Interviews and assessment centres

Tackling Unilever's discovery centre day

18 Oct 2023, 16:05

Succeed during the virtual discovery centre day for Unilever’s future leaders programme and you’ll be on your way to securing a role with the employer.

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Jump to: Preparation for the Unilever discovery centre | Tips on professional behaviour | More advice for virtual assessment centres

Unilever’s virtual discovery centre day is the final stage of its recruitment process. This is basically Unilever’s assessment centre but it’s different to a standard assessment centre format. You won’t be asked to give a presentation and there won’t be a formal interview.

Instead, the day will focus on a number of activities designed to immerse you in a typical day on the future leaders programme at Unilever. These exercises include:

  • a business challenge
  • project and team meetings
  • a one-to-one session with your ‘line manager’.


We’ve got extra Unilever-specific advice to help you with your application.

Preparing for Unilever’s virtual discovery centre day: read up on Unilever

Aside from the small amount of information available on the future leaders programme webpage, Unilever has kept its lips sealed regarding the virtual discovery centre day. However, in preparation, read about Unilever and think about what the organisation stands for. Your research will help you think of some questions you could ask to show off your commercial awareness and your interest in Unilever.

If you’ve read our tips on preparing for Unilever’s digital interview , then you might have already read up on Unilever’s purpose, values and principles . If you have, refresh your memory on what you found out. If you haven’t, you can find out everything you need to know on the ‘our company’ and ‘planet and society’ sections of Unilever’s website. Pay particular attention to the sub-sections ‘our approach’, ‘strategy’ and ‘equity, diversity and inclusion’.

This knowledge will help you in all of the exercises you’ll face on the day. When talking about the current business challenge, for example, you can then think of ways to tackle the challenge that go hand in hand with Unilever’s strategy and principles.

You should also make sure you know what Unilever does . This will help you anticipate what topics might come up on the day and demonstrate your commercial awareness. Think about:

  • the markets it operates in eg food and drink, personal care, home care
  • the brands it works on eg Ben & Jerry's, Dove and Comfort
  • the Unilever Climate Transition Action plan and its targets eg its approach to reducing the environmental impact of products and becoming a net zero organisation
  • its competitors eg Procter and Gamble, Nestlé and Johnson & Johnson
  • any prominent issues it's facing at the moment
  • consumer trends eg the increase in ‘free from’ and vegan products available in supermarkets.

Tips on professional behaviour

Unilever has used this format of assessment centre for a reason. The recruiters want to see how you might perform on the job if they offer you a position and how you behave in a professional environment. The emphasis on meetings suggests that they are interested in how you work with others and how you can contribute to a group in order to identify solutions to problems or to progress matters.

  1. Dress for the office
  2. Draw on experiences from previous work environments
  3. Be proactive in meetings
  4. Be attentive and build rapport
  5. Respond positively to constructive criticism
  6. Keep timings in mind
  7. Behave in line with Unilever’s values
  8. Be curious and ask questions to find out more
  9. Some final pointers

Tip 1: dress for the office

Treat Unilever’s virtual discovery centre like you would a face-to-face interview. Even though you may just be joining a video call, it’s probably best to go for office dress. Make sure, however, you’re comfortable in what you wear. If you’re still not sure, head to our article on dressing to impress at graduate interviews .

Tip 2: draw on your experience of any work environments to guide you

Whether from a summer job as a lifeguard or volunteering once a week as a teaching assistant, drawing on previous experience of a work setting will be beneficial. It might help to think of colleagues who you admired. What skills and qualities did they have that stood out to you as impressive?

Tip 3: be proactive in meetings

Be sure to make notes, but be careful that you're not just scribbling away all the time. You want to show you’re paying attention: look at the camera so it looks like you're making 'eye contact'. You could even volunteer to take notes. And be sure to speak up. A good way to do this is to follow on from somebody’s idea with ‘That’s a good idea Tom. We could advance that by…’. You could also speak up to summarise what has been decided so far.

Tip 4: show you are listening to your colleagues and build rapport

A good way to do this is to acknowledge somebody’s point by nodding or asking a question. Be wary of talking over someone else in a virtual meeting, listening to what they are saying and finding a natural place to make your point will help show that you're a good team player.

Tip 5: respond to constructive criticism positively

If you are given constructive feedback in your line management meeting or if someone dismisses your point in one of the meetings, ensure you don’t come across as angry or defensive. Instead, show that you are considering their points and accept them if they have merit; if they don’t, make your point unemotionally.

Tip 6: keep aware of timings

Set out enough time to spend on each task you are given and keep a meeting on schedule. Remember that it is better to turn up to the day thirty minutes early than three minutes late.

Tip 7: act in accordance with Unilever’s values of integrity, respect, responsibility and pioneering

Interrupting somebody or completely dismissing their opinion, for instance, doesn’t align with this standard. In Unilever’s ‘Code of business principles and code policies’ document, Unilever’s CEO states their values 'not only protect Unilever, and each and every one of us, but will help us to have a meaningful impact on the lives of millions of people across our value chain’; this is a reminder that you will be working within a commercial environment and that you need to keep the quality of products, the cost of products and the needs of the customer in mind.

Tip 8: show your interest and find out what you need to by asking questions

Unilever stresses that this virtual centre is as much for you to find out what it is like to work for the company as it is about the recruiters choosing you. You'll likely have a chance to speak with current employees and graduates and you should prepare questions in advance. Think about what you really want to know, but keep a few ‘in your back pocket’ in case these are answered. Good questions that can help you find out about working life at Unilever include: ‘What do you find most enjoyable about your job?’, ‘What has been the most challenging aspect of working in your role (or, if talking to a graduate, transitioning from university to the workplace)?’, ‘How did you come to work at Unilever?’ and ‘What would I be expected to achieve in my first six months?’.

You can read our article on the sorts of questions you should ask during graduate job interviews for more help on coming up with questions to ask at Unilever's virtual discovery centre day.

More virtual assessment centre advice from targetjobs...

targetjobs editorial advice

This describes editorially independent and impartial content, which has been written and edited by the targetjobs content team. Any external contributors featuring in the article are in line with our non-advertorial policy, by which we mean that we do not promote one organisation over another.

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