Accenture case interview prep: the only post you'll need to read

Accenture interviews are pretty challenging compared to regular interviews at large corporates. The questions are difficult and the interview format is specific to Accenture.

But the good news is that, with the right preparation, it can actually become relatively straightforward to succeed at an Accenture interview. We have put together this ultimate list of facts and tips to help you maximise your chances of success.

Here's an overview of what we'll cover.

  1. Intro
  2. Process
  3. Potentia interview
  4. Case interviews
  5. Fit / PEI interviews
  6. Additional prep
1. Accenture can be confusing!

Accenture is a consulting giant. In fact, it’s so big that it's easy to get confused by the different groups that exist inside the firm. So here is a high-level summary of what the firm actually does:

  • Management consulting. This part of the firm advises clients on management issues from strategy (e.g. what countries should we enter?) to operations (e.g. how can we run our supply chain better?)
  • IT consulting. This part of the firm is focused on helping clients roll out technologies that will enable them to achieve their business objectives (e.g. picking and rolling out a software solution to manage inventory)
  • Back office outsourcing. This part of the firm is the largest in terms of staff and carries out a broad range of tasks for clients including customer support, accounting, sales, etc.

This article focuses on the management consulting roles at Accenture and the interview process that's used in that part of the firm.

Accenture has further divided its management consulting activities into three groups: Strategy, Operations, and Digital. As we mentioned in our review of top consulting firms, Accenture Strategy is the part of the firm that competes with McKinsey, BCG and Bain. The Operations and Digital arms are more focused on the implementation of business initiatives than on pure strategy.

2. Accenture interview process

The interview process at Accenture depends on which office and practice you are applying for. But broadly speaking, after sending your resume and cover letter you should prepare yourself for two to three rounds of interviews with Accenture Consultants, Managers and Managing Directors (equivalent to partner).

As a general rule of thumb, your interviewers will be more and more senior as you progress through the different rounds. Your last interview will generally be with a Senior Managing Director (equivalent to Senior Partner) who will make a final decision on whether the firm should give you an offer or not.

During each round you can expect one to three 1-hour interviews which are usually a mix of fit / behavioural questions (e.g. Why consulting?) as well as case interview questions. In addition, Accenture has also developed a special interview called the Potentia Interview which you will come across if you are applying for a strategy role.

Next, we'll walk through more details on the different types of questions Accenture will ask you in your interviews.

3. Accenture Potentia Interview

If you are applying for Accenture Strategy one of your interviews will be a 1-hour assessment called the Potentia Interview.

In the Potentia Interview you will be given a short paragraph of text about a broad business topic (e.g. how to manage intellectual property in the age of the Internet). You will then have 5 minutes to analyse the text and the question it raises.

After this, you will need to present your initial thoughts to your interviewer and they will then follow up with a series of questions. The whole interview will last 45-60 minutes and should feel like a conversation. Its main objective is to test your creativity and it therefore won't involve any calculations.

As we have previously mentioned, creativity questions are frequent in case interviews. This type of question can be a little tricky to answer. The most common mistake candidates make with creativity questions (and the Potentia Interview) is to brainstorm ideas in an unstructured way. Jumping from one idea to another without any overarching structure makes it really hard for your interviewer to follow your thoughts.

Instead, we suggest that you use the following two-step approach to impress your interviewer:

  • Use a framework. At the beginning of your Potentia Interview, you should lay out a high-level framework to structure the different types of ideas you have to answer the question you are asked.
  • Brainstorm within each branch. Once you have established a framework, you can then brainstorm ideas within each branch of your framework. As a rule of thumb, you should aim to generate 2 to 5 ideas per branch.

Using a framework and brainstorming within branches will go a long way in ensuring you do well at your Potentia Interview. But, it’s also helpful to think about how your interviewer will assess your answers. In short, they will look at two criteria:

  • Range of thought. You interviewer wants you to demonstrate that you can generate a broad range of ideas. You can achieve this by both going wide in your framework (e.g. having 4 or 5 branches). But also by going deep in each branch (e.g. having 4 or 5 ideas per branch).
  • Practicality. Your interviewer will also assess how practical your ideas are.  In practice, that means you should aim to have a mix of ambitious long-term ideas but also shorter-term ones which you feel can be implemented relatively easily.

Now that you know what to expect in the Potentia Interview, let’s go through the typical case interview and fit / behavioural questions asked by the firm.

4. Accenture case interviews

Accenture uses candidate-led case interviews similar to BCG and Bain. As the candidate, this means that you should be prepared to lead the conversation and suggest next steps for how to analyse and solve the case.

Something that is unique about Accenture, is that they often provide written case details at the beginning of their case interviews. As a result, the interview experience at Accenture will likely seem a little more structured than the typical candidate-led case interview. 

In order to prepare for your Accenture case interviews, there are 7 types of questions you need to be familiar with:

  • Situation
  • Framework development
  • Framework exploration
  • Quant question – Data provided
  • Quant question – No data provided
  • Creativity question
  • Recommendation

If you are not familiar with case interviews we recommend that you start by reading our case interview guide. You can also watch the example video below. Although the video is labeled for BCG and Bain, the interviews you will come across at Accenture will be similar.

Finally, according to past candidates, Accenture frequently asks profitability and market sizing questions during the interview process. So be ready for that as well.

If you'd like to see the case interview materials produced directly by the firm, Accenture has published some tips and a couple of good case workbooks, which you can find here and here.

5. Accenture Fit / PEI interviews

We've written extensively about consulting fit / PEI questions in the past. But in summary, here are the top 5 fit and PEI questions you should prepare for at Accenture and other consulting firms.

Top 5 fit questions:

  • Why Accenture?
  • Why consulting?
  • Walk me through your resume
  • Tell me about something not on your resume
  • Tell me about your greatest accomplishment

Top 5 PEI questions. Tell me about a time when ...

  • You lead a team through a difficult situation
  • You worked in a team and had to manage a conflict
  • You had a disagreement with a colleague / boss
  • You had to change someone's / a group's mind
  • You overcame a really difficult challenge

If you would like guidance on how to answer PEI questions, you can check our article on the topic here.

6. Additional preparation steps

Now that you know what to expect in Accenture interviews, let's discuss some of the additional steps you should take to prepare.

6.1 Become really confident at maths

You don't have to have a perfect GPA or GMAT score to succeed at case interview maths. However, during your Accenture interviews, you will be expected to quickly perform accurate mental maths. 

In order to do this, it’s essential to know the formulas for common metrics, like return on investment or breakeven point. And it’s also helpful to know a few maths shortcuts to help you solve problems more quickly. To learn more about these topics, check out our free guide to case interview maths

In our experience, the most successful applicants start their interview preparation by practising maths skills, so make sure you prioritise this step. 

6.2 Develop a consistent method to crack cases

One of the biggest challenges of interviewing with Accenture is solving cases that you’ve never seen before. Each case can be difficult, and you’ll have to perform well across multiple case interviews in order to get an offer.

As a result, it’s critical for you to have a consistent approach for solving cases. Accenture uses candidate-led case interviews, which can be broken down into the following types of questions:

  • Situation
  • Framework development
  • Framework exploration
  • Quant question – Data provided
  • Quant question – No data provided
  • Creativity question
  • Recommendation

If you can crack each type of question (within a case), then you can crack the overall case. To learn how to use this process to solve Accenture cases, you can use our BCG & Bain Case Interview Training ProgrammeAccenture uses the same type of case interviews as BCG and Bain, so you can use that programme to prepare. 

6.3 Practise cases out loud

How you solve each case is important, but your interviewers will also be evaluating how you COMMUNICATE your answers. It's important to speak in a structured way that makes it easy to clearly understand your points.

The best way to hone your communication skills is to practise interviewing out loud, and you can do that in three main ways:

  1. Interview yourself (out loud)
  2. Practise interviewing with peers
  3. Practise interviewing with ex-interviewers

Practising by yourself is a great way to get started, and can help you get more comfortable with the flow of a case interview. However, this type of practice won’t prepare you for realistic interview conditions. 

After getting some practice on your own, you should find someone who can do a mock interview with you. You can ask a friend or family member to help you, or you can apply to our free mock interview platform to find other consulting candidates to practise with. 

We’d also recommend that you practise with ex-interviewers from Accenture. This is the best way to replicate the conditions of a real interview, and to get feedback from someone who understands the process extremely well. You may not have the connections to do this on your own, but we’ve made the connections for you. Meet our Accenture ex-interviewers who’d love to work with you.

6.4 Learn from every mistake you make

During case interview preparation, the quality of your preparation is just as important as the quantity of time that you dedicate. It's better to do 20 cases thoughtfully than to rush through 40 cases. 

We recommend that you keep a notebook where you record improvement opportunities and specific things you did well for each case. 

The notebook and self-evaluation will help you to be more strategic (and efficient) with your preparation. It's also a good idea to go back and re-do old cases. For example, after you have done case #20, you could go back to case #1, to make sure you are not repeating the same mistakes.

The minimum preparation time required to succeed in case interviews is probably around 30 hours. However, if you don't prepare thoughtfully, it may take much longer. So take notes, be strategic, and keep practicing!

Additional resources

If you would like to fast track your case interview preparation and maximise your chances of getting an offer at Accenture, come and train with us. More than 80% of the candidates training with our case interview programmes end up getting an offer at their target firm. We know this because we give half of their money back to people who don't.

You can find a link to our BCG & Bain Case Interview Training Programme below. As mentioned previously, Accenture uses the same type of case interviews as BCG and Bain. So you can therefore use that programme to prepare for Accenture.

BCG & Bain Case Interview Training Programme

BCG & Bain case interview training programme

Any questions about Accenture case interviews?

If you have any questions about case interviews, do not hesitate to ask them below and we will be more than happy to answer them. All questions are good questions, so go ahead!

The IGotAnOffer team