What to Expect and How to Prepare for an Interview in Real Estate Private Equity Part II

Joe Stampone Start a Career 96 Comments

A few months ago, I published part I of a series of posts that walk through the interview process with real estate private equity firms. Part I covered the first two interviews. In part II, my buddy covers the 3rd and 4th round interviews.

Download the ASotREG Guide to Starting a Career in Real Estate Private Equity
Click here to get the guide now!

Round 3: The Technical Test

As discussed in Part I, the beginning rounds of the interview process are intended for the company to get to know your background and most importantly your personality. Since private equity shops run a lean operation, it is essential that your interviewers feel that you fit in well not only with the group, but with the company culture as well.

In most cases, you will be asked to take an Excel and/or ARGUS test. Study the company’s portfolio.  This is important because your test will most likely involve a property type that the company already invests in.

When I was scheduling my third round interview, the company informed me that I would need to allocate about 4 hours for the interview. I would be given an excel test and an ARGUS test.  I would be given 1.5 hours for each test. I was also told that at the end of the test, I would be presenting my results to individuals in the group and walking them through my analysis and assumptions.

I was then lead to an empty office with nothing more than a laptop and a notepad. The associate told me that the first part of my test will be in ARGUS and handed me an offering memorandum. It was a retail property anchored by a major tenant with ten in line tenants. The company wanted me to come up with a value for the property. The only information you receive will be in the offering memorandum. Using the rent roll and operating statements provided, you will have to use your fundamental knowledge of real estate to come up with the appropriate assumptions. If you are given an ARGUS test, there is a strong possibility that it will be a retail or office property. If the company that you’re interviewing for also invests in industrial properties, be prepared for that as well. Pay particular attention to reimbursement methods. Also, double-check all inputs (i.e. if you’re entering rent, make sure its $/SF/Year and not $/Area). ARGUS is one of those programs where one tiny mistake can throw off your entire analysis. You may be given debt on the property so be prepared to model that in ARGUS as well.

Please be aware of the time. You will have to demonstrate your efficiency and accuracy during the time allocated for the test.

After my analysis was completed, I was asked to print out seven copies of the ARGUS cash flow. As I handed the printouts to the associate, I was then given the second part of my test.

In Excel, build a model from scratch to determine the value of a multifamily property. Again, an offering memorandum was given and I had 1.5 hours to complete my analysis. While all property types can be tested in Excel, due to time and number of tenants involved, Excel is normally reserved for multifamily and hotels (if hotels are part of the company’s portfolio). I was also asked to provide a loan schedule and calculate the levered and unlevered IRR of the investment given certain investment parameters (there are instances where you may be asked to provide a promote waterfall as well).

After completing both tests in ARGUS and Excel, I was lead into a conference room where I sat across the table from six members from the team. Their positions ranged from analyst, associate, AVP and director. Each individual had a copy of my analysis in ARGUS and Excel and proceed to review the cash flows. The idea is to explain your rationale and walk them through your analysis and providing intelligent explanations as to why you thought that the assumptions you used made sense. After spending about 20-30 minutes on each analysis, I was asked if I would recommend that the company invest in the two properties. I provided my recommendation and at that point, it was revealed to me that two assets I just analyzed belong to the company’s portfolio. As I stated earlier, be familiar with the company’s assets if that information is available. You might feel you’ll be at a disadvantage since your interviewers already know the property, but the key is to show them you can provide a thoughtful analysis.

As you can imagine, this was by far, the most intense round of the interview. They told me they’ll discuss the results of my analysis amongst the group and will be in touch with me shortly.

Round 4: The Final Round

The next day, the company called me to inform me that they would like me to meet the managing directors of the company. This was a big relief as I was unsure of my technical test since no feedback was given during the last round. I didn’t know what to expect going through the last round as I’ve interviewed with more than half of the group during the first three rounds. I met with three of the MD’s separately and this round was the least intense of the three. At this point, it was more about the MD’s getting to know my background and who I am.

Conclusion

In total, my interview process lasted about 1.5 months. I received a call from HR the morning following my final round interviews and was extended an offer to join the company. After negotiating the terms of my offer, I gladly accepted the position.

While the process was long and at times, stressful, the move has been rewarding and definitely worth the time and effort.

As you can see, the interview process with real estate private equity companies is arduous. Firms are not only looking for the sharpest guys in the business, they want people who fit in with the company culture. Stay tuned for parts III and IV.

Download the ASotREG Guide to Starting a Career in Real Estate Private Equity
Click here to get the guide now!

  • Antonio, I really appreciate the kind words. Thanks for reading!

  • Absolutely, I appreciate you taking the time to read and connect.

  • Al

    Great read! I am transitioning from law to real estate PE and I have to really get excel and ARGUS down. I’ve been spending most of my free time working on excel and ARGUS training. I would love the list of top firms. My email address is alsmithesq@gmail.com

  • Sent, thanks for reading and best of luck!

  • Chloe

    Hi Joe, thank you so much for the experience and insights you were willing to share. Would you kindly send me a copy of the list as well? Chloe0807@gmail.com Appreciate it!

  • Vgid

    Could you post an example of an offering memo you would be asked to model? Trying to understand the level of complexity. Or even just a summary of the information they gave you would be very helpful. Thanks!

  • Francis Longo

    Great article. Always helpful to hear such detail on the interview process. When possible, can you please email the list to francislongo1@gmail.com. Thank you.

  • Lilly

    Hi Joe, I appreicate all the articlies you have written in your blog. They have been tremendously helpful in providing insight on the RE industry. It would be great if you can please provide information on what resources your friend used to prep for this case study interview/technical test. You can email me at kuanglilly@gmail.com . Can you please also send me a list of the REPE firms? Thanks so much!

  • Hey Chloe, sent the list. Thanks you for reading.

  • Hi Lilly,

    Thanks for the kind words. I sent along the REPE List. With regards to prepping for the technical test, I recommend REFM. You can find a link on the right-hand sidebar on this site.

  • Hi Vgid, what’s the best email to reach you?

  • Andrew

    Hi Joe,

    I have a REPE interview coming up shortly and I have found your blog to be an invaluable resource. If you wouldn’t mind, could you please send the list of the 150 firms. Also, if you could send any other resources (models, OM, etc) your friend used for the interview that would be great!

    It’s been a pleasure getting to read your blog thus far!

  • Alex

    Hi Joe,

    Thanks for taking the time to shed some light on this topic. I’m a rising senior coming off of a summer internship at a real estate PE firm and I’m looking to pursue the industry careerwise going forward. Would it be possible to have a copy of the list as well? My email is alex.kim.emory@gmail.com. Thanks again.

    Alex

  • Alex

    Hey Joe,

    Great article! Can I get a list of the top 150 firms? alexyounglee@gmail.com

    Thanks!
    Alex

  • Sure, I’ll send it over.

  • Sent, thanks for reading!

  • Hey Andrew,

    Absolutely. What’s your email?

  • privateequityaspirations

    would love the list of the top 150 funds

  • jonathan nazarian

    Great info Joe! Can I also get the list? jnaz92@yahoo.com

    Thanks!
    Jonathan

  • tan junjie

    Hey could you send me the list? Jaytanjunjie@gmail.com

  • tan junjie

    Thanks!!!

  • Phil

    Hi Joe. I’m going in for a project/case study (third round at a Real Estate PE firm). Do you have any documents you think would be helpful (e.g. case studies, offering memorandums). Also, I would love to see the 150 list as well. Many thanks! nastar94@aol.com

  • Hi Phil, best of luck with the final round interview. I’d spend most of my time learning about the firm and understanding some of the dynamics behind their strategy and recent transactions. Feel free to shoot me an email with any specific questions.

  • Guest

    Hey Joe,

    Prep

  • Trey

    Joe- This is great stuff. Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences and insights. When you get a chance can you pass along your REPE list? unger.trey@gmail.com

  • BR

    Joe- Thanks for the article (I and II). Would be interested to see the REPE list if you get a chance to send over (brianritter13@gmail.com)

  • Guillaume

    Aya Joe,

    Many thanks for your two articles, that is a great job and it is not often that we can find articles concerning PERE interview.
    You talk about thie 150 PERE firms list.
    Could you share the list on the website or send it to me please prigentguillaume@hotmail.fr ?

    Have a nice day

    Guillaume

  • Sent, thanks for reading!

  • Thanks for reading, Brian. Lists ave been sent!

  • Sent. Thanks for reading, Trey.

  • Marc

    Hi Joe,
    Thanks for sharing your experience with us. Could you share or send the firm list to me ? My Email address is : marc.ghetemme@gmail.com.

    Also , would you have , by any chance, a practice exam about the different financial modeling and valuation ?
    Have a nice day,
    Marc

  • Hi Marc, thanks for reading. I just sent you the lists. Stay in touch and let me know if there’s anything else I can do to help.

    Best,

    Joe

  • Pingback: What to Expect and How to Prepare for an Interview in Real Estate Private Equity Part I | A Student of the Real Estate Game()

  • Chris

    Hi Joe thank you for the posting. It is very helpful. I was wondering if you could also email me the REPE list as well caguwa@gmail.com? Thank you.

  • Hi Chris. Fill out the form above to access the download links. Thanks for reading and let me know if you’re having any trouble.

    Best,

    Joe

  • Ricky

    Hi Joe,

    Thank you so much for your sharing, it is really helpful. Would you mind sharing the list and practice exam about the different financial modeling and valuation to me via rickylam1020@hotmail.com, please?

    Thanks in advance!

    Best,
    Ricky

  • TM

    Hi, I was wondering if you can explain an answer to the Question: “What is the most
    complicated asset class to value and why?”

  • Hi Ricky,

    You can download the lists by entering your info above.

    Best,

    Joe

  • Hi TM,

    I don’t think there’s one blanket answer here, but a few general things to consider:

    – Land acquisitions where you need to understand construction, feasibility, highest & best use, and forecast future rents/demands etc.
    – Evolving markets that are changing rapidly where it’s tough to measure supply/demand accurately
    – Tertiary markets where recent/accurate data is hard to come by.
    – Multi-tenanted properties such as regional malls.

  • Andrew Smith

    Joe – I am late to reading your article, but your story is phenomenal. Would you mind sharing some of your Interview Case Studies? Also, would you be able to send along any financial modeling and valuation templates that you? My email is andrew.smith.t@gmail.com.

    Thank you!

  • Thanks @A@disqus_ajX3orRJXJ:disqus, I really appreciate it. I’m glad we were able to connect via email.

  • hitendra gupta

    Joe – Its a very nice article and it really helps me as I am preparing for my career talks which starts from start of October. Would you please share some of your interview case studies and also, the 150 PERE firm list and any financial modeling and valuation templates that you think would be helpful for a novice. My email is hiten1981@gmail.com

  • Ali Ikram

    Hi Joe, Your article was most helpful. I’m currently preparing for an interview. I think your financial modeling and valuation templates would be extremely helpful. Could i ask you to possibly share those, along with any Interview Case Studies you might have? Thanks in advance and Happy New Year! alikram@gmail.com

  • Gerardo Diaz

    Hi Joe,

    First, thank you for these amazing resources.

    I’d appreciate if you could also send any info regarding the level of complexity of the OM and level of modeling typical in these exams. Thanks for your help.

  • Suv Sach

    Dear Joe,

    I was wondering what level of job your friend was applying for with the interview process you documented? How many years experience did he have before applying? Also do you have any information on waterfalls?

    Great article Thanks a lot!

    My email is suvrat21suvrat21@gmail.com

    Suvrat

  • Kim Kawlan

    my friend wanted GMS Employment
    Application yesterday and learned about a website that hosts lots of
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