L'Oréal's interview questions answered

Keep in mind that L’Oréal’s mission is based around beauty and the belief that ‘everyone aspires to beauty’.

Before you arrive for your interview with L’Oréal, you’ll need to have done this essential preparation:

  • Reviewed L’Oréal’s competencies
  • Reviewed the interview process at L’Oréal
  • Read about L’Oréal’s assessment centres

What to expect from a L’Oréal interview

Candidates could potentially have up to four face to face interviews in the L’Oréal graduate recruitment process, though the first interview is likely to be conducted by phone or webcam. As well as a competency interview at the assessment centre at L’Oréal’s head office in Hammersmith, London, graduates will typically have two final-round interviews with senior members of staff.

Tip: In terms of dressing for the interview, remember that L’Oréal’s core focus as a company is on beauty – so scruffy, ill-fitting clothes are unlikely to present the right image. But it’s also important not to come across as too formal or stuffy; L’Oréal prides itself on being a young and vibrant company, so your clothing choices should reflect this to some degree.

Here are some previous L’Oréal interview questions, and how you might approach something like them.

L’Oréal question: What are your favourite L’Oréal products?

Approach to take: L’Oréal has 27 different brands worldwide and reportedly sells four products every second in the UK alone. Graduates on all four trainee schemes will work to promote the success of one or more of these brands and products, so a sound knowledge of and passion for L’Oréal’s portfolio is vital. It’s worth doing some research ahead of the interview for this question; visit different retailers to get an idea of the range and positioning of L’Oréal’s brands and, if you don’t already use them, be sure to try out at least a few of the products. Think about how your chosen products compare with rival brands, how they could be improved and what you like about them. This is a good opportunity to demonstrate your analytical skills and commercial acumen, which is useful for all of the graduate programmes (but particularly finance, commercial and supply chain).

L’Oréal question: What is beauty, in your view?

Approach to take: Given that ‘an aptitude for beauty’ is one of L’Oréal’s core competencies, you should at least have considered this before your interview. You may be a practically-minded person, and more concerned with the financial or distributive aspects of L’Oréal’s business, but it’s important to keep in mind that its mission is based around beauty and the belief that ‘everyone aspires to beauty’. Obviously this is a personal subject, so different interpretations may vary, but it’s worth reviewing L’Oréal’s mission statement to get an idea of how and why the company itself views beauty when forming your own answer.

L’Oréal question: What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses?

Approach to take: Link your strengths to L’Oréal’s core competencies. Perhaps you’re proud of your leadership skills or attention to detail, or even your knowledge of the beauty industry. Or, you could refer to the competencies of the specific programme you’re applying to, such as communication skills for commercial, or analytical skills for finance. Whichever skills you identify as your strengths, make sure you give examples of times when you have demonstrated them.

When discussing your weaknesses, it’s best to avoid clichéd answers such as ‘I’m too much of a perfectionist’. Keep L’Oréal’s competencies in mind; you could inadvertently sell yourself short if you list one of its requirements as an area where you’re lacking. Be honest. Try to think of weaknesses that can be turned into strengths, particularly in the context of a fast-paced environment like L’Oréal’s: for example, ‘I thrive on new challenges and ideas, as I can get bored. I have strategies to deal with routine tasks efficiently and get them over with so I can concentrate on new developments’. Above all though, you should show that you are working on addressing your weaknesses, or are willing to do so.

L’Oréal question: Give me a short SWOT analysis of a L'Oréal product.

Approach to take: This question is primarily concerned with assessing your business awareness, particularly in terms of the beauty industry. A SWOT analysis comprises the Strengths of a product or company, its Weaknesses, any Opportunities for growth, and any potential Threats to its future. You won’t be expected to know absolutely everything there is to know about the product, or to give a 30-minute presentation on it, so preparation work can be as simple as choosing a product from L’Oréal’s website and jotting down three or four bullet points on each element of the analysis. You might want to consider:

  • What competitive advantage does the product have over rival products? How does its packaging and positioning compare?
  • Do rival products offer something it doesn’t? How have changes to its formula (or a lack thereof) changed consumer perceptions?
  • Where is the product sold in the world? Are there any new markets or new distribution channels it could enter?
  • How has the product fared during the economic downturn? Are changes in consumer spending or tastes likely to affect sales going forward?

L’Oréal question: Tell me about a time you had to take charge.

Approach to take: While your example could come from any area of your life, it’s important that it demonstrates your abilities to their fullest: leadership is one of L’Oréal’s core competencies, and graduates will be expected to take responsibility from early on in their careers, so a solid answer is vital. Think about the kinds of things that you think constitute good leadership, and compare these to your actions in your chosen example. What did you do well? What could you have done better? How did others respond to your actions?

Scheme-specific interview questions

As well as general competency and motivation questions, candidates may also be asked questions that relate directly to the scheme they have applied for, particularly in the final round interview. Some examples include:

  • Explain this business function in a few words.
  • Describe a marketing campaign that you particularly like and why.
  • What do you think of the packaging of this product? What would you change?
  • What do you think you will be doing in this role?
  • If you were the brand manager for a particular L’Oréal brand, where would you take it?

These kinds of questions can be approached easily enough if you’re well prepared with knowledge of the role and business function and you have a strong interest in pursuing a career in the field. Just use your common sense, and enjoy the opportunity to exercise your creativity. As with all interview questions, don’t be afraid to take a few moments to collect your thoughts before answering.

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