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Flashcards in Behavioral PE Questions Deck (44)
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Tell me about yourself/Walk me through your resume.

An easy way to begin the interview—prepare a short spiel in advance that highlights your path to finance.


Why Private equity?

Prepare a thoughtful answer and craft personal narrative as you are guaranteed to receive this question. This is the motivation question. Come up with a compelling story to set yourself apart. Why are you here in the first place? Show that you have the personality traits that support the investing strategy of the firm. For example, what is your time horizon preference: short term versus long term? Are you interested in how Ben Bernanke's interest rate change affect a stock price tomorrow (macro strategy focused HF) or do you prefer to watch companies that you can shape from the inside for three to five years (PE). Don't allow someone to poke holes in your answer by saying "Well if you like that aspect, why don't you pursue X profession instead?" At minimum, you should be an analytical thinker that enjoys looking at companies.


What do you hope to gain from this job? What do you want to learn from PE?

A variant of the motivation question.


Why are you working in your current industry?

The motivation should complement your reason to join the HF or PE industry. In fact, it can be exactly the same answer. If it is radically different, be prepared to explain why.


Why did you choose the firm you are at now/Why did you chose your group/sector/product/Why did you choose your college? Why do you think you are fit for the Fund's strategy (ex. Consumer, Buyout, ect)

Again, the motivations should complement the motivation to join the particular firm (versus the "industry" in the previous question) with which you are interviewing.


What in particular is attractive about this firm?

Firms like feeling special and wanted. Plus, a solid candidate does his homework. Browse the website, and, if you can, speak to people at the firm beforehand. Knowledge is power.


Are you only looking at Private Equity Opportunities? What else are you looking at? Hedge Funds, asset management, etc.?

The answer to this should support your answer to your motivation question. If you are interviewing at PE Fund and say you love the private market where enormous gains and losses can be realized by more active involvment in tunring around the portfolio company over a period of 5 years, then admitting to interviewing at HF discredits that answer. HF and PE are very different jobs that emphasize different skills and personality types. Saying you are interested in both suggests that you are simply interested in the main common denominator: the high salary.


Who else are you interviewing with/Where are you in the process with other firms?

Can be asked for the same reasons as the previous question, but also can be a feeler as to how desirable you are. If many notable firms are interviewing you, they feel reassured that you are a qualified candidate. Also, having multiple offers gives them a sense of urgency that you're so good you'll get scooped up by someone else if they don't give you an offer soon.


Do you plan on going to business school? Why or why not?

This question can be a little tricky. Some places require an MBA for you to be promoted and some places don't want you to disappear for two years after only a year of working. A safe answer is you'd like to attend only if it teaches you skills that help you advance in your career.


What do you plan to do in the next five to ten years?

More importantly, how does this potential job fit in with this plan? Key here is to focus on what drives you. Show selfawareness and long-term aspirations. It should fit in appropriately by enhancing your professional development. It's not necessary to paint a picture that you absolutely will be in the same job and at the interviewing firm. If you are applying for a pre-MBA associate position at a PE firm, it may be a strict two-year program and, therefore, a prepared candidate would be aware of this. A mature candidate recognizes the skills that he would like to develop and how his job experiences will help realize them.


How do you like banking so far? What qualities/skills do you feel you have that are transferable to this industry?

Your path in investment banking has prepared you for a career in PEDo the research as to what skills are the prioritized in the industries. Naturally, analytical and insightful thinking rank at the top.


Have you had a performance review? What did it say?

This is the strengths/weaknesses question except also backed by evidence. Obviously, highlight your strengths and when prompted for weaknesses, have a prepared explanation that flips it in a positive way, such as how you are working on improving that criticism.


What is your ideal work environment? What qualities would your ideal job have? How do you work best? How do you work in teams? What types of managers and team settings do you perform and learn the best in?

Just be sure not to say that you want to work alone. PE Funds demand team players. And don't say a 9-5 workday, because you won't find that anywhere.


Tell me something interesting about you/What do you do in your free time?

Your interviewer is compiling a mental dossier on you: pro and con bullet points based on your interview answers. To help differentiate your profile, he may ask a few "unique" questions to separate you from other candidates. You want to be memorable, but not in a weird way. It's also great to have any interesting conversation to develop a connection with your interviewer. Talk about general life, life goals outside of career, etc.


What is the most recent book you've read?

Another idle question to show something interesting about you. Please read SEO AIFP Recommended Books and be able to speak openly about them.


What separates you from other candidates? What makes you unique?

The interviewer would like you explain why you should be hired over all the other equally qualified candidates that he will speak to that day. Your answer should be supported by the rest of the interview. If you consider yourself smarter, then be sure to get all the technical questions right. If you have more or better quality experience, be sure to showcase examples. If you have great contacts, cite specific relationships.


Are you willing to move to the city where the firm is located (for jobs outside your current location)? Why the city of job location?

If the firm is located elsewhere, you need a strong answer as to why you are willing to relocate. Firms know it's tough to go somewhere if you do not have family or friends there, and so they will not give you an offer if they think you will reject it based on location.


What is the most difficult experience you have had at work? Why? How did you approach the problem? How would you have done things differently?

Illustrate your ability to handle tough situations with a level head, a logical process, and thorough handling. The interviewer wants to know that you can handle responsibility and lead a team. Be able to address your weaknesses in order to demonstrate selfawareness and confidence. Then describe how you have spent time improving on these areas and how it will positively impact your output at work.


If there were no such business as private equity, what would you do?

You can show how you desire a job that shares some qualities with HF/PE as well as a more interesting, unexpected side of yourself.


What is your outlook on the economy?

Keep up to date on the news and have an opinion on how current events will shape future ones. You should understand the new president's stimulus plans and how they will affect various sectors, current portfolio companies and future investments. If opining on the United States, know where the Fed Funds rate is and if it is expected to change. The Fed Funds rate is the main tool that the Federal Reserve uses to regulate the supply of money and, thus, affect the overall U.S. macroeconomy (but be familiar with its other strategies!). A reduction in the interest rate promotes bank lending and an increased supply of money into the economy.


From what transaction did you learn the most?

Your current job should be great preparation for this next job. Ideally, you have learned what makes a great investment and developed the skill set that makes a valuable employee.


Walk me through you resume in terms of relevant work experience and frame it in a way that demonstrates how you overachieved and excelled relative to your peers.

(3) If you are able to deliver a concise and humble 120 second narrative about your path through Ibanking to PE you did an ok job. (4) If you speak from an enthusiastic and genuine disposition you did much better (5) If you also validate your acheivements through recognition via senior members of the team you did great!


What people would say about you? Good things? Bad things? What does your associate say about you?

User Specific, Subjective


What do you think would hold back from performing in this role? What are your strengths, weaknesses, etc.

Be able to address your weaknesses in order to demonstrate selfawareness and confidence. Then describe how you have spent time improving on these areas and how it will positively impact your output at work.


How do you know that you want to do this?

Know why you want to specifically work at that company and align your interests and passions with the company.


How will you prepare yourself for an associate role when you join PE? What will you do to best prepare yourself for the specific PE job?

You want to impress an interviewer? Then talk about your fitness routine! How you went above and beyond to prepare for this career path in PE. Talk about your SEO fitness routine, how many LBO models you rep a week, the extra work you do to learn while on the job. PE Industry news & conferences you follow.


Tell me a little bit more about your Investment Banking Analyst experience at XZY Bank.

Sample Outline: So far I’ve had an incredible experience at XYZ. I’m currently in the ### group, and within the ## group, I specialize in the specific sector. My daily responsibilities include ..... handling any due diligence requests, hopping onto a lot of due diligence calls and then building merger models and a lot of LBOs. My experience is, has been largely enhanced by .....kind of the mentorship I’ve received from, um, kind of a lot of my senior mentors. I’ve gone to numerous client meetings where sometimes I’m called on the spot to kind of offer my opinion on an asset, which has traumatically enhanced the experience that I’ve had at XYZ Bank so far. I’ve also worked on two buy side sponsored deals where I’ve gotten to understand kind of how investors are thinking about assets and how they’re mitigating a lot of risk, which has been monumental towards preparing me for private equity.


Tell me a little bit more about why you are interested in private equity.

Sample Outline: Must be authentic, show long patter of interest in investing, show steps you have made to develop your investing skills.


Why did you choose investment banking/consulting?

User Specific, Subjective


Why do you want to pursue a career in private equity?

User Specific, Subjective