GMAT for PE Interviews?

Hi All,

I'm currently a university senior, returning full time to the EB I interned with this past summer. While I am excited for that opportunity, I do plan to recruit for PE during the next cycle (late 2019 kickoff). That said, I wanted to gauge the importance of GMAT scores in interviews with PE firms / headhunters.

I've heard mixed replies from friends and recent alumni regarding the importance of the GMAT. Does the test add significant value to those who score in the top percentiles? What opportunities exist / don't exist for those that didn't take the test? Trying to decide whether to spend the next few months preparing for the test.


Comments (6)

Feb 1, 2019

I think a strong GMAT can partially compensate for a low GPA, but if you have a high GPA already (coming from a strong group), I don't think GMAT matters for recruiting.

Feb 2, 2019

Unless this suddenly became a trend in the past 2-3 years (I doubt it), taking the GMAT and getting a high score won't yield a very high return on time for landing a pre-MBA associate role.

If you can get a really impressive score, it's a marginal plus but a lot of people won't care or bring it up. It is certainly not required as you are describing. There are just so many other factors that have so much larger of an impact: college, GPA, networking, bank, banking group, nepotism, charisma, modeling skills, ability to do paper LBOs and answer hard accounting / finance / brain teaser questions, being able to impress them that you can think like an investor when given case studies (verbal or written), whether or not you crush the first headhunter interviews, making them like you, being succinct and clear, having good deal experience, having a boss refer you to their contact at a fund, etc. Not everyone has all of these but I wouldn't trade a high GMAT for any of the above (and I happen to have a high GMAT)

If you're at an EB, you're going to get interviews either way with great funds and your success or failure at capitalizing on these interviews will be determined primarily by how well you answer the questions, how well you connect with the interviewer, etc.

Most people recruiting won't have taken it and I would wager even most people going to top exits will not have taken it. For any people who are going to top funds with high GMATs, the GMAT did not get them the job. I guess every little bit helps in a competitive job market but I wouldn't take the GMAT just to try to get an edge.

However, GMAT can be good to take in college for a different reason: you have a lot more free time to spend on studying for it in college than when you're getting crushed in banking and private equity so can be nice to get it out of the way. You're also still in test taking mode and may be in classes where you're using some skills that are relevant (years of Excel can make you rusty at doing math on paper)

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Feb 3, 2019

This was super helpful. Definitely overlooked a lot of the factors you mentioned above. Thanks +1

Feb 2, 2019

I've never once even thought about asking about GMAT scores in an interview. Unless you have another reason to take it (planning ahead for future b-school plans like the commenter above mentioned), I wouldn't do it.

Most Helpful
Feb 2, 2019

I'd say it depends what your resume currently looks like. If you're going to an EB from a great university, and have a good GPA with great extra curriculars, there is little benefit to writing your GMAT. If you are from a non-target with a poor GPA, then a GMAT will help (not a ton, but more than first scenario). However, you will need a 750+ on your GMAT to offset a poor GPA/school (Getting anything under 730 will probably be seen negatively by HHs and funds).

Personally, I'd recommend spending the ~200 hours prepping for PE interviews and networking. You would be fully prepared for PE interviews prior to hitting the desks, so it would put you at a huge advantage.

If you are looking to go to business school, that's a complete different story. Get your GMAT out of the way ASAP before you start work. It'll be very difficult to find time (and motivation) to study once you start.

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Feb 3, 2019