From Quora, the OP asked the following question:

What are private equity associate (pre-MBA) interviews like?

Andrew L. Chen provided the following top answer:

The pre-MBA PE recruiting process typically unfolds over a full year. In the spring and early summer, more than one full year before actual PE start dates, various private equity firms and headhunters will host info sessions about the PE profession and their specific firms in your city.

In New York City, for instance, these info sessions are quite common, and notice of them is distributed to all first-year analysts at prestigious investment banks and consulting firms. They will typically host these events at a hotel or their offices with catered food and drinks while they walk through an overview of their firms, specific deals they have done, and guidance on how to engage headhunters to apply and "be presented" for interviews. They will also take questions from the audience about any of these topics.

When the recruiting season actually begins a couple months later, analysts and other candidates will begin dropping resumes to headhunters and setting up preliminary screening interviews with them so they can determine the best fit for which candidates to put in front of which firms.

Private equity interviews themselves are generally structured over multiple rounds--sometimes 3, 4, or even more rounds--and the type of people you meet at each step of the way and the kinds of questions you are asked will vary between rounds (and firms).

They generally consist of a heavy combination of case interviews, technical finance questions, modeling tests, and personal fit interviews to test 6 things:

1. Financial modeling
2. Operational modeling
3. Macro / market due diligence
4. Strategic analysis (as tested through case interviews)
5. Creating slide presentations
6. Personality fit

Some firms also evaluate your potential to source new deals if they require associates to contribute to deal origination, although for leveraged buyout firms this tends to be less common.


Comments (2)


Great high-level overview of what the process is like. I've heard that some HFs (Bridgewater particularly) have had interviews with multiple candidates at once and asked things like "Why do you deserve this job over this other candidate?" In general it seems like PE interviews are much more structured like IBD (typical 1-2 on 1 interviews in rounds) or is this not the case (other than potentially meeting the partners as I've heard is custom at some shops)?

"Money was never a big motivation for me, except as a way to keep score. The real excitement is playing the game." - Donald Trump

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