Like many big financial institutions, Big 4 accounting firms start a year early to fill up their first-year class.
Fall is the biggest hiring season as recruiters look for candidates who will be starting in summer, winter and fall of next year. Most first-year staffs prefer to start in September as they would like to enjoy their “last” summer holidays before work.
A typical candidate goes through the Big 4 hiring process via campus recruiting. The information session and signing up for interviews start in fall, shortly after the beginning of school year. Students receive first and second round interviews in the month of November. Successful ones are notified within a week. If they decline the offer, recruiters will call the ones on the waiting list.
Having said that, the hiring process is technically year round due to staff shortages in certain offices.
Some firms have one starting date when everyone attend the training. Others may have several start dates nationally, because they have to stagger them somewhat in order to accommodate everyone (both new and experienced hires) as well as meeting local office staffing needs.
If you don’t attend one of the target schools, you will need to work harder to get a slot in the interview. Call up a recruiter and ask whether they are willing to see you when there is a campus interview in a neighboring school.
Flexibility helps as well. If you want to join Big 4 as a lateral hire, you might want to indicate early that you can be available off-season. Specifically, you can ask whether there are offices that need staff immediately.
For Your Further Reading
I am the author of How to Pass The CPA Exam (published by Wiley), and I also passed all 4 sections of the CPA Exam on my first try. Additionally, I have led webinars, such as for the Institute of Management Accountants, authored featured articles on websites like Going Concern and AccountingWeb, and I'm also the CFO for the charity New Sight. Finally, I have created other accounting certification websites to help mentor non-CPA candidates. I have already mentored thousands of CPA, CMA, CIA, EA, and CFA candidates, and I can help you too!