Top 10 Venture Capital Job Interview Questions – Part 1

June 16, 2008

Venture capital careers are competitive, with many more interested candidates than open positions. Subsequently, a venture capital job should be considered only after you have many years of successful, hands-on company experience.

Noted Silicon Valley speaker, author, and venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki put it best when he said if you were the entrepreneur across the table, “Why would you want advice from someone whose background consists of working in a college bookstore or cranking spreadsheets at an investment bank? Financial models are almost totally irrelevant because there’s no financial wizardry involved in making a good product and selling the heck out of it.” Indeed, there is no “market” for these young companies, so the value is created by bringing a great product or service to the world and getting people interested enough to buy.

Preparing yourself for common questions will help you shine in your venture capital job interview. Whereas many of the questions for VC job interviews are general in nature, there are others that are unique to venture capital.

Q: Why do you want a job in venture capital? Why our firm?

You should have conducted extensive research on the firm and now possess an intimate knowledge of the company and the industry – allowing you to truly distinguish yourself from other candidates.Your answer should show a general enthusiasm for investing in young companies – and not mention at all the significant compensation associated with it. This is your opportunity to convey your passion for early stage company activities. If your answer focuses on a love for Excel spreadsheets, you can forget about getting to the next stage. What part of seedling companies gets you fired up? Project that energy and you will connect with the same passion as the interviewer sitting across the table from you.

In addition, you have to point out how the particular firm you’re interviewing with fits with your desired career path. Try to be specific and detailed in your answer as to why your background would be ideal for this firm.

Q: What are the some recent developments in our industry?

Venture capital firms are seeking employees with proven expertise, often times in a particular industry in which the firm focuses. It is critical in questions like these to demonstrate your industry insights. According to research conducted by Jobs Search Digest, approximately half of surveyed VC respondents have more than 10 years of experience; subsequently, you must ensure that your knowledge base shines competitively in the interview.

You should not only showcase your competence in the overall development and trends in the industry, but also elaborate upon the specific influences that are currently affecting the market. You have to demonstrate knowledge that only an experienced industry insider would have. In this case, the discussion of a particular company’s product release or strategic decision would be a great method to do exactly that.

Stay tuned. More interview questions for Venture Capital Jobs to come.

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