Unilever: about the company, working conditions, employment process and aptitude tests in 2020
Unilever PLC is one of the leading and largest manufacturers in the FMCG industry. Together with Procter&Gamble and Nestle this company forms the Top 3 FMCG businesses of the world, employing over 155,000 staff in 75 countries.
Unilever PLC has a double registration with head offices in London, UK and Rotterdam, Netherlands, since the company was initially formed by a merger of the Dutch food company Margarine Unie and the British soapmaking business Lever Brothers. Currently Unilever produces thousands of FMCG products and owns over 400 brands. The company is structured into four main industry divisions: Foods, Refreshment (beverages and ice cream), Home Care, and Beauty & Personal Care.
As of May 2020, Unilever operates 253 factories in 75 countries and supplies its products to 193 countries. Company’s large research and development facilities are located in the UK, the USA, China, India and the Netherlands.
Working in Unilever
Unilever’s career opportunities include many different roles in different departments. Every year, Unilever receives millions of applications for only a few thousand vacancies and the competition for this job is extremely difficult. Some HR agents say it is close to 500 for a workplace in marketing and management. So, you need to be prepared to do everything possible at every stage of the pre-employment process: submitting a resume and cover letter, taking the aptitude tests and doing well at interviews.
Pros and Cons of working in Unilever
Benefits of working in this company:
- interesting and promising training programs,
- paid internship from the start of work in the company;
- salary is higher than the market average;
- salary is reviewed twice per year with the possibility of constant growth;
- frequent internships in foreign divisions of the company;
- respectful and developed corporate culture;
- the possibility of stable career growth.
Unilever along with such consumer goods market leaders as BAT, Mars, Proctor & Gamble and L’Oreal is one of the brightest examples of companies that not only generously pay for work, but also offer serious work from the very beginning of employment, predictable career growth and interesting prospects for professional development.
Drawbacks of Unilever
Our study of Unilever employee reviews shows that most reviews are positive. However, you must be prepared for a few drawbacks that are common for the FMCG industry and Unilever in particular:
- long working hours, standard working day of up to 10 hours;
- low starting salary in most departments (sales, manufacturing, logistics, HR);
- sales teams are overloaded with work-life balance very bad;
- a lot of formal reports that are never read by anyone;
- love of formal slogans, that are often distant from reality
Most of the personnel of Unilever is employed in sales and distribution. So, these departments always have the largest number of vacancies. But why? Mostly because of the high staff turnover. The reason is low starting wages and high workload with working hours no less than 9 hours per day with 1 day-off per week. HR agents like to tell beautiful stories about high corporate standards, spirit of friendship and equal career opportunities for everybody in Unilever but reality is not that bright in most locations. This is true that most of Unilever top managers came from sales teams. But chances that you will be able to grow as high are about 1 to 30.
The most attractive workplaces in Unilever are in marketing and in management graduate program (Unilever Future Leaders Programme (UFLP). These are well-paid positions with interesting and important job projects, lots of professional training, international stints and fast career growth.
Employment in Unilever
Throughout the employment process, you are required to demonstrate a desire to work and those skills that will make you an ideal candidate for this company. Unilever is looking for the following skills in its candidates:
- Breadth of thinking: competitive leadership, positive, realistic attitude to the future of the company.
- Customer focus: the ability to look at Unilever brands through the eyes of consumers.
- Focus on results: the ability to find solutions, think through actions and take risks.
- Reliability and responsibility: responsibility for your role in the overall success of Unilever.
How to get a job in Unilever
There are several ways to get a job in Unilever. The most common is the standard way – application for a Unilever vacancy on the Unilever website or via a job-search engine. After the application you will need to go a long pre-employment process with online aptitude tests, assessment center and 2-3 job interviews. But there exist shorter ways to get a great job in Unilever:
- Unilever Future Leaders Programme/Unilever Leadership Internship Programme;
- student internship;
- business case championships and competitions;
- applying via LinkedIn or professional links.
If you are a student or graduate
The first 3 ways are available for students and graduates. If you are a graduate, we’d definitely recommend taking part in the Unilever Future Leaders Programme (UFLP) or Unilever Leadership Internship Programme (ULIP). These programmes are for young applicants who want to become managers in this company. They taks 2-3 years and include several rotations within different departments in Unilever (production, marketing, logistics, branding, marketing and sales). The internship is paid at the mid-level management rate in your country (starting 2,000 EUR in 2020) besides other financial and non-financial bonuses and benefits. The only drawback of the UFLP and ULIP is a very tense competition to get onboard. In some countries there up to 900 applicants per 1 vacancy in the UFLP. The onboarding process is very intense and includes online application, online aptitude tests, video interview, assessment center and 1-2 personal interviews.
Student internship is another way to secure a job in Unilever. The company has several internship opportunities for students of year 3-5. Most of them include summer holiday jobs in Unilever on junior positions in sales and marketing. You can choose from many options that are best for you. If you do well during your internship you will be a preferred candidate when you apply for a full-time position. This is a nearly 100% guarantee that you will get the job you want.
Another short way to secure a job in Unilever is winning a student business case championship. Winners of such competitions are welcome in all FMCG businesses. Unilever offers them a job offer in management or UFLP without pre-employment selection process (no need for psychometric aptitude tests and assessment). The only selection is 1 or 2 interviews with management of the company.
If you are an experienced employee
If you are an experienced employee willing to get employed in Unilever, we’d recommend a bit different approach to landing a job in this company. Spoiler: it requires your activity in social media or expos and conferences attended by Unilever management. Even in 2020 the best way to get a job is to be invited or recommended to the company by an insider. So, we recommend finding someone from Unilever either via social media or on expos or conferences.
You can do as little as just like and comment Unilever posts on Facebook and Instagram. Believe me: after a while the SMM managers from Unilever will notice you. And if you have a professional background useful for the company you will get an invitation via LinkedIn or Facebook.
Another opportunity to get noticed by HR agents in Unilever are Unilever Career Days. These are yearly conferences for anyone interested in jobs in this company. You can get a job offer by just visiting this conference and applying for a job there. Unilever HR agents are headhunting candidates with experience and will be happy to see you there.
Unilever pre-employment process
Standard Unilever pre-employment process available for anyone is shown below:
- Online job application
- Online aptitude tests
- Video interview
- Assessment center
- In-person interview
All Unilever vacancies can be found on major job-search engines and on the official Unilever website on the Career page.
The general stream of applications is divided into two sections – programs for graduates and students and employment for professionals with work experience.
Unilever has a rather long and complicated online questionnaire with a large number of question fields. Some of our clients told us that it took them several days to complete it but it really depends on how many hours you can devote. Some questions are open-ended and require you to write a long answer. Such questions can concern your experience of dealing with a problem, communicating with a difficult client or colleague, situations when you inspired a team, or needed support from a team or offered some ideas. Be ready to tell about your motivation in working in Unilever and demonstrate your willingness to work hard.
All submitted profiles are processed by a program for initial analysis and, only if the program selected your profile as suitable for the company, a HR specialist of Unilever will review it. Read about what you can do to increase your chances that your profile will successfully pass a computer analysis and attract attention in our articles in the Preparation section.
Unilever psychometric aptitude tests
After you complete the application, you will receive a link to take Unilever online aptitude test. It includes numerical reasoning and abstract reasoning tests. The assessment company for Unilever is IBM Kenexa (often simply Kenexa), one of the leaders of test development companies. Kenexa tests are similar to SHL- style aptitude tests and you can practice them on our website Aptitude-Tests-Practice.com
Aptitude tests in Unilever are rather difficult because they are strictly limited in time (15-20 numerical reasoning questions and 15-20 abstract reasoning questions, 1 minute per 1 question). Tasks vary in level of difficulty depending on the position and level of the applicant.
Unilever numerical reasoning tests
In numerical reasoning tests you will need to analyze tables or graphs like sales reports and make 4-5 calculations to find the correct answer. And although the calculations are simple and include only multiplication, division, addition and subtraction – limited time and excitement make the tests difficult.
As we wrote above, there is usually 15-20 numerical reasoning questions and you will be able to switch between questions, skip difficult ones and return to them if you have time. Below you will find an example of a Unilever numerical reasoning test used for Unilever Future Leaders Programme applicants. See more free examples of numerical reasoning tests in our special article Numerical Reasoning Tests: what they are, examples, solutions and tips to pass them
You will find the correct answer and explanation for this test at the end of the article. We recommend you first trying finding the correct answer by yourself. Remember that you have just 1 minute to do this.
Unilever abstract reasoning tests
Abstract reasoning tests are the most numerous types of aptitude tests and can represent many different variants of questions. Most popular are the following 3 types:
- odd one out
- next in series
You should be prepared for all these 3 types of abstract reasoning tests in Unilever. Please see below an example of next in series abstract reasoning test used in Unilever. More free examples of abstract reasoning tests you can find in our article
Abstract reasoning tests: all you want to know about them
The correct answer and complete explanation of this abstract reasoning test can be found at the bottom of the article. Try to solve the test by yourself first. You are given 60 seconds to find the correct answer.
The main difficulty of numerical and abstract reasoning tests in Unilever is the psychological stress and time limit, and not the lack of knowledge or the complexity of the questions. You need to be able to manage your emotional state and get to know and practice psychometric aptitude tests so that you will be calm and confident during the real test.
Remember: you will never have exactly the same questions as in practical tests in preparation, but you will gain experience: learn to quickly recognize the types of tests and quickly solve them in a limited time.
Other Unilever psychometric aptitude tests
Although most candidates will have to take only these 2 aptitude tests: numerical reasoning and abstract reasoning tests, we strongly recommend you finding in advance what types of aptitude tests will be for your position. It is very common that other types of psychometric tests are used in Unilever. This applies to verbal reasoning tests and situational judgement tests. The SJT (situational judgement tests) are very widely used to test candidates for managerial positions. So, try to find out this and get prepared in advance.
Read more about verbal reasoning and SJT in the articles below:
Unilever HR agents say that they pay special attention to candidates’ aptitude tests results. They pick the best candidates only. Usually it is the best 25-30% of all applicants that get invitation to the next stage.
Unilever video/telephone interview
After successfully passing the online tests, you will have your first conversation not with a program, but with a real representative of the Unilever HR department. The first interview is always made via telephone or Skype and it is meant to verify details of your CV and make the first impression of you. You will need to tell about yourself and your experience, your motivation to work in Unilever and at this specific role and a few technical or professional questions to assess your professional knowledge.
This interview will consist of two sections, including three hypothetical questions like “what would you do if”. Also, you may face a lot of questions about Unilever history and current situation, so get prepared for them. We recommend that you think through some ideas in advance that you might use during your conversation. If you are looking for answers to Unilever questions, it is recommended that you check the most common types of questions that are often asked at the interview.
For each idea, we recommend that you follow the STAR model: describe what the specific situation was, what problem you faced, what action you took to achieve the goal, and what was the result of your action.
Phone/Video Interview tips
Regard this first interview as your opportunity to demonstrate your motivation to work in Unilever and show the skills and experience that will make you suitable for the vacancy. This is a common mistake that many candidates make during the first phone/Skype interview: show no motivation/enthusiasm and just answer the questions asked. Make sure that you say that you really want to work in this company and this role. And do not forget to thank the interviewer at the end of the conversation.
If you are expecting a video interview, make sure that you are in a quiet place where noone will disturb you, and make sure that you are fully prepared for at least 10 minutes before the interview. Remind yourself why you would like to work at Unilever, and what are your key achievements both in personal and professional life. You need to convince the interviewer that you are the best candidate for this position and the company, and you need to prove that you will be a decisive and positive employee throughout the time with the company.
Unilever accessment center
Assessment center is a series of pre-employment group exercises where you will meet the company HR representatives and managers together with other candidates. The exercises may include team discussions, business case studies and presentations and group interviews with representatives of the HR department of Unilever.
Different departments may have different rules and options for assessment centers. Usually no more than 7-8 applicants take part in a session. In marketing and sales business case studies are a must. These are specific business tasks from the field of sales, marketing, production, etc. Unilever representatives evaluate how well the participants work through case studies, how efficiently they can work in a team and what they emphasize when working.
The best applicants will get invitations for the final stage – an interview with one of the Unilever vice presidents and other company managers. Usually this stage follows the assessment center on the same day, so this may be a long day.
When selecting applicants, Unilever managers pay attention to the focus on work and results, and especially on leadership skills. During the interview they suggest you finding answers to various situations that may occur in your position. Be ready to tell about interesting situations from their previous experience. For Unilever representatives, it is important that the examples are not only from working life, but also personal or academic. At this point you should show yourself as a diversified personality.
Read more about successful job interview in our articles:
To prepare for these particular questions in Unilever, we recommend that you take situational judgement tests on Aptitude-Tests-Practice.com. They assess your communication skills, values and priorities, attitude to work and focus on results. We recommend that you pass as many SJT tests as possible on our website in advance in order to confidently and successfully pass real testing.
You can see free examples of SJT tests and work out their solution on our website on pages that follow:
Remember, it is better to spend a 4-5 days preparing BEFORE your aptitude tests and job interview than to regret a missed chance for a long time later!
The correct answers and explanation of the example tests
Numerical reasoning test
Abstract reasoning test