Despite the job market being in flux currently, most venture capital firms’ hiring plans remain relatively unchanged for the remainder of the year. Venture capital (VC) is a notoriously tough industry to break into — but the current climate may present as many opportunities as challenges with the right preparation.
Getting hired at a top tier VC is highly competitive. There is no formula: no specific college major, work experience or skill set that is clearly a significant factor in contributing to success in the industry. This, in turn, makes the VC interview process a challenging one for which to prepare.
I myself had to go through the interview process just two years ago. I started Femstreet before I entered VC, and although the newsletter certainly helped me to get on VC radars, it was still not an easy ride and required endurance, the right resources, and preparation. Now that I am on the other side, I want to pay it forward - providing our members community with the insights and information they need to put their best foot forward into the VC process.
To start, here are my top five tips for getting a job in venture:
Give, give, give before you ask for anything. Send VCs dealflow, host dinners with founders, organize virtual meetups with industry experts or try to support firms with diligence calls when they have questions that are aligned with your experience. Show a freemium version of yourself.
Showcase the calibre of your thoughts publicly. A lot of people get in through content creation, including memes (not sure I’d recommend that route). Harry Stebbings got into VC through podcasting, just as I did through a newsletter. There are loads of blogger VCs, and even if you are just curating content, people love newsletters with a personal touch.
It’s all about relationships. Venture capital is an industry built on trust and reputation. Lean into your existing networks and build them out.
Do your homework. If you are interviewing at a SaaS focused or consumer-focused fund, make sure you have a good understanding of the standard SaaS and consumer metrics, exit multiples and go deep in your research in one sector. Make sure to check the partners' background, know their portfolio companies and prepare specific questions. I’d also recommend speaking to founders they have backed.
Practice makes the master. Don’t expect to get a job offer after your first interviews. Instead, use them to learn about the industry, build relationships and then practice, practice, practice.
The key to creating a framework for preparing for interviews is to ensure you are prepared to answer questions that cover each of the below elements:
Who: Who are you and why are you a good fit for the role and the firm?
What: What makes you qualified for the role? What evidence can you provide to support that?
Where: Where have you succeeded and struggled? What did you learn from those experiences?
Why: Why this role at this firm? Why did you choose your past roles?
How: How will you contribute to the firm?
I am here with Austin Guy and JJ MacLean from GoingVC, a professional development program and global community helping its members advance their careers in Venture Capital. GoingVC brings together experts in venture capital, entrepreneurship, and business and fosters a collaborative environment where future leaders of the industry can learn and build on the essential skills they’ll need for success in the field.
While they prepare to release The GoingVC Venture Capital Interview Guide, we wanted to go over some of the most common questions that come up in VC interviews and how to get ready for them.
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