Here's the most important skill one top executive says you need if you want to get hired at Accenture

Professional services firm Accenture has made Fortune Magazine’s list of the 100 best companies to work for seven years in a row.

Needless to say, the job application process there is highly competitive.

We sat down with Julie Sweet, Accenture’s group chief executive of North America, to find out what makes candidates stand out, and what signals that they’re going to thrive at Accenture.

First and foremost, Sweet said, the company looks for demonstrated leadership experience. That’s because everyone at Accenture, from the most junior to the most senior position, is required to be a leader when they work with clients to solve problems.

Sweet told us there’s one key leadership trait she looks for: “the ability to bring people along on a journey.”

Ultimately, the company is measuring two skills: communication and empathy. When you work with clients, are you transparent and authentic? Do you have the ability to reach people?

Even if you’ve just graduated from college and don’t have any professional experience to speak of, Accenture looks for a record of your participation in athletics or community service.

“We don’t hire students who are just good at academics,” Sweet said. Solid academic performance is a must-have for job applicants, but straight A’s alone won’t make them shine.

The truth is that it matters little whether you’re working at Accenture or elsewhere — demonstrating leadership behaviours can help you stand out and gain recognition for your contributions. In particular, setting and meeting stretch goals is the mark of a stellar performer.

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