On Cycle 2022 Debrief - My Experience
As other threads have mentioned, it was an absolute shitshow and super chaotic, but it seems like that's pretty much the case every year. Thought it may be helpful to walk through my process from start to finish. For background, I'm a 2nd year who recruited for MM/UMM/MF buyout.
1. Headhunter Meetings
The week of 8/30 all major headhunters reached out to arrange introductory Zoom meetings for the week of 9/6. The meetings were way simpler/easier than I thought they would be. I had previously heard some headhunters made you do paper LBOs, but nothing like that even remotely happened. The meetings were pretty formulaic and all followed the same format for questions: Tell me about yourself, walk me through a deal on your resume, why are you interested in PE / what strategy / what geography, followed by discussing their client list. Nothing groundbreaking in any of these meetings, were very simple and the HHs were very easy to talk to.
2. The Process
Monday evening my phone started ringing and basically didn't stop ringing for the next 24 hours. Started getting blasted with headhunter emails as the night went on, with immediate interview timelines. Headhunters were calling my cell as late as 3am to schedule interviews starting at 7am. Other funds wanted me to interview at 2am that first night. I didn't take any interviews the first night because it seemed insane to me, but the headhunters can be very persistent so definitely need to push back on them. I had back to back interviews scheduled throughout the entire next day. There is 0 communication even between headhunters at the same firm.
You will have different people at the same headhunting firm trying to schedule interviews with different funds at the same exact time. You'll be put in a position where you need to decide which fund you want to interview at knowing you may never get a chance at the fund you didn't pick. Once you pick a fund to interview at, you can be stuck there for 5+ hours. This sucks because you can be there for 5 hours, miss out on a bunch of other opportunities, and still not get an offer from them. The process truly is terrible. I bounced around all day between zoom and in person interviews trying to prioritize my top choices. Pretty demoralizing getting cut from multiple processes, but that's the way it goes. I eventually got my offer that night after a full day of rejections.
3. The Debrief
First round interviews themselves were typically between 1 - 1.5 hours where you would meet with 2/3 investment professionals ranging in seniority from associate to principal. Had to dotype questions so definitely be comfortable with that. Was surprised the number of banking type technical questions about LBOs, financial statements, etc. Going in, I thought the interviews would be more deal walkthrough / behavioral and the model test would cover the technical portion but that wasn't the case. The model tests are covered pretty well on this site, but expect a 1.5 hour - 3 hour model test / case study portion of the interview process. I felt pretty prepared for this using both 3rd party prep resources + materials saved on my bank's sharedrive from previous analysts.
I bombed my first interview and got more comfortable / better throughout the day. May make sense to try to schedule a fund that's not your #1 choice to be your first interview, but at the same time there is a game theory aspect to choosing your interviews because many funds are trying to fill their slots ASAP. If a fund you're interviewing at lets you leave at any point (this year it was leaving a Zoom breakout room...), it's extremely likely you've been cut from the process. They will keep you there interviewing for hours straight if they want you and give you the offer there and then. I've heard of offers which immediately exploded (accept right now or the offer is gone), so do not expect to have much time to think about it.
3b. Headhunter Reviews
This may vary given your preferred strategy / location / fund size, but attempted to rank the headhunters below for my experience in the on cycle process.
- Incredible client list across MM/UMM buyout. Got me several interviews.
Henkel - A bit heavier on the MFs than CPI if that's something you're interested in. Got me several interviews.
- Seemingly disorganized / spammy with their outreach, but they have some solid opportunities. Gave me several interview opportunities at brand name funds.
Amity - Centerbridge and Bain highlight client list, but strong MM funds as well
Ratio - Apollo + solid list of MMs
All others (Oxbridge, DSP, Bellcast, Gold Coast, etc) didn't appear to be as active during on cycle. Not to say these firms don't have good client lists or anything like that, I just didn't interact with them much outside of the intro meeting.
Hope this was helpful!