Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Unilever Assessment Centre (Summer Internship)

Here’s a quick summary of what I experienced at the Unilever Assessment Centre for a summer internship in Research and Development:

Optional Lunch

If you are given the chance to sign up for the optional lunch, do it! You’ll get there early, have a chance to settle in, and you’ll be looked after by someone on the graduate scheme. You may even get to meet other applicants, and I found that to be one of the key factors as to why I was much less scared – I was really lucky and got on really well with the other applicants on the day, which made such a huge difference to my attitude. I contrast this to the time at my ASDA assessment centre where I turned up ten minutes later and had no rapport with any of the other applicants. Horrible day.

Case Study and Presentation

You are set a business related scenario, and get given a big handout full of data which you need to analyse in forty five minutes. I was asked to make three decisions based upon how a newly acquired company should be run and to give an eight minute long presentation, which would be followed by twelve minutes of questions and answers. Criticism I received from this was that I focused too much upon the opinions of customers and not enough upon the facts and figures.

Competency Interview

Standard forty five minute long joint with one other assessor. You are asked why Unilever, and then five competencies that are assessed via the STAR method. Make sure all of your answers conform to this: Situation, Task, Action, Result! Went in having done next to no research on Unilever, other than knowing the names of a few of the products, and the fact that they’d recently been involved in a price-fixing cartel so that ruled out ‘reputation’ as a possible answer I could give. Advice: research your chosen business function, and get in key words like ‘consumer need’ and ‘product development’. Luckily for me my interviewer was really nice (or that they were really desperate for interns), for I had to be spoon-fed all of this during my interview… >__<

Group Exercise

Standard forty five minute long exercise. If you’ve done one of these then you’ve done them all. We were given a set amount of time to read through some information before being assessed for twenty minutes on how we solved a problem together. This was the one that I enjoyed the most because I’d already gotten to know the other applicants really well, so it just felt like more banter, and as I was so relaxed, it was easy to forget the presence of the assessors in the room. Feedback from this was that apparently I led (I led?!) the discussion, keeping everything on focus and that I made some very good points. Hunh…

My Advice:
1. Make sure you know the key competencies that Unilever are looking for
2. Turn up early!!!
3. Try to get to know the other applicants beforehand - this will make you feel more relaxed if you can establish rapport with them
4. Drink lots of water throughout the day
5. If they offer you free Ben and Jerry’s, take it!
6. Take your time with your answers.
Finally, good luck!!


  1. can you let me know what are the key competencies unilever is looking for? I am having AC next month though.. any additional tips?

  2. Hey there!

    Unilever's competencies are:

    Growth mindset
    Consumer and Customer Focus
    Bias for action
    Accountability and Responsibility
    Building Talent and Teams

    Descriptions of each competency can be found here. I also found Wikijobs very helpful.

    The most beneficial aspect I found, compared to when I did another AC was to turn up really early and getting comfortable with the environment and the other candidates. They told me that we weren't competing against each other, that each individual is judged on their own merit, and as you will have to work together anyway for one of the exercises, establishing rapport early on means that in the exercise, your discussion will feel more natural and flow better.

    Also, I discovered that the interviewers were on my side - mine really wanted to see us do well, and tried to help us out as much as possible as they had recently been through this process themselves.

    Hope this helps, and best of luck! :)