Accenture Case Interview Prep: Everything You Need to Know
Accenture interviews are comprised of case interviews and behavioral or fit interview questions. If you are interviewing for Accenture’s Strategy group, you will also be given a special type of interview called the Accenture Potentia Interview.
In this article, we’ll cover exactly what to expect in your upcoming Accenture interview and how to best answer all of the different types of questions you may be asked.
We’ll cover in detail:
- The Accenture interview process
- How to ace the Accenture Potentia Interview
- The 6 steps to solving Accenture case interviews or case study interviews
- The 3 types of Accenture case interviews
- 17 examples of Accenture cases
- 6 Accenture case interview tips
- The 10 most common Accenture behavioral and fit interview questions
Accenture Interview Process
Accenture is a massive professional services firm that provides management consulting, IT consulting, and back office outsourcing. Within management consulting, Accenture is broken down into three groups: Strategy, Operations, and Digital.
Accenture Strategy is the group that is most similar to McKinsey, BCG, and Bain in the type of work that they do. The Operations and Digital group is focused more on implementation rather than on pure strategy.
Depending on the office and group that you are applying for, there will be two to three rounds of interviews. Each round will have anywhere from one to three 1-hour interviews. Your interviews will be a mix of case interviews and behavioral or fit interview questions.
One important thing to note is that if you are applying for a role in Accenture Strategy, one of your interviews will be a special type of interview called the Potentia interview.
You’ll be interviewed by more senior people as you go through the different rounds of interviews. In the first round, you’ll be interviewed by consultants or managers. In the final round, you’ll be interviewed by managing directors and senior managing directors.
We’ll cover all of the different types of interview questions in detail in the next few sections.
Accenture Potentia Interview
The Potentia interview is a 1-hour interview given to candidates that are applying for a role in Accenture Strategy. Here is the structure of the Accenture Potentia Interview:
- You’ll be given a short paragraph of text about a business topic with a problem statement. Topics are diverse and may not be work-related. Examples of topics include blood diamonds in Africa or intellectual property on the Internet
- You’ll have 5 minutes to prepare and think through the problem statement
- You’ll have a 45 to 60-minute conversation with the interviewer in which you’ll present your thoughts and the interviewer will ask follow-up questions
The purpose of the Potentia interview is to challenge your strategic thinking. There is no right or wrong answer. There are also no calculations or math involved.
Instead, the interviewer is assessing you on the structure and organization of your answer and your creativity.
Tips for the Accenture Potentia Interview:
- Use a framework or structure for your answer: Remember that you are being assessed on how you structure and organize your answer. Therefore, instead of listing random ideas that come to mind, develop a framework to structure your ideas.
- Brainstorm as many ideas as you can: Use your framework to help you brainstorm effectively. Your framework should have three to five different areas. Meticulously think through each area and try to generate at least three ideas in each.
- Have a mix of practical and ambitious ideas: You are being assessed on creativity, so make sure you include ideas that are ambitious and impactful. However, you also want to show sound business judgment, so you will need to include ideas that are practical and easier to implement. You should have a mix of these two types of ideas.
- Bring in ideas that you learned from your prior work experience: One way to demonstrate creativity is to take ideas or solutions in one industry and apply them to another. Therefore, if there is an opportunity to leverage learnings from your prior work experience, you should definitely bring it up.
Make it a conversation: Remember that the Accenture Potentia interview is meant to be a two-way conversation. Make sure you are listening to the feedback or questions that the interviewer has and responding accordingly.
Accenture Case Interview
Accenture case interviews, also known as case study interviews, are candidate-led. This means that you will be expected to drive the case. You will be suggesting what areas to explore, what analyses to do, and what next steps should be.
Accenture cases last between 30 to 45 minutes. They tend to be based on real business situations, often drawn from an actual project that your interviewer worked on.
What Accenture Interviewers Look For
In Accenture’s case interview workbook, they state that success in their case interviews does not depend on finding the correct answer. Instead, you are assessed on:
- How clearly you define the problem
- How logically you structure the analysis
- How strong your quantitative analysis skills are
- How well you communicate your thoughts to the interviewer
In addition to these hard skills, there are also soft skills that you will be assessed on. These are:
- Poise: your confidence, ability to perform well under pressure, and how you handle making mistakes
- Communication: your listening skills and how articulate you are in presenting your process and conclusions
- Flexibility: how well you can adapt your thinking to changing circumstances
Other intangibles: your energy and drive, initiative, time management, decisiveness, and genuine interest in consulting and the firm
The 6 Steps to Solving Accenture Case Interviews
There are six different steps to solving an Accenture case study interview.
(Source: Accenture Case Interview Workbook)
1. Listen to the case
In this step, the interviewer will give you a description of the case problem. This description can be as short as a few sentences or as long as a full page of detailed information.
During this step, make sure you are taking notes on the most important pieces of information. You should focus on understanding the context, company, and the objective.
2. Clarify the problem
Understanding the business problem and objective is imperative to successfully solving the case. Answering or addressing the wrong business problem is the quickest way to fail a case interview.
Therefore, ask clarifying questions to better understand the business situation and issue. Afterwards, make sure that you confirm or verify the objective of the case with the interviewer. This ensures that you will start the case on the right track.
3. Decompose the problem
Next, you’ll need to break down the problem in an exhaustive and logical way. You can do this by creating an issue tree or framework.
A framework is a tool that helps you structure and break down complex problems into simpler, smaller components. Think of a framework as brainstorming different ideas and organizing them neatly into different categories.
Accenture provides a few examples of frameworks that you can use to get you started thinking about how to solve different types of cases.
(Source: Accenture Case Interview Workbook)
We recommend that you do not just memorize these frameworks and use them in your interviews. Instead, use these frameworks as background knowledge to help you make your own frameworks that are tailored to the specific case that you are solving for.
To learn how to create outstanding frameworks, review our comprehensive case interview framework guide.
4. State your hypotheses
After decomposing the problem, you should list out potential hypotheses that answer or address the business problem. A hypothesis is an educated guess on the answer based on the data and information that you have so far.
A hypothesis helps guide your analysis and keeps you on track. It ensures that you are spending your time answering the right questions and conducting the right analyses.
5. Test your hypotheses
Once you have a hypothesis, you’ll answer questions or conduct analyses to refine your hypothesis.
Sometimes, your hypothesis will be completely wrong and you’ll need to develop another hypothesis to test. Other times, your hypothesis will be generally right and you’ll need to refine and narrow down your hypothesis further.
This is an iterative process. Your hypothesis should be constantly changing and becoming more refined as you progress through the case. Once you have developed meaningful support for your hypothesis, you will move onto the final step.
6. Summarize your findings
In this step, you’ll present your recommendation and provide the major reasons that support it. It is also good to include potential next steps that you would take if you had more time or data.
Afterwards, the interviewer may tell you what actually happened with the case or project that they worked on. Don’t worry if your methodology or answer does not match what actually happened. Remember, you are not assessed on your answer, but the overall process.
The Three Types of Accenture Case Study Interviews
Accenture states that there are three types of cases you may see in your interviews:
- The “Great Unknown”
- The “Parade of Facts”
- The “Back of the Envelope”
The “Great Unknown” and “Back of the Envelope” are the most common types of cases.
The “Great Unknown” Case
For this type of case, very little information will be provided to you on the case background. For “Great Unknown” cases, you’ll be tested on your ability to probe for details, which requires having a structured framework.
Examples of cases:
- Your client is a leading manufacturer of prefabricated kitchen furnishings. They have been steadily losing market share over the past two years. You have been hired to help them understand why this is happening and what they can do to improve their market standing.
- A major furniture retailer has experienced declining profits for four quarters, but has experienced a 25% growth in sales and has opened many new stores during this time. Why are profits declining?
- A fast food company is thinking about putting a franchise in an airport. Should they do this?
- A bread division of a large food company is facing increasing competition in the market. Should they exit the market?
- A car company is interested in developing a new car. What marketing related issues should it consider before making the investment?
- What factors influence the revenue potential of a new pharmaceutical product?
- Citibank is considering purchasing another credit card company, which would give them access to 100,000 new card holders. What is the estimated value of this acquisition?
- A commercial bank is re-evaluating the number of branches it operates and whether they should increase the number of branches or close some down. How should they make this decision?
- A large conglomerate company is facing declining profits in its railroad company division and is considering shutting it down. Is this the right course of action? What are potential alternatives?
- New York City has hired you to determine what optimal route or what destination taxi drivers should go to when they do not have a customer.
The “Parade of Facts” Case
For this type of case, a significant amount of details on the case background will be provided to you, some of them unnecessary. For “Parade of Facts” cases, you’ll be tested on the ability to synthesize and identify key issues.
Example of a case:
- Your client is a food company that wants to develop a freshly prepared meal business
- There is a trend among customers towards fresher foods with no artificial preservatives or coloring
- Consumers are currently purchasing $5B of frozen meals and there is a trend towards more upscale products
- A fresh meal plate combines a protein, vegetable, and starch and is delicately arranged in a sealed plastic dome package
- Nitrogen gas flushing is used to extend shelf life
- Product is currently in limited consumer testing at $5.50 to $8.50 per meal
- Shelf life of product is 14 days
- Product will spoil in 21 days, potentially causing food poisoning
- Client wants to know if they can make money in this business
- Client wants to know if the market is big and how will they keep competition out
Client wants a consultant to assist in building a business case for them
The “Back of the Envelope” Case
This type of case asks a market sizing or estimation question. Very little information will be provided, but a clear question will be asked.
“Back of the Envelope” cases primarily test your analytic abilities. It requires a structured, logical thought process and competency in working with numbers and making calculations.
Examples of cases:
- Estimate the total number of dry cleaners in Philadelphia
- How much money could Continental Airlines save by giving customers half a can instead of a whole can of Sprite?
- What is the estimated value of a taxi medallion in New York City?
- Discuss what is wrong with the following statistic: The Volvo is the safest car on the road because a recent study has shown that Volvos have the fewest number of accident deaths per mile driven
- Estimate the change in the price of oil in the year 2000 from today’s price. Will it increase or will it decrease?
Estimate the number of attendees for a free concert for U2 in Central Park in New York City
Accenture Case Interview Tips
Accenture provides the following six tips for acing your case interviews.
Tip #1: Take your time and don’t rush into speaking
Structure your ideas and thinking before you start talking. If needed, talk through the problem out loud so that the interviewer can follow your thought process.
Tip #2: Be flexible
There may be times when the case will take a different direction than anticipated. You may also need to completely change your approach or hypothesis. It is important that you are open-minded and adaptable throughout the case.
Tip #3: Use visual aids
To make your communication even more clear and easy to follow, use visual aids to your advantage. When presenting your framework, turn your paper around so that it faces the interviewer. When outlining a process, use a whiteboard if there is one available.
Tip #4: Be 80/20
The 80/20 principle states that 80% of the results comes from 20% of your effort. You will not have the time to answer every single question in a case interview. Therefore, take an inventory of all of the information that you have and focus on diving deeper into the areas that will have the greatest impact.
Tip #5: Pay attention to cues from the interviewer
Remember that case interviewers are meant to be collaborative. You should listen closely to what the interviewer has to say. They may provide you with hints to help you out. They may also give you feedback on your approach or structure to help steer you in the right direction. Don’t dismiss what interviewers have to say.
Tip #6: Showcase your individuality
A case interview is an opportunity to showcase your personality and experiences. If you have unique insights based on your previous work experiences, make sure that you bring it up. This can help separate your answer from other candidates.
Accenture Behavioral and Fit Interview Questions
In addition to case interviews, you will likely be asked a few behavioral or fit interview questions. There are ten questions that are most commonly asked.
1. Why are you interested in working at Accenture?
How to answer: Have at least three reasons why you’re interested in working at Accenture. You could mention that you loved the people that you have met from Accenture so far. You can talk about Accenture’s massive global presence and expertise in nearly any industry or function. You can speak to how Accenture provides strategy and implementation, so you can see the impact of your work.
2. Why do you want to work in consulting?
How to answer: Again, have three reasons why you’re interested in consulting. You could mention the fast career growth opportunity, the opportunity to develop soft and hard skills, or the level of impact that you can make by working with large companies on their most challenging issues.
3. Walk me through your resume.
How to answer: Provide a concise summary of your work experience, starting with the most recent. Focus on emphasizing your most impressive and unique accomplishments. At the end, tie your experiences to why you are interested in consulting.
4. What is your proudest achievement?
How to answer: Choose your most impressive, unique, or memorable accomplishment. Structure your answer by providing information on the situation, the task, the actions you took, and the results of your work.
5. What is something that you are proud of that is not on your resume?
How to answer: This is a great opportunity to highlight an accomplishment that is not related to your professional work experience. Perhaps there is a non-profit that you volunteer at, a side project or business that you work on, or a hobby that you have won awards or recognition for. Choose something that is impressive and interesting.
6. Tell me about a time when you led a team.
How to answer: If possible, choose a time when you directly managed a person or a team. For this question and the following questions, make sure that you structure your answer. Structure your answer by providing information on the situation, the task, the actions you took, and the results of your work. This is known as the STAR method and is commonly used to answer behavioral or fit interview questions.
7. Give an example of a time when you faced conflict or a disagreement.
How to answer: When answering this question, focus on emphasizing the steps you took to resolve the conflict or disagreement. Speak to the interpersonal skills you had to use in order to mediate the situation. Interviewers want to know that you are a great mediator and that you can handle conflict in a constructive way.
8. Tell me about a time when you had to persuade someone.
How to answer: Choose a time when you were able to change someone’s mind. Focus on emphasizing the steps that you took to persuade that person and what impact and results this had. Interviewers want to know that you are a great communicator and a good people person.
9. Describe a time when you failed.
How to answer: Choose a time when you failed to meet a deadline or did not meet expectations. Focus on emphasizing what you learned from the experience and how you used that experience to deliver even better results in the next opportunity that you got. Interviewers want to see that you don’t get discouraged from failure and that you treat those experiences as learning opportunities.
10. What questions do you have for me?
How to answer: This is a great opportunity to get to know the interviewer on a more personal level. Ask them questions about their experience in consulting or their career. Express genuine interest in what they have to show and ask follow-up questions. The more you can get the interviewer talking about themself, the more likely they will have a positive impression of you.
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