As described previously. However unlike the other account, I was very disappointed by the whole experience and from early on during the assessment process, decided that Accenture wasn’t for me! Here is my account-
It took weeks for my application to be processed, as they seemed to have issues with my non-UK qualifications (listed on the Deloitte website for example, where I meet their criteria by far). My first disappointment was the fact that I had to deal with a call centre in India. The whole recruitment process is orchestrated by them, from the initial application, to the first interview, assessment centre invite, and final answer. They were very polite, but they had problems understanding English, had very strong accents that were difficult to understand, and it must have been difficult for them to deal with European and British educational systems seeing that they’re based in India. Accenture does outsourcing, however I feel it’s very poor that as a graduate applying for them, you can’t deal with an HR representative. Companies like them spend a huge amount on branding, often giving us the impression that we have to be grateful to be even considered from an interview. We might be at the bottom of the ladder, but I felt that we are still worth being able to deal with an HR representative than a call centre at the other side of the world.
That was the most surreal interview I’d ever done at that point. I’ve done many so far, for smaller companies (much more enjoyable experiences, even though competing with experienced hires is very tough), and most were enjoyable - questions were asked, but you had a rapport with your interviewer and were able to discuss your competencies and other formal interview questions. Here, a manager from Accenture greeted me. Turns out I was one of the lucky ones - many (most?) deal with the robots from HR.
He was very friendly and I was happy his hands were a lot sweatier than mine (I was nervous initially). Straight away, he told me “Thank god - you’re the last one today” and made it very clear he really couldn’t be bothered to interview me. I’m very good at making small talk, I’ve graduated already, and have dealt with all sorts of people through jobs and travels, so I joked about it and it didn’t make me feel uneasy, which he obviously appreciated as he wasn’t going to sit there with a petrified graduate. A less worldly second year/19 year old might have been very stressed out by his comments. He then proceeded to ask me competency based questions very very fast, making notes on a clipboard. Thank god I’d done a lot of interviews by then and revised very well as you’d have no time to think about it. When he thought my answer was sufficient, he just went yepyepyepyep, then went on to the next. Overall, it took under 20 minutes. Thankfully, I got talking to him about his work, him being a young father, and we were both interested in a specific aspect of the telecoms industry, which we had an informal chat about. He also told me that when he first started working for Accenture, he had to work nearly every day of the week for months, and that at the moment, he works really far away from home so stays in hotels, effectively seeing his kid and wife only 2 days a week. These are the realities of consulting and you should be prepared for this. He was also quite sneaky talking about his work, saying how once they really messed up something, but manage to blame it all on X company etc. I was sucking up so I was like “Oh hahaha”. I heard Accenture had a bad rep from senior IT professionals I knew (they’ve been trying to move on from the Anderson Consulting days, but the reputation sticks), and that re-confirmed what I’d been told.
Overall, it was a pleasant experience. I think he just had other things to do/was preoccupied and wanted to get through the questioning as fast as he could, but as we got on well, he was very happy to have a chat with me, and it was very relaxed. Not sure about his work ethics however.
A pure joke. I have a very cynical viewpoint on these things. A company has to be able to discriminate between candidates. They try to do so by setting up assessment centres, where they supposedly look for evidence of competencies, but really, as long as you don’t say or do something too stupid (and most people don’t), it’s going to be a case of how much they personally like you, and more importantly how you’d “fit” within their corporate frame. Not so objective, then. If you’re extremely intelligent or have a lot of personality, tone it down! You need to be seen as a “safe” investment, and not everyone can be a partner. Imagine lots of brilliant, highly ambitious individual in a big corporation with big personalities! Mayhem!!
THE HR ROBOTS
The whole thing was led by tight-lipped, uninspiring HR ladies, clipboard in hand. To my great horror, they did our case study and interview, which I thought was ridiculous, as all the people there who also had their first interview with them never had a one to one interview with anybody else! How can you make an informed decision if you can’t even interact on a personal level with someone from the service line you applied for?? I was pissed off before the case study even started (I really did not want to have a case study with HR - call me a snob but I don’t see why I am being assessment by them at that stage). I tried to be as charming as possible, shaking hands with a big smile. Response? Nada. Icecubes. Sour face. There was another person behind me, silently watching with a clipboard in hand as well, no smiles to be seen either. Normally in case study interview, you end up having almost a discussion with your interviewer, and they usually give you a few pointers to guide you. Here, I felt I was going through a police interrogation. I’m usually good at dealing with most people, but I just wanted to get out as fast as I could! It was only 20 minutes long, but it seemed like an eternity. The result was that I gave her a vomit of an analysis. Not cool. Only good thing is, next time I encounter this sort of individual, I’ll know what to do. To make matters worse, at the end of the day, she was the one who interviewed me as well. It was the worse interview I’d ever done in my life. Even though I applied to the ACG, she said I should be aligned to SIT. I tried to tactfully protest, in vain (so if you did Spanish, you end up doing Management Consulting, and if you did a Science like me and built a website, you’re assigned to technical stuff?). We had a clear mutual dislike for each other.
THE CORPORATE BS AND PROPAGANDA
They did have the decency to send us a manager in the morning for a presentation. He was young, good looking, and successful of course. He did Classics, if I remember correctly, so for those on non-techy degrees, fear not! It quickly transpired that he hadn’t even read the presentation beforehand. He kept going through slides going “Oh what is that?”. He also went on about how Accenture was doing extremely well at the moment and not affected at all by the credit crunch. I felt slightly patronised once again:
- ACG, SI&T and consultants from other business sections are fearing for their jobs in the UK due to a “slowdown” so Accenture is starting a mass dismissal process in the next couple of days. You should know this if you did your homework
- I was informed during the summer that they dismissed a lot of contractors, admin and HR staff (an ex Accenture secretary told me that). Might explain why the HR dep where we were was nearly empty?!
- The next batch of graduates that was supposed to start now are on half salary (slightly envious…) to do nothing as their start date had to be pushed back
I’m not expecting a firm to say that they’re having real problems with the current economical climate, but they don’t have to blatantly lie about it! This is common practise unfortunately. I had a final interview with a company not long ago, and when I asked them what their strategy was to cope with the current economical climate, they said they were not affected at all. A week later, waiting for my offer of employment to come through, I get a call saying “we’re really sorry but recruitment has been frozen due to the current economical climate, so we can’t hire you after all”.
We also had to look at all the videos of the people talking about their job. We were all a bit amused as we’d seen them already on the website, and because obviously if we were here, we were interested. We also got the chance to talk to some guys who’d been working for Accenture for 1-2 years on their graduate scheme. I only spoke to one of the guys. I quickly found out that he was from SI&T, and on the bench. The poor guy was unstaffed, thus fearing for his job, but had to assist at a recruitment process (obviously he’s not earning them a cent at the moment, but not a great vote of confidence). I got talking to him a little bit more, and when I briefly mentioned that the ladies from HR were difficult to read at times, he laughed and told me they were a bunch of robots anyway (glad someone else shared my hate of HR). He then sniggered when I mentioned I had a friend at ATS (Accenture Technology Solutions - the techies). I heard they were looked down at in the company, and I guess he confirmed this.
As expected, I did not make it (won’t be crying). I didn’t even get a call, but a generic email from India. I’d heard a lot of negative things about Accenture through friends and family, and have a good friend who works in ATS and overall enjoys it (but he often gets away with working 9 to 5 as he’s quick and has befriended the right managers, and he wants to leg it as soon as he’s milked the most money and experience, to do something worthwhile from a technical point of view). I wanted to see by myself, and it’s really not a place I want to work at. They do not seem to value their employee in any way, they’ve got a reputation of sending lots of untrained grads on a client site and charging a fortune for them (you only see a fraction of that), how you progress and how you get staffed on a project solely relies on your networking skills and how much your managers like you, they’re known for projects never being completed on time (they bid the cheapest offer for a project, but it ends up over running and costing lots), the list goes on. I don’t think they’ve moved on much more than the Eron/Anderson Consulting days.
I’d say apply to Accenture if you want free interview and assessment training. That’s been an invaluable experience, and now I’m prepared to face HR robots and could handle the situation much better. Also, if you want experience on your CV, go for it - trade your life for 2 years of experience and a good starting salary, then RUN FOR IT and find better work somewhere else.