A buy-side interview is competitive process - make sure you're prepared

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Candidates need to be well-prepared to succeed.

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James Wallis

Over the years the Hiring Circle team has been fortunate enough to worked with a large number of Credit Funds, with various strategies from direct lending to distressed debt. Here are some top tips from our clients and successfully placed candidates:

Research, research, research. You are being hired in, large part, to do due diligence on investment opportunities so the employer will expect you have done the same about them. Also - your understanding will shape the whole process. Think about: what the fund does; how it has evolved; where it is in fund raising; what are its strategies going forwards; what’s the background of the senior team; what have they said in the press recently; where have they hired from historically and so on. Use this information throughout the process.

Understand the role and adapt your style. Credit analysis is the theme that runs through all of the investment roles, so you’ll be expected to demonstrate understanding of that as a minimum. However – think about what this is allied to. Liquid strategy funds will adopt a more market orientated approach – with trading, relative value analysis and potential use of derivatives. Direct lending allies a longer deal process where origination is a more important facet. Distressed – combines more legality and process. It’s fine to be interested in various strategies – just make sure you adapt your interests and strengths accordingly in the process.

Know your deals. If a deal is on your CV expect to be asked about it. Only includes ones you want to talk about and can do so confidently. Refresh on the details and market drivers – including any updates. If you can, check where it’s currently trading in the secondary market – don’t happily explain about an amazing deal you did last year only to find it has tanked in secondary! Think about all of this in the context of the strategy of the fund you are applying for.

Get your rationale right. A consistent source of frustration from employers is the apparent motivation for a move. “I just really want to work on the buy-side” or “the hours in banking suck” really don’t t cut it as reasons to move to the buy-side. Articulate why credit, why this strategy, why this fund etc. Apply your historic experiences and decisions to support this rationale.

Don't be shy of asking questions. Interviews are always better as a two-way conversation. The people you meet should be excited about where they work and what they are doing. Engage with them on it. Ask about the strategies, plans for the future, any recent press, if they recently joined – why they did and so on. Early in the process avoid asking how long are the hours and how much holiday do I get – these are important questions, just better off dealt with later in the process.