Accenture Start to Finish - Unimpressed

Accenture
Response
#1

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-

Application Stage

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.

Interview

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.

Assessment day

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.

Conclusion

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.

#2

Fascinating account of the assessment process. Absolutely, fantastic account. Well written too. Great work. Thank you!

Very interesting points you brought up. This would back up some of the information I’ve come across too. From what I’ve heard, working at Accenture means lots of travel and a lot of hotel rooms, which isn’t too much fun.

Where will you interview/apply to next?

ED :stuck_out_tongue:

#3

Thanks! Glad to hear it as it’s not my native language (but I’ve been here for a while). Maybe I should write articles for the Daily Mirror!

Working at Accenture often means being stuck in a Travel Lodge in delightful places such as like Slough.

I’ve applied to their competitors and having ‘fun’ getting my numerical skills up to scratch, and I hope very much that the recruitment process won’t be quite as ridiculous. I’ve heard positive accounts from friends on these other places, so I’m hopeful!

In my eyes, assessment centres are a bit of a lottery. If you’re a rounded individual and well prepared, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and if you do not conform to the image they project, then you lose a bit more often. It depends on who was assessing you, the quality of the other participants, how you all worked as a group, and many other subjective variables. Also, it’s all down to practise. The first few interviews, assessment centres, and case studies, will be hit and miss anyway due to stress and not knowing what to expect.

#4

I went to an Accenture event yesterday, and I got exactly the same feel; pretentious, stuck up, and damn right liars.

#5

Out of curiosity, was your first round interviewer Indian? From what I can tell Accenture employs an incredibly high number of Indians.

#6

Nope he was British. They do as much offshore work in India (programming etc) as they can as it’s cheaper. I saw 1 British Indian employee but apart from that, everyone was white in the office I went to. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I always thought they were better at representing ethnic minorities than let’s say, IB and some of the big 4s?

#7

Being an Accenture employee I can definitely state that Accenture are very good at keeping a balance of employees and their background.

My last project team consisted of 2 English, 1 Scottish (me), 1 Russian, 1 Pakistan, 2 Indian and a South African. All in the consulting stream, UK based and incredibly clever people.

A UK office is always going to be predominantly white, same as if you go to India it will be predominantly full of Indians, but I would say Accenture are pretty good at maintaining a fair representation without sacrificing on talents and skills required for consulting.

#8

Hello all,

I too had a recent 1st round interview with Accenture. Let me talk about the experience a bit more. Spoiler There is an unexpected twist in the story!

My interviewer was a lady from HR. I don’t mind with that, as at this stage they’re trying to find out more about you and it’s less about the technicalities. However, it’s always better to talk with someone that knows the territory well.

If I were to review the performance of my interviewer, I definitely wouldn’t offer her a promotion. In fact, there was another lady in the room (she was from the Analyst Consulting Group) and she was assessing the interviewer! (she literally told me “pretend I’m not here”). It turned out that she was more capable at answering my questions at the end than the actual interviewer.

Anyway, back to the interview.
The interviewer was going strictly by the book, nothing really wrong with that. She read out loud the instructions concerning the interviewing procedure along with some other details. She was good at reading, but not as good at giving further, clarifying answers to my questions. And I wasn’t asking things just for the sake of having a conversation.

She was also a bit “cold”. I wasn’t expecting jiggles and high-fives, but clearly she wasn’t a person with strong communication skills. It’s funny that they expect us, the candidates, to excel at those skills, when their HR representatives lack them.

All in all, the first and biggest part of the interview went very well. She looked satisfied with my answers, if not impressed. The questions that I was asked were the usual ones. (covered in other posts). Nothing exceptional or unexpected.

The case study also went well, although I wouldn’t say great as with the first part. It was the one with the water company (again, covered in another post). I identified 3 issues and 3 solutions and was also asked to prioritise the actions. Finally, I was asked about the results that my proposals would have on the business. Again, my interviewer’s lack of technical/consulting skills was evident. I was surprised by the fact that she kept asking me to come up with more solutions, even though I had already mentioned 4-5 and expanded on them. This made me wonder if I had missed something obvious. I read a related post which talked about the same case study and I found that my answers were quite similar (I even suggested using GPS, same as in the other post :slight_smile:

Now, for the INTERESTING part.

Last Monday, about a week after the interview, I got an e-mail saying that I was successful and that the details of the 2nd round would be announced in a following e-mail. That e-mail came 3 days later, on Thursday. It contained the details, such as date, location (the same) and also the e-mail of a “buddy” (someone already working with Accenture, that is supposed to help you with any queries).

And then boom…on Friday, just one day later, I get a phone call from a recruitment representative (he was calling from India - just an observation) telling me that there has been an error and that I failed the 1st round interview! I was so surprised, that I didn’t know how to react at the time. And even if I had said something, I doubt that he would be able to say something, than apologise…
I don’t know what went wrong there…I read about some interview cancellations in other posts and the reason there was that all positions were covered or something similar. I know it doesn’t make any difference, but no matter what… this isn’t exactly how you expect to be treated by a company. Unprofessional and irresponsible.

For the moment, all I did was send them an e-mail, describing the situation and expressing them my disappointment and frustration. I really got turned off with the way things developed, but I think I deserve a more formal explanation and apology.

I told my story to a friend and he said that this could be a way of testing my reaction to a hard situation. Yeah, right… I doubt it.
But if you have any suggestion, or if you have any similar experience, please write it here.
Writing about it and making it public may be the only way of encouraging the companies to be more responsible and avoid mistakes.

Silver

#9

That’s terrible! That’s really awful treatment of you - and really daft of Accenture… big firms have got to get the assessment process right or it reflects so badly on them.

#10

Couldn’t agree more with all of what has been written so far.

By far the most dissapointing thing was not to have seen a single line manager during the whole process, those HR people really are the worst.

It seems like recruitment has slowed to a trickle as well, the earliest start date I was offered at my AC was 16 months away, though in the end I wasn’t offered the job.

#11

wow, you’ve really opened my eyes to Accenture, I was going to apply to them!

#12

I think that last comment pretty much sums up the people you are dealing with, also ties in with the experience i’ve had working with them.

Good write up Starlita - i’d be happy to employ you one day.

#13

Well since my last comment, I have left Accenture for pastures new. Before you start jumping to conclusions, the SI&T workforce was offered the chance to take up Voluntary Redundancy towards the end of last year (in an effort to reduce the number of force redundancies thereafter). I had been looking to transfer up to a Scottish office to be closer to family and friends and after 2 years of trying the best offer I got was Manchester. So I took the decision to take their money and run. No hard feelings.

Anyway, back on point. With regards to Accenture as a company to work for, I firstly dismiss the comment two above this one as that is blatantly someone trying to stir the pot and/or doesn’t work for Accenture. We, or I should now say they, are not like that in Accenture whatsoever!

Enron/Anderson stigma - Accenture was indeed a spin off from Arthur Anderson. But it actually spun off over a year before the Enron scandal, and rebranded to Accenture about 2 months before the scandal broke to the news. Very little of Anderson remains in the company, and through my own research the majority of Anderson Consulting Directors actually moved to Deloitte!

HR - Accenture’s is probably one of the worst I have ever come across. Once your working for Accenture you rarely interact with them. You have an HR Rep who you report to when your unassigned to a project, but really their only goal is to get you off their books and onto a project (regardless of whether the project is suitable for you or not). This is where your networks come into play, and after your first couple of projects you learn how to handle HR and get what you want (trust me its not that hard to get things by them!). So when it comes to the interviews, dont expect a rapport, but more importantly don’t take it personally. They are robots, handling 1000s of applications for 100’s if not 10’s of jobs…

1st Round Interview by a manager - The general approach of management within Accenture is that it becomes pretty clear within a few questions as well as looking at your CV whether your suited to Accenture and worthy of a 2nd round interview. So the story of a manager being disinterested in the interview and happy it was his last one of the day. If you were to ask me, he looked at your CV, you ticked the boxes, and clearly you built up some rapport with him and discussed his projects etc. He would have known straight off that drilling you for information was pointless. You had the personality, you knew who Accenture were (many don’t when they show up!), and you asked informed questions. His yep, yep, yep responses whilst scribbling on his clipboard was because he needs to satisfy the HR bots with the evidence that you should get a 2nd interview.

2nd round Analyst chat - Being unassigned in Accenture is part and parcel of the job. Yes everyone was afraid when they started making redundancies and people were on the bench. But unless you were unassigned for 3 months or more (which is a long time!) you weren’t really under threat. Last Xmas the only compulsory redundancy I found out (and I tried hard to find a few) was of one guy who was on the bench for 6 months. As for helping out at the assessment centre. This isn’t typically something your thrown into due to lack of respect, its actually something analysts and consultants offer to do to fill their time when they are unassigned. When your not booked to a project its your responsibility to find things you can ‘charge’ yourself to, such as training modules and recruitment activities. Some examples of typical stuff you find to busy yourself are university recruitment days, assessment centre chats, and even becoming part of the analyst training team based out in Chicago! The bottom line is you need to book your time each day to something, and so the way you protrayed that the analyst was reluctantly lumped with coming to talk to the analysts was far from the truth. It’s part of his/her job if they haven’t got a project.

Long Hours/Out of Town Project Work - This is consulting. No other way around it, you are expected to work flexible hours (on average I must have worked 13 hours a day over the 3 years I was there). Out of town assignments tend to be rare in my experience, but long commutes are the norm. Accenture offer a very steep, but very fast career path. I went from £28.5k starting salary, to £45k inside of 3 years…find me another career non-bonus based that will give you that much that quickly.

Quality of Accenture services - Saying Accenture sell cheap and then rack up the costs once they’ve secured the project is completely false. Accenture sell themselves on a premium service. They actually lose alot of contracts to IBM who are the ones to sell low.

Training of graduates - Accenture put graduates through 3 months of training before being sent to their first client site. The value of this training I admit wasn’t much to me (but then I had studied Computer Science and Management so the majority of theory I already knew). When you are sent to your first project this can be client based or internal - very much project dependent. In terms of training thereafter, emphasis is on-the-job, but your colleagues have been there and done that before you so more often than not will offer support etc. I certainly did my utmost to help new analysts and in every team I worked for they did the same.

Networking - Yes Accenture requires you to network effectively. I’m not the best but I still made it to Consultant level within 2 years. Those more comfortable with kissing arse got fast-tracked up within 12-18 months. But if that really annoys you, consulting isn’t the career for you. It’s a dog eat dog world and you’ve got to play the game.

Solutions workforce - I assume this is the SIT group you refer to. Solutions workforce are paid to work 9-5 and paid overtime thereafter. Consultants are not, they are paid a base salary that is significantly more than the solutions workforce but are expected to work the longer hours without overtime. As for how solutions personnel are treated on projects, I would admit I looked down on them a bit, but only with regards to how they’re quality of work was more often than not inferior to that of a consultants. I don’t know what it is in a solutions employees benefits package, but despite consultants not being paid overtime and working the extra hours, they always gave you a 99% accurate document, whereas solutions was more like 80-90% accurate.

India - This is a new recruitment step to me. When I interviewed back in 2004 and 2005 (I failed at the 2nd round for a summer placement in 2004) all contact was handled by HR in London. I can only sympathise with you if the quality of contact is not great. I can only assume its a new delivery centre and therefore still getting up to speed on the quality front.

So overall I’ve tried to be as honest about my experiences as possible. As a company you cannot get a better first step on the career ladder. As an HR department, they are the worst. And as I’ve found having moved to another (non-consulting) company, the pace of work, expectations and commitment required is by far and away greater than any other job I’ve had before or since.

But on a final note - I’ve made some of my best friends in Accenture, as well as met a few d*cks along the road. Please don’t take that earlier ‘acnmanager’ post seriously as not only is checking your ‘HR record’ not possible (HR Graduate recruitment is far removed from the consulting practice) its also illegal to comment on in such a public forum. What they claim to have done is legally and physically not possible!

#14

Thanks for all the great information. Just wondering if anyone has applied this year? I have 1st round interview coming up soon.

#15

Good luck Seyoc07.

And great post paranoid. A lot of people don’t like HR and that goes for almost all the companies. That surely does not mean that it is acceptable or a professional behaviour that you vent your frustrations by publicly insulting a major employer or any employer. That surely does not bode very well on your professionalism.

#16

That’s a shame

#17

Love the fact that Accenture are advertising on Wiki and being slammed by the users. Have they seen this? I would be pretty worried if i was them. They should get in on the conversation and put their point of view across. Their Marketing department not looking so smart. And now they’ve lost Tiger too. Quite a good analogy for Accenture by the looks of the comments above - project a great image but behind the scenes screwing people over! Actually this could make a great case study if i ever get an interview for the WPP fellowship…

#18

Did anyone see this in the newspaper yesterday. Hilarious.

Why on earth has Accenture ditched Tiger Woods?

Surely Tiger’s decision to outsouce sexual services to a range of competing providers is in line with Management Consultancy’s established best practice?

Previously he had been tied to a monopoly Scandianvian supplier - with the cripplingly high social costs this usually entails. Moreover, given his wife’s age, it is possible that she was on the brink of becoming a depreciating asset who needed to be moved off the balance sheet as soon as possible.

Admittedly he could have off-shored more - to girls from low-wage economies. But the arrangement where he could have anything from nil to three girls on call at any one time allows for better load-balancing, enabling him to handle the peaks and troughs of demand better than under the previous inflexible arrangement. By sourcing girls locally, he was also reducing distribution costs and helping the environment… while allowing him to adopt a best-of-breed approach to sexual delivery, rather than depending on a single source.

#19

Brings a whole new meaning to “Go on be a Tiger”

Read a funny joke that goes …

question: What is the difference between Santa Claus and Tiger Woods ?
answer: Santa stops after 3 Hos

*ouch

#20

all this information is very interesting. i cant help but feel theres a few haters out there.