strong in analytical thinking but average in business acumen, what does it mean?

I had two rounds of interviews with a growth equity firm before being eliminated from the process, with the feedback from both rounds being "strong in analytical thinking, average in business acumen".

For context,

1) the firm used a specific interview software/scoring process that compares my analytical thinking and business acumen scores with other candidates. My analytical thinking was among the top scores in all candidates, while my business acumen score was the same as the average candidate.

2)The first round was written responses (to a market sizing question and an investment pitch question) and second round was good old in-person interview where we discussed a company and its business model. I got the same level of scoring for analytical thinking and business acumen in both rounds. 

What could this possibly mean? I mean, I was analyzing a business and got strong score in analytical thinking, so what does being average in business acumen mean? I'm trying to understand what this means and where to improve/what specific things to do improve. Thanks!


Ah, the old "strong in analytical thinking, average in business acumen" feedback. Let's break this down, shall we?

Analytical thinking refers to your ability to break down complex problems into smaller, manageable parts, and then systematically solve them. It's about being able to see patterns, trends, and connections in the data or information you're given. It seems like you've got this part down pat, which is fantastic!

Business acumen, on the other hand, is a bit more nuanced. It's about understanding how a business operates, makes money, and grows. It's about knowing what factors can impact a business's success and being able to make strategic decisions based on that understanding. It's not just about understanding the numbers, but also the story behind the numbers.

So, if you're getting feedback that your business acumen is average, it might mean that while you're great at crunching numbers and analyzing data, you might need to work on understanding the bigger picture of how businesses operate and grow.

Here are a few suggestions on how to improve:

  1. Read widely about different industries and businesses. Try to understand their business models, their competitive landscape, their growth strategies, etc.

  2. Practice making strategic decisions. This could be through case studies, business simulations, or even just hypothetical scenarios you come up with yourself.

  3. Seek out mentors or colleagues who are known for their business acumen and learn from them. Ask them how they approach problems and make decisions.

  4. Reflect on your past experiences. Think about times when you've had to make strategic decisions and what you could have done differently.

Remember, business acumen is a skill that can be developed over time. Keep at it, and I'm sure you'll see improvement!

Sources: Life at a leading strategy consulting firm,, My Private Equity Recruiting Process, Q&A: 1st year VC analyst (~750M AUM)

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