Interviewing for VC Associates at Saison Capital

Chia Jeng Yang
Dec 29, 2019 · 4 min read

As Saison Capital started looking for Associates to join the team, we started writing some notes internally about the type of prospective candidates we were looking to hire, as well as the types of conversations we were looking to have, and decided to open up the process to let people get a glimpse into the black box of the VC interviewing process.

There are 5 main things we expect an Associate with Saison Capital to be involved in:

  • Deal sourcing
  • Deal Analysis
  • Thesis Generation
  • Internal VC Operations
  • People management (Interns)

These are some of the common questions we tend to ask during an interview

Deal sourcing

  • If you had 1m dollars, which company would you invest into in (geography that candidate may not be familiar in)?
  • Talk to me about structure and process

Deal Analysis

  • Which Saison Capital portfolio company would you not have invested in?
  • Talk to me about numbers
  • Talk to me about assumptions
  • Talk to me about macro-trends
  • Talk to me about distribution channels

Thesis Generation

  • What do you believe in that very few people do, and why?
  • Discussion about a specific vertical suggested by the candidate, and what opportunities lie in this space
  • How would you disrupt (insert unicorn name most familiar to candidate)?

Internal VC Operations

  • Which metric did you track that was most important in (previous project accomplished)
  • What is the most surprising thing you’ve learnt during (previous project accomplished)
  • How would you structure solving X, Y, Z operational problems?

Personality

  • Why Venture, Why SEA + India, and what are you looking to get out of it?
  • Why not pursue other activities?
  • Tell me about the biggest challenges that come when you work with others?
  • What is your biggest weakness?

General tips

  • Understand their investment geography and scope

Who Saison Capital is looking for

  • Someone who can form an opinion, defend it, understand the assumptions/conditions whereby they should stand by their argument, and when they should not
  • Someone who can quickly build rapport with potential founders and works well in a team
  • Hungry, self-starter, independent, intelligent, opinionated, hardworking, etc [Include standard buzzwords]
  • Insanely curious, reads and asks a lot of questions, and looking for something to prove
  • Hungry to always improve and automate processes

What we offer

  • An environment focused on training — we want our Associates to be smarter and better than us
  • Unusual exposure to the entire field of the deal responsibilities
  • Working closely with the small Saison Capital team, while tapping the expertise of a larger Credit Saison corporate entity across multiple geographies across Asia
  • Culture + Banter — enjoying spending time with the people that you work with daily is important.

Benchmarking

Common reasons to not progress candidates

  • Was not competitive in their ability to analyze trends and companies in a quantitative way (as opposed to purely qualitative)
  • Was not competitive in their understanding of the focus of the fund
  • Was not competitive in their ability to synthesize criticism of an argument and to amend or to clarify a particular viewpoint

General resources for anyone interviewing

Saison Capital

Backing Ambitious Founders

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