How exactly should I prep for on-cycle?

I come from a semi-target sch, with decent GPA (3.8+), go to decent cov group at Mid/lower tier BB full time. I know this background makes me an ok candidate but given how competitive this process is getting each year, I really need some help:

My aim is to go to a UMM and possibly MF shop and for the past month I have been trying to work on LBO modeling from common prep sources (PeakFrameworks, WSO prep) but I feel very lost about it 

  1. For the modeling, do I need to be able to build one from scratch like its muscle memory or just knowing how to fill the blanks from a template enough? I have read some other posts on here saying modeling isn't the most important component in the interview. I know that it's more of a check the box kind of thing but to build a complete model from scratch quickly and correctly takes a lot of time to perfect. I am just not sure how important this is for me to spend hours and hours on it 

  2. I understand the interview process for on cycle is most likely a modeling test, a case study and a super day? I honestly have no idea how to practice the "think like an investor" kind of questions. This is really difficult given there's no guide. Where do I even start? I tried to whip out 10k of companies and stare at them but honestly have no idea how to tell something is a gd or bad investment from a PE standpoint. should I just google as many "investing" type questions to kinda go the rote learning type? It does not come naturally to me to think like an investor (for example if you ask me if the revenue of a company increase by $10 should you invest? I would not have thought about this from the angle of whether this is a price or a volume increase). There's still some months, I am willing to work on this everyday but I sincerely hope someone can guide me to the right direction of doing this. 

  3. Do I need to know an industry really well? I have no industry that I am particularly interested in or follow everyday. Do I need to just pick a few companies in the industry and to completely understand the business model (building revenue drivers ?). Again I have no idea how to understand the business model of so many industries. Does reading sell-side reports help? It feels very overwhelming to have to learn so much information. 

  4. For my banking interviews the technicals are relatively easy, nothing extraordinary outside of the bitws guides. I have not had the EB interview experiences and my banking technicals are not the most solid. Should I even spend time trying to solidify my banking interview technicals first? how should I prioritize the prep..

This post is really long-winded but I hope to know what's the most important stuff I should focus on for these on-cycle interviews? The prep process has not been gaining traction for me so I am feeling very anxious about how vague everything is. Any advice is greatly appreciated!

Most Helpful

1 go through peak. Be able to model from scratch rather than template imo.

2 Read Matt’s recommended readings

3 IB technicals aren’t really super relevant BUT I would say to spend a lot of time in modeling because that’s what a lot of these questions are getting at

4 Differentiator is being able to think like an investor. Pick an industry , rip the top few co’s ER and just understand them very well. Think about how they build and sustain competitive advantages.

  • someone who placed at a MM/UMM type firm

Thank you for the help! For 2 you mean Matt Levine's recommended books? 


Modeling need to be able to build from scratch, should be like muscle memory. Honestly not that hard once you figure out how everything should flow through, should take 3-4 weekends to get 90% of the way there.

^ Same with paper LBOs, just gotta get comfortable with simple mental math.

Deal experience is probably lacking - not a big deal. Just need to be able to talk about how your company produces revenue, what it’s cost drivers are, how both of these can be improved and have an investment thesis.

^^ Case studies were the biggest component of my interviews this on-cycle. I didn’t have a model test at either place I interviewed. Just have a framework for your case studies and shouldn’t be too bad (I did top-down, e.g. macroeconomic environment -> industry outlook -> market positioning / competitors / differentiation -> financial profile / revenue / cost drivers)

All the spoken technicals weren’t too crazy. Main focus was on accounting and what drives returns in a transaction.

[Comment removed by mod team]

Think if you’re coming in without much background you’ll get the best outcome from something like peak frameworks or finance homie. They’ve got decent stuff on the modeling and case study thought processes.

You can for sure get there on your own, but just going to take longer - if you go it alone make sure you go through some case walkthroughs on YouTube so you have a decent frame of reference.

Definitely need to be able to model from scratch - don’t want to accidentally memorize a template or certain way of building, then see something totally different in the interview. A check the box for sure, but still need to check it.


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