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Associate CMI Manager Interview
The process took 2 days – interviewed at Unilever (Englewood, NJ) in September 2008.
Unilever has been my personal "Groundhog Day" for the past several years. I'd worked outside of the CPG industry for several years in various industries, mostly in analytical roles (sales/marketing analysis). My original attempts at working there didn't work out, as Unilever basically has their choice of employees to draw from, particularly stealing talent from the CPG companies based in NYC and Parsippany. Unilever can afford to be pretty choosy, and they are.
On each occasion, I've been either contacted by Unilever directly, or through a recruiter, to set up a phone interview with the Unilever in-house recruiter, usually within 1-2 days of initial contact (or right then and there- on those occasions I'd been contacted by Unilever directly). This leaves little time to research, but info on Unilever is pretty easy to come by.
The Phone Screen is just that. Usually, you'll already have the job description in hand and have to be able to demonstrate how you fit EACH AND EVERY requirement. Given the somewhat technical nature of Consumer Insights- the recruiter simply was looking for you to echo back the job requirements. For the most part, the recruiters have been familiar with the terminology and requirements, but often not the full understanding of the meaning behind the terminology. They always ask the typicals: "Where in 5 yrs?", "Your Strengths/Weaknesses?", "Why Unilever", "Why you?", but they didn't press too hard.
I'm a pretty good interview, so I've always progressed to the in-person interviews.
In person, usually a meet with the Hiring Manager first. Probing questions about your suitability "Have you worked on this type of project?", "Give an example of an accomplishment you're proud of in business", "How to deal with conflicting priorities?". Always asking about technical skills "Nielsen" "Excel". Usually 1/2 hour to hour long. Repeat of the recruiter questions. Generally very friendly, but specific. I gather that everyone there is quite busy and is looking for someone who can step right in and contribute with little supervision or training (some even said as much).
Following the Hiring manager, usually a peer of the hiring manager (Unilever has multiple teams for multiple product lines, so they usually like to have a peer cross examine you as well). Similar questioning.
Lastly, they usually do a "Cross Functional" interview- in other words, usually an interview with a manager from a "internal customer" for the hiring manager (in other words, the department that relies on your output, (usually the brand team or sales support group). Same generic questions (always focusing on whether you can "plug the hole" with little training).
Feedback is generally within a few days. Has always been a negative outcome for me (most of the time, it was because the job was a "stretch" for me). Also, on two (of the six) occasions, they filled the job from within- they're not very up front about internal candidates.
Bottom line: Unless it's a relatively entry-level job, Unilever has the option to hold out until they locate someone with the EXACT skillset needed to fill the job- especially in this job market. When they are willing to make a stretch's usually its "the devil you know" (internal candidates) who will get the nod.
Or maybe it's me...
Anyway, it's not going to stop me from trying.......I just got another call from them for yet ANOTHER job to interview for!