What Columns/Blogs Do You Read?
The venture capital world is a highly connected one where networking is key, especially if you are trying to bring new deals to the table. Some prominent venture capitalists publish personal blogs or columns highlighting their perspectives on recent deals, upcoming IPOs, and general industry commentary.
Reading such material can give you insight into the current thinking and new developments in the industry. Staying in tune with such conversations shows the interviewer that you are highly connected and have your finger on the industry pulse.
What Has Been the Most Interesting IPO or Acquisition in Our Industry in the Past Year?
This question provides ample opportunity for you to shine. Study the ins and outs of an initial public offering (IPO) that relates to the venture capital firms niche interests and prepare your analysis. Discuss the potential you see for the company and how it could strengthen its market position. Treat this question as a test of your industry knowledge and an opportunity to impress your interviewer with thoughtful analysis.
This research will also help you later when proving to clients you understand their field and where they can go post-acquisition.
Why Private Equity – How Important Is It?
Here’s the short answer: If you can’t get this question right, you won’t get the job.
The good news is, you don’t need to have an incredibly awesome or unique answer to get it right.
Based on our experience, this question is more of a check-the-box sort of question.
You must get it right in order to move on to the next stage of the process. But once your answer passes the minimum threshold, there’s no need to go overboard because it won’t earn you any extra points.
Some candidates, especially those from the traditional investment banking and consulting background, spend way too much time on this question. Time that could’ve been much better spent preparing for deal discussions. After all, their compelling story for “why investment banking” got them the IBD offer in the first place.
Investment banks and consulting firms have a penchant for asking this question. In fact, we’ve seen IBD offers given out because some candidate has a very compelling “why investment banking” answer.
That’s not really the case with private equity interviews.
You will never get an offer solely because you have a killer reason for why you want the job. How can we be so sure?
Simply because that’s not how the private equity guys operate.
Tell Me About Your Most Challenging Professional Experience.
This is a great opportunity to make a lasting impression—take advantage of it. Choose an experience from your resume that showcases exactly how your skills would help you overcome the obstacles and challenges that arise in a venture capital career.
If you were involved with a startup organization that floundered, use that experience to showcase how your leadership turned the situation around, or explain the lessons you learned from that experience. (Remember, we tend to learn more from our mistakes than from our successes.) Discuss how your company released a product or service that did not perform well in initial market testing and how you used that information to create alternative uses or features that drove an eventual success.
Why Do You Want a Job in Venture Capital? And, Specifically, Why Did You Want a Job With Our Firm?
Before the interview, conduct extensive research on the firm to gain an intimate knowledge of the company and the industry that will distinguish you from other candidates. Your answer to this interview question should showcase this knowledge along with your general enthusiasm for investing in young companies (but do not mention the significant compensation associated with it).
This is your opportunity to convey your passion for early-stage company activities. If your answer focuses on a love of spreadsheets, you can forget about getting to the next stage. Instead, think of what about seedling companies gets you fired up. Project that energy and those points and you will connect with the interviewer. In addition, point out how the particular firm youre interviewing with fits into your desired career path and why your background would be ideal for this firm.