Taking the time to study the popular questions employers ask job applicants in your field can help you get confident answers and increase your chances of being hired. There are several key concepts and topics in private equity that hiring managers may ask you to cover to assess your knowledge and experience. If you’re preparing to interview questions for a private equity position, you can review some of these important topics.
In this article, we detail the different types of private equity interview questions you may encounter, list the 41 most common private equity interview questions, discuss what hiring managers look for in job applicants, and share some examples of professional answers that inspire you.
Types of Private Equity Interview Questions
Hiring managers often ask a lot of questions to get to know the candidate better. These are some types of private equity questions a hiring team might ask:
• General: Hiring managers ask general private equity questions to learn more about you and why you chose to work in the industry. These questions can help them determine if you’re a good fit for the company.
• Experience: Experience questions focus on previous private equity deals you have worked on. Hiring managers can ask these questions to better understand your qualifications and financial skills
• Depth: Technical or in-depth private equity questions allow hiring managers to gauge your knowledge of private equity. They may ask these questions to better understand how much you know and how you can react in specific situations.
General Questions about Private Equity
Here are some general questions a hiring manager might ask you during a private equity interview:
1. What do you know about our company and the companies in our portfolio?
2. Why are you interested in working in private equity?
3. What are your career goals for the next five years?
4. How do you manage stress in the workplace?
5. What types of private equity investing do you enjoy the most?
6. What motivates you to do your best work?
7. List three words you would use to describe yourself.
8. Do you have any questions about our company or this role?
9. What are your salary expectations?
10. What makes you the best candidate for this position?
11. How do you think our private equity firm differs from our competitors?
Interview Questions about Background and Experience
Potential employers may ask about your work experience and background to determine if you have the skills and qualifications needed to be successful in a private equity role. Here are some common questions you may encounter during an interview:
1. Can you describe the largest investment deal you have worked on?
2. Tell me about the most challenging leveraged buyout (LBO) model you’ve worked on.
What steps did you take to achieve this?
3. What types of consulting projects have you worked on in your previous roles?
4. What leadership style do you prefer?
5. What experience do you have with different types of investment banking transactions?
6. How would your former employers describe you?
7. Can you tell me about your day-to-day job duties in your last position in private equity?
8. How would you rate your financial modeling skills?
9. Based on your previous experience, what challenges do you expect to face in this role?
10. What do you enjoy most about working in private equity?
11. What is your greatest professional achievement to date?
Detailed Interview Questions
Hiring managers may ask you about specific terms and processes related to working in a private equity role to determine if you are a good fit for their company. Here are some examples of in-depth questions you may encounter during an interview:
1. Can you explain what an LBO is?
2. What steps would you take to create an LBO model?
3. How would you achieve EBITDA growth in this role?
4. What characteristics do you think help a business become an ideal candidate for an LBO?
5. What is the DCF model?
6. Can you tell me about the potential limitations of the DCF model?
7. Can you explain what industry cyclicality is?
8. How would you use customer concentration to assess a potential investment opportunity?
9. Can you list the leverages a private equity investor needs to increase the IRR of one of their investments?
10. What do you think is the most important factor in the M&A model?
11. What indicators will help you determine whether an M&A is dilutive or accretive?
12. Can you explain what rollover equity is and whether you see it as a positive or negative sign?
13. When can a private equity firm use dividend recapitalization?
14. What do you think about interest in kind (PIK)?
05 Interview Questions with Model Answers
Here are five interview questions related to a private equity role that a hiring manager might ask you, and examples of how to answer them successfully:
1. What three strengths can you bring to our private equity firm?
Hiring managers may ask this question to see if you understand the job requirements. Consider what skills the employer listed in the job description, then select three relevant strengths that can help you excel in the job role.
Example answer: “Three of my greatest strengths are collaboration, critical thinking, and data modeling. In my current role, I use my collaborative skills to work closely with the CFO and other team members to create accurate revenue forecasts. My ability to think critically about situations and create accurate data models also help me analyze information and make smart business proposals.”
2. If you noticed that a potential investment opportunity had a high turnover rate at their company, what would you do?
Potential employers may ask you this question to find out what type of risks you are comfortable with. Focus on explaining what high attrition rates can mean and why it’s important to understand the potential long-term effects.
Example answer: “If I noticed that a company had a high turnover rate, I would be very cautious about investing in them. A high turnover rate is usually a sign of a fundamental problem with the company’s organizational structure. It also often leads to a high rate of customer churn, which can result in revenue problems and make it more difficult for the company to make timely interest payments.”
3. When evaluating a borrower’s financial health, what types of credit ratios do you look for in them?
Hiring managers can ask this question to better understand how you approach financial investment. Explain the specific metrics you’re looking for and how you use them to make important decisions.
Example answer: “I carefully examine both leverage ratios and interest coverage ratios. Leverage ratios are important because they show how much debt a company has compared to its cash flow. Analyzing interest coverage ratios is also useful because it helps me assess whether the company can afford to pay the interest with the cash flow they have.”
4. How are you informed about changes in the private equity industry?
Interviewers may ask this question to gauge how passionate you are about working in private equity and whether you are willing to learn new things. List a few reputable sources you use to stay informed about changes in the industry.
Example answer: “I listen to several private equity podcasts every week, including Future Finance 360 and Private Equity Today. I also subscribe to several industry newsletters that I like to read in the morning to start my day. At least once a month, I participate in networking events with other industry professionals, which helps me learn more about the investments they are making and upcoming trends.”
5. If our private equity firm needed to exit the investment, what strategies would you explore?
Hiring managers may ask this question to assess your critical thinking skills and private equity experience. Explain your thought process as you list each potential strategy.
Example response: “There are several strategies we could implement to help your business monetize its investment. The first option would be to sell directly to a strategic buyer. In my experience, these types of sales are often the most convenient and can ensure that we receive the highest rating. Another option, the one I would pursue is a secondary buyout where another financial buyer could buy our synergies. Finally, since your business is quite large, I would consider going through an initial public offering (IPO) to sell shares through the public market.”
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