I recently went through the Accenture recruitment process and thought that I would give a brief overview of my experience.
Accenture recruits at the school I attend and so I was able to go to meet a recruiter for a quick chat in November. I also applied to Accenture Boot Camp which is a retreat where they basically tell you how to pass the assessment centre, it seems like getting into boot camp is tantamount to securing an offer. But I was not accepted to boot camp. One thing I did notice was that when i applied to bootcamp, it said that if I met the minimum qualifications and applied, but was not selected I would be offered a first-round interview. I applied, was denied and e-mailed them reminding the recruiter I met about the guaranteed first interview. A week or so later I got an interview for the Analyst position. I am not sure if this had to do with my application itself or my e-mail, regardless I wasn’t too concerned as I just wanted an interview.
RECRUITER IN RESIDENCE
I was most curious about how to secure an interview with Accenture when I met the recruiter, so all my questions were geared to that end. The CV and questions are points-based, You get points for degrees, experience, languages, etc. She said that they look for leadership experience in all these areas rather than just participation. I had received quite a few interview opportunities with other consulting firms and so I thought my chances of an interview weren’t too far off. It was good to get some first hand info from the recruiter. I would also recommend going to any events they have and asking the questions you must answer on your application to the recruiters/consultants, and then ask what they like to see on a CV, that way you can really tailor your answers to what they are looking for.
The first interview was with someone in customer relationship management. She was very professional and straightforward. I think it is a bit ridiculous that some other people have posted about how they were ‘just robots’ and weren’t very friendly. This should be somewhat expected and almost appreciated. This makes sure that each candidate gets an equal and fair shake in the recruitment process. If the dynamic of the interview is changed too much by who is interviewing then it is difficult to maintain a rigorous interview process. Don’t expect them to be all over about your qualifications, experience CV. They want to hear it from you. You set the tone for the interview. i see interviews as a canvas for you (the candidate) to paint, at least in first interviews.
Competency based, very simple. Questions about the job role, the company of accenture, etc. Then they ask you a few questions about teamwork, leadership experience, challenges. I can’t really remember too much of the questions, but I remember it went fast and was as comfortable as I made it.
I did a SWOT analysis of Accenture to help me understand where it operated from a bird’s-eye level and to view how it fit into the competitive landscape of consulting firm. I used Hoover’s SWOT analysis and it was really helpful. I also reviewed some of the case studies on the website and broke down the analyst role in to time so I could say that Analysts do activity A, X percent of the time and activity B, X percent of the time and so Skills ABC seem to be most critical. After this I reviewed my CV and found areas of alignment so when I was asked about my experience I could link it to what analysts do. Then I looked at what industries I was most interested in and thought of 3 or 4 reasons why i woudl be good at. All in all, I felt i was really overprepared for the first interview, but again, I believe that you perform as well as you prepare. I don’t trust myself enough to rely on my adrenaline. But take caution not to sound rehearsed or contrived. For me it helps to have a few ideas rather than sentences.
Case Study -
This was quite straightforward i felt. They gave you ten minutes and I used the whole time. I asked a few questions but quickly realised I wasn’t going to get any answers of consequence, all you need is what is on the paper. My advice is to familiarize yourself with the service lines at Accenture, then look at the problems through what service line woudl most likely work on it. If there is scheduling and work order coordination problems, than it is an information management issue, if there are procurement or warehousing issues, it is a supply chain problem. I picked three problems and called them by name of service line, issue. Then I outlined what their service line issue was and how to 3 solutions on how to remedy it and wrote them next to the service line on the paper. I did this for all three of them. Then I prioritised them and went through the delivery of them in the last few minutes I was given. I presented them as if the interviewer was the client. Then she asked me what risks there were with my solutions. i went through each solution and just gave a few risks off the top of my head. I would recommend in the 10 minutes to think about risks or potential problems and call them out to the interviewer rather than wait for them to ask you. There wasn’t too much challenge but she wanted me to reflect on my solutions so she could make sure that logic i was using was sound or not.
I left the first round interview feeling like I did pretty good but not sure if I would get a second interview. A few days later I got an e-mail about a second interview.
I found the assessment centre very well run and professional. I had been to three others with other firms and felt that Accenture’s was very good for several reasons. The first is that unlike the other assessment centres, when the analyst level employees came in to talk to us, the managers and recruiters left the room. This seemed to demonstrate their confidence in their company. No one was hesitant to ask any questions about good and or bad things they heard about Accenture. In other assessment centres, the manager and recruiters were always there and the mood of the questions was definitely different. I appreciated this with Accenture. The second thing I liked about the assessment centre was the short exit- interview of your performance. It was a good chance to demonstrate that you are self-aware and knew where you had areas of difficulty. If you felt like you didn’t do to well on a particular area you could call it out and let the recruiter know why you may not ahve done as well. Kind of a save yourself from immediate dismissal time. It was also good for me to review my performance immediately after when it was fresh in my mind. we watched a video on Accenture that I had seen a few times before at a recruiting event, but it was fine. It gave me a little time to think about what i wanted to do in the case study and group exercise.
This was the most difficult part of the day. The directions are a little ambiguous by design. There are 3 main tasks, one is usually to review a project and look for issue areas and raise them, offering solutions. The next is to prioritise a list of to-do items and the third is to send an e-mail about the issues of the project in preparation for a meeting. I could be a little fuzzy on this as I don’t remember it perfectly. Regardless, I suspect time management is the most crucial thing here, it goes by fast. I abandoned the first task after 15 minutes to make sure i got to the others so at least I completed all areas. If you feel it was a disaster, don’t worry, everyone else felt the same way and if someone thought it was easy, they are either lying or did not get the exercise. I thought I was sunk after this and was pretty pissed that now I had to sit through the rest of the assessment day just to get rejected. But after everyone else found it was really hard it brightened me up a bit. I had thought perhaps I was the only one that found it difficult, but everyone was just playing their cards close until someone broke the silence.
CASE STUDY -
The way Accenture does the case study I feel really puts you in control. You get 25 minutes to prepare. I found it helpful to treat my pages like PPT slides so i could give a sales-pitch type delivery. I found the prioritised 3 key issues, that were labeled as a given ‘service line’ issue and then created a matrix with the issues, solutions, risks, a few alternative solutions and past cases of Accenture from their website that correlated to the issue. Then the next slide I talked about the importance of getting the management on board and the final slide showed the tangible benefits that they could expect. I practiced this once the night before with a case and found it an easy way to organise my thoughts. put on one of the papers the names of the people in the company so I could give them by name and title when talking. This was an approach that seemed to work for me, but I am sure not the only approach. I didn’t receive any challenge on my case, the interviewer just said, thanked me. I imagine they will test you if you haven’t put together risks and alternatives as part of your presentation. I think you can get some extra points if you refer to previous cases.
I found this exercise really fun and was with a great group. I hope they all got offers, they were good. I think what the recruiters are looking in general is Process over substance in this exercise, but that is not to say you don’t need to show insight. I would just make sure that you defer to others, perhaps try and bring some into the discussion or ask for ideas. Be ready to volunteer for taking time or be the secretary. Also, make sure that the team is moving along to meet the task, it is important that you are aware of where the team is in relation to the task, given the time. I would just say be kind, considerate and try to bring some ideas to the table. Perhaps think about all aspects of the project viewing them through different service lines and what you would need to do to set up something that way. This wasn’t the approach our group took, but it may work for another group.
Before going into the interview I wrote down what I thought i did well and what I thought I could have improved on for each task, rather than head into the interview without really thinking through how i did. This helped me articulate things a little better and take the hyperbole out of how poor i felt i did in some areas. All in all, my sense is that it is important to show them that you value reviewing your performance as an exercise to improve and that you are able to look at yourself objectively.
That was pretty much my experience in the Accenture recruitment process. I did attend lots of consulting fairs and presentations and out of all the big companies, Accenture was the one that seemed most committed to finding the right people. I don’t react well to arrogance and I didn’t get that from their recruiters or from the presentation as I did a few other companies. There is one consultancy (Diamond) that I went through the assessment centre with that I was even more impressed with, but I was very underprepared for the interview and did not get (nor deserve) an offer, given my performance. It was a good learning experience and helped me perform more confidently during the assessment with Accenture.