My First Job Seeking Experience: Unilever, Pt. 2

As promised, here is the second part of the story of my first job seeking experience. In the last post, I have told you that I applied for Unilever Future Leaders Program (UFLP). Although I didn’t get the job, I have made it through the end of the selection process and I feel obliged to share it with you since I couldn’t find a lot of information regarding this program online.

In the first part, I have shared about the online application and online aptitude tests. After the tests, I needed to go through two more steps: interview and assessment centre. And today, I will try to share about both steps.

Interview

After the aptitude tests, I didn’t get any notification about interview for a couple of weeks. But suddenly, I received an email with an instruction to fill out a lifeline forms. In this form, I was asked about important events in my life, what was happening, when did it happened and also what was the importance of them in my life. Quite easy, but I don’t know why they asked for it, because what I wrote was never brought up in the interviews.

A couple weeks after I filled the lifeline form, I got a call from one of the recruiter saying that I passed all the tests and got to be interviewed. I remember that it was on Wednesday and they asked to interview me on Thursday because they don’t have much time anymore. I said that I was supposed to be in a meeting on Thursday but then because they don’t have much time left, I said I would be available at lunch time.

So, at the lunch time the next day, I sneaked out of the meeting and find a quiet place in my university to do the interview. I was very fortunate because I have met my interviewer before, so I wasn’t very nervous back then. She asked me some things regarding the functional area that I have chosen (Supply Chain) like what was my experience with the subject, why did I applied to the functional area, what did I know about them, what specific department I wanted to be placed in, and some things like that.

My tips for this step: once again, please be honest in any kind of interviews. It will not only help the recruiter to find the right person for the position, but it will also help you later on. Because if you lied at an interview, you will get some troubles later on (your lied brought up in a conversation or future tests, you wouldn’t get the suitable position, etc.). Also, this is the chance to sell yourself to the recruiter because you get to tell them about your relevant experience and why you are the one they would like to hire.

Assessment Centre

After the interview, I didn’t get any further notification, just like the steps before. I waited until a couple of weeks and still didn’t get any updates. At this point, I lowered my hope because I thought I won’t get to the next step. But, a couple of weeks more and I get an email that I was invited to the assessment centre, the last step of the selection process. I was excited!

The assessment day was a week apart from the time I received my email and it was held in Cikarang. The problem was that the assessment centre started at 7 a.m. and ended at 5 p.m. I wondered when the hell should I go from Bandung.

Fast forward to the assessment day, I rented a car and a driver to take me to the assessment centre. And since I knew that it would take 3 hours or so to get to Cikarang from Bandung, I departed from Bandung at 4 a.m. I arrived early at 6.15 so I just continue to sleep in the car until 6.45.

I went to the lobby of the plant and then asked to wait inside a visitor room. There, I met with the other 11 prospective employee, my competitors, and saw some of the brightest students. At this point, I was already pretty intimidated and nervous, but I kept calm and just tried to know them better.

Right at 7 a.m., the security person called us to give us some brief information about the plant and a brief safety induction. Then, we go upstairs to the office to meet the recruiters. We get to know each other and then they gave us a brief information about the assessment. After that, we got a breakfast and waited for the first assessment.

Case Studies and Presentation

In this part of the test, we were asked to study about a couple of business cases, one general business case and one function-specific case. Because I applied for supply chain function, I was given a case specific to the supply chain area. I couldn’t remember what cases they were. If I’m not mistaken, the cases were related to the optimisation of a fictional company’s production and sales.

I was overwhelmed with the cases at first, there were a lot of reading materials about the cases. I was presented related emails, news, financial documents, and many more. However, not all of those documents were very helpful, so information extraction was a crucial ability here.

The time given was very short too. We were given only 90 minutes to read through all the documents and make a presentation for both cases. And my time management wasn’t good enough that I spent only the last 15 minutes to make both presentations. The results were predictable, I couldn’t put enough information to the presentations.

The worst part is, I couldn’t remember every single thing I wanted to present. Well, I thought I messed up the presentation. I couldn’t answer a lot of questions the assessor asked me.

My tips for this step: learn to skim through the documents and identify which information are essentials. A lot of the documents were related but not very helpful to solve the cases. So, don’t spend too much time to read all the documents thoroughly, you also need a lot of time to make the presentation. Also, just relax and don’t be nervous when you get to present to the assessors. Nervousness won’t help you!

Focused Group Discussion

After the intense case studies, we were going to have a focused group discussion. First, we were asked to study another case (again!) and make some notes of it for 30 minutes. Then, we had to do a group discussion to solve the case. Again, I couldn’t remember what case was it, but if I recall correctly it was about an acquisition the fictional company was going to make.

I’ve never had this kind of assessment before, so yeah, I was pretty nervous. Turns out, the discussion wasn’t very bad. The other students were also very good, I’m very impressed with them!

The discussion lasted about 30 minutes. But my group discussed too much about the details of the case, so we couldn’t make an action plan (which is required), although we kind of solved the case. So yeah, another bad performance for me, I thought.

My tips for this step: when presented with a business case, look first to the broader view of the case before you go into the detail. Sometimes, people tend to overlook certain information when they look straight into the detail. Also, when you’re in a discussion, just be active so that the assessors could assess your idea and your way of thinking. But, don’t be too dominating, because your cooperation with other will also be assessed.

Competency-based Interview

After the group discussion and the presentation, we were given a lunch break, while the assessors are discussing about our performance. Because I kind of messed up in both assessment, I thought I wouldn’t make it to the interview.

After the lunch break, the assessor announced who get to be interviewed. And surprisingly, out of 5 students who made it to the next step, I was one of them! I didn’t expect it to happen, but I was very grateful I was given another chance.

Right after the announcement, I was called to the interview room. Well, I was pretty nervous and I got sweaty a lot. There were 2 interviewers and both were very friendly at first.

Just like a normal interview, I was asked to describe about myself. Well, I described what was on my resume. Then, the real test began.

I was asked to design some kind of quality control system. And because I was a mechatronics student, I was asked to design both the mechanical system and the electrical system. It was quite easy I thought, until my thought blacked out because of my nervousness.

I don’t know, the questions were about the basic stuffs that I learned during the second and third year of college. But, I just couldn’t answer it.

My tips for this step: don’t be nervous like I was. Before you go into interview like this, prepare both your body and your mind. Also, please don’t forget everything you’ve learned in college. Sometimes the questions are about the basics, but the problem is a lot of people forget about the basics itself.

Long story short, I didn’t pass the interview. Actually, I was only one step away. After the competency-based interview, the ones who passed it got to be interviewed by the Regional Manager about their leadership qualities. Since I couldn’t make it there, I couldn’t give anything about the last interview.

Well, though I didn’t get the job, I was very grateful because I get to experience those assessments. The people I met there told me that Unilever’s assessments were the hardest among the other company’s assessments.

What surprised me, though, when I got the feedback regarding my performance that day the assessor told me that I was pretty brilliant at the case study and the focused group discussion, not like what I thought. She said that they liked how I look things in the broad view but didn’t miss the details too. She also said that the strategic thinking and the analytical thinking abilities of mine was pretty good too. Too bad I couldn’t answer the questions in the interview.

So, yeah, maybe I just wasn’t meant to work there. I’ll just look forward to finish my final year project and look for another job then!

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