5 Things to Remember After Your Initial VC Interview

by David Cummins Ankit Garg, and Linus Chung

This chapter is a free excerpt from The Best Book on Getting Into Venture Capital.

This section details the five things that every applicant should keep in mind while waiting to hear back after the initial interview.
  • You aren’t the only interviewee.
  • Hiring takes time.
  • Don’t be too pushy.
  • What to know for the second round interview: Investment Theses.
  • Market and People.
There are five things every applicant should keep in mind while waiting to hear back:

1. You Aren’t The Only Interviewee

After you get through the first interview, you’ll have to remember that the person who interviewed you is still talking to another twenty, thirty, or even forty people. They need to decide based on your resume, interests, personality, and the vibe you gave them on the phone if you’re somebody the team could mesh with.

They need to determine whether or not they want to bring you in for a second round interview. This isn’t a decision that’s made lightly—the partners at the firm are extremely busy, so they don’t want to waste time interviewing an applicant who they’ve no intention of hiring.

2. Hiring Takes Time

The interview process could take place over a period of weeks, or even over a period of months. At venture capital firms, they want to make the right hire, since they are dealing with such a small team. We’re talking six to ten people, not a team of one hundred. Who they hire is a tough decision, and they need a lot of time to consider it.

3. Don’t Be Too Pushy

It’s not uncommon to do an interview and then have them get back to you a few weeks later. It’s important to stay in touch without being pushy. At the end of an interview, you should always ask about when you should expect a follow up, or the sort of time frame they’re looking at in terms of the hiring process. That way, you can get a sense of the hiring process and how they’re thinking about it internally.

Complete 10-second survey to read full article!
This section details the five things that every applicant should keep in mind while waiting to hear back after the initial interview.
  • You aren’t the only interviewee.
  • Hiring takes time.
  • Don’t be too pushy.
  • What to know for the second round interview: Investment Theses.
  • Market and People.
There are five things every applicant should keep in mind while waiting to hear back:

1. You Aren’t The Only Interviewee

After you get through the first interview, you’ll have to remember that the person who interviewed you is still talking to another twenty, thirty, or even forty people. They need to decide based on your resume, interests, personality, and the vibe you gave them on the phone if you’re somebody the team could mesh with.

They need to determine whether or not they want to bring you in for a second round interview. This isn’t a decision that’s made lightly—the partners at the firm are extremely busy, so they don’t want to waste time interviewing an applicant who they’ve no intention of hiring.

2. Hiring Takes Time

The interview process could take place over a period of weeks, or even over a period of months. At venture capital firms, they want to make the right hire, since they are dealing with such a small team. We’re talking six to ten people, not a team of one hundred. Who they hire is a tough decision, and they need a lot of time to consider it.

3. Don’t Be Too Pushy

It’s not uncommon to do an interview and then have them get back to you a few weeks later. It’s important to stay in touch without being pushy. At the end of an interview, you should always ask about when you should expect a follow up, or the sort of time frame they’re looking at in terms of the hiring process. That way, you can get a sense of the hiring process and how they’re thinking about it internally.

Don’t harass the interviewer. You don’t want to email or call the person who interviewed you constantly to find out if you made it to the second round. If you pester them or come across as a nuisance, you’ve already helped them determine their answer—no.

They will get back to you in due time if you’re among the handful chosen for an interview with the senior partners. This process could take anywhere from a week to three months. It all depends on how quickly the firm needs to bring someone in. Send a brief thank-you note a few days after the interview thanking the person for their time and reiterating your interest in the position. Do not call or email them four hours after the interview. They need time to review their findings internally with their team.

This could take days, or it could take weeks—as I’ve said, every firm is different.

4. What To Know For The Second Round Interview: Investment Theses

Though the second round interview may vary (again, depending on the firm), generally, the applicant will meet with one or two partners. They will be asked about their background, where they went to school, what they’ve done in the past, what their interests are and why they want to work in venture capital. Again, be ready and able to tell your story in a few minutes using your resume as a framework.

There should be a logical progression to this story—you need to demonstrate clear reasoning that demonstrates venture capital is the next logical step in your career, along with what you hope to learn and how you hope to leverage what you’ve learned in future positions. Remember, analyst positions generally only last 2-3 years.

The most important aspect of the interview is the same as it is with any job—you need to make a great first impression.

Since venture firms are all about finding great companies and entrepreneurs and investing in them, you should have investment ideas of your own. Have some categories that you’re interested in and some major market drivers as to why those categories are interesting.

For example, say you’re interested in online commerce. Why are you interested in it? Why is it an exciting market?(Is it a large market? Will it change something fundamental about the industry? Will it cause a shift in the investment landscape?) Why do you feel it has the potential for growth and large returns?

It’s important to have some investment theses of your own. The senior partners might even ask how you’d sort through the inquiries they receive on a daily basis. How would you scope all of these opportunities? How would you filter through the requests for capital very quickly.

Know this—venture capitalists invest in big ideas that have the potential to become large, valuable companies. One way to talk through an investment opportunity would be to start with the size of the market opportunity. How big is the market? How fast is that market growing? What are the key drivers of this growth?

A perfect example of the sort of market venture capitalists would focus on is mobile advertising. Today, the market’s only a couple billion dollars. However, with the growth of the mobile industry and the popularity of smartphones and tablets (www.prweb.com/releases/2011/01/prweb4985134.htm), it has the opportunity to expand out to ten billion or even fifteen billion. The capacity is there.

More info here: www.mobilemarketingwatch.com/idc-estimates-50-growth-in-worldwide-smartphone-market-in-2011-14227

When thinking of investment opportunities, you want to pick out big ideas; markets that are growing very fast. If they aren’t huge today, they need to have the opportunity to be huge in the future. Big companies don’t get built servicing small markets.

5. Market & People: The Duties Of A Venture Capitalist

Always remember that at the end of the day, venture capitalists are investing in two things:

Market—Is this a big and/or rapidly growing market that can support a big company?People—Is this the right team to do what they are trying to do?

Venture capitalists will often tell you that the idea changes, but you can’t really change the team. When they invest in companies, the people that they are investing in are critically important. They are a major aspect of the company.

Recall the five questions venture capitalists often ask. Let’s look at them in a bit more depth.

What does the market look like? What’s the competitive landscape? Who are the major players in the market? What’s the competition like? What differentiates the company from its competition? Does the company have unique technology? Do the people have unique relationships and connections that will help them take the market? Which company is the market leader or well positioned to become the market leader? Why?

Venture capitalists want to invest in companies that have the opportunity to be a market leader. They don’t want to invest in companies that are going to be the number five player in a given market, because the majority of value created in a given market tends to accrue to the market leader.

You yourself need to think these things through. You need to not only have markets and industries you’re interested in, but also an idea of who the market leaders are. Products, websites, software, everything is fair game here.

Come to these meetings with specifics, with investment theses and companies you’re excited about. Show them you’ve considered what elements are necessary in building a great company.
Price: $9.99 Add to Cart
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • 100% refund
  • Free updates