I often respond to questions from readers on the private equity interview process. Here is a question I recently responded to:
Q: What are Bain Capital pre-MBA private equity associate interviews like?
A: I worked for a Bain Capital PE spinout previously, which was basically a huge “team liftout” from Bain Capital and Bain & Company, including the head of worldwide HR at Bain Capital and the former chairman of the Bain Capital management committee. They adopted a lot of the same screening, hiring, and training techniques that Bain Capital did, and here is what I encountered in my interviews.
The process was structured over 3 rounds, with the type of people at each step and the kinds of questions asked varying between rounds. It consisted of a heavy combination of case interviews, technical finance questions, modeling tests, and personal fit interviews to test 6 things:
1. Financial modeling
2. Operational modeling
3. Macro / market due diligence
4. Strategic analysis (as tested through case interviews)
5. Creating slide presentations
6. Personality fit
Be sure to check out our PDF guide “How to Nail Your Private Equity Interview (whether you have finance training or not)” for in-depth tips and strategies on how to successfully interview for associate jobs at top PE firms like Bain Capital.
Also be sure to check out our step-by-step Private Equity LBO Modeling Training Videos for walk-through tutorials on how to build an LBO model, navigate Excel with ruthless efficiency, and rapidly create an LBO PowerPoint deck to present to your PE interviewers.
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Andrew Chen received an associate offer, without any formal LBO experience, on his first attempt at applying for private equity investing positions in the competitive San Francisco Bay Area. He worked for Huntsman Gay Global Capital, the Bain Capital spin-out founded by the industrialist Jon Huntsman, former Bain Capital Chairman Bob Gay, former San Francisco 49ers Superbowl quarterback Steve Young, and including former CFO of Citigroup and American Express Gary Crittenden. Andrew was previously a member of the Corporate Finance & Strategy Practice at McKinsey & Company and holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School. You can follow him on Twitter and Google+.
I have an interview coming up with Bain Capital in few days. Can you guys suggest me that what kind of questions I might face. I am given this information:
"Each interview will last approximately 45 minutes and will be primarily case-based in format although there are typically a few resume-based questions as well. Interviewers will try to get a sense for analytics, business judgment, strategic thinking, etc. in an effort to understand how you would look at a particular deal/investment."
bain case interview preparation
Our users shared that Bain Capital interviews are largely case based. These cases are consulting style and the best way to prepare for them is to review a consulting interview guide such as the one available through
You can read more about the interview process and how to navigate it on Bain's corporate website.
See a clip from the website below describing how to prepare for the case interview:
Our users shared their experiences below:
User @moneypants3 shared:
Walk in, idle chit chat for 2-3 min on the CV, 2-3 min of some random finance questions (but super simple, like walk me through a cashflow statement, what are the drivers of value in an LBO etc)
Then we get into the case study. They are exactly the same as a consulting case study which is not easy, and a lot of bankers fail Bain, as they are not used to thinking in the consultant mindset (by which I mean the consultant interview mindset, which is v diff to the usual PE interview mindset).
What do I mean by this? Knowing all of the usual Porters 5 forces, 4cs, 4ps etc is key, but also they will ask you a question, and you then have to structure it like an essay -- I think that the key drivers are 1,2,3,4, I will now take you through 1,2,3,4. Go through 1,2,3,4, and then conclude saying, in conclusion, 1,2,3,4 summary, and the main driver is 3.
Bain Cap are more organic than many of the usual consulting interview, as they don't just ask a question, and then discuss for 45 min. Instead, they break apart the question into 4 mini questions, in short 10 minute chunks.
User @moneypants3 went on to offer case examples they got in the interviews.
So for me it was RBS World Pay, and they asked about the key value and growth drivers for the business, then about new legislation against high credit card fees, and how this might impact them (again they did not expect me to know, they explained the legislation, and then asked how this would affect).
The other study which I remember was on a canned tuna business, asking me to take them through the main cost buckets, what I thought was the main issue with this business (price volatility in fish -- non hedgeable, as you are buying from small local fisherman), how would I go about cost cutting etc etc
As you can see, super non finance based (but try and get in little nuggets here and there to show that you know), but I cannot stress enough, practice case studies before you go in. I would recommend learning the framworks, practice a few questions, and then get a buddy to play the part of the interviewer (hugely helpful -- esp. if they are mean and brutal to you)
User @valueisoverrated shared:
Three of the questions I received were valuing a frequent flier program, explaining the lack of profitability in the US airline industry, and walking through the value proposition of yellowpages for small businesses in rural areas and small towns.
User @Advice_Seeker shared:
All was case-based along the lines of consulting cases. They had questions on the firms from their portfolio companies. Two questions were on why margin increased and decreased, another one was on the factors defining growth rate of an industry, and another was how would you analyze if you should invest in a company.
You can read more about Bain Capital on the Wall Street Oasis Company database.
Read More About Bain Capital Interviews on WSO
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