The Secret behind the hiring process in the FMCG industry

The Q&A during the webinar

By MatcHub

The journey to getting hired at a FMCG firm is a competitive and arduous one. With multiple rounds of interviews and tests, it makes it difficult for one to pass all the stages. It makes one wonder what is the secret behind finding the ideal candidate for the FMCG firms.  On the 8th of July, we had the privilege of having Shayne Ng from L’OREAL and Syahirah Osman from Unilever to share some of the insights on the logic behind the competitive FMCG hiring process. Out of the meaningful interactions we had, we would like to spill some tea regarding the hiring process in the FMCG industry. 


  1. How can we best prepare for assessment centres?

It is imperative to go in with the right mindset. The purpose of the assessment centre is to test your response on the spot. Each interview is a learning process – you might not get through but eventually, make sure you learn from it.

For Loreal, there are 2 components: 

  • Technical: For example, in the finance track, you will be put under a case study (based on real situations) to see your thought processes. Therefore it is best read up on the company and its stance. Loreal is not simply about accounting and finance, it values commercialisation too. It would be good to think about potential questions for these. 
  • Soft skills: You don’t need to fake it to make it, simply be authentic and take everything as a learning opportunity. When prompted, respond in the best way you can. Collaboration is also an essential skill needed in the workplace.  

(Answered by Shayne from L’OREAL) 


2. What type of results are the gamified assessments supposed to look for? Whenever I get instantly rejected, I’m always confused as to why. 

Whenever you do gamified assessments, these platforms give you a report of certain parts of your traits eg. someone really attentive or logical. Typically, when you get rejected for one particular company, it doesn’t mean you will be rejected for another company. A lot feel intimidated and fearful of taking the assessment for the second time. Unilever looks for a profile with certain traits. This is part of the selection process so you don’t need to be disappointed if you don’t get through because there are tons of interns who passed other organizations’ assessments. So you should continue doing these gamified assessments and don’t give up.

(Answered by Sya from Unilever) 

3. How do I set myself apart from others who want the same job?

I think we recognise that it is very competitive within the industry itself. There are only so many Management Associate/Management Trainee/Intern roles that we are taking in. For a start, I would suggest reviewing your resume. I definitely believe each candidate has something unique within them. They just have to display this unique side of them from the beginning in their resume. It could be the design of your resume (e.g including something interesting about yourself). You need to let your resume talk. When you’re shortlisted and have a conversation with the HR recruiters during interviews, I would say that one key thing that HR recruiters will always remember is the passion of the candidate and this is something that you cannot fake. This is something authentic and it comes through even during a phone interview. I have met very passionate candidates who really wants the job.  From the CV to the phone interview and subsequently to the video interview, that passion has to come through. 

(Answered by Shayne from L’OREAL) 


4. Are there any tips to ace video interviews?

I agree with Shayne’s point about authentic self. In Unilever, we believe in bringing the best out of you and bringing your best self to work. We actually live that out. If you speak to ex-interns, they know that you bring who you are as a person to work. And if you do not bring who you are into the resume/video interview or your face-to-face interview when you walk into the room with your hiring manager, it will be very difficult for us to decide whether to hire you because authentic self is something that we really look out for. Authenticity is something that definitely sets you apart from those who want the same job. The energy, the passion, I can actually feel it over the phone. Even during the video interview, I can actually sense it. As Shayne mentioned, let your resume do the talking. I’ve met many students who were from a very different background previously, like Shayne. There are so many students who were from a finance background and they wanted to jump into marketing right away. So how will they let their resume do the talk? It’s so interesting when you see their resume, there is so many things that talk about their passion about marketing and not specifically about finance. Some of them even created a website to market themselves. That’s amazing, that is really smart. They created introduction videos about themselves which sets themselves apart. Those are some of the things that we’ve seen. Regardless of whatever you want to do, be sure to display your authentic self. 

(Answered by Sya from Unilever) 


5. How do you look for the traits that you mentioned (eg Bounce Back) during the interviews?

We identify these traits through our interactions and conversations, that’s something that we cannot see from a CV. I love speaking with the candidates and looking out for such traits. One way of looking out for such traits will be providing specific examples. I can be specific in the questions that I ask. If I want to find out more about how you actually bounce back, I will ask you to share with me a time when you faced a setback and your attitude towards those setbacks. We do ask for honesty and authenticity, you do not have to come up with random stories. It could be from your own experience. I recently spoke with a candidate where she shared about how she was a little shy but yet at the same time, she really wanted the job so she stepped out of her comfort zone to complete a video interview with us. It may seem like nothing for those who are more extroverted but I thought that was a lot of courage that was exemplified from her. I told her upfront that I really liked your attitude. But of course, as human beings, it is not possible for us to 100% quantify and assess the amount of courage and agility someone has despite all these examples that were being stated. We are not asking for perfection but we are asking for someone who is open-minded. We look out for candidates who has shown potential in the traits that we look out for. You may not be 100% perfect but we are willing to take a bet on you. I am here in L’Oreal because my hiring manager took a bet on me. 

(Answered by Shayne from L’OREAL) 


6. What do you look out for in a cover letter? What makes cover letters engaging and different? (not too standard, boring etc)

Cover Letters are not always required. Typically when there are video interviews, companies allow you to introduce yourself and speak about your passion and who you are as a person. Loreal and Unilever would screen through every video they recieve.The content of cover letters tends to be shared in a video interview. Information about yourself, your passion and reasons for opting for Unilever/L’OREAL  amongst other organisations – all these are covered in your video interview so the hiring managers usually rely more heavily on the video interviews. There would be a tendency to go through cover letters when there is no video interview for campus programmes. Even for mid career recruits, video interviews are relied on more although cover letters are sometimes still read. 

If they look at cover letters, they look out for your authentic self. It is the one key defining factor. For cover letters, you should be concise and write in 3 main points so recruiters can have a quick grasp on who you are. It is not an essential but a good-to-have. When you make the extra effort to write a cover letter, it helps to show how much you want the role. Simultaneously, when you put your passion into words, it gives an assessment of how much you want the role.


7. Is it true it takes 3s for recruiters to decide to shortlist a candidate?

During the shortlisting process, there are a lot of things to consider. They have an in-built selection process so it takes way longer than 3 seconds or minutes. Unilever looks out for your inner game and outer game from the resume and also the video interview. Unilever has mentioned some tips and tricks on how to ace their interviews on their instagram. In Loreal, they will get candidates to upload a one minute self introduction video. They watch every video. Do upload it in a MP4 file or include it as a link. It makes life easier for hiring managers as well.

Make sure to be yourself because that is what companies are really looking out for. There’s no secret but to practice. You need multiple takes to come up with the best video, but keep practicing and you will get there.


8. What experience do you look out for as a FMCG firm?

  • Specifically for Unilever, they are big on purpose and purpose is the essence of what they do. They value you having a purpose not just for work but also in personal life and make sure that you craft it out in their purpose-workshops. For a full-time employee, they have to go through a purpose-workshop at least once in their first few months in Unilever. Purpose is important to stay on track when things get tough. So at Unilever, they look out for your purpose specifically. 
  • Following that, they will zoom into your CCAs, hobbies – an essence of what you stand for and your principles. They don’t really look out for experience in an FMCG firm. They do take in students from diverse backgrounds. However, they still value an individual having a purpose. Do think about your purpose because it will be helpful in life in general.
  • Some students may have experience in their few internships in university or for undergraduates, experience comes in the part time job before entering university. So experience is very broad but it typically just shows what you have gone through. For Loreal, they do take in people from different backgrounds so you don’t exactly have to have a FMCG background to come on board. Loreal looks for agility and how fast you are in adapting. They look for a good attitude and mindset, how entrepreneurial you are (how much of a starter you are) and if you are willing and able to be hands on to build an organisation together. 

That’s all we have for the webinar that was held on 8th July! If you would like to know how you can better improve your compatibility with FMCG firms, head over to our  Instagram, Facebook and Linkedin for updates on our next free webinars! We hope to see you at our next webinar where we spill even more tea behind the hiring processes in the tech industry. 

Read Part 1 here.

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