How To Get An Internship At HUL – Abhishek Tahlan, XLRI Jamshedpur
If you’re targeting a marketing internship during your first year as an MBA student, Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) is probably at the top of your list. It is one of the leading FMCG/marketing companies in the world, it recruits from only the best campuses, the stipend is very generous, and there is a very good chance you’ll spend the two months of your internship abroad.
During the summer internship placements of 2015, HUL recruited 11 students from XLRI Jamshedpur. Four of them completed their internship abroad – at South Africa, Japan and the United Kingdom. Yogesh Sharma was one of the candidates who successfully cleared the gruelling selection process. For his efforts and preparation he was rewarded with an unforgettable learning experience in London. Now he tells you how you can achieve the same.
1. Get shortlisted
HUL shortlists plenty of students for the group discussion, so the key is to have a well balanced CV. Good academics, positions of responsibility and quality work experience improve your chances significantly. ‘Spikes’ – or peaks in your CV that make you stand out from the crowd will also help. This is the part of the selection process that is the least in your control, so polish your CV ceaselessly to maximize your chances of getting a call from the leading companies.
2. Be battle ready
There isn’t too much to prepare if you want to do well in your summer placements – however, depth and diligence are key here, says Yogesh. There’s a difference between being familiar with your CV and knowing it inside out – this can be the difference between a good placement and a great placement. Work backwards through each point on your CV, think of all the questions a recruiter could come up with and then prepare for all of them. Functional marketing knowledge and important frameworks also came in handy to Yogesh during the interviews. His advice is to keep in regular touch with seniors and diligently prepare from the sources shared by them. Preparing for important behavioural questions (why marketing/sales, why this company, favourite brands etc.) and current affairs in the marketing world (Maggi debacle/Patanjali launches and your views on it) is indispensable.
3. Survive the group discussion
Logic, rather than desperation, will win the battle here. According to Yogesh, presenting your ideas through logical and structured arguments is the best strategy. He also points out how redirecting the flow of the discussion towards a different perspective, which elevated the quality of the discussion helped another one of the candidates in the discussion to comfortably sail through this stage. Assertiveness as opposed to aggression is well received by the panelists. At the end of the group discussion, each of the candidates was asked individual questions regarding justification of their views or a general summary of the discussion.
4. Clear the first interview
One of the two GD panelists took the first interview. Yogesh describes it as a semi formal interaction – a getting-to-know-you conversation. His advice is to keep it simple – every company wants to hire students it can trust will do their jobs efficiently. Hence simplicity, enthusiasm, clarity and honesty are your best assets.
The interview began with an open ended ‘introduce yourself’ question. Yogesh took this opportunity to subtly direct the flow of the interview – after a general introduction, he enthusiastically described a project from his college days. The interviewer was naturally drawn by his interest and the majority of the interview revolved around one of Yogi’s strengths. He was also asked to design a marketing strategy for the said product – so be conscious of where you lead the interview.
5. The final step
This was a telephonic round with two senior executives. Again Yogi’s functional marketing knowledge was tested. Having worked in the automobile sector, he was asked to design a marketing strategy for a new car launch in the rural market. In depth knowledge of key marketing concepts and frameworks helped him solve this problem comfortably. He was also asked to justify his answers during timely cross questioning, but it resembled an academic discussion more than a stress interview.
The results were announced soon after this stage. Yogi was on his way to London and well on his way to a successful marketing career.
There is a reason time and again Yogi stresses on preparation which is grounded in decent marketing concepts and frameworks, along with rigorous preparation of possible questions which may arise from your own CV. At the end of the day, most of the summer placements advice you hear is cliched. This is because it is all true. There are no surprises. Thorough preparation, confidence, mental fortitude and luck all play their part. All of these need to come together for you to achieve your goals.
Preparation – Your CV inside out, key marketing frameworks, the company’s marketing strategy, common behavioural questions.
Demeanour – Enthusiastic, energetic, assertive, thorough, respectful.
About the Intern :
Yogesh ‘Yogi’ Sharma is a 2013 mechanical engineering graduate from DTU (erstwhile DCE). He had 23 months of work ex in the R&D division of Maruti Suzuki in Gurgaon prior to joining XLRI. He is one of the most popular seniors on the XLRI campus thanks to his serene disposition and expertise in marketing.
About the author:
Abhishek Tahlan is a regular XLRI senior and part of the 2016-17 InsideIIM student team.