What to Expect in Interviews for FMCG Companies

Learn how to prepare yourself and show employers that you have what it takes to join their ranks!
The gradsingapore Team
The gradsingapore Team
What to Expect in Interviews for FMCG Companies

Even from the perspective of a complete outsider looking in, the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry is mostly made up of a few large behemoths jostling for limited space and consumers. For instance, companies like Nestlé, The Coca Cola Company, P&G, Black+Decker, Dyson and Karcher have almost the entire global market cornered between them. Because of this, competition between them is direct, stiff and intense, and they need to keep consumers engaged and loyal by regularly introducing new products, or upgrading and refining existing ones.

If you take all that into mind, it’s no surprise that FMCG companies have to hire graduates with certain skills. While the required hard skills are based on the type of role you’re applying for, the sought-after soft skills looked for are adaptability, innovation, problem-solving, flexibility and communication skills.

So, during the Hunt for Red October These Skills, recruiters fall back on rounds of interviews to suss out these skills in applicants. And like in most other industries, it’s not unusual for candidates to go through several rounds of interviews before receiving an offer.

Interviews usually mean questions and a series of tests for applicants, most of which can be prepared for. So we’ll get on to the main questions (pun intended) graduates usually have: “What questions will recruiters ask me?” and “How can I prepare for them?”

What to expect in the FIRST ROUND of interviews

When you start sending in applications and companies start calling you, you’ll quickly notice that first interviews in the FMCG industry tend to be either over video or the phone. This is mostly because, in this part of the process, recruiters just want to test your skills in communication. As such, the questions are typically geared towards getting to know you, how much you understand about the company, and how you communicate both across.

Questions recruiters may ask: In this time, questions generally range from your biggest achievements to date (raising funds for a society, or completing an incredibly challenging group project on time) and any creative projects you may have been involved in (both personal and academic), to your favourite product from the company. On occasion, recruiters may give hypothetical scenarios or give you relevant business cases to think about. 

What to expect in the SECOND ROUND of interviews

If you get past the first interview (congrats!), whether it’s over video or phone, you’ll likely be called to the office for a face-to-face interview. Most of the questions in this round of the recruitment process tend to be more probing, and typically touch on why you applied to the company and industry (FMCG is a highly-competitive industry, and not for everyone).

Questions recruiters may ask: This is usually the time when your interviewer will most likely ask some questions on your strengths and weaknesses to get an idea of your competency level. Give examples from your projects in school or internships, but take note that they’ll have to be in detail. Other topics in this round of interviews include how you approach complex problems, how you respond to constructive criticism, and how you deal with a scenario where your expectations weren’t met (in a goal or project). While these questions may seem a little “out there”, recruiters are really just trying to figure out what you’ll likely do in those scenarios, and see if your response matches with what is expected on a company level.

Recruiters will also start gauging wanted skills, such as those in time management, prioritisation and commercial awareness. As such, questions asked will cover how you managed several assignments and projects at the same time, all the way to familiarity with company and competitor products. If you can give the company (reasonable) ideas on where products can be improved, it’ll definitely be a boon!

Last but not least, if interviewers ask for an instance where you showed innovation or were spearheaded the development of an idea that became a successful project, take the time to go into detail. They’re not doing it just to put you on a spot – they’re looking for your skills in innovative thinking!

Other things to take note of

There may be more interviews after the first two rounds, but they’ll be with senior staff members from the department you’ve applied to, the recruitment team, or both. At this point, the questions asked will be technical rather than searching. An example of this is, if you applied for a role in the marketing department, you may be asked to review products packaging.

While giving some thought to what answers you’ll before the interview will be of some help, your responses should be to the question given rather than practised and by rote. Trust us, your interviewers will be able to tell! In addition, try to keep your answers as straightforward and to the point as possible.