Experienced VP Interviews - Fit Questions

Hi everyone - exploring the job market right now for experienced mid-level hires in PE (early/mid-level VP, or whatever the equivalent is). Have been a post-MBA VP for 18-24 months (prior background: think general BB banking, UMM/MF pre-MBA PE, MBA, post-MBA PE track).

In the context of interviews for roles at the level(s) described above, how would everyone think about fit questions, i.e. strengths/weaknesses/other personal qualities to highlight? I wasn't super systematic about this line of questioning for post-MBA interviews; coming up with stuff on the spot seemed to work out well for whatever reason though this topic wasn't drilled into. Contrary to popular belief, these types of questions have come up more than I anticipated in my most recent conversations (vs. myopically focusing on deals/rationale), particularly with senior-level folks, so I'd like to be more polished.

I have thoughts on how to approach these questions - i.e. think about what makes a good VP/mid-level PE professional and highlight strengths aligned with that role (ideally showing that you also have the potential to eventually move into more senior roles), along with weaknesses/areas for development that are real/substantive without being red flags - but thought it would be helpful to ask this community for specific answers in case I have blind spots.

Thank you!

At that level culture fit is super important- and that’s impossible to be generic about it

You’ll have to do serious DD to find out who in your network knows the persons you’re interviewing with, what’s their “style” (old school, workaholic, snake etc.) and try to adjust 

at the end of the day though, they will want to understand 

1) motivations to jump ship

2) can you run the team / get the deals done

3) can you represent the firm externally

4) do you potentially have what it takes for next rung (sourcing etc.) / how good is your network 

that’s not easy to convey so would try and drip feed info that address all of the above…

Most Helpful

Thanks this is helpful. 100% agree on importance of fit at this level, could almost argue it's on par with investing acumen/ability to do current/future job. It's not explicitly discussed very often how the folks who are hiring approach these processes. I've found it helpful to remind myself that part of the reason why post-MBA/mid-level processes are so difficult and/or unpredictable is that the stakes are much higher (vs. pre-MBA recruiting) for the firm: underlying assumption for post-MBA VP is that the person they end up hiring has the potential (at time of hiring) to continue upwards at the firm, and that hiring someone at a level for which carry is standard means that everyone else has less (not much relatively at time T=0, but you get my point).

Anyways, I don't think your response directly answered my question (I was looking for how other folks may respond to those questions specifically, mostly for inspiration/to supplement my own refinement process), but I do think there are legitimate takeaways:

  • "Impossible to be generic about it" - senior folks at most firms tend to be very competent at reading people, part of their job, so tough to give answers that are fake/misleading/indirect since folks will sense it
  • Serious DD about individual you're interviewing with - crossing paths with folks at any level who take themselves too seriously is a massive turn-off for me; that being said, the wisdom here is that, for folks interviewing at larger shops with higher headcount, it's very likely you will interview with someone who you will never work with in the future. Maybe you're not interviewing for their group, maybe they're in a different part of the firm; in any case, where hiring takes place by consensus it's not uncommon to encounter someone who throws you off because they're super different from the folks who have made you excited to join that firm/group, they're a bad culture fit but have an amazing track record, etc. The absolute truth in those kinds of moments is that you have to deal with them in the interview process, whether you like it or not, so it's best to walk in a) prepared for that personality, so you're not thrown off, and b) ready to conform to the energy that that person brings for however long your interview lasts. Just because they are weirdos/stand out negatively in your eyes doesn't mean that their opinion is meaningless; you should be prepared to play the game a bit here, fake it till you make it, if you've concluded that the opportunity is otherwise worth it
  • Other points in this response - difficult/almost impossible to discount how much bias plays into the hiring process, which the points in this post somewhat allude to and/or demonstrate given the proper context. For folks who struggle demonstrating these qualities, or who might have a harder time working in dialogue demonstrating these qualities, come prepared. I'm as bright-eyed and optimistic as they come in this industry when it comes to DE&I, willingness to give credence to non-traditional skill sets/backgrounds/etc. at all levels, but the hard (and not-so-secret) truth in this industry is that folks will gravitate to individuals who remind them of themselves over the long term, and you (sadly) have to cater to that in certain circumstances

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