Accenture Case Interview: Formats, Question Types & Tips

Accenture is one of the largest consulting firms in the world, with more than 500,000 employees serving clients in 120 countries. If we could pick a consulting firm to win the aggressive campus recruiting award, it would probably be Accenture.

Accenture case interviews are a bit heavier on market-sizing, with a mix of candidate- and interview-led, and may include a special interview called Potentia.


What is Accenture case interview?

Accenture case interviews are the final test to become an Accenture consultant

The Accenture case interview is the screening interview of Accenture, where candidates must solve business problems (or cases). The interview evaluates whether candidates possess the capabilities and qualities to become an Accenture consultant.

Accenture case interviews are both interviewer-led and candidate-led. The former has multiple separate questions presented by the interviewer, while the latter is one big case where you lead every step of the process, from structuring the issue, developing frameworks, requesting data, synthesizing findings, and providing solutions.

Before getting to the case interview, you must pass the initial screening rounds, which include resume screening and on-campus behavioral test.

In the resume round, you’ll of course need a consulting resume, just like what you’d need for McKinsey, and a cover letter, then submit it on Accenture’s website.

The behavioral interview will test whether you are fit to work for Accenture and the position you are applying to. This should take around 30-45 minutes.

Accenture also has a special case interview called the Potentia, testing candidate’s judgment and creative thinking ability. We’ll touch on this a bit later.

You don’t need tech background to solve Accenture cases

Accenture is a tech support powerhouse, but you don’t need to know about tech for consulting positions (it’s BUSINESS, but knowing wouldn’t hurt either).

Some may have tech-related topics, like on Uber or Facebook but you can solve the case, content-wise, just like normal case interviews. 

So brighten up if you don’t have any exposure in IT or computer science, you’ll be working in business at core. But tech bros are also welcome! (Well, they indeed can join tech for (arguably) higher pay up front versus consulting, but I’d say consulting is better in the long-run, so get at it!).

And in case you didn’t know, Accenture literally became the biggest consulting firm in the world thanks to tech.

Big corps nowadays are more than willing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year to keep their tech humming, and Accenture enjoys quite a fair share of that. It is basically synonymous with tech consulting/advisory.

Also, before the tech giant it is today, Accenture actually hailed from a former Big Five firm (now Big Four)! It was first known as Andersen Consulting, the business & tech consulting department of Arthur Andersen, but later split in the late 1990s due to internal conflict and became Accenture! 

Accenture looks for those with achieving & analytical mindset

Just like all management consulting firms, Accenture looks for those who want to make an impact. The main value Accenture will look for are:

  • Outstanding academic achievement: Usually, your GPA (obviously) and school prestige. Your best bet? 4.0 at Harvard! But jokes aside, a 3.6 GPA should be good. Below that? Try to make focus points in other parts of your resume. This article might help!

  • Analytical ability: The ability to create a thorough, data-driven, insightful analysis and define the root cause and solutions to difficult problems

  • Demonstrated leadership: The ability to inspire and motivate others. Consultants won’t simply look for “leaders” who just tell their subordinates what to do, but a guiding beacon, even for their superiors (very much telling your boss what to do, but, think of it as inspiring ideas to them).

  • Collaborative approach: The ability to exchange facts and insights and effectively interact with people from various backgrounds and cultures

  • Intellectual curiosity: The ability to actively and continuously seek and expand knowledge 


Accenture case interview format

Accenture interviews are heavy on market-sizing

This was based on our research. Also, most cases were divided into very specific and realistic questions, and they had no connections, whatsoever. The case as a whole sounds like a casual business discussion on some pressing issues.

So, you can expect these questions to be typical of consulting interviews. Market-sizing and guesstimate questions are popular and it’s no exception here. But keep this in mind: Market-sizing is not about getting the correct number, but estimating in a structured and logical way. The process is the important part.

Accenture cases are not heavier on math

Accenture cases are just about as math-y as what you’d see in most consulting firms. Yes, math is the foundation of consulting work, but what interviewers will look for is structured problem-solving, which brings us to MECE, root cause, and actionable solutions, the core of all cases. 


Accenture case interview questions

There are three types of questions in Accenture cases, known as the “Great Unknown”, the “Parade of Facts” and the “Back of the Envelope,” each targeting very specific aspects of a candidate’s problem-solving ability. 

The two most common will be the “Great Unknown” and the “Parade of Facts”. Still, no matter the question type you’re dealing with, don’t jump right in cracking the case before understanding the facts and knowing exactly what is being asked of you.

The Great Unknown focuses on ability to probe information

The Great Unknown questions basically give you the barebone, with truly nothing to build a case. They will test your ability to uncover necessary facts - to ask the right questions. 

Here’s an example: 

A leading manufacturer of plant-based meat has experienced a decline in profits despite an increase in market share. The senior executive team would like you to help them understand why and what they can do to reverse this trend.

And here’s how you should approach the case:

Okay, first, “market share” here is a rough percentage of the company on the market, not an absolute number. So, “an increase in market share” can be either by chewing out the competition, or competition dying.

Also, the market might be shrinking, but our sales are falling less than competitors. 

After clarifying what “an increase in market share” means, you can ask something like:

  • Has the company experienced any significant increase in cost in the last couple of years related to any additional fixed or variable cost?

  • On the revenue side, has there been an increase in the volume of output?

  • What about the competition? Has the competitive structure of the industry changed? Mergers and Acquisitions? New Entrants?

  • Are there any new products or new technologies that are gaining market share?

  • How is the company currently positioned (low cost, high quality, etc)? What is its competitive advantage?

The Parade of Facts focuses on the ability to distill key issues

The “Parade of Facts” presents you with an abundance of information, so now, it’s your job to navigate through massive loads of facts. It will put your ability to grasp the crux of the problem and find relevant information to the test.

For this type of question, pause for a moment and consider the central problem. It’s key to ask questions about facts that appear relevant.

Here’s an example:

Client is a leading ice-cream company that wants to sell vegan ice-cream. They want to know the market size, the feasibility of the business and how they can set up barriers to entry. Some additional information is given:

  • Trend among consumers is toward production transparency, e.g. they want to know their products were not made at the cost of animal suffering, labor exploitation, and environmental repercussions.

  • Trend among consumers is to avoid artificial preservatives or colorings.

  • Consumers are currently purchasing $45 billion ice-cream cups per year.

  • There are five flavors – matcha, coconut, vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry.

  • Ice-cream is packaged in 18 oz cups.

  • Product is currently in limited consumer testing at $4 to $5.50 per cup

Here’s what you can do:

The key problem here is to find out the market size and profitability of the business. So, consider asking something like:

  • What prices are consumers responding to?

  • What is the competitive structure of this market currently?

  • What are the components of the company’s cost structure?

  • What is the break-even point for the firm?

  • What is the required market share to break-even?

The Back of the Envelope focuses more on math

This takes us back to the basics of market-sizing and guesstimate, so, things like estimate the number of phones in New York, or how many shots of espresso are consumed each year in Italy.

But let’s try a real case, shall we?

Estimate the total number of taxi drivers in Montreal.

Now, we’ll focus on assumptions.

First, estimate the market size by segmenting the population.

  • Assume Montreal’s population consists of 30% adult men, 30% adult women and 40% children

  • Assume children don’t use taxis and only 30% of adults use taxis

  • Estimate the average number of taxi rides each man and woman takes a week. For this case, assume one takes 10 rides a week, as the average works 5 days a week, and will take one to get to work and another back home

  • So, the market size (per week) is:
    1.2 million people (60% of males & females) x 30% (percentage of adults using taxis) x 10 taxis rides = 3.6 million rides

Next, estimate the number of rides a driver can complete per week

  • Assume the average taxi driver completes 3-4 rides per hour

  • If the average driver works 10 hours/day, 6 days/week, he’d typically complete 180-240 rides (3-4 rides x 10 x 6)

  • Divide the total number of rides per week, we get the answer (about 15000-20000)

These are just some questions you may encounter in Accenture case interviews. If you want to familiarize yourself with the interview format, improve your performance, and develop techniques for each question type. The only proven way is to PRACTICE! 

Having trouble on where to start? Check out our Case Interview End-to-End Secrets Program. We have everything covered for you to get ready for your case.

After practicing mock cases, try out MConsultingPrep’s coaching service. You’ll have the opportunity to receive detailed feedback on your performance from former consultants, and a personalized study plan to ace every case!


Accenture Potentia interview

Accenture Potentia Interview is a special type of case interview designed to test sound judgment and creative thinking of candidates applying for Strategy roles at Accenture. So not all candidates will take the Potentia, only the Strategy guys.

Potentia is also a case interview, just for Strategy candidates

The Potentia is a one-hour case interview. There are no clear guidelines for these cases, so whatever case you get depends on the interviewer. Regarding case type, some 60% chance you’ll get market-sizing, and nearly 40% chance you get profitability. On the format:

  • First, the interviewer will hand you a topic with a problem. The topics can be anything, even unrelated to work, like blood diamonds in Africa, or treatment of homosexuals in Muslim countries

  • You’ll have 5 minutes to read through the problem statement and prepare

  • After that, you’ll present your thoughts and the interviewer will ask follow-up questions. This conversation lasts around 45 to 60 minutes

Potentia is more on creativity rather than structure

Potentia focuses slightly more on creativity than structure. It mostly tests your ability to think outside the box, and come up with something fresh. So do expect it to be more casual than MBB cases (still, it’s a job interview, expect some level of seriousness).

But if you meet someone hailing from the MBB, they may get more demanding (it’s MBB, what do you expect?) and the interview will get serious real quick.

Still, Potentia will be more conversational and not go too much on getting the right answer.

Tips for Potentia

Tip #1: Construct your answers using frameworks:

You are still being evaluated on how structured and organized the answers are (it’s a case interview at core, remember?). So, use frameworks to capture ideas.

Tip #2: Practice brainstorming ideas:

Coming up with a lot of good ideas in a short period of time takes practice. Try to generate ideas in different areas of your framework for a start.

Tip #3: Welcome ambitious ideas:

Remember, your creativity and innovation is also being assessed. Don’t be afraid to speak up ambitious ideas, because they might turn out to be very good. Still, it’s best to keep both practicality and ambition, for flexibility.

Tip #4: Don’t focus too much on getting the right answer:

Potentia problems are usually complex and don’t have absolute answers. Focus on giving sound judgements, creativity, innovation and you’re good! 

Tip #5: Bring in ideas from prior work experience:

A good way to showcase creativity is to draw relevant ideas from one industry and match them with another. Besides, it’s a good opportunity to leverage your previous work experiences.

Tip #6: Listen carefully to feedbacks:

Listen carefully and respond thoughtfully to your interviewer’s comments. It’s more of a conversation, not a one man show. Besides, listening is respecting, and a good impression goes a long way. Do apply feedback from previous questions to improve your performance in later questions. It shows that you are paying attention.


How to prepare for Accenture case interview

Careful preparation is a must to ace Accenture’s case. You can tackle each aspect of the interview step by step.

Start from getting used to both interviewer-led candidate-led cases, then further out with business intuition, consulting math, fundamentals & frameworks of case interview, then finally conduct mock interviews.

Step 1: Get used to the candidate-led case interview, and written case interview

Examine examples of interviewer-led and candidate-led case interviews to familiarize yourself with the case flow and how to interact with the interviewer.

You can also get familiar with more case interview samples and all instantly-effective tricks for case interviews with our Case Interview E2E Secret Program. Also, here’s our free video of a case interview example with an explanation and expert comments.

Step 2: Develop business intuition

Having business intuition significantly improves your performance in case interviews. Working on intuition is a gradual process that takes practice every day. You can improve your business intuition in two ways:

  • Written sources: Read business papers daily (Bloomberg is recommended). You can also find articles on McKinsey, Bain, and BCG’s websites. But be careful! The important thing is not your page count, but what you absorbed from them

  • First-hand experience and observations: Don't just do things like a machine; find out what the seniors are doing, why they did what they did, and how it has affected the organization. Everything is a learning process, and it’s up to you to squeeze out every bit of knowledge and experience

Step 3: Practice consulting math

Consultants work with quantitative data in just about every minute. It simply takes too long to whip out a calculator every time they need to calculate something, and you’re definitely not impressing clients with that. That’s why interviewers place such high emphasis on mental math skills of interviewees. To improve your math, you can:

  • Train your head: Apply mental calculations on any daily occasion unless an EXACT answer is required

  • Start small: Use a piece of scratch paper, give yourself some margins of error (5% is a good start); once you get used to it, remove the paper and narrow down the margin of error.

  • Establish a routine: Spare time for daily practice and get better each day, just like exercise. You’ll never notice the little changes, but they stack up HARD, and when you realize it, you’re probably doing math thrice as fast

Step 4: Learn the fundamentals and frameworks of case interview

Accenture case interviews (or any other case interview) are based on the fundamentals - using hypotheses and issue trees, the MECE principle, and the frameworks. So, knowing them is extremely important and you should practice the fundamentals until you are comfortable.

A common mistake candidates make during their case interviews is to go straight for the frameworks. Frameworks require extensive adaptation to match actual cases. To customize appropriately, you must understand the fundamental knowledge first.

To know more about case interviews, here’s a dedicated article.

Step 5: Conduct mock case interview

Mock interviews are a great way to simulate the actual case interview session. You should examine your cases in great depth during the mock case interview. Record your session, replay, note the comments, and look for ways to improve.

Find a former consultant to help you with your practice - they are the ideal people; they've been there, they’ll know what a candidate must be. Through their feedback, you can improve on what needs to be improved and boost your chance of getting an offer.

We can also help you connect with consulting coaches (all former consultants!) for a more personalized feedback. Book your mock case interview session with us now!


Accenture Tech or Accenture Consulting?

But Kim, you may ask, I have tech background, do I go for Accenture Tech or Accenture Management Consulting?

Good question! Both are great careers but I’d say even if you are amazing at tech, if you can, go for management consulting. Yes I might be biased, but let’s focus on the aspect of each: one leans more on one aspect of business, and other on the entire business.

With tech, you can make six figures fresh out of college

Tech guys can easily make six figures right after graduation, because, well, it’s tech! So you want to make 150, 200 just fresh out of school? Go tech!

With consulting, you have the potential to make millions in the long run

But I’ll ask you this, what does a company, say even a tech company do to make money? BUSINESS. Everything it does serves one purpose, to sell a product or service and make money from that. No matter what type of company, BUSINESS is always the core.

What management consulting will teach you is to look at the big picture, how the entire business works to make a profit, how to improve on what’s already there, how to solve upper-level problems, not just narrowing down to a simple cog of a whole machine.

Let’s say you go with the tech path, you make big bucks right out of school, but that’s probably it. Tech’s all you know, but you’re quite good at it. As time goes by, your development, and your money seem to plateau, because you can’t quite get higher up. You’re limited to just one aspect of the entire business.

But now, you go with the consulting path, you make less than tech guys at first (still good money), but with what you’ve learnt in business and management, you hop to upper-level management levels for another firm (COO, CTO, even CEO isn’t out of the question), or, you build your own tech firm. You become the boss of the tech kids.

I’d say the money from tech vs consulting looks something like this. Tech gives you the boost right from the start, but consulting gives you the momentum later in your career.

You can say some tech guys like Bill Gates or Zuck made billions, but as I said, their core was BUSINESS. You won’t make billions simply by writing some codes or making some phones. There’s a lot more to it, and that’s exactly what consulting will teach you.

And hey, you know that guy from Google? Sundar Pichai? Yeah, he began in engineering, but transitioned to consulting. From McKinsey to Google CEO. That’s a real brag. I’d doubt he’d get anywhere as big just staying in engineering.

So your choice, go big now, or go real big later. 

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