider:

3. I think the OP would be floored by the proportion of interviewees with significant mistakes on the model test. Even candidates who reported confidence at the beginning of the interview (I always ask how they felt about the model) often had calculation errors, errata on signs (please, please, please use negative presentation - it will save you from countless embarrassing gaffes)

I am sure this is a pretty trivial question. Can someone please explain how to "use negative presentation"? Does it mean showing COGS, SG&A, interest expense etc as negative numbers and then use additions throughout the model?

3/30/15

yankeegooner:
NorthSider wrote:

3. I think the OP would be floored by the proportion of interviewees with significant mistakes on the model test. Even candidates who reported confidence at the beginning of the interview (I always ask how they felt about the model) often had calculation errors, errata on signs (please, please, please use negative presentation - it will save you from countless embarrassing gaffes)

I am sure this is a pretty trivial question. Can someone please explain how to "use negative presentation"? Does it mean showing COGS, SG&A, interest expense etc as negative numbers and then use additions throughout the model?

Correct. This accomplishes two things: (i) when you're scrolling through to audit, mistakes are immediately obvious (e.g., "capex shouldn't be positive") and (ii) every subtotal is a sum, making it unnecessary to think about formula construction as you're going through.

After checking several dozen modeling exams, I never one found a subtotal error on a model with negative presentation, but found an alarming number of 'wrong signs' on those who showed all numbers in positive format.

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

3/30/15

Nice. Thanks man.

6/24/16

Wtf is a "GDP-growth" industry? And who the fuck writes shits like this " However, its defensive end market exposure should mitigate cyclicality and provide juice on leverage."...

The question about 2 companies with different EBITDA margins is such a dick one... What's the poor kid on the receiving end supposed to say to satisfy you? Ask for more info? Act on it right away?

9/20/16

Haha! I found your irritation quite amusing. I was in the same boat for a few seconds there myself.
The post is extremely informative and valuable but the superfluous choice of sentence construction amused me and annoyed me at the same time.

3/7/15

Getting an error every time I try to give a banana...I'll come back later. +1 though

3/7/15

Thank you for detailing this process. One of the best posts I have read on this website.

My question comes in terms of location (as you mentioned how having ties to the West Coast enabled you to show why you would want to move out there). When speaking with Headhunters, would it be looked upon negatively to say that you are willing to go to multiple cities depending on the best opportunity? Say you are open to living in NYC/SF/Bos/Chi, would they look at you as someone who doesn't truly know what they want?

3/7/15

Great question. You can definitely express that you want to be in multiple cities, and it can completely be because you're looking for the best opportunity, I just don't think you should express it in exactly that manner.

For example, I said I was looking for large-cap opportunities in Los Angeles because I love the area, my sister went to school down there, I have family there, I'm hoping to end up on the west coast long-term etc., but the reality is that I just wanted to interview with Ares/Oaktree/Leonard Green. So I don't think you should say "I'm looking for the best opportunity, regardless of location", even though that's the reason why (it was mine too!) because that'll just show that you're not really as focused/might not have ties to these specific cities.

Instead, phrase it similarly to how I did. Your ties don't even have to be 100% legitimate or real. For example, when I was interviewing for my FT gig at my bank, I constantly got asked why I wanted to work in NYC over SF, where I'm from. My answer was that my dad is always out here for business (semi-true, he comes out once every two months and I get dinner with him), I have a lot of family out here (not true, I only have a great uncle/aunt who I haven't seen in a decade, but not false), and NYC is a great city for finance (true). I'm actually not the biggest NYC fan, but it has the best opportunities so you have to give reasons to people that seem legitimate.

In all of my headhunter meetings, I said I was location-agnostic, but would prefer to be in NYC/SF/LA/Chicago (in other words, all of the best cities for PE haha) because I had ties to each location. I wanted to interview in Chicago because of MDP/GTCR, but I didn't say that.

I don't know if I'm explaining this well or not, but I hope you get the point.

3/7/15

Thanks for the response. Definitely helped clarify.

Congrats again and best of luck

3/7/15

Can't seem to give a credit. It always pops up an error.

But I was one of the guys looking forward to the other posting about his process. (SBed too). Wanted to say I really appreciate the time you put into writing this out. Hope I end up doing as well as you.

3/7/15

FANTASTIC POST and congratulations on the offers; talk about knocking it out of the park!

If I could ask a question: Once you got connected with headhunters, how much did you feel (to the extent you could tell) your background outside of work experience came into play (school, gpa, test scores)? Were there other guys in your group that you felt were comparable talent/preparation-wise who weren't as successful in PE recruiting whose only differentiation you could see was there background in the aforementioned areas?

Thanks!

"I know you think you understand what you thought I said but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."

3/8/15

Redacted:

If I could ask a question: Once you got connected with headhunters, how much did you feel (to the extent you could tell) your background outside of work experience came into play (school, gpa, test scores)? Were there other guys in your group that you felt were comparable talent/preparation-wise who weren't as successful in PE recruiting whose only differentiation you could see was there background in the aforementioned areas?

Thanks!

Don't think it came into play that much. Yes, GPA/SAT score/School will be used as a differentiating factor, but once you reach a certain threshold it doesn't matter much. Unless you're trying to get to a fund that seems to only hire HYPS kids (Berkshire comes to mind), I don't think it is that important provided you have a solid GPA (3.6+), solid test scores (2200+), or both.

With that said, there are kids in my group who had lower GPAs/SATs and got interviews at tippity-top funds. There are others who had great scores/GPAs and just didn't click with their headhunters or have the requisite experience, and they didn't get interviews. I know kids who went to UIUC or UCSB, had 3.5s, low SAT scores, average groups, and they interviewed with megafunds.

3/12/15

I recently spoke with an alumni who is a partner at one of the "other really quality funds" and he mentioned how for them GPA and SATs were very important. My GPA is very good (summa if graduated today) but my test scores are not as good. I did not even take the SAT and I took the ACT only once with no preparation. I got a 32, which I was told was good enough to get me into the school that I wanted, so I didn't bother retaking. I was just wondering how I could go about deferring this. I would imagine the quant is the most important part for recruiters, so should I just say that I got 35 on math?

Also I should say that I go to a southern school that places decently in IB (I do not know about PE), but mostly in Charlotte. I do not know how much weight it carries in the NE or WC; I imagine not much.

3/12/15

Take the GMAT and score 750+. I left my SAT scores off and just included my gmat score and no one questioned it.

3/12/15

fearandloathinginca:

Take the GMAT and score 750+. I left my SAT scores off and just included my gmat score and no one questioned it.

Okay great. Thanks for the advice!

3/12/15

I dont understand what value this post adds to this thread. Go make a separate thread 'my test scores might prevent me from getting PE interviews'... I guess there already are quiet a view

thx for wasting my time

3/12/15

Sorry my man, didn't realize that there were these threads already and also didn't realize that your time was so valuable that taking

3/7/15

Excellent post, very informative and enjoyed the read. Exactly what I was looking for, although I'm based in Europe and not exactly interested in traditional buyout funds. Still incredibly helpful as I'm involved in recruiting right now as well. As of now, there seems to be a fuck up at WSO which is why I can't give you a SB, but I will get back to that and give you some. Cheers again!

3/7/15

Wonderful post. Will SB when WSO fixes its bug. Congratulations on your successes!

3/7/15

Are you black? Or any other URM?

3/7/15

White male from a middle class socioeconomic background. Appreciate that you jumped to conclusions and assumed my hard work was due to something else though.

3/8/15

I'm sorry, did I make any conclusion in my original post? Already got that buyside swagger I see

3/8/15

double post, my bad

"You rarely have time for everything you want in this life, so you need to make choices. And hopefully your choices can come from a deep sense of who you are." - Mister Rogers

3/8/15

thanks for posting!

in terms of fund size, did you have to tell different headhunters you were looking for different things (ie. MF vs upper MM vs growth equity) or did you just mention all your interests to each headhunter?

3/8/15

thoughtleader:

thanks for posting!

in terms of fund size, did you have to tell different headhunters you were looking for different things (ie. MF vs upper MM vs growth equity) or did you just mention all your interests to each headhunter?

Nope, I actually told every headhunter that I was looking for MM and upper MM funds, didn't indicate any interest in MFs, but ended up getting interviews with megafunds. I'm not really sure why to be honest, but I wasn't complaining. That said, some headhunters just don't do large-cap or MF recruiting. For instance, I don't think Bellcast does any MF recruiting, so it'd be a mistake to tell them you're megafund-or-bust because then you probably won't get any interviews from them.

3/8/15

Awesome post man. What do you think the role of GPA will play during the process? If I'm going to be at a top group at a GS/MS/EB is something like a 3.6 GPA going to hurt me?

3/8/15

Nope, a 3.6 GPA as far as I can tell won't hold you back unless it's from a less-than-decent school and you have low SAT scores. Group reputation (which it seems like won't be an issue for you) and deal experience will be much more important provided you can check the boxes, but a 3.6 gpa won't really limit your opportunities. However, yes, a 3.9 from Wharton or Princeton will be looked upon more favorably than a 3.6 from IU or something.

3/8/15

Excellent post. I (and I presume many other) really appreciate you taking the time to write this up.

I was wondering whether you could provide any insight into what differences your process had coming from a BB vs. peers that you spoke with at top MM investment banks (RBC, Baird, Stifel, Piper Jaffray)? I assume that for starters they were not getting looks from the largest funds, but aside from that, do you know if they had any headhunters reach out to them or if they had to reach out themselves and hope for a bite? Do you know if the process happens at the same time for them or if it happens a bit later after the BB/EB candidates have their shots? Do you know what kinds of funds they get looks from?

I understand that you might not have knowledge regarding this, but any insight you could provide would be great.

3/8/15

I'll have to get back to you on this one as the process is very much still on-going, albeit at a much slower pace, and I would guess that not a lot of people have placed aside from those at top banks. I also don't know many people at the banks you mentioned as most of my close friends are at BBs, and the ones at MM banks I'm not that close with.

Purely from looking at the websites of a bunch of funds that I'd want to work for though (GTCR, Odyssey, to name a few), there are plenty of kids from William Blair, Lincoln, Harris Williams, etc.). But you're right in that you won't see them at megafunds. They can definitely end up at really quality MM funds

Private Equity Interview Course

3/8/15

When you said it's OK to leave the headhunters' initial introductions unanswered for a few weeks/months, do you literally mean leave it unresponded to in your inbox and give email them a month later acting like you didn't just ignore them for a month? Or do you mean responded to the initial introduction with "Hi, sorry really busy in the middle of a bunch of massive deals, can we do this in a month when I've gotten through this?".

Did you ever turn any headhunters down (they represented new/small firms probably unlikely to place you anywhere you wanted to go)?

Do headhunter interviews ever involve them asking you technical questions or is it all just fit/placement related?

Thanks for the post

3/8/15

PIKBIM:

When you said it's OK to leave the headhunters' initial introductions unanswered for a few weeks/months, do you literally mean leave it unresponded to in your inbox and give email them a month later acting like you didn't just ignore them for a month? Or do you mean responded to the initial introduction with "Hi, sorry really busy in the middle of a bunch of massive deals, can we do this in a month when I've gotten through this?".

Did you ever turn any headhunters down (they represented new/small firms probably unlikely to place you anywhere you wanted to go)?

Do headhunter interviews ever involve them asking you technical questions or is it all just fit/placement related?

Thanks for the post

I only received 3 or 4 headhunter emails due to my email address being strange, but for those 3 or 4, yes I literally waited a month before responding. Just said something like "Hi xxx, I wanted to follow-up to your previous email and see if you'd be available for a quick meeting to discuss summer 2016 buyside opportunities," attached my resume, and then set up meetings with them.

I'm sure you can respond saying "can we do this in a month" and honestly it's probably a better move than what I did (which, admittedly, isn't the best way to go about it).

I didn't turn down any headhunter meetings, it's in your best interest to cast a wide net and meet with all of them. Some you will click with, others you won't. SG Partners emailed me asking to set up a meeting, I followed up with them three times (!!) and they still never got back to me, until a week after I got my offers. Still can't figure that one out...

Headhunter interviews never asked technical questions, but a few firms asked me to walk them through the deals on my resume so I just did a 2-3 minute high-level overview of it and tried to keep things relatively straightforward. I think Dynamics asked me what the 3 ways to drive value in an LBO are, but that was about it.

3/8/15

Awesome post thanks!

Could you talk a little more about what specifically they were interested about the deal you listed on your resume? I saw you mentioned stuff like revenue CAGRs for a division but interested to hear more about this. Was it more valuation based (what were your DCF/LBO assumptions, what did peers trade at, etc.) or more process based (who were the buyers, why did they fit, your role in drafting any CIM/MP, etc)?

3/8/15

awesome post @"Candor", thanks for sharing! Next version of the private equity interview Prep Pack will definitely include a detailed case study to show how to attack these :-)

3/9/15

Candor, could you talk about how you made the switch to BB for FT?

3/9/15

What happens if you are not at a firm/group that normally gets looks from headhunters?Do PE firms have any issues including candidates that are known to the firm from elsewhere(networking etc)?

Also wondering if anyone here has insight into lateraling to a EB or BB from a top MM and how the impacts the process(recruiting as a 2nd year would be a given in this case).

3/9/15

Do you have friends at regional offices in your firm? Would analysts from BB SF be at a disadvantage for PE recruiting outside of SF, since most of the headhunters are in NYC and top PE firms fly out to NYC to conduct interviews? Did you run into any BB regional analysts during your final rounds?

3/9/15

Candor, what's the policy regarding use of your company email to communicate with headhunters? I know a lot of times emails going outside the firm will be screened and if you're in a group that isn't open to recruiting that could be an issue.

3/9/15

What did you do the summer after your junior year? Also, how was the recruiting for FT banking?

3/9/15

I went through the exact process not long ago and would echo OP's experience.
Recruiters are ESSENTIAL in getting you interviews, but that being said, it IS possible to get interviews via cold emails and / or calls.

3/9/15

Solid insights.

I would add a few things.

On the headhunter point, OPs advice should only be taken on a case by case basis. When I was recruiting for PE, I got zero love from headhunters and my only in was going over their heads by networking my way into the interview process. I never heard from any of the headhunters and so I had to call/email headhunters to get on their radars. In some cases they just outright ignored my calls/emails, sometimes they took the calls/emails but didn't invite me in to meet, and a few times they invited me to come meet them but never put me into any processes. Any interview I got was by networking, so it was essentially someone at the PE firm emailing HSP/Amity/CPI etc, and saying "hey, put this guy on the interview roster"

So the "let them come to you" depends heavily on your background/firm/group.

Next, assuming you have a traditional background, OP is absolutely right about the headhunters making or breaking you. Be nice to them and take the interview with them seriously. I've met more than a few people coming from top groups on Wall Street that didn't get interviews at the usual suspects because they bungled their HH interview. Even if a PE guy sees a really impressive looking resume and asks the HH about him/her, if they bungled the HH interview the HH will shit on them and they won't get an interview. HHs are not incentivized to take a risk on a candidate.

Strongly agree that you should overkill interview prep. The entire process goes by in a instant flurry of activity and you only have one chance to lock-up an offer. You need to be bullet proof 1 or 2 months before you think you'll have to interview... because the only thing thats predictable about the PE recruiting timeline is that it will be unpredictable, often at your expense. I did ALOT of self-prep and then when I thought I was ready I did a 1-2 dozen mock interviews with friends and friends of friends who work in PE, and then calibrated my answers and delivery based on their feedback.

On modeling, I would say it is a stressful situation. So even if you're extremely comfortable modeling, do a bunch of timed, from scratch lbo models of random companies you don't know. If nothing else, you atleast get the muscle memory and layout of the model down to where you go into auto-pilot and don't have to think about the mechanics.

3/9/15

Great thread, thanks for contributing OP. On a side note regarding lbo models, I had a different experience in that I received a pretty intense modeling test / case study so you truly do have to be prepared for a worst-case scenario. I completely agree with Marcus' post above where he says to practice modeling until it's pretty much muscle memory. If I had to think about any of the mechanics of building the model, I would have never finished (which from what I heard, happened to the majority of other candidates).

3/9/15

Great post.

Do you know about the PE process for someone who laterals over to a BB after 1 year? Do these guys get plugged into the process the same way a first year BB analyst would?

Thanks

3/10/15

Solid post!

DC

3/11/15

Great post! Thank you so much!

Could you elaborate a bit more on the actual interviews themselves? Were they similar to investment banking interviews, more behavioral + model, about past deal experience, or about investment ideas?

3/13/15

Candor -- Thanks for your extremely informative post. I have two questions:
1) For groups that aren't receptive to recruiting, what do you suggest doing?
2) Do these hedge hunters recruit for anything other than HF / PE (i.e. corp fin, bus dev, start ups, etc.)

3/13/15

Thanks for the informative post.

Do you know how exactly these headhunters get access to your email? I heard that they are actually given a list of all the analysts (ranked by bucket) by group.

If this is the case, do they also know which office you're located in? For instance, I'm at a top BB firm, but not in the NY office and am looking to recruit for NY PE and curious if they tend to reach out NY analysts first (My concern is that I'm not located in a big hub regional office like SF where there might be process that is just as streamlined, but something more like Boston/Chi/Houston).

3/15/15

Great post sir +1

Bitch please, I love bananas! If you found my advice useful, hit me up with one.

3/19/15

@Northsider @Candor @Marcus_Halberstram what about a VERY low gpa?

3/19/15

DaBBzMan:

@NorthSider @Candor @Marcus_Halberstram what about a VERY low gpa? < 3.0 but in a target group at an EB

I got to the buyside with a GPA of 3.2 and from a 3rd/4th tier bank so a low GPA is definitely not impossible to overcome but it will be a large hurdle. Do you have a legitimate reason for the low GPA? Athlete, family death, etc... recruiters will 100% ask about it and i'm sure some it will come up in some interviews so you're going to want to have your story ready to go. Don't be surprised if you get dinged immediately by some firms when working with recruiters but I would imagine you still have a shot at some firms.

3/19/15

Truck:

DaBBzMan:

@NorthSider @Candor @Marcus_Halberstram what about a VERY low gpa? < 3.0 but in a target group at an EB

I got to the buyside with a GPA of 3.2 and from a 3rd/4th tier bank so a low GPA is definitely not impossible to overcome but it will be a large hurdle. Do you have a legitimate reason for the low GPA? Athlete, family death, etc... recruiters will 100% ask about it and i'm sure some it will come up in some interviews so you're going to want to have your story ready to go. Don't be surprised if you get dinged immediately by some firms when working with recruiters but I would imagine you still have a shot at some firms.


Triple major, 2 sport D1 athlete (football/track), and fraternity president. Im hoping the fact that im in a target group gets me some points back
4/4/15

great post, congrats on the offers!
I'm currently working in a multi billion fund in Europe, and would like to get interviews for associate positions in large cap funds or growth equity in the US (West coast). I know that I missed the big week in February and thus need to hope that some off-cycle opps open up. I am in contact with headhunters (Amity, Henkel, oxbridge, glocap) and am trying to network my way in but it proves to be very difficult. The Visa is not a problem and I come from a target university in Europe.

Any advice on how else to attack the job market?
Thanks!

4/20/16

Great post, incredibly helpful! Just a few questions, and anyone feel free to answer them.
1) Can you shed more light on how gobuyside.com works? When does one create an account on it, I am assuming its quite risky since its a public profile. I have also seen some profiles where the analysts have stars next to their positions, does that mean someone from their group went and endorsed them?
2) I'm going into a top tier MM bank (Jefferies, WF) could anyone speak to the reputation of these firms and their placement? Any insight into specific groups?

Thanks!

4/20/16

Were the technical questions much more difficult than BB / Elite Boutique technical questions?

How did you prep for the case-study?

How quickly can you model a returns analysis with 3-statements etc.?

4/20/16

Technicals for banking are to ensure you're well prepared. Technicals for PE are to ensure you've mastered financial analysis for a banking analys / new PE associate.

Didn't prepare for case study, did it everyday at work anyway, so was second nature. Also spent some time at a boutique where I was modeling from a blank spread sheet on every deal, so that experience helped.

Depends know complex the company is. But with very simplified, probably 20 minutes. Of the cases I've done, I spent a weekend on one, 4 hours on another, and most of the others were on site, typically 3 hours. Had one that was 30 minutes on site, blank excel and a 10k.

4/20/16

I know HF's have strict marketing laws and cold calling clients is forbidden. Is it legal to cold call clients at a PE firm? Also, how do the costs of starting a PE firm differ from the costs of starting a HF and what kind of seed capital do I need to realistically start a PE firm?

Thanks

Competition is a sin.

-John D. Rockefeller

4/20/16

what do you mean it have shaken up this year

can you explain how it differed from previous years for naive on this website

ty

4/20/16
blastoise:

what do you mean it have shaken up this year

can you explain how it differed from previous years for naive on this website

ty

In previous years the megafunds kicked off the process, usually earlier and earlier every year. Typically they would recruit in the spring of the previous year for a start date the following year at the end of the summer. So you'd get an offer in spring 2009 for a august 2010 start date. Once the megafunds were done (with some overlap) the top MM funds would do their thing. Then everyone else.

Last year was a bit of a clusterfuck and from what I've been told many of the megafunds were pretty pissed off about having to give offers to pimply faced 20 year olds that had absolutely no experience to talk to. As a result, a lot of the megafunds have agreed to wait until early to mid-2013 this year to give offers for 2013 start dates (makes sense).

So all the middle market guys are having a field day. From where they stand, they have the first pick of the crop, something they've never gotten to do before since they weren't able to compete for talent with the big boys. The megafunds, being smart guys, realize that they may lose quality candidates who decide to accept an offer in-hand rather than wait until a possibility of having a megafund offer come the following year. So what they've been doing is having cocktail events, dinners, lunches etc... with some of the "desirable" candidates where basically they tell each of them "I think you're the one. Don't be impatient, wait till next year when we're hiring rather than accept an offer with X MM PE firm now, you won't regret it, I want you at Bain/KKR/Apollo etc". One in the hand is clearly better than 2 in the bush, but never underestimate the power of flattery, salemanship and pure unadulterated bullshit. Let's be frank, they will tell 60-120 kids this same "I loved you the moment I saw you, I will fight to get u at offer at my megafund" story, and of them only 5 will get actual offers, so they are knowingly lying to 55-115 kids. Most likely you're one of those poor bastards that are passing up a primo PE offer for a maybe in the future. They'll also pitch you the optionality of "if it doesn't work out with the megafunds" then you can always do MM rt after. Also bullshit. The fact that the megafunds had the pick of the litter early on and now modified their recruiting strategy to a seemingly disadvantaged position suggests that the early bird was not getting any worms worth having. They've likely noticed a significaant detioration in the quaility of candidates they've been hiring and have made a risky decision to change the way they hire associates. The MM funds have never had this luxury before, but considering the megafunds did and have chosen to forgo it suggests that its not an advantage after all. I suspect the MM firms will NOT recruit next spring and they will follow suit of the megafunds and recruit the following year.

The new status quo in associate recruiting will be for the megafunds to recruit in Jan/Feb 2014 for Aug 2014 start dates and the MM will recruit Mar/Apr 2014 for Aug 2014 start date. Everything will normalize and we'll return to the pecking order.

4/20/16
Marcus_Halberstram:
blastoise:

what do you mean it have shaken up this year

can you explain how it differed from previous years for naive on this website

ty

The new status quo in associate recruiting will be for the megafunds to recruit in Jan/Feb 2014 for Aug 2014 start dates and the MM will recruit Mar/Apr 2014 for Aug 2014 start date. Everything will normalize and we'll return to the pecking order.

Thanks

4/20/16
blastoise:

what do you mean it have shaken up this year

can you explain how it differed from previous years for naive on this website

ty

tl; dr

4/20/16
SirPoopsaLot:
blastoise:

what do you mean it have shaken up this year

can you explain how it differed from previous years for naive on this website

ty

tl; dr

4/20/16

You mad that you're gonna find it difficult to find a PE gig given you're a 2nd/3rd year Associate?

4/20/16

Marcus, because I've seen a lot of your posts, I assume you're not a second year analyst. How was the process different for you given that you've got a bit more experience?

4/20/16
blahnik:

Marcus, because I've seen a lot of your posts, I assume you're not a second year analyst. How was the process different for you given that you've got a bit more experience?

I'm a bit atypical. I moved to PE as a 3rd year at a MM shop and almost simultaneously got an offer at a large non-megafund (think THL, Silver Lake, Leonard Green). That was off cycle and largely dumb luck as they felt they underhired for the following year and picked up one more seat. So I will have been at in my MM PE role for about a year and will start at my new gig come the summer time. So kind of intentionally holding myself back a grade (will be a first year PE associate twice).

As a more experienced candidate you really have to rely on your MD's to get your name out there. As a 3rd year, I was getting very few interviews on my own, despite a solid background.

So the key is your MDs' recommendation and networking. Obviously you have to be very competitive otherwise as well, but that goes without saying.

4/20/16

how do you recommend consultants with less deal experience present themselves?

What are the major components of LBO one should know?

4/20/16

Marcus:

Thanks for the Q&A. Can you give a concise time-line of the PE recruiting process for MM and Megafunds? I know this info is floating around piecemeal in various threads but it might be helpful to have it consolidated here.

For the record, I am an incoming FT analyst at a strong MM boutique whose going to be hustling for offers. Just need to know how long to wait before marketing myself.

Thanks

4/20/16

^ Marcus, maybe I'm getting your profile mixed up with another WSOer but I thought you were maybe associate-1 at a BB (having moved from a good MM analyst background).

4/20/16
Kanon:

^ Marcus, maybe I'm getting your profile mixed up with another WSOer but I thought you were maybe associate-1 at a BB (having moved from a good MM analyst background).

That's roughly in the ballpark of my profile as of last summer.

4/20/16
Marcus_Halberstram:
Kanon:

^ Marcus, maybe I'm getting your profile mixed up with another WSOer but I thought you were maybe associate-1 at a BB (having moved from a good MM analyst background).

That's roughly in the ballpark of my profile as of last summer.

Ah, alright. Well congrats on the move to PE then... and the next move to the large non-MF coming up. Given your profile, you're older than the typical analyst-1/2 that typically join as 1st year PE associates. Your experience would very likely allow you to be better prepared compared to younger analysts, but did a lot of the PE firms have an issue with your age? Maybe presuming that you're too senior for the role and assuming that you would be unwilling to be the bottom of the totem pole again? If so, how did you convince them otherwise, and that you'd be comfortable working around younger associates?

4/20/16
Kanon:

^ Marcus, maybe I'm getting your profile mixed up with another WSOer but I thought you were maybe associate-1 at a BB (having moved from a good MM analyst background).

That was his story in the past, hence my post above. Dunno where this new tale comes from.

@ OP, why you fraudin' brah?

4/20/16
NewGuy:
Kanon:

^ Marcus, maybe I'm getting your profile mixed up with another WSOer but I thought you were maybe associate-1 at a BB (having moved from a good MM analyst background).

That was his story in the past, hence my post above. Dunno where this new tale comes from.

@ OP, why you fraudin' brah?

I guess this depends on the person, but I personally don't mind if WSOers are not 100% truthful and transparent about their titles, so long as it isn't an outright lie (e.g. an analyst pretending to be an associate, VP, MD, etc or someone in one industry saying they are in another) because it's a small world and it's not tough for someone to figure out who you are - especially posters who are more popular/visible on the site. Someone with a MM and BB background who joined MM PE... while vague, can still be enough to go on if his colleagues also read the site.

I only asked because I thought I was mistaken - and also because I'm curious about the age bit - because we keep seeing the whole 1/2 yrs IB --> Pre-MBA --> MBA --> Post-MBA bit, but it's nice to learn more about the atypical routes

4/20/16
NewGuy:
Kanon:

^ Marcus, maybe I'm getting your profile mixed up with another WSOer but I thought you were maybe associate-1 at a BB (having moved from a good MM analyst background).

That was his story in the past, hence my post above. Dunno where this new tale comes from.

@ OP, why you fraudin' brah?

just trying to impress you, I guess.

4/20/16

Marcus,

Thanks for the thread and your past posts.

Just a few questions:

Why do you think that next year's associate recruiting will go to Jan '14 for FT Summer '14? (Instead of Summer or Fall'13 or just back to last year's crazy timeline)

Do you think this may lead some to go to HFs? It seems like many choose the PE route because of the earlier recruiting than HF.

Do you think there will be any other consequences of the later recruiting? (i.e. more emphasis on deal experience, higher expectations of substantive knowledge, etc.)

Thanks in advance.

4/20/16

Because the mega funds already ate the early harvest of analyst dingleberries and it gave them diarrhea. So now they've decided to wait until they ripen more so they can better differentiate the good ones from the bad. And along the MM guys come thinking, what a great opportunity to get our first pick. The megas already tried that route and it wasnt fruitful. I'm of the view that the MM will soon come to the same realization and will realize that there is order to this universe, the tail never wags the dog, and MM PE firms don't get their pick of candidates over the megas. PE recruiting will normalize and the best candidates will end up at the most desirable shops. For that to happen, the MM guys will realize why the megas chose this route and will once again wait until after to recruit.

So my forecast is that this will be hiring:

Now-dec: MM guys hiring for 2013 summer start dates
Jan-feb 2013: megas hiring for 2013 start date
End of the formal recruiting season for CY 2013
Jan-feb 2014: megas hiring for 2014 summer start
Mar-apr: MM recruiting for summer 2014 start

Note there are aRe some firms that only hire on an immediate basis, none of this applies to them, they will continue operating as they have.

Also note, how future recruiting will unfold is purely my speculation based on what I've herd from friends, recruiters and ppl at other firms.

4/20/16

And rossi, there will absolutely be an expectation of more deal experience, better technicals and more substantive knowledge. That's the whole purpose of pushing he process out later, to better gauge how candidates measure up in these areas.

4/20/16

Thanks for the thread. What do you think about the hiring environment for post-MBA associates, either at MMs or MFs?

I have read quite a few threads on here that indicate that the process is much less structured. This leads me to believe that recruiting on this level is more a function of networking, right place right time, and macroeconomic factors.

4/20/16

I don't have much knowledge of post-MBA hiring. Pretty much the same as what you mentioned above.

4/20/16

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently? What's the best way to prepare for PE recruiting as a 1st year analyst at a BB?

4/20/16

I've been working for a real estate investment fund for the last three years. I graduated from a non-target school and have no formal training in modeling although I've done my fair share. I source deals in distressed debt, underwrite them, bid and see the investment through. I'm looking to move into PE or work for a boutique investment firm. How can I compete with target graduates? It seems as though I'm being viewed as chicken feed.

4/20/16

Looks like this thread was a flop brother. No one likes fraudin' bros.

WonBuyLand:

I've been working for a real estate investment fund for the last three years. I graduated from a non-target school and have no formal training in modeling although I've done my fair share. I source deals in distressed debt, underwrite them, bid and see the investment through. I'm looking to move into PE or work for a boutique investment firm. How can I compete with target graduates? It seems as though I'm being viewed as chicken feed.

That's coz you fell off the preftigious track, brother. Only a preftigious b school can put you back on track.

4/20/16

Not to hijack the thread, however will append to Marcus commentary as have just gone through the process. This just my 2 cents, so take with a grain of salt as I wasn't knocking out offers left and right, didn't do too bad tho either IMHO.

Couple Quick Tips:

Helps to be on the GoBuyside candidate list (although it is akin to a puppy mill). Was a good resource and
landed 1-2 interviews out of it.

Don't be afraid to pull out your undergrad recruiting networking book. A lot folks are under the impression that
it's a head hunter or nothing (which is the case for some funds), but a lot it isn't. Guys that were ahead of you
in your analyst class or in your same group that are at PE shops, fair game to reach out to.

MD's making calls on your behalf: This--I'm really clueless what shops do this (aware that many do). As I'm
sure even the one MD I've crushed it for time and again would best case scenario take a few seconds to
remember my name. I just have a hard time seeing my MD taking time out of his golf schedule to go "you
know what I should do instead of going home at 3:30 and drive my new hovercraft around? Start blasting my
PE contacts pushing that one analyst who did that thing for me!". Not really a tip just saying.

Having good standing with your staffer / VP is crucial. They get in touch.

If you have +3 deals completed, narrow to the top 2 really highlighting your impact on the deal team
(had the typical rez plus monster deal sheet, resulted no luck. Switched to one page with my two top deals
and no deal sheet and had 2x the hit rate).

The case study is what it is. You don't have time to practice if you're not doing that all day, so just use your
fundamentals and do the best you can. I figure you either bomb it and you're done or don't. It didn't even
come up in any of my interviews sans one guy asked about a hedging case I used, but that's it. Sure there's
plenty of guys that crush the case study that don't move on. So really it's just an expectation for PE shops
given that's what you'll be doing for them for the next 2-years. So don't kill yourself over it, or much more
important slack on work to get it done.

4/20/16

Thanks for the great advice. I appreciate you taking the time to respond to help in my job search. I'm implementing your suggestions and will continue to post on my progress. I've closed three deals that I've sourced and they are performing from 30-40% ROI before taxes. All settlement statements detail purchase prices and selling prices in order to verify returns. Also I don't have any formal training in modeling. Are there any tutorials that you would recommend?

4/20/16

Hey Stringer, if interested engaging the media on this topic my publication (privateequitymanager.com) is always interested to hear the experiences of private equity recruits. Provides our readers (GPs) a window into what they are doing right (and wrong) in their internal hiring processes. Can keep all names on a confidential basis if you prefer. PM if you're up for a chat.

4/20/16

Marcus_Halberstram actually put up a useful thread related to your question a few weeks ago: http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/private-equi....

Perhaps this may prove to be helpful, and I am also curious what other people's opinions are.

"Rage, rage against the dying of the light." - DT

4/20/16

Also interested

4/20/16

same

dollas

4/20/16

This is all just based on personal experience:

1. A lot of work is pitch work. That's just a fact. If you are doing pitch work, just go out of pocket for interviews. You'll probably have a bunch of emails when you get done, but whatever. Stay later that night.
2. For live deals, you'll almost surely have to tell your associate and hope they are cool about it (in my experience, most are). If your associate sucks and your VP is really cool, tell your VP
3. In a way, going through interviews is really freeing, because after that, you realize how little of your work as an analyst is TRULY urgent. It made me feel much more free to eat a long lunch, go buy a pair of new shoes midday, etc - in that way it was great
4. YMMV on telling your staffer. I personally did - mine was an awesome guy who is completely understanding. Play that one by ear.
5. Don't expect any different treatment (from staffer or team members) with respect to quantity of work. You'll just have to stay later to get it all done. It really sucks, and it was the most stressful time of my 2 years by far, but it feels amazing once it's all over

4/20/16

Are some associates/VPs/staffers really cool with you interviewing for the buyside? I thought it was absolutely crucial to be secretive, even if he/she is cool - because you never know if you might get backstabbed...

Float like a butterfly, sting like the bee.

4/20/16

TheBlueCheese:

Are some associates/VPs/staffers really cool with you interviewing for the buyside? I thought it was absolutely crucial to be secretive, even if he/she is cool - because you never know if you might get backstabbed...

I really think it totally varies case by case, you kind of have to play it by ear and feel it out. In my case, people were pretty cool about it generally.

Keep in mind, 2nd year analysts at your firm are a great resource for some of this as well - they've been through the process, so they can often tell you who is cool about interviewing vs. who will blow you up for it, etc.

4/20/16

TheBlueCheese:

Are some associates/VPs/staffers really cool with you interviewing for the buyside? I thought it was absolutely crucial to be secretive, even if he/she is cool - because you never know if you might get backstabbed...

The vast majority of people are both supportive and understanding of the recruiting process. It's almost completely beyond the control of the analysts involved and vitally important to their future. It's just silly that some analysts are forced to be secretive about recruiting.

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

4/20/16

Great advice. Rumor has it that Apollo is kicking things off tomorrow. Timing could not be worse for me haha

4/20/16

Good luck OP! You're in a top group at Goldman right?

4/20/16

bschoolhopeful:

Good luck OP! You're in a top group at Goldman right?


Wait if OP is at GS, then how can he let his team know about his PE interviews? Won't he get fired because of the recruiting ban? Or is that policy a sham?
4/20/16

Cowen and Mizuho will not provide the same opportunities as HW. Getting into PE is common from HW but will be tough from Cowen or Mizuho. Also, a 3.3 - 3.5 is low and will not help when trying to move into PE

4/20/16

Interesting. How do analysts from other MM banks do? (Piper Jaffray, Stifel, Oppenheimer?) Relative to each other and/or to the banks OP mentioned above.

4/20/16

It's very tough but it does happen. I've worked at both a mm bank like the ones listed above and at a BB and the opportunities analysts get are noticeably different.

4/20/16

Dont know why you would group Cowen, Mizuho and HW together? If you're at HW, you'll have no trouble getting interviews with PE firms. Not the same for Cowen or Mizuho.

4/20/16

Definitely not the peer group. HW obviously superior...
3.3-3.5 is relatively low, but heard that it's doable depending on closed deals, etc. Thoughts?

4/20/16

I would agree with everyone here that Cowen and Mizuho are not in the same bucket as Harris Williams However it is possible to break into PE from any bank. You just might have to put in more to break into PE from certain backgrounds.

I have a friend that worked at Cowen as an analyst and now works at a solid MM PE shop (think HIG, Riverside, etc. - a high volume shop). Cowen is an equity markets heavy bank where analysts gain a very different skillset from those at sell-side banks. He lacked the sell-side process reps and LBO modeling skills that lend themselves well to buyout PE. He had to work his tail off to learn these skills. He networked his ass off with and without headhunters and had to go through 10+ interviews before receiving an offer.

I worked at a MM bank more like Harris Williams (think Stephens, Stifel, etc.) and now work at a lower-MM LBO shop (where another associate actually came from Harris Williams). I still put in quite a bit of effort to solidify my modeling skills and networked constantly while trying to break into PE. Working at a sell-side heavy bank does not guarantee entry into PE, but it might get your foot in the door a little easier (especially from a sponsor bank like HW).

Learning process lingo and modeling skills is key to breaking into PE. Certain analysts might have a leg up but do not let this deter your efforts. Self-motivation is a powerful thing and it will show if you put in time.

Other tips from my experience are below. Feel free to message me if you have any specific questions.
(i) Reach out to headhunters, all of them and be specific as to what you are interested in (industry, size, and location)
(ii) Follow up with headhunters every few months, especially if you don't hear from them often
(iii) Network on your own (LinkedIn, University Alumni, current colleagues, friends and family, etc.)
(iv) It is a numbers game, and nothing will be handed to you. Breaking into banking is already competitive, there are even fewer spots in PE. It will require effort to break into PE, but don't give up.
(v) If you have an interview with a PE shop, you need to become very familiar with its investment criteria and portcos. Know why you want to work there (don't slack on thinking through this reasoning).
(vi) Review (or learn) LBO modeling as most shops will give you some sort of modeling test. A great resource is the WSO PE interview guide.
(vii) Constantly revise and improve your resume. A big part of this is keeping track of everything you work on in banking (keep a word file and write a few bullet points on each project). A closed deal is not always better than a deal that fell through. During my interview process at my current shop, I focused on a deal that died under LOI despite having two closed deals on my resume. I could speak about every aspect of the deal and it is not uncommon for PE deals to fall through. I worked this into the discussion and it paid off.

Anyways, I could go on and on... I hope this is helpful as I know breaking into PE can be stressful. In short, network your ass off and know your shit. Don't give up if you don't get an offer or an interview. Life is a numbers game and others will give up.

4/20/16
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Father to Junior EightAceTres, the projected top summer analyst in Gleacher's 2034 Investment Banking program.

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