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 the ultimate list of facts and tips you need to know to maximize your chances of success.
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).
During each round you can expect one to three 1h interviews which are usually a mix of fit / behavioural questions (e.g. Why consulting?) as well as typical 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.
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.
Now that you know what to expect in terms of interview process let’s go through 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 1h 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 5mins 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 45mins to 1h 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 overaching 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 in addition, 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 you Potentia Interview let’s step through the typical case interview and fit / behavioural questions asked by the firm.
4. Accenture case interviews
Accenture uses similar case interviews to McKinsey, BCG or Bain. In particular, the firm frequently asks profitability and market sizing questions according to past candidates.
As we have mentioned elsewhere, there are 7 types of questions you need to know to prepare for case interviews:
- Framework development
- Framework exploration
- Quant question – Data provided
- Quant question – No data provided
- Creativity question
If you are not familiar with case interviews we recommend that you read our case interview guide. In addition, you can also watch two example videos below. Although they are McKinsey, BCG and Bain cases, the interviews you will come across at Accenture will be similar.
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.
Now that you know what to expect in Accenture interviews, let's discuss the skills you need to develop to impress your interviewer.
6. Become really confident at maths
Accenture will test your maths skills during the case section of your interviews. It is therefore difficult to succeed at these interviews without being confident in maths.
Unfortunately, it is extremely common to have rusty maths skills when you start preparing. In our experience, candidates who end up getting a job in consulting take some time at the beginning of their preparation to brush up their maths and regain their confidence.
We find that making this initial investment is really worth it. This is the first step candidates take when they enrol in our case interview training programme. We have also put together a few maths tips here which you might find helpful to get started.
7. Develop a consistent method to crack cases
One of the challenges of interviewing with companies like Accenture is that you will have to do about five to ten interviews before getting an offer. For many of these interviews you will get a case that you need to crack. You therefore need to learn a CONSISTENT way of cracking the case.
As mentioned previously, the good news is that cases can be broken down into very specific types of questions: situation, framework development, framework exploration, quant question with and without data, creativity question and recommendation. If you find an approach to consistently crack each type of question within a case, then that means you will be able to consistently crack the case overall.
At IGotAnOffer, we were frustrated with the absence of a consistent approach to solve case questions when we were preparing for interviews. This is why we created a step-by-step method to solve cases that we teach in our case interview training programme.
Developing a consistent step-by-step approach will enable you to develop HABITS. And having developed these HABITS during your preparation will enable you to focus on the case at hand and to consistently crack the questions interviewers throw at you.
8. Practice cases out loud
One important aspect of your preparation is also trying to reproduce the conditions of a real interview when you practice. A great way to achieve this is to do case interviews with friends or with former consultants who do coaching interviews.
However this isn’t always possible and you will have to do some cases by yourself. In these situations, we would really encourage you to practice out loud. This means you should both play the role of the candidate and of the interviewer. In practice, that means you should ask questions and answer them out loud in the same way two people would do in an interview.
This will feel odd at first. But trust us; it actually makes a huge difference in your preparation. This is because THINKING about the right answer is only half the battle in case interviews. The second half is COMMUNICATING your answer in a clear and structured way. If you don’t practice out loud, you are only practicing half of the skills required to be successful. We really encourage you to give it a go as in our experience candidates who use this approach are much more likely to get an offer.
9. Learn from every mistake you make
Finally, you should really focus your preparation on quality rather than on quantity. Sure, there is a minimum number of hours you need to put in to develop good case interview habits – probably ~30h+. However in our experience, successful candidates find it more valuable to do 20 cases and to learn as much as possible from them, than to do 40 cases and to not learn much at all.
The best way to achieve this is to keep a notebook where you write down your mistakes at the end of each case. You should go back to that notebook on a regular basis and remind yourself of the things you have learned. This will enable you to avoid repeating the same mistakes twice and to make sure you actually progress as you do more and more cases.
A good way to check that you have actually progressed is to redo some of the cases that you did at the beginning of your preparation after a while. For instance, after you have done case #20, you could go back to case #1 to make sure you are not repeating the same mistakes. This way you can be sure that you are on the right track and actually making progress.
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 programme 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.
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