My on-cycle experience / guide

Read through a bunch of discussions like this one to prep for my own on-cycle process, so hoping to help out someone in the future with a detailed walkthrough like this one. Just signed with a really solid UMM fund latest fund size (basically on any list of top UMMs on this site) and wanted to share to hopefully help some others

Background: At a respectable but non-BB/EB bank (think RBC, WF, WB, Solomon partners, SVB, etc) but in a better group at my bank. Target school, good GPA and standardized test scores. Came in knowing I wanted to recruit for PE, goal was generally to end up at the best fund possible. Knew MF was probably a reach just off of bank name. I have had good deal experience (combo of luck but also communicating to staffer what I wanted and what I knew would help me for PE recruiting) but haven't done much modeling yet.

Prep: I started to get organized for recruiting around the beginning of 2022. I felt like I was a bit behind technically, honestly had not done much modeling yet at my banking gig. I did the following to prep:

  • At first, my rule was just that I'd spend a few hours every Saturday on prep. My bank is pretty sweaty so this didn't always happen, but found that a goal like this was helpful just to keep me on track. Given my lack of modeling experience, I split a few different PE recruiting courses with one of my coworkers. Probably kind of a waste of a few hundred bucks but they just make it easier to prep vs combing through old case studies from 10 years ago. Some of the teaching materials were helpful on some concepts. A few also have other random perks (ie headhunter client lists) so would recommend splitting some of these with a friend. The $500 is worth it if you land a solid PE gig.
  • Once HHs started to reach out, I knew it was game time. I think a bunch of people got fooled by the tone of outreach ("this isn't a sign we're recruiting soon, trying to wait as long as possible, etc etc"). The answer is that if headhunters are reaching out, recruiting is about to start and you need to be ready. Use CPI as a benchmark since they're the biggest, this year it was 8 days from CPI initial outreach to process launch and 3 days from them scheduling intro calls. Some smaller places went a few days before CPI and then everyone started reaching out. Very clear that things were on the move. Lots of people got fooled because some places (Amity) didn't ever set up calls, so that meant the process couldn't possibly start yet. Wrong! If CPI is talking to people, be ready.
  • To be honest, I am on a pretty tough process at the time, so I was not in a good place prep wise when outreach started and hadn't touched any prep materials in around the last month. The minute outreach started, I put my head down here. My rule was 1 LBO a night - if I was busy and it was late I'd do a super simple 30 minute LBO, if I had the time I'd try to do a more comprehensive one for 2-3 hours.
    • I started going through old case studies and those prep courses I bought but finished this all pretty quick, so I started just going off publicly traded companies 10Ks. Saw it was common that places ask you to pitch them an LBO candidate, so felt like this killed two birds with one stone. I just looked at publicly traded companies in the 1-2B range on BBG (thought this was big enough if I had an MF interview but small enough it could still be used at a MM shop) in my sector of choice and did quick LBOs off of them. If it looked good I would do more detailed stuff and flesh it out more, if it was bad I'd just move on to another company. Ended up with 2 candidates here and could speak to their business model pretty well given how much time I spent in the 10K.
    • Was asked about a stock I was following in one interview and asked for an LBO candidate in another (used one of the two for each) and both interviewers were super impressed with my answer. Would definitely recommend this strategy.
  • KNOW YOUR DEALS. I made a one page cheat sheet for every deal on my resume. You will get asked about every single deal - most interviews picked one randomly so you can't just have one you like to talk about. Practice explaining the business, deal rationale, your perspective, etc. 
  • Spent some time on more banking-esque technicals (ie stupid accounting questions) as well as practicing for fit questions but my main focus was definitely on LBOs and deal walkthroughs

Fund research

  • Since I started at my bank, I put in a list of the 20-30 funds I would consider working at. It started small (was basically a list of MFs at first lol), and then as I interacted with people from funds through my banking gig, read stuff online, talked to older analysts, or read stuff on WSO, I would add/remove names. I included columns like fund size, any networking contacts / potential contacts, location, relevant port co, anything I'd collaborated with them on at my work. relevant notes, etc. This is an essential step. By the time 
  • As recruiting heated up (see notes above on HH outreach), I started to rank. I honestly struggled too hard to put things as actual numbers, so just did tier A, tier B, etc. Ended up with 5 tiers and made a rule that I had to have <5 banks in each tier. My tiers were basically to classify places where I'd accept a job on the spot (scenario you need to be ready for) as well as trying to draw the line of at what point I'd take my chances during off-cycle rather than accept a job.
  • Once I had a tier list, I did some work on trying to figure out where was realistic, No one from my bank has ever gone to BX or KKR, we don't work with them much, and I couldn't find anyone that had even gotten an interview there. I didn't take them off my list, but just didn't spend as much time on them. There were a few MFs we work with more as a bank and where I had heard rumors of people interviewing, so I prioritized those over places like BX.
  • I treated it like a college application process - I had some firms that were basically a moon shot, some reaches, some possible, some safeties and tried to have a few in each bucket. I basically focused on the reach/posslbe category, as none of the 'likelies' were funds I wanted to work at and it was stupid to focus on funds I didn't like or didn't have a good chance at during on-cycle. My mindset was I'd go for MF/UMM during on-cycle and if I didn't land something I wanted, I'd do smaller MM funds off-cycle. Not worth 'settling' during on-cycle unless you know 100% that's what you want.
  • You will need to make difficult choices during on-cycle. You'll have to find the right mix of only chasing funds you have an actual shot at while still trying to end up at the best seat possible. Making sure you have done your research is essential
  • You will also get last minute interviews. The fund I ended up at was not a fund I'd networked with or interacted with much before on-cycle kicked off. Luckily they were on my list so I was able to easily read over fund strategy, relevant port cos, etc in the 15 minute notice period I had before interview started.

Headhunters

  • Not going to turn this into a guide on headhunters, but personally found CPI the most helpful in showing me opps. Feels like everyone has a different experience though so the best thing you can do is pursue them all. 
  • Given my bank, I took intro calls with every single headhunter. You'd be surprised, many of those smaller ones cover 1-2 bigger funds along with some LMM names. I would recommend this, there really is no downside to ending up on everyone's list and doing the 30 minute intro. I also found doing a few intro calls with smaller ones was helpful - you only get 30 minutes to impress CPI/HSP/other big ones, so a few practice reps is helpful. 
  • You will typically need to rank funds for each headhunters or at the very list give clear preferences (hence the important of knowing that above). 
  • I found that headhunters wouldn't show you to anyone until after you had an intro call, so definitely talk to them as soon as possible after they reach out. I conducted all my HH calls within a few hours of the initial request. Coffee chats are great and know some of my friends who didn't do any because by the time they talked to HHs, there was basically no time between that and on-cycle. Heard a story of someone who was scheduled to talk to CPI the day after on-cycle and basically got no opportunities. Don't put this off. 
  • Once the process actually launches the headhunters are useless, you just need them to help get foot in door.

Networking / coffee chats

  • I had a few friends from my bank who were at PE firms so I chatted with them, but was more for recruiting tips vs actual networking. Some people advocate networking more for PE recruiting but personally think given HH role in the process it isn't always as fruitful. If you have time might as well, but I found I needed all spare time for LBO practice.
  • Funds will start reaching out for coffee chats a few days before kickoff. Similar to my note up top, if you get a coffee chat request, be ready for process launch. This is the last step before process starts. 
  • These were generally super chill (they ask you a bit of background but no real interview questions) so just be friendly and show interest in the firm. 
  • I found that all the places I did coffee chats were the first ones to reach out when on-cycle kicked off. If they're giving you a coffee chat and it goes well, you are probably a higher priority candidate. 
  • Coffee chats should really help you inform that fund list I talked about. I had a fund I thought I was super interested in, did a coffee chat, and ended up taking it off my list. These are super helpful for that. Don't be shy to ask real questions here.
  • They are really tough to do at your job and be stealthy. I was running into a conference room multiple times a day for these, though at least Zoom is easier vs leaving office. I am friendly with my office receptionist so I'd just have her let me know which conference rooms are open, and then I'd leave a jacket, tie, and my personal laptop at the front desk with her each morning. Would put both on for the video calls and take off before returning to my desk so no one would know what I was doing. 
  • Luckily my senior bankers aren't in the office much so a bit easier but if they were in the office everyday someone would've probably noticed

Actual process

  • Was getting a ton of increase in coffee chats and info session notices the day of on cycle so felt like things were ready to blow. 
  • Got an interview request from a MM fund to start, looked on WSO and saw people saying BX had kicked it off. I immediately pinged the associates/analysts on my deal teams and told them I was off for the night, luckily all were helpful there. 
  • The first fund the reached out was lower on my list but I was still interested, so I accepted an interview for about ~30 minutes away. Started to frantically prepare
  • Right before that interview, I got outreach from the UMM fund (which I will be joining), so I canceled the first interview. Knew I was effectively bowing out of that process but was comfortable with that choice - this is where the fund ranking list is essential!
  • Did two first rounds (back to back, they just kept me on the same Zoom) and I could tell things were going well. Was given a modeling test/case study, but honestly was on the much simpler side (meant to be a quick excel test + a few mins to organize thoughts and discuss). I actually spent about about 15 minutes less than I was given and then spent the other 15 mins managing oncycle process, as at this point I had not checked my phone in over an hour and had hundreds of calls, texts, and emails about other funds. I basically set up as much as I possibly could at other high priority funds for the next day under the assumption this current process would fail, and I would cancel it all if this went well. I booked 4 other funds from first thing in morning to late at night for the next day, basically giving each fund some additional cushion (they will usually try to schedule 30 minute interviews but then just keep you on the line if things go well). At this point, basically every single non-MF on my target list had reached out, so I had to quickly make some difficult decisions. My rankings were essential here to prioritize. 
  • Interviews covered everything from super mushy fit questions to getting grilled on deal experience. Know everything about your deals and have an investment case on it (either good or bad), and be ready for someone to push back on that. Other than the model I did and one paper LBO, not very technical overall. 
  • The big decision for me was that one fund would have required me to travel and everything else was either in my city or virtual. The travel one was probably my #1 choice and a great fund, but they wanted to interview me in person in another city (non-NYC office). I realized that meant basically declining every single other opportunity, so I asked that one for a virtual interview or an interview two days later (again, knew this was probably going to kill my chances). Just felt it was putting too many eggs in this basket to travel. 
  • Funds try to keep you from setting up other interviews while your with them (either in person or zoom) so don't be afraid to hurt feelings here. One of my colleagues was at a MM interview and felt too awkward to just leave and tell them he was out, so he missed interviews at other funds. Don't be afraid to ask for a 5 minute break to check your phone/email as well. I also was regularly checking emails/corresponding throughout my interviews, but obviously be careful here and don't make that obvious.
  • After my model test, I immediately rejoined a Zoom and discussed the case. Felt like things were going well and a more senior person joined, which I knew meant I was probably over the hump. I emailed someone the case but would be shocked if it was looked at for more than 5 minutes given how fast things moved - my geuss is I had the right numbers directionally and that's all that mattered. Remaining interviews were all with senior people and fit focused. Ended up interviewing late into the night and was getting very good feedback. It ended with them saying they wanted me to meet a few more people in the morning in person but that I was in a phenomenal position. Can't trust anyone in this process, so I didn't want to cancel anything without an offer in hand. I pushed back my morning interview and set up something in person for super early in the morning so I would hopefully either get the offer quickly or be able to continue at other firms. 
  • Had one MF reach out late at night to come in person but would've required leaving the current interview, which I was already very deep in. Felt like leaving something that was in a good spot for an MF where I was a long shot candidate was stupid, but a hard decision none the less. 
  • Went in person first thing in the morning and was on like 3 hours of sleep, but had two quick interviews with senior people and got the offer. It was exploding so signed on spot. Again, need to be ready for this scenario with every single fund you interview at. 
  • Canceled all other interviewers and went back to my normal job for which I was massively behind and proceeded to get bitched out by my VP for not responding to an email last night. At least I know I now have some light at the end of the tunnel!

Other thoughts

  • You really get one shot at the initial on cycle wave. From what I heard, every single MF and most UMMs started first rounds on Wednesday night, and Thursday was mostly final rounds. Any firm where you started on Thursday you were probably at a disadvantage. It's essential you are ready to start interviewing when the process launches (don't dilly dally for a few minutes of final prep), and make sure that first interview really counts. 
  • You will not be able to stealthily do on cycle, and when interviews start you will need to drop everything on your job. For me, I mentioned to my associates/analysts that I was planning to recruit so they had a heads up (and didn't need to waste time explaining my reasoning when the process did launch), and then just sent a quick email that I was interviewing and would be hard to reach for the remainder of the night and turned off my work phone. There's too much going on with interviews to focus on your IB job at all during this period, so have to just go AWOL for 24 hours. 
  • Oncycle is a train wreck, but I don't understand people saying this class was unprepared. We had more time on the desk than basically any class in the last 10 years other than last year, and increase in virtual interviews only made things easier to manage. Like it sucks they want to conduct interviews all night, but that's the way it works and I don't know why people are surprised every year. 
  • Don't let people on this website sike you out if you aren't at GS. Everyone on here would say my bank gets no MF placements and my only shot would be at smaller MM firms. Clearly not the case, though as mentioned I was passed over by places like BX
  • Stuff does happen after the first 24 hours. Have gotten outreach today (2 days after first kickoff) from some pretty large funds as well as tons on the smaller side.

Feel free to respond with any questions and good luck everyone who is still recruiting!

Comments (50)

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Apr 1, 2022 - 1:48pm

Honestly would probably say GS/MS/JPM and top EBs, beyond that is just so random. There were firms that reached out to me but didn't reach out to colleagues of mine with near identical resumes - the process is so random and insane that hard to rely on just a handful of firms no matter what unless you are the all around perfect candidate.

  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Apr 1, 2022 - 2:44pm

OP made the smart choice. UMM PE is a great place to be and some shops are even more desirable than some of the traditional MFs. It's a pretty rare occasion to see someone at a MF that didn't do their Analyst program at a BB / EB. There may be a couple every year, but those are outliers for sure. You're playing for probabilities here because there are only so many interviews you can take so why try in the first place. You're setting yourself up for failure. 

Most Helpful
  • Associate 1 in PE - Other
Apr 1, 2022 - 2:56pm

Awesome write-up. Out of curiosity (and maybe for the benefit of others reading this) as a first year IB analyst, how can you realistically rank your fund preference? I understand fund size, investment strategy, location, portcos, etc., but still feels like you're largely going in blind besides outside perception, no? Networking might help I guess, but never heard of too many people doing the old IB cold emailing networking approach for PE

I ultimately went the off-cycle route in my second year (was not prepared for on-cycle and struggled with the above), and found the slower off-cycle process really allowed me to find out where I want to be, meet more people at the fund, flesh out culture/career opportunities, etc. Realizing people who go on-cycle care less about work life balance/culture/career at the firm than I probably do, but could never understand ranking top PE funds from the perspective of someone 6 months or less into their full-time role

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Apr 1, 2022 - 4:21pm

This is the million dollar question, and I will not say I was absolutely certain in a lot of this. I thought about it a few ways:

  • For better or worse, a big thing for me was brand. I'm not at a super top bank, so for the sake of b-school / future job placement, I wanted a really well-known brand. This one's pretty easy to gut check, as well as reading around on here. Generally the bigger the fund size the better, but certainly some UMMs I've found that really have a respectable brand relative to their fund size. 
  • Sector focus - another one that's pretty easy. I was pretty targeted here - I wanted a firm that was broadly generalist (ie not a place like Thoma that was all tech or something), but also did a decent amount of work in my sector of interest. For me, a big resource was buyer profiles on my banks drive. See what the firm targets, what areas they like, investment style, etc. Also looking at deals they've either won or chased hard at with my bank. 
  • Geography - had one first choice city and two other cities I'd be willing to move to
  • Investment style - I wanted buyout, more traditional focus vs either distressed or growth
  • Exits - either b-school placement or other jobs (PE/HF). Just ran some linkedin searches to see broadly where former associates end up. Not a deciding factor but found that certain UMM have similar exits to a MF (ie HBS/GSB or top PE/hedge funds), while some have more MMPE exit opps (ie smaller PE firms).
  • Culture / networking / coffee chats - between recruiting-process coffee chats (most were at the smaller firms on my list that I had) and reaching out to a few bank alumni via cold email, I probably chatted with 1/2 the firms I was looking at before oncycle. Read some stuff online (pretty easy to find threads on here about culture at different MFs, though spoiler alert - not good). During interviews I felt like I got a decent sense at the offer I accepted, but ask me in 2 years and we'll see if it stands true.

I found that when I screened for the above, the list wasn't too long. There's maybe <10 firms I'd call a MF and maybe ~20 UMMs, so it's not the biggest universe. When I screened for location and target focus, my list was more 5 MFs / 10 UMMs. Like I said, the ranking system wasn't perfect and I wasn't able to actually number things, but found that I was able to generally bucket.

I found at the MM level, this is basically impossible. There are way more funds at that size and differentiating is much harder. If I ended up in that bucket, I would've waited for off-cycle for the exact reasons you mention. 

My buckets I had were something like:

  1. top MFs (completely struck out here)
  2. top UMMs (where I landed) -> right geography, focus, good prestige factor
  3. other UMMs -> not first choice geography, a little different sector focus then I wanted, not as good brand, etc
  4. relevant MMs -> right sector/geography/etc but smaller fund /worse brand than I was hoping for

Definitely a bit arbitrary and made some very spur of the moment decisions within buckets (had a bunch of interview requests from the 2nd bucket on oncycle night) but the whole point of the bucket was that I was ambivalent across the firms in it. Again, probably lacking a bit of nuisance, but unfortunately that's what the recruiting process forces you to do

  • Intern in IB - Cov
Apr 2, 2022 - 1:39am

Appreciate the write up, thanks! As a college student going into IB, I can't relate to much of the PE recruiting process yet, but I had a quick question about GPA.

When you mentioned your GPA as good, what do you consider a strong/ sufficient one to be for PE recruiting? Are you thinking around 3.8 or more so a 3.9 is necessary and is it fine to round on the resume (3.77/4.00 is listed as a 3.8/4.0 or a 3.86/4.00 is written as a 3.9/4.0)? Assuming this is a public university state flagship that WSO labels as a semi-target.

Trying to finish college strong but want to see how much of a leeway I have. Really appreciate any feedback you or someone else on the forum has. Thank you!

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Apr 2, 2022 - 1:16pm

I personally would say 3.8ish is really good, 3.7 is good if at a target. I had just below a 3.9 but did not round it (most headhunters ask for it precise to 2 digits) so left it on my resume as a 3.89. No one is gonna look at a 3.89 from a target and say that isn't good enough. Can't really speak to it if at a semi-target, but I'd say just keeping it 3.8+ and you're golden. 

  • Intern in IB - Cov
Apr 2, 2022 - 5:54pm

Thank you so much for the response and congrats on such a successful recruiting cycle! I wasn't aware of how headhunters discourage rounding. I'll make sure to stay around a 3.80+ as I close out college. Thanks!

  • Associate 1 in Consulting
Apr 2, 2022 - 9:18pm

Can you get away with recruiting with a shitty GPA/not including it on your resume for either on or off cycle?

  • Incoming Analyst in IB - Gen
Apr 6, 2022 - 10:20am

Do you think there'd be any hesitation by HHs for a 3.76? Do you always have to disclose two digits?

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Apr 2, 2022 - 8:27pm

Just wondering and a dumb question but no one has ever answered this to me: do you have to pay headhunters? are they paid by the firms hired to recruit them? do you have to pay or something after you speak with them and they "pass you through?" do they get a % of your comp for the first year? how do they make money? It just feels like they're worthless gatekeepers after round 1

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Apr 2, 2022 - 8:46pm

so you never pay them anything and it's optimal to interact with them rather than not, since you have no money to lose or anything, it's all paid by the PE firm? I guess that's better though right? since you don't have to do the unnecessary networking cold reach outs and stuff to PE associates? Or does that help anyway?

  • Senior VP in AM - FI
Apr 2, 2022 - 11:45pm

Wow, this is crazy and not what it was like 15 years ago. Can Sr PE people comment on the logic of this?

Seems like the dumbest way possible to select candidates. To an extent it also highlights how insignificant these roles really are, and always have been. Of course this is not to discredit people landing solid roles, seems like its a ton of hard work, so congrats. Also, clearly an amazing career path where the real cream rises to the top once in the system. But if these were mission critical roles, not just a plug and play commodity, the process would be much more in depth not glorified speed dating. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Apr 3, 2022 - 4:06pm

It's basically just game theory. 

There's a clear first mover advantage. If you can get someone in interviews right when on-cycle starts, their chances of interviewing anywhere else go down massively, and exploding offers make this way easier. Most bankers are not risk tolerant enough to turn down an offer from a their 2nd or 3rd or 4th choice to pursue their top choice. By the 2nd day of on-cycle, a bunch of the 'most-qualified' candidates are already taken. Obviously there are great candidates who go off-cycle or aren't snatched up right away, but generally the most desirable candidates go quickly. 

From this year, it sounds like a few bigger funds were a little slower out of the gate and were looking to start interviews Thursday or Friday instead of Wednesday night. As ridiculous as this is that it makes a difference, I anecdotally heard of way less people interviewing at those. 

If your an UMM or MM trying to be aspirational with candidate hiring, why not try to go super quickly and see if you can grab 'MF quality' talent. If you're KKR and hear Blackstone is already interviewing, you need to start interviewing immediately so that you aren't losing top candidates to a competitor. Speed is also incentivized, as putting an exploding offer in front of someone early on before they're able to get any other interviews/offers nearly guarantees they'll take that. 

Yes, the massive issue here is what makes a good candidate. Given the speed of the process, that basically is undergrad + bank/group, which I agree is stupid. Interviews in theory vet technical skills and fit, but given process speed this is questionable how well it works. 

The only way to fix this is a full overhaul of the process or some sort of deal between all major PE firms to recruit over a pre-agreed upon period, but I don't think that will ever happen. College or MBA recruiting is governed by the schools so firms can't behave this insanely, and most other industries candidates themselves wouldn't be willing to do this, but bankers are generally insane so they tolerate this. Without any major change, firms will keep being incentivized to either be the first to move or launch as soon as anyone else launches, and will try to conduct interviews as soon quickly as possible. 

  • Senior VP in AM - FI
Apr 3, 2022 - 9:01pm

Yea for sure, you lay it out in depth. It just seems like a process where both firms and candidates aren't necessarily getting exactly what they want, on average, but ensuring its an okay outcome. Just seems like a stupid irrational proposition. Everyone would likely be better off with a both parties not rushing into decisions and having some form of collusion, like a 2 week window to make and accept offers. I get this is unlikely, its just a very odd dynamic that isn't very smart, despite being run by "the smartest people in the room". 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Apr 4, 2022 - 1:42am

Pretty incredible journey...let me share my experience, which involves way less preparation and probably benefited from the chaos that was this on-cycle.

Background

Extremely similar background to OP, at one of those respectable bank's healthcare coverage group, not particularly strong or weak within the bank. Sem-target (One of the public flagships), 3.6 GPA but a half decent GMAT score. Went in banking without knowing what I really wanted, actually considered staying on as an associate all the way until I signed PE offer. Also knew MF was a reach so was intentionally targeting UMM/MM. Had good deal experience, mainly because I graduated a semester early, started working early at a Micro-boutique before lateralling to the WF/RBC/Solomon. Modeled a ton at the micro-boutique, but very little after lateralling.

Prep

Near the end of 2021 I had a friend who told me that he has 100% conviction recruiting will start early spring, like February, so I scrambled to do a model every week and only did modeling as I was confident I could quickly learn the other interview parts. Did that for a month before realizing it was not happening in February, at the same time a coworker told me that his frat buddy at a MF said on-cycle set to start in August, so I ditched prep completely by early February, but I was cautious and collected 20+ case studies along with a ton of guides, thinking I will read them later.

Fast forward to mid March, one of the HH rolls around and schedule a call. Went into it and had 0 clue what I was suppose to say, so I told her along the lines of "I want UMM/MM growth equity, PE, any city". She was visibly unimpressed but reaffirmed that on-cycle would be mid-April the earliest, could quite possibly be post-memorial day. I took her word at face value as that's her fucking job, and only buckled up on what I'd tell these recruiters, no additional prep.

Fund Research

As you could probably tell, I had 0 fucking clue what I wanted. In fact during the first call when the recruit told me a certain GE is 40% sourcing, I had no idea what that meant. With that said, I very much like the idea of optionality, so I devised the great strat of telling half HHs I only want UMM/MM GE, the other half healthcare focused or generalist UMM/MM PE that would consider healthcare investments. All my "research" consists of is looking at funds' website once recruiters tell me what opps are out there.

Networking

None, no one gave me any coffee chat slots and I was naïve enough to keep thinking I have time to set up these calls or wait for HHs to set me up.

Actual process: Pre-Interview

On the fateful Wednesday when all the megafunds kicked off I couldn't believe it, at that point I still thought I had until at least mid-April. All I have done is read the guides for 5 hours the weekend prior and run that one model test I studied before February 1 more time. I planned to do mocks, resume checks, deal write-ups, the other 19 out of 20 cases I collected, contact friends & previously connected folks at different funds etc. But no, it went just like that, I didn't do any of the above and day job (IB) work was picking up massively due to new staffings, felt completely screwed.

Wednesday - nothing, Thursday - met with a recruiter, no interviews given to me, Friday - met with another recruiter, no interviews even tho a classmate and a coworker got interviews at a fund I specifically told the HH I was targeting.

At this point I started questioning my resume and background, thought maybe the fact that I spent most of my time at the micro-boutique screwed my resume and I have to go off-cycle.

Actual process: Interview

I practically gave up by Friday night thinking wtf, got wasted. Saturday woke up at noon, moderately hungover. Checked email, saw a HH request to have me interview for a High UMM/MF on the day. At first didn't respond as I was not in the state nor did I prep to interview, secondly it's in a completely unrelated sector like consumers which I didn't know anything about. Sat around for a few hours, then thought it's good practice even though there's no chance, so I shot a reply back, and the interview was scheduled in-person less than 2 hours away.

Completely panicked I thought of some stories on why consumer, went to print my resume, borrowed a padfolio, googled some consumer trends and Ubered to the interview, stopped by a nearby coffee shop to get a few expresso shots in.

First round, technical, I'm strong technically although was trying hard to not appear hungover. Then did a 2hr modeling case study followed by an hour long grilling session on the case study on every assumption I made and every way I chose to build the model. I think I outdone myself and absolutely killed both the model and the case study, I could see the other interviewees coming and leaving the office but I remained.

I drank a cup of coffee every hour and was full sober past the case studies. Rounds kept going and went close to midnight, but it was more behavioral questions that are closer to casual chatting than anything else, it was quite clear the decision was basically made after the case study and it was a formality after.

Got the offer, totally unrelated to my coverage, but it's a cool fund - bigger fund than what I thought was possible for me, I liked the people, saw a future there and signed on the spot. It was all over just like that.

Afterwards I was told they went into the weekend b/c the first 2 days candidates had abysmal case studies. They also unintentionally mentioned that they saw my resume today hours before the interview; meaning probably someone else with my slot cancelled and I was thrown in to fill. Ain't complaining tho, thank god.

Thoughts

  • Opportunity comes to those who are prepared. Just know how to do 2 hour models cold and you will standout in this environment where no one (aside from gods like OP) really had preps.
  • I didn't drop anything on my job out of fear of losing my image and prospect as A2A, mistake, I suppose
  • I do agree that don't let people make you think you can only do MM/LMM coming out of a WF/RBC/Solomon, 2 real life examples right here
  • Don't forget to negotiate sign-on bonus...I forgot to ask when I signed and now am thinking how to bring it up lol
  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Apr 5, 2022 - 11:08pm

Tbh my experience last year was definitely much closer to yours, if not even less prepared, so glad to see this. I just wanted to mention to the point on optionality - in my experience, you have to pretend you know what you want, but in terms of what that is they really don't care. Basically it's all about who wants you and not who you want. One recruiter even admitted to my face during an intro call that they would still send me opportunities outside my preferences "just in case" they think it's a good fit. I said generalist UMM/MM PE in NY to every single recruiter, and yet I received just as many invites for tech growth equity in SF.

  • NA in IB-M&A
Apr 20, 2022 - 2:32am

You mentioned "half decent GMAT score" is this something you put on your resume / is attractive to PE firms as an IB analyst? When did you find the time to study and take the GMAT while in IB?

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Apr 4, 2022 - 8:00pm

In the midst of recruiting for IB SA roles rn and feeling sorry for myself, yet reading this makes my struggle laughable in comparison. Unbelievable that this is the way things are - like just....wow. Interesting to read though, and congrats OP.

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Jun 3, 2022 - 3:33am

Hey, I'm in undergrad right now but how does the transition work? Do you tell your employer you quit or do you negotiate a start date with the PE firm? Additionally, did they ask for standardized tests like GMAT/GRE or did you put a different test? 

Apr 11, 2022 - 11:08pm
arsenal2021, what's your opinion? Comment below:

In terms of memorizing deal stats (ebitda margins / growth rates), do you think it's okay to memorize this for 1 deal in particular? Don't want to memorize these ratios for all 3 of my deals and figure I can just use the same multiples

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Apr 12, 2022 - 12:13am

Most interviews let me pick my deal I spoke about but one or two chose randomly - I'd know high level figures for everything (revenue, margins, growth rates, purchase price, etc). I had way more memorized for one deal vs others on my resume but as a headhunter told me "if it's on your resume, it's fair game". Just be ready enough in case someone picks one to try to screw with you

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Apr 12, 2022 - 5:25pm

Really helpful post, thanks for writing all this up.

In the rounds where you were left to ask questions, what did you focus your questions on? More fit/culture or investing strategy/industry?

Apr 28, 2022 - 2:31am
Just-old, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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