What it took to crack the IKEA interview. Read SP Jain’s Abhishek Chahar’s story.

After having completed the program in April 2017 (MGB May 2016 Batch ), Abhishek Chahar, a Global Logistics and Supply Chain Management student interviewed with IKEA. As an international brand that is setting up its base in India, IKEA’s recruitment process was exhaustive and stringent. In a company that doesn’t think of any work small or big— IKEA sought professionals who were ready to roll up their sleeves and take responsibility. They also needed professionals who not only categorically understood the functions and operations of logistics and supply chain, but also those who know how to effective lead teams and resolve conflict when it arose. Abhishek proved to be the right fit.

“SP Jain, undoubtedly has been a turning point in my life. The entire course structure of MGB program was designed to help me develop an overall personality’, Abhishek shared. ‘The curriculum is robust—the focus is on both the technical and soft skills through varied subjects taught to us by some highly skilled professors and industry professionals”.

SP Jain remains dedicated to ensure that our teaching methodologies are delivered keeping in mind the industry requirements. Through a continuous industry interface, student learnings are shaped through the latest industry practices. “Student Board Room is one of the best part of our course where we get to impart our knowledge on real life problems faced by the industry, Abhishek adds.

During his Interview with IKEA, Abhishek was asked a series of questions to test his knowledge about IKEA as a brand, its values, it’s functionality and operational challenges.

Testing Abhishek on his management skills, the interview panellists asked him share his understanding of how to develop and forecast inventory for IKEA’s warehouses in India with no historical data, given there are no stores in India?

“Firstly, I began saying, we could gather the data for number of footfalls in IKEA store and get the number of sales done to customers. In this way, we can find out how many customers came in and how many bought something. This way we can find out the service level of that store”, Abhishek shared. He also mentioned that he backed up this theory with numbers to prove his point. “Since India is an emerging economy, we can compare IKEA India with let say IKEA Shanghai depending upon similar demographics. Using the IKEA Shanghai data, we can use the exponential forecasting method to determine approximate inventory level required and keep an additional 15% safety stock,” Abhishek suggested.

Abhishek was also tested on his numerical skills when one of the interview panellists asked him a question on containerization. He was presented with a dimension of various furniture units and was asked to estimate the number of trucks required given a particular demand. Needless to say, Abhishek solved it using his advanced skillset in logical deduction. He impressed both his panellists with the answer that matched closely with IKEAs current standard practice.

“While there is a lot of focus on the technical knowledge in the course, there is special emphasis given to provide us the industry exposure, build our skills to interact directly with industry leaders, and create a network through various P2P and Global Immersion sessions was an incredible value addition”, points Abhishek.

During the interview, he was also asked if he had ever visited an IKEA store and to share his experience of visiting an IKEA store, what he thought of the store layout, it’s ‘democratic design’, and the values and visions of the company. Abhishek impressed his interviewers by talking about the Industry Visits he attended at SP Jain and the interactions he had with IKEA co-workers in Singapore and Sydney.

Having undergone a 3-month long interview process with IKEA— right from interviewing with the HR, to a telephone interview with the Retail Supply Integration Manager followed by multiple behaviour and situational tests and face-to-face joint interview the In-store Logistics Manager and the Retail Supply Integration Manager— each of these steps needed a strong mettle, logical articulation and most of all, the ability to make decisions. Abhishek succeeded to impress. “It was because of the overall focus on technical and personality training I received at S P Jain that I could get through IKEA. There was so much focus on providing us training that was industry-relevant that when it came to it, I could handle my technical interviews, situational and behavioural tests seamlessly. This is one of the best management courses which gives you a multifaceted exposure of diverse business hubs (Mumbai, Singapore, Sydney and Dubai) and helps you really understand the business world and the various business practices that exist within it”, adds Abhishek.

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