So… I had my assessment day about a week ago which did not go very well and unfortunately I did not get an offer, but I hope the following information is helpful for those of you who have the AC coming up.
Basically, the day runs from 8am to 5:30pm and you are assessed on 5 different tasks.
The night before the event, Unilever put you up in a hotel about 30mins away from the Leatherhead office where you will have a dinner with the other candidates and a current graduate on the Unilever scheme.
This dinner is good for building up a good relationship with the other candidates so that you don’t feel uncomfortable in the group exercises the next day. Luckily the guys who I had the AC with were all pretty cool. Also this is a good chance to find out more information about the company but to be honest the graduate who was hosting our dinner just took the opportunity to get tipsy on free drinks lol.
Before you do anything, make sure you have the Unilever ‘Standards of Leadership’ memorised and use them to tackle every task in the day as it is their marking criteria for you on the day. They want you to reflect leadership in the way they see it, so keep this in mind.
1st TASK: CASE STUDY (written exercise)
This task is probably the easiest to mess up and even though it seemed pretty pointless to me, it’s all about using your time efficiently and making sure you answer all the questions properly. You have about 60 mins to look through a load of information like emails and statements from managers etc. and then use this information to analytically tackle the questions. The key to making sure you do well here is to be really ANALYTICAL and not be too superficial with the answers you give (which can easily happen, due to being under tight time constrictions). There’s not much else I can say to help you with this task except for don’t underestimate it just because it’s written because they will reject you on the smallest stuff, this grad scheme is really competitive.
2nd TASK: INTERVIEW
The interview will be with a senior member of staff. The structure of the interview will be pretty similar to the telephone interview but they will expect you to have a lot more knowledge about the company and the FMCG industry, so make sure you do your revision. Other than that it’s all competency based and about your previous experiences with leadership. You can use answers from your application and telephone interview, but they might pick up on this so try and come up with a few new answers. Try and structure your answers using the Situation, Task, Action, Result (STAR) technique. For information on the FMCG market use this website http://www.about-fmcg.com/home.
3rd TASK: GROUP EXERCISE 1
You’ll have about 30 mins to read the information given to you (probably about the launch of a new hair product) and makes notes to bring in with you to the meeting. All of this preparation will be done individually so you will not confer with the other candidates before you meet in the board room for the group exercise. The key here is to try and lead (which everyone will be trying to do) but you have to push to get your voice heard and your points put forward but at the same time be understanding of everyone else’s views and take them on board. Remember this whole scheme is about leadership so you have to come across with confidence (but don’t be a controlling dick type, they won’t like it).
4th TASK: PRESENTATION
You will have about 45 mins to look over information and make notes on what the presentation will be about. The case study, group exercises and presentation all link and are going to be based on the same thing. After this preparation, you will meet one on one with a senior staff member and present your ideas to him/her for about 10 mins. Then they will grill you with questions for another 10 mins so make sure you know what you are talking about and try answer with confidence. Key here is similar to the case study, just be analytical and try to get into as much detail as you can.
5th TASK: GROUP EXERCISE 2
This group exercise is easier than the first. Similar to the first one you’ll have around 30 mins to prepare and make notes individually, however you will each be given an issue which you need to bring forward. The point of this exercise is to try and push for your issue to be given the most importance, so you need to stress how the particular issue will affect the company and why it needs to be resolved as soon as possible. Like the first group exercise, you have to come across confident and show your natural leadership and when analysing the issues, keep the ‘standards of leadership’ in mind.
The day is quite intense but at the same time the hosts of the day do a good job of keeping you relaxed. You get a tour of the office, which is probably the nicest office I’ve ever seen in my life, definitely one of the biggest incentives to work for the company imo.
Only thing else I can say, is even if you feel like you f**ked up any of the tasks just make the most of the day because it’s really good experience and will be helpful even if you get rejected.
Anyway, hope this helped