A belated happy new year, I hope all is well with you.
As Hannah and I are in our second year of university, we have been going through the process of applying for placements (also known as the most stressful experience ever!) I thought it would be useful to share with you my process and experience of applying for the L’Oréal Industrial Placement as I found it really useful reading about what other’s experienced so I knew what to expect beforehand.
Just a heads up – this post is a long one so grab a cup of tea and a biscuit. I have tried to be as informative as I can because I wanted all this information when I was applying.
To begin with, I didn’t submit a full application. This was because I attended a ‘Lock-In’ with L’Oréal at my university. We were run through what an assessment centre would be like, and completed a few tasks to give an insight into what kinds of things would be expected from us. At this event, there were also ‘talent spotters’ who selected students that stood out to them. I was fortunate enough to be one of the people selected and therefore bypassed the entire online application process. This was actually a complete blessing as it allowed me to skip the online tests and meant that I got to make my impression in person instead of through my CV and online application.
To my understanding, the online application entails a set of questions that test your basic competencies (e.g. “talk about a time when you failed and make a mistake. What happened and what did you learn from it?”). My main advice for these types of questions would be to structure your answer: follow the template of STAR (see fig. 1) and make sure you finish with an end result or a lesson that you learned. My key piece of advice would be to type out your answers on a word processing document (like MS Word or Pages) and then copying and pasting them across. This covers your ass if your web page crashes.
You have to complete about 3 of this type of question within the online application followed by a video interview. It was at this point that I stopped my online application as I had been offered the fast-track to the assessment centre but again, it follows a competency-based format for the question. Here is some advice on completing a video interview.
(NB: I also found that the competency-based questions site worked better in Safari instead of Google Chrome so if you’re having a bit of trouble with it, try it in a different browser)
After this, I believe you are sent a set of psychometric tests. Again, I don’t know exactly which ones but I do know they ask you do a numerical. I have completed numericals for other applications and so I can only recommend that you quickly brush up on your percentages, data interpretation, and ratios knowledge using something like BBC Bitesize and then just running through a couple of practices. I’m absolutely pants at Maths and still did completely fine with psychometrics so don’t worry about them. It will depend on which position you are applying for as to how much the psychometrics matter but if you’re applying for something in finance, I can only assume that’s because you like numbers and you’re good with them so you’d have nothing to worry about anyway.
Invitation to Assessment Centre
In my experience, I received an email from someone on the Graduate Talent Team, telling me that I’d been ‘talent spotted’ and therefore invited to an assessment centre on date X. I was asked to reply to the email with the postion(s) I was interested in and my CV. The date for the assessment centre I had been invited to was for marketing, digital marketing and a couple of other vacancies in other departments. I replied to the email thanking them for the opportunity and confirmed my attendance for the assessment centre on date X. I also included the fact that I was interested in the marketing industrial placement as well as a position in Visual Merchandising.
After sending this email, I didn’t get a reply and as it drew nearer to the date, I realised I hadn’t been sent any information regarding timings, addresses, dress codes or any work to prepare. I emailed the week prior to the date I had been given asking if I had missed anything and received no reply. A couple of days before the assessment centre I realised that somewhere along the line there was a mistake and so persisted with calling the contact I had been given in the Graduate Talent Acquisition team. When I finally got through, she told me that there had indeed been a mistake and I wasn’t on the invite list for the marketing assessment centre at all, but should wait for an invitation to another one. She apologised that I had misinterpreted the email and told me to wait about a week because I was going to be sent some more information.
I found this slightly frustrating as I hadn’t received an email back after I confirmed my attendance for date X and I had stressed about preparing for it with no information for about a week and a half, just to find out I was going to be invited on a different date.
It turns out, they’d seen my CV and thought the Visual Merchandising position more suitable for me and therefore didn’t invite me to the marketing assessment centre, but one for VM instead. Quite a bit of stress for nothing but it did all turn out okay in the end.
Once I received my invitation via email, I was directed to a website via a link to confirm some details and my attendance for the assessment centre on a new date. I received this email 10 days before the date of the assessment centre. Along with this invitation was an information pack regarding how the day would run (more information on that later), the logistics of a L’Oréal assessment centre and other information such as the dress code.
3 days before I was due to attend, I was sent another email with a brief. This included a task specific to the role I was applying for. It involved a 20 minute presentation requiring market research and some knowledge on the industry.
The Presentation Task
In my opinion, 3 days wasn’t very long to complete this task however I understand that they require their interns to work under pressure and to time constraints and whilst I felt it was a short period of time to complete it, I was happy with the presentation I managed to pull together.
My advice to complete this task successfully includes:
- Follow the brief – it’s a great way of showcasing you’re good at following instructions
- Include your own research as well as what you can find on the internet (I went into shops and took some pictures as this was what I found appropriate for my task)
- Use your knowledge of the industry, they want to know how interested in it you are and showing a passion for it will always appeal to your assessor.
- Be prepared – my presentation was 1-on-1 so I was able to put my laptop on the desk and chat through it with her however you don’t know how they’re going to want you to present to always have your presentation available on a USB in lots of different formats (you never know what kind of software they might have on their computers) and always play it safe with a PDF version too
- Give your assessor a hand-out of your presentation – this was something that really impressed my assessor and it meant that she was able to look back on everything I had included after I had left. (NB: Make sure it’s legible, really teeny tiny text is useless)
The day was split into 2. When we first walked in, we had a brief run through of the day and then a quick presentation to introduce us to the company. It was quite a big group of people but there were people for lots of different positions all attending the same assessment day. We were also gifted a small freebie which was a nice touch.
Before lunch, we completed our presentations, had a group task to complete and a repeat numerical psychometric test. These tasks all contributed to whether or not you’ve met the ‘benchmark’. I didn’t know this at the time but they score you out of 4 on lots of different criteria for each task so, if you can, try showcase your most well-rounded self in the tasks and think about relating to the key competencies of L’Oréal (see below).
L’Oréal’s Key Values / Competencies
Quest for excellence
If you meet the benchmark and impress them, after lunch you will be invited to an interview. If not, they will send you home with personalised feedback. An important thing to remember is that if you get sent home, they didn’t think you and the company or the job role were well-suited and that’s really not something to think badly about because at the end of the day, they were impressed by you’re CV and application and therefore were willing to spend the money on inviting you to their assessment day and the final piece of the puzzle is about fit. It’s nothing to take personally and just take from the experience because it can only make you stronger for your next application. I think the feedback is also helpful as it allows you to work on certain things that could develop your professional profile.
I was interviewed by 2 ladies from the Visual Merchandising team – one from Garnier and the other from Lancôme. Both were really lovely and chatty and I could definitely feel that they wanted to get the best from me instead of trying to catch me out.
The interview was ‘CV-less’ and therefore they asked me about my interests and what I did outside of my studies etc. They asked questions like: do you have any goals? Who inspires you? Can you tell me about a time when you had a difficult time within a team and what the outcome was? What would your friends say your weakness would be? Can you tell me something you’re proud of?
With these questions, I recommend being honest. Being transparent is something they want to see because pretending to be someone you’re not isn’t going to help them with deciding if you’re a good fit for their team or not.
I came out of the interview feeling like I had been drilled with questions but I was happy with this because I felt there wasn’t anything I didn’t say or any aspect of myself I didn’t portray which was what I was hoping for.
Virtual Reality Experience
This year was the first year they integrated this experience into the assessment centre and it was a nice finish for the day.
It involved putting on a headset and watching a couple of short scenarios that you would perhaps encounter during your day of work. They ask you to answer the questions using the headset and the depending on the answers you gave, you’ll be given a code word at the end that you feedback to them.
We were told it wasn’t something you were assessed on, it was just an activity to see the kind of personality you have and factors you find the most important.
At the end of the day, we were congratulated and thanked for attending and they told us it would be about a week before we’d hear back. I think it was exactly a week that I heard from them which was good.
I received an email with the news that I had been successful and they were offering me a position. I then had to book a telephone appointment for later on with the Graduate Talent Acquisition team to receive my feedback.
I found my feedback really useful and rewarding. I’d scored much better in everything than I thought I had which was really encouraging so don’t be too hard on yourselves.
I had to ask for feedback for development and the way she delivered it was really friendly and diplomatic which I really appreciated as it’s never the best thing to hear about things you could work on.
It was reassuring to hear that my feedback represented me really accurately because that showed they were attentive but also that I managed to showcase myself accurately too.
- Photocopies of passports/driving license as well as the original
- Follow their social medias just to keep up with things going on as well as opportunities that they showcase for interns that can inspire you
- Have a look at their travel expenses policy if you’re traveling from a long way away
So, I think that’s it.
I’m sorry it was so long but I was trying to be as helpful as possible. If you’re applying to L’Oréal, have applied or are waiting for the verdict, I wish you the very best of luck. Just remember, what will be will be and if it’s a perfect fit, it will happen.
Lots of love,
Some helpful links:
The L’Oréal Careers website: https://careers2.loreal.com/
The L’Oréal Glassdoor Site: https://www.glassdoor.co.uk/Reviews/L-Or%C3%A9al-Reviews-E3470.htm