How I was hired by Orkla

After several years on the school bench, Mette Christensen Arneberg landed her dream job at Orkla. Here she tells other applicants how they too can do it, and what it’s like to go through Orkla’s application process.

Mette has just started out in her position as Junior Brand Manager in Pierre Robert Group, only a week after she submitted her master’s thesis in International Business at the school she studied at in England.

“It feels quite scary to go from a carefree student existence straight into the labour market. There’s a lot to learn in a pretty short time, but everyone has been very helpful and gladly answered my questions.”

Right after completing upper secondary school, Mette started studying for a Bachelor in International Marketing at BI Norwegian Business School, and spent the last year of the programme in France. Having obtained her degree, she was uncertain about what field she wanted to take a master’s degree in and therefore decided to work for a year in a B2B sales job.

“Working with sales gave me an insight into what motivates me and how I function under pressure, and I learned to get along with different kinds of people. I therefore decided to continue my studies by taking an MSc in International Business in England, with focus primarily on strategy.”

At the beginning of her year of study in England Mette decided to apply for a job as Brand Manager at Orkla. As a member of BI’s Business Committee, Mette had become aware of Orkla at the very start of her bachelor studies. On the other hand, she knew all along that you had to have a master’s degree to apply for a job there, so the company was a natural choice once she had begun her master’s programme.

“I applied for a job at Orkla because it is one of few companies where you have a chance to be involved in every stage of a development process. You can take part in everything from product development and production to marketing, and at the end you see the product in the store. Orkla offers positions where you work with a broad range of tasks. As a new graduate, you often don’t know what you want to do, or what you’re good at, which makes Orkla an ideal employer, precisely because it lets you work in many different fields. Another reason I applied to Orkla was the impression I had of the people working there. They seemed to be genuinely involved and were different in a cool way.”

Dare to stand out from the others in your application!

Mette spent a long time on writing her application and used her network to get tips and advice.

“I think it was important to take my time writing the application in order to tailor it to Orkla, and quite simply because I wanted it to stand out from the others and be really good! I focused on describing who I was by giving examples and tried to relate my personal qualifications to what Orkla specifically asked for in its job advertisement.”

In her opinion, it’s important that the application reflects who you are as a person, and she therefore chose to write an application that was more informal and playful.

“I also focused on writing an introduction that was different. My intention was to capture the reader’s attention and make him or her curious. You have to keep in mind that the person reading your application may be reading several hundred others, and you therefore have to do something that makes your own application be the one that stands out from all the others and is remembered!

An excerpt from Mette’s application:

Orkla’s business is something every Norwegian can relate to – but what does Orkla mean to me? Orkla is the pleasure of a warm Toro Brownie with friends. Orkla is the bliss of a Grandiosa right out of the oven after a rough weekend. Orkla is the happiness I experienced as a child when I was allowed to put Mokkabønner on my grandmother’s chocolate mousse. Orkla is the smile my sister gives me every time I surprise her with her favourite chocolate, Troika. Orkla is products that create memories, memories that are different for every Norwegian, but all of which revolve around the same good products.

“After I had sent in my application, things moved very fast! I received a reply soon after the deadline expired and was told to take some tests online. The tests were a little scary, and since I’m a competitive person, I really wanted to do well on them.”

Mette did do well on the tests, and a week later was invited to attend a recruitment day at Orkla’s headquarters in Oslo (an event held only in connection with the spring recruitment of Brand Managers). She found the day exciting, intensive and fun.

“The day began with an introduction to Orkla and the various departments. We were told about the everyday activities of a newly hired Brand Manager and learned how Orkla works. After that, there were case rounds and mini-interview rounds of 30 minutes. The case was a lot of fun, and the team worked really well together. The interview went incredibly fast, and it was important to communicate what you wanted to say in a reasonably short time. The day concluded with a review of the case. It was a day filled with nerves, curiosity and many people eager to show off. It can be tough if you’re shy, but you simply have to dare to ask questions and be assertive.”

Within a week, Mette was called in for new interviews in Oslo, and since she lived in England, both the second and third-round interviews were held on the same day. However, the interviews didn’t go quite as she had hoped.

“In the third-round interview, I had to present a case that I had been sent prior to the interview. It was very nervewracking. In fact, I thought that the presentation had gone so badly that there was no way I would get the job. I was therefore surprised when just a couple of days later, I received a phone call asking about my references. A few days later, I received a very nice call telling me that Pierre Robert Group at Orkla wanted to offer me a job. It all went very fast. Impressively fast!

The period after she had been offered the job felt a little surrealistic.

“When people talked about it, I was almost scared because it was a little too good to be true. At the same time, it was a huge relief to have landed a job before I had finished my studies. I feel lucky, as many of my friends are still looking for a job.”

Showed that she was passionate about brand-building

Mette thinks she got the job because it was so obvious how strongly she felt about brand-building. In addition, she could show concrete examples of her versatility and determination. Even though the final interview didn’t go entirely smoothly, that didn’t necessarily mean the end for her.

“I think they hired me, even after the last interview, because I showed self-insight by pointing out that I could have done things better. That shows that you don’t have to be perfect! But you have to show that you can tolerate things not going exactly by the book, and that you can tackle stressful situations.”

Mette’s advice to others applying for a job in Orkla is very simple, but nonetheless something that many people have trouble doing in the application and interview process.

“Dare to stand out from the others and show who you are – don’t be the person you think they want you to be. Wanting the job is one thing, but they also need to get to know the real you, so that they can evaluate whether you will fit in. You have nothing to lose when you apply for a job or attend recruitment days – and everything to win.”