The Accenture Case Interview: A Comprehensive Guide for 2021

accenture case interview
Rachael Troughton
Rachael Troughton

Former Accenture

Does it feel like there’s so much to try to understand about tackling Accenture case interviews? Are you unsure where to even start?

Don’t worry, we’ve been there. No, seriously, we actually have been there. And we made it through to the other side, job offer in hand.

Which makes us perfectly placed to walk you through it, step-by-step, in our comprehensive guide.

In this article, we’ll discuss:

  • What the Accenture recruitment process looks like,
  • The Accenture Potentia interview,
  • The Accenture case interview – a step-by-step guide,
  • MCO’s 5 tips on acing the Accenture case interview, and
  • The Accenture Consulting fit/behavioral interview.

Let’s get started!

Accenture Consulting’s Recruitment Process

The Accenture recruitment process is similar to that of other consulting firms. Since 2021, more and more of the process is being conducted virtually. There are 4 main elements which we’ll cover here:

  • The Online Application
  • The Digital Assessment
  • The Phone Interview
  • Assessment Day
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Accenture’s Online Application

The first stage is to submit an online application form. Make sure this is tailored to the service and location you’re interested in applying to. You can use Accenture’s job descriptions to make sure you cover the main elements recruiters are looking for.

Need more help? Read our comprehensive guide to preparing your consulting resume.

The Accenture Digital Assessment

Depending on the role, the next stage after your application’s been accepted is an online assessment. This is an opportunity for the recruiting team to test your numeracy, logic, and decision-making skills and to identify areas of natural strength.

You can find out all you need to know about the Accenture Digital Assessment in our article.

Phone Interview

The phone interview is your first chance to really connect with the recruiting team. They’ll be looking to understand your motivation for joining Accenture Consulting and how your skills match what they’re looking for.

This is your opportunity to show how enthusiastic you are about Accenture, so referencing something unique to the company that’s sparked your interest — how its values align with yours, how it supports advances in technology, or your interest in the company’s corporate social responsibility work — is a smart move.

Accenture Assessment Day

For graduate hires, the final stage is an assessment day. This may be in-person, though many offices now hold virtual assessment days.

During the assessment day, there will be both group and individual elements including leadership activities, case study discussions, and 1:1 interviews. The 1:1 interviews will include both a behavioral/fit interview and a case interview.

Experienced hires won’t have an assessment day. Instead, they’ll have either a virtual or face-to-face case and fit interview.

Worried about how to tackle a virtual case interview? We’ve got 7 top tips to help you ace them.

The Accenture Potentia Interview

Accenture is a big firm. As well as management consultancy, they also provide IT consultancy and outsourcing services for business support operations.

The management consultancy part of the business is divided into 3 parts: Accenture Strategy, Digital, and Operations. Accenture Strategy is the arm of the company that competes against top consulting firms such as Bain, BCG, and McKinsey.

If you’re applying for a role within Accenture Strategy, you’ll complete a unique interview called the Potentia interview.

How Is the Accenture Potentia Interview Different from a Regular Case Interview?

Don’t be thrown by the name. At its heart, the Potentia interview is a case interview. The main difference is that it focuses more on assessing the creative thinking of Accenture Strategy candidates.

We’ll be taking you through the nuts and bolts of a case interview below so, for now, here are a few tips to approach this unique Accenture interview.

Our Top Tips For the Potentia Interview

The Potentia interview is a 1-hour long interview about a broad business topic. You’ll be given a short piece of text providing some context to the topic and a problem statement.

Topics are diverse, such as the mining of blood diamonds in Africa or who owns the intellectual property of the internet.

You have 5 minutes to read through the information and prepare your thoughts. After that, there’s a 45-60 minute conversation with the interviewer where you present your thoughts and answer their follow-up questions. There’s no math required during the Potentia interview.

Here are our top tips:

  • Use a framework to organize your thoughts. While the interviewer is assessing your creativity, how you present your thoughts should be logical and structured. Outline your core ideas and then expand on the key strengths and weaknesses of each.
  • Don’t try and ‘solve’ the problem. These are complex real-life topics that don’t have an easy solution. Focus on presenting innovative ideas that could create real benefit. But, don’t forget good business sense. Evaluate your ideas for practicality, risk, and ease of implementation.
  • Adapt your experience. If you have previous work experience that gives you insight into how to approach the problem, use it! Adapting something that’s worked in one context for use in another shows flexibility and a creative mindset.

The Accenture Case Interview: A Step-by-Step Guide

Let’s now look at the Accenture case interview in detail – what types of case you might face, how to approach them, and a real-life work example.

Types of Cases

There are 3 types of cases you might face during your Accenture case interviews. These are called:

  • The “Great Unknown”
  • The “Parade of Facts”
  • The “Back of an Envelope”

Each of the types has different attributes, as shown below. Of the 3 types, the “Great Unknown” and the “Back of the Envelope” are more common than the “Parade of Facts”.

Whichever case you face, make sure you fully understand all the facts and what you are being asked to do before trying to “solve” it.

Case types

How to Approach the Case Interview

Case Interview Approach

1) Make Sure You Understand the Question

Fully understanding the question asked is the 1st step in our tried-and-tested method of approaching case interviews.

You don’t want to spend 45 minutes crafting a great answer to the wrong question. Take a moment to consider the problem statement and then repeat it back to the interviewer in your own words to make sure you’ve got it nailed down.

2) Take Time to Think Things Through

Once you understand the problem, it’s helpful to break it down into smaller parts to help you uncover the issues that might be driving it. An issue tree is a helpful tool to identify the root cause of problems.

Once you’re clear on what the problem is, take a moment to figure out what approach you’re going to take to “solve” it and what clarification questions you want to ask the interviewer. 

At this stage, you might want to think about familiar frameworks you’ve studied during your case study preparation and how they can help frame your thoughts. 

For more information on some classic business frameworks, see Case Interview Frameworks.

3) Ask Insightful Questions

At this point, you should be clear on the problem and have figured out your approach to “solving” it. Share this with the interviewer so they can follow your thought process and ask any clarification questions that you need.

Asking pertinent questions and probing for more information should then allow you to form one or more hypotheses of what could solve the problem.

Testing your hypotheses against what you know about the client and by using a relevant business framework will allow you to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each, until you finalize your preferred recommendation.

  • 4) Summarize Your Findings

In this final stage, you’ll summarize your findings and present recommendations to the client.

Make sure you provide a clear and direct answer to the problem statement and outline any next steps you recommend the client takes. 

Highlight any risks associated with your recommendations and options for mitigating them.

The Accenture Case Interview: A Worked Example

Let’s go through an example “Great Unknown” case to see how this all fits together.

Problem Statement

The City of Philadelphia government is struggling to find appropriate ways to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine quickly and at scale. They hire you to propose and evaluate options that could help.

As is typical in a “Great Unknown” case, there’s not much information given so asking great questions is key to cracking this case.

Issue Tree 

After considering the problem statement, remember to reflect back to the interviewer what you understand to be the problem, in your own words.

Next, create an issue tree to break the problem down and into component parts.

Accenture-Case-Interview

Using an issue tree helps you to quickly identify several things the client needs to consider when evaluating how to distribute the vaccine including the following issues: infrastructure, staffing, procedures and training, communications and technology, funding, and procurement.

This is also the time to ask clarification questions and probe for more information where there are gaps in your current understanding of the problem.

In this example you should consider:

Location:

  • Locations for Vaccination
    • What factors are making it difficult for the state to scale its vaccinations?
    • What are the success criteria e.g., x number of people vaccinated per day? This will help you understand the scale of the operation required.
    • What examples of best practices in rapid vaccinations can be leveraged?
    • What facilities in Philadelphia can accommodate enough people? 
    • What facilities are close enough to mass transportation?
  • Locations for Vaccine Storage
    • What special requirements are there for for storage of the COVID-19 vaccine?
    • What locations have this storage or room to deploy rented equipment for vaccine storage?

Staffing:

  • How many medical and administrative staff will be required?
  • What skills must they have?
  • Where can we find qualified staff? 

Procurement & Training?

  • Procedures
    • What procedures are required for administering the vaccine?
    • For ensuring patients flow smoothly through the facility?
    • What distancing and cleaning protocols need to be in place to avoid COVID transmission in the vaccination facility?
  • Training for Staff
    • How will staff be trained?

Communications & Technology:

  • Engagement & Communication Campaign
    • What communication channels are needed to inform the public of how to book an appointment?
    • How can we best provide information on the safety and efficacy of the vaccine? On the Facility’s safety procedures?
    • What questions can be anticipated and managed with FAQs to reduce the burden on the call center?
  • Booking Appointments
    • What technology is best for booking appointments
  • Reporting requirements
    • What reports are required by state and federal authorities?

Financial

  • What is the budget?
  • How can more funding be secured, if necessary?

Procurement

  • How many vaccine doses have been allotted to Philadelphia?
  • If sufficient doses aren’t available, how can more be procured?

Building A Hypothesis for How to Quickly and Efficiently Vaccinate the Philadelphia Population 


Depending on the information given, now is the time to narrow the focus and create a hypothesis.

In our example, let’s assume further information was offered that points to the lack of suitable locations as the key challenge to Philadelphia distributing at scale.

Possible venues could be passed through the following 2 screens:

Is the venue accessible to a large number of Philadelphia residents?

  • Is it large enough to accommodate the number of people required?
  • Is it near access points for pedestrians and cars that minimize traffic congestion?
  • Does it link to other transport networks for people traveling on buses or trains?

Does it have vaccine-ready infrastructure?

  • Does it currently have suitable storage facilities for the vaccine?
  • If not, does it have the space and electrical capacity to bring in freezers?

Considering these factors may lead you to propose alternative sites such as hospitals, public administration buildings, sports or entertainment stadiums, and education sites such as universities.

Hypothesis: Vaccination distribution could be scaled to meet demand by utilizing Lincoln Financial Field stadium as a temporary distribution center.

Once you have a strong hypothesis of where the vaccine should be distributed, you still need to address the other infrastructure needs for the vaccination center as well as the other components of your framework. Go through them one-by-one.

Presenting Your Recommendation

Now you’ve considered all the facts, built, and tested your hypothesis. At this stage you should summarize your findings, noting any assumptions you’ve made. 

Conclude your presentation by offering clear recommendations to the client directly addressing the problem statement. Note any risks associated with your recommendation.

For example:

To address the City of Philadelphia’s problem of COVID vaccine distribution at scale I would propose the following:

Key Recommendation

  • Secure Lincoln Financial Field stadium as a temporary vaccination distribution center. The site is large enough for the scale and infrastructure required and has close links to the city transport networks.

Secondary Recommendations

  • Discuss with the Department of Public Health plans for the adequate resourcing of the site including training of staff, administrative protocols, and personal protective equipment.
  • Create a clear and simple flow of patients in, through, and out of the vaccination facility to ensure the maximum number of patients can be vaccinated each day.
  • Prepare a communications plan to reassure those visiting the site of the extensive safety protocols and inform the public on how to book an appointment.
  • Ensure the costs of the vaccination center will be within the established budget or request more funding.

MCO’s 5 Tips on How to Ace the Accenture Case Interview

successfully passing the accenture case interview

Here are our top 5 tips to help you feel confident tackling the case interview:

Tip 1: Think before you dive into the case

Depending on the type of case, there can be a lot of information to manage. Make sure you’ve got it all clear in your head before you begin to tackle the case.

Equally, don’t be thrown if there’s not a lot of information. Take a moment to think through how you’ll approach the problem from beginning to end.

Tip 2: Ask questions

Don’t be afraid to probe for more information where you’ve identified there are gaps. And do clarify anything you don’t understand, such as acronyms or terms you’re not familiar with.

Tip 3: Share your thoughts

It’s no good to listen to the problem statement, scribble frantically on some paper for 45 minutes and then present the “answer.” Interviewers want to understand your thought process, how you handle information, and what assumptions you’ve made. Share your framework for approaching the case with your interviewer and walk them through each step as you address it.

Tip 4: Pay attention to cues

Sharing your thoughts gives the interviewer an opportunity to guide the conversation. Make sure you follow any feedback they offer on your approach and listen closely for any hints about where to go next.

Be aware, however, that some partners like to stress-test final round candidates to ensure they can defend their answers. If you think you’re right, stick to your recommendation.

Tip 5: Be yourself

No one else shares your story. The case interview is an opportunity to show creative thinking and offer insights based on your individual experiences. Your unique perspective is important and helps separate you from other candidates.

For even more tips on acing case interviews, check out 7 Tips To Help You Land A Consulting Offer.

Accenture Fit / Behavioral Interview

This Accenture interview concentrates on 2 types of questions: fit questions and personal experience questions.

Top 3 Fit Questions and How To Ace Them

1) Why Do You Want To Work For Accenture?

Tackle this question by having a few good reasons why Accenture is the company for you. That could be their global presence and opportunities to work with clients across several different industries. 

Or the fact they have both strategy and implementation functions so you can see the tangible difference your client recommendations make. Or how the great people you’ve met so far have reinforced that this is the company for you.

The best answers are personal stories. Don’t share generic reasons for joining the firm. Instead show why the reasons you present matter to you. For more on this, see our article “Why Accenture?

2) Why Do You Want to Work in Consulting?

This is your chance to explain why consulting is the career for you. Whether that’s because of the professional development opportunities or the impact you can have, make sure you’re clear on your motivation.

3) Tell Me Something About You That’s Not On Your Resume.

This question provides an opportunity for you to talk about something you’re passionate about, outside of your work experience. Keep in mind the Accenture core values when you share your answer. 

For example, maybe you organize a community beach clean every summer. That shows your leadership capability and also aligns with the Accenture core value of “Stewardship.”

Typical Personal Experience Questions And How to Approach Them

candidate preparing for the accenture case interview
The classic personal experience question starts with the phrase, “Tell me about a time when…” They help the interviewer see how your experience has helped you build the skills that make you suitable for the role. Examples include:
  • Tell me about a time you disagreed with someone and how you managed that.
  • Tell me about a time when you led a team through a challenging situation.
  • Tell me about a time when you persuaded someone to change their mind.
  • Tell me about a time when you overcome something you personally found difficult.
The best approach to tackling a personal experience question is to tell stories. Stories are engaging and stick in the interviewer’s mind even after a long day. But, just because you’re telling a story doesn’t mean you should ramble aimlessly. Stick to the  A STAR(E) framework to make sure your story is impactful and covers all the main points.

Using the A STAR(E) Framework

The A STAR(E) framework covers the following points:

  • Answer. Give a clear 1-sentence answer to the question.
  • Situation. When and where did the story happen? Who was involved?
  • Tension. What was the problem, conflict, or challenge you faced?
  • Action. What did you do to solve the problem?
  • Result. What happened as a result of the action you took?
  • Effect. What effect did this have on you? What did you learn?

The (E) is in parentheses because this won’t be relevant to every story.

For a detailed guide to tackling the Fit/Behavioral Interview, see our article on Consulting Behavioral Interviews.

In this article, we’ve covered:

  • What makes up the Accenture recruitment process,
  • What the Accenture Potentia interview is,
  • Our step-by-step approach to tackling an Accenture case interview,
  • Our top tips for success in your Accenture case interviews, and
  • What’s covered during the Accenture behavioral interview.

Still have questions?

If you have more questions about Accenture case interviews, leave them in the comments below. One of My Consulting Offer’s case coaches will answer them.

Other people prepping for the Accenture case interview found the following pages helpful:

Help with Consulting Interview Prep

Thanks for turning to My Consulting Offer for advice on consulting interview prep. My Consulting Offer has helped almost 85% of the people we’ve worked with to get a job in management consulting. We want you to be successful in your consulting interviews too. For example, here is how Ruhani was able to get her offer from Accenture.

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Nail the case & fit interview with strategies from former MBB Interviewers that have helped 85% of our clients pass the case interview.

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