2021 Private Equity Recruiting: Outlook & Interview Advice

CarterPierce is a leader in private equity, growth equity, and hedge fund recruiting, placing analysts from Investment Banking and Consulting programs every year.  With another private equity recruiting season kicking off, Recalc Academy founder Katie Fifer sat down with Jill Pierce to learn what her team is seeing across the private equity hiring and to hear her advice on landing a buy-side job.

What are you seeing in terms of recruitment in the investment industry? Are many private equity firms hiring right now?

It is one of the busiest hiring markets I’ve witnessed. Since Fall 2020, we have not seen a slowdown in hiring, across both investment firms and their portfolio companies, and across junior and senior talent.

That sounds like great news for aspiring investment professionals. Are investment firms really hiring more people from diverse backgrounds and experiences?

Yes, Diversity and Inclusion has become a focus for all of our clients. That diversity can take various forms, but we still see most firms looking for candidates who have come from an investment banking or consulting background. The training programs are still very important to Wall Street hiring. However, more firms are considering candidates from outside these backgrounds if they can show they’ve done the adequate preparation through accounting and modeling practice.

The recruitment process can seem overwhelming – where should candidates who are hoping to land a private equity associate job start their process?

Going back to basics – successful candidates still come in with a strong finance and accounting background. If you weren’t a finance major or an investment banker, getting up to speed through self study or outside courses is very important.

What do you think investment firms are looking for in the people they hire?

Being a self-starter is very important. In this virtual work from home environment, being a self-starter has become key to learning and succeeding. Candidates must also be truly passionate about investing. You shouldn’t just go down the private equity path because that’s what most investment bankers do.

Do you have any private equity resume writing tips?

Be succinct. Dates should be clear, all job experiences standardized. Stick to one page. Be sure to include any relevant stats around GPA/test scores and any language skills.

What kind of technical preparation should private equity candidates be doing ahead of the interview process?

Candidates should be comfortable building LBO and 3 statement models from scratch in a short period of time. Practice is key to feeling comfortable on these modeling tests and case studies. They should also brush up on banking and accounting concepts; reviewing investment banking interview prep materials can be a helpful reminder.

Do you have any advice specific for private equity candidates from non-traditional backgrounds (outside of investment banking)?

Take the time to learn how to read a financial statement and feel comfortable in Excel building a model. This can be through self-study, with friends or through an outside course.

There are so many investment firms out there, how should private equity candidates think about what firm might be a good fit for them?

There are hundreds of great firms that recruit junior talent. It’s important to know what matters to you in your next role. Is fund size important? Do you want to focus on an industry? Do you want operational experience? Is geography a priority? Do you plan to go to business school? Answering those questions will help narrow the field and allow you to assess qualitative factors, like culture fit, while you get to know the firm. At the end of the day, we believe culture is very important and really drives decision making.

Ready to take the next step in your career?  Check out our upcoming Forecasting & Modeling courses to build your skills ahead of interviews.  Or schedule a quick 15-minute check-in for advice on technical interview prep.


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