The "Why private equity" interview answer.

June 19, 2023

Jonathan Charpentier

Preparing for a private equity interview can be an intimidating process, especially when it comes to answering certain questions. One of the most critical questions that you will likely encounter during the interview is, "Why private equity?" This question may appear simple, but it holds significant weight in determining whether you're a suitable fit for the role. In this article, we'll explore why it's essential to have a well-crafted answer to this question and how you can prepare for it.

Understanding the "Why Private Equity" Interview Question

Before we discuss how to answer this question, let's dive into why it's asked and what interviewers are looking for.

Private equity is a highly competitive industry that requires a unique set of skills and expertise. As such, interviewers want to ensure that they are hiring the right candidate for the job. They want to know that you have a genuine interest in the industry and that you are committed to a long-term career in private equity.

The importance of the question

This question serves as a tool for interviewers to understand your motivation for pursuing a career in private equity. It allows them to identify your level of interest in the industry and assess whether your values and goals align with the company's objectives. Interviewers want to know that you are passionate about private equity and that you are committed to staying up-to-date with the latest industry trends and developments.

Private equity firms are always on the lookout for candidates who are driven, ambitious, and possess a strong work ethic. They want to know that you are willing to put in the hard work and dedication required to succeed in this industry. Therefore, your answer to this question is crucial in demonstrating your commitment to the industry and your desire to succeed.

What interviewers are looking for

Interviewers are looking for candidates who have a genuine passion for private equity and can bring unique perspectives to the company. They want to see that you've done your research, that you possess the necessary skills and experience, and that the career path aligns with your goals.

Private equity firms are always on the lookout for candidates who can think outside the box and bring fresh ideas to the table. They want to know that you are able to analyze complex financial data, identify potential investment opportunities, and make sound investment decisions. Therefore, it's important to demonstrate your analytical skills and your ability to think critically during the interview process.

In addition to technical skills, interviewers are also looking for candidates who possess strong interpersonal skills. Private equity firms often work with a wide range of stakeholders, including investors, management teams, and other professionals. Therefore, it's important to demonstrate your ability to communicate effectively, build relationships, and work collaboratively with others.

Preparing Your Answer

Now that we know why it's essential to have a well-crafted answer to this question let's explore how you can prepare for it.

Researching the private equity industry

The first step is to research the industry thoroughly. This includes familiarizing yourself with the different types of private equity firms, their investment strategies, and their roles. Private equity firms can range from small, niche firms to large, global firms with diverse portfolios. It's important to understand the differences between them and how they operate.

Additionally, researching recent industry news and keeping abreast of current trends and developments can give you an edge in the interview. For example, you could mention how the rise of ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) investing is changing the landscape of private equity and how you are interested in working for a firm that values sustainability and social responsibility.

Identifying your motivation and interest

Reflecting on your personal motivations for pursuing a career in private equity can help you craft a more authentic and compelling answer. Perhaps you have a strong interest in finance and investing, or maybe you're drawn to the fast-paced and dynamic nature of the industry.

It's important to avoid generic responses that could cause you to blend in with other candidates. Instead, be specific about your interests and experiences. For example, you could mention how your experience working in a startup sparked your interest in private equity, as you saw firsthand how important access to capital is for growth and success.

Aligning your skills and experience

Highlighting how your specific skills and experiences can benefit the company is crucial in any job interview, but especially in private equity. Private equity firms seek individuals who can think critically, excel in a high-pressure environment, and have a strong analytical background.

Providing examples of how you've demonstrated these traits in previous roles can help you stand out. For example, you could talk about how you led a team to successfully execute a complex project under tight deadlines, demonstrating your ability to thrive under pressure.

Additionally, highlighting any experience you have with financial modeling or analysis can be a major plus. Private equity firms heavily rely on financial analysis to make investment decisions, so showing that you have a strong foundation in this area can make you a more attractive candidate.

Crafting a Compelling Response

Now that you've done your research and identified your motivations and skills, let's explore how you can craft a compelling response that showcases your candidacy.

Structuring your answer

Start by providing context for why you're interested in private equity. You can then highlight your relevant skills and experiences and provide concrete examples of how you can contribute to the company. End by reiterating your excitement for the opportunity and thanking the interviewer for their time.

Demonstrating your knowledge of the industry

Show that you've done your due diligence by discussing current industry trends and providing insights into the firm's strategies and investments. You can also reference specific deals or transactions that you admire and provide your thoughts on their value.

Showcasing your passion for private equity

Bring your personal motivations to life by sharing how you've pursued your interest in private equity outside of your professional life, such as attending conferences and networking events or reading industry publications.

Highlighting your relevant skills and achievements

Provide examples of how you've demonstrated your skills and experience in previous jobs or personal projects. Be specific and use metrics to quantify your achievements.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

While crafting your response to the "Why private equity?" question, it's essential to steer clear of common mistakes that could derail your candidacy.

Providing a generic response

Avoid providing generic responses, such as wanting to work in a challenging environment or being passionate about finance. These responses lack depth and insight and can cause you to blend in with other candidates.

Focusing solely on financial aspects

While strong financial knowledge is important in private equity, it's not the only factor that interviewers consider. Avoid focusing solely on financial aspects and emphasize your diverse experience and strong interpersonal skills.

Neglecting to mention personal growth and development

While it's essential to discuss how your skills and experience align with the company's objectives, it's equally important to discuss how the company's culture and values align with your personal growth and development.


Overall, preparing for the "Why private equity?" interview question requires a combination of strategic thinking, research, and introspection. By providing a well-crafted and personalized response, you can differentiate yourself from other candidates and demonstrate your value to the company.

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