Behavioral interviews are a fundamental component of the real estate private equity interview process. In a way, they give you the opportunity to really sell yourself. For instance, you might be asked one of the explicit behavioral interview questions that we listed in the first post of this series. However, the behavioral component of REPE interviews extends beyond straightforward questions. Rather, behaviorals encompass the entire way you behave throughout the process – before, during, and after the interviews.
This post will focus on a critical element of nailing your behaviorals – you must know your audience. After all, if you’re trying to sell yourself for the role, you need to know who you’re selling to! Your responses will vary based on your audience. A junior investments professional focused exclusively on building hospitality models will interview you very differently than a managing partner who directs all European transactions. Even two associates on the same team may expect you to interview differently. So how do you figure all of this out?
Get to Know Your Interviewer
To get hired, you have to sound like the type of person that your interviewer wants to hire. To discover your interviewer’s values and preferences, I suggest learning the below. Your ability to discover this information will vary – and most of the time you’ll need to do it live right when you sit down and meet your interviewer. That said, try to learn as much of this as possible when networking and also while in other interviews.
- Where did they work before? The culture of their prior employers could provide helpful insight into their personalities. For instance, a former Office broker would probably interview you differently than an ex-PM at Bridgewater.
- What’s their seniority? Generally, senior interviewers take a more relaxed, higher-level approach to the interview. They want to get to know you more holistically as a curious person with a strong work ethic and care less about probing your technical skills. So if you’re going into an interview with a senior professional, focus your preparation more on high-level trends and market theses. On the other end, I’d rehearse my technicals and more granular day-to-day knowledge before interviewing with a junior professional.
- What sectors do they focus on? Sometimes this is obvious, such as when a fund or team only focuses on a specific asset class. But sometimes it’s not so obvious. And if that’s the case, you should be aware of this for many reasons. You probably don’t want to bad-mouth their sector when you’re pitching investments or discussing market trends (e.g. proclaiming that malls are dead to an investor at a fund that is long a contrarian retail thesis). Also, you will be grilled harder if you are going to make a pitch or discuss something that pertains to their coverage area. This is fine and might be the right move, but just be careful when speaking to an interviewer’s expertise.
- What kinds of deals have they done? Public M&A, private market one-offs, restructurings, dispositions? There is no use spending your time studying the public markets leading up to a big interview if the person grilling you doesn’t focus much on REITs and instead is deep in the property-level weeds of specific secondary markets.
- What traits do they admire? You can figure this one out in several ways. There’s the classic “what makes people successful at your firm?” Then you can tailor your narratives to emphasize those traits. Similarly, you could ask your interviewer about their own career in REPE, then try to emulate the qualities they seem to appreciate most about themselves when speaking to your own past. You can also roll-in insights from past interviews.
To get hired, you need to interview like somebody who your interviewer wants to hire. In other words, you must know your audience. The above questions are a sampling of the preparation necessary for behaviorals in the real estate private equity interview process. Yet hopefully, they paint a decent picture of the strategy you should employ when selling your candidacy for a career in REPE. And as always, if you’re looking to learn from megafund insiders, look no further than all the education that Leveraged Breakdowns has to offer.