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It's been 4 years since my first and only job interview and now it's time to move on and advance my career to the next stage. For this, I plan to interview for a big company. If that fails, I have a list of other places where I can try. To sum up, a priority list.

I'm taking my time to do my research, to prepare myself to pump my chances up and, I was wondering if part of this preparation process could be to navigate through one or more interviews at the other companies.

So, my question is: should I go directly to interview with my #1 pick or test myself beforehand with the others?

If you could help me, I'm trying to identify the pros and cons of each approach.

I don't pretend to waste anybody's time.

PS: this is my first question so, please feel free to ask for clarification. For example, I'm a software developer located in South America and the company I aim for is a 100+ countries multinational.

Edit: I don't think this is a duplicate question because the other question is addressed from a more ethical perspective. Mine it's more about having your interviewing skills rusted so, instead of going directly to your first pick, go to the 2nd and 3rd to practice BUT, if the offer is good enough you will take it.

I believe that this duplicated mark along with all the answers gave me a better understanding of my own situation. Thanks a lot!

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If you are really considering other companies you definitely should try with one or two of them.

Pros: for the past 4 years your interview skills got rusty. You need to get back at how do you present yourself, how would you deal with HR-related questions, adjust your resume, how would you deal with the random "write me code on the board" questions, stupid "technology" quiz questions (like in .net that question of what is the difference between string and StringBuilder), what technologies or techniques that are relevant now and you lack knowledge so you can study and practice those, etc.

Cons: if you decline the offer for one of the "playground" companies and then find out that your dream company cannot offer you the same as the companies you declined (could be not only money, benefits, vacation but also interesting projects, opportunities to grow professionally, etc) you might be quite disappointed and it would get under your skin for a long time. However if you accept the offer you might be always wonder what would happen if you got hired in the #1 company.

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  • 3
    Great answer, just a comment on the cons: You don't have to accept or refuse the "playground" straight away. Sure they could offer someone else the job in the interim, but the likely hood is they will be happy to wait and ensure you are most happy at their company. Saying something like "I I'm very interested in the position, just have a couple of other interviews for other companies I'd like to consider" is perfectly acceptable. – Gamora Sep 12 '19 at 16:02
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I don't pretend to waste anybody's time.

If this is true, then don't interview with companies just for practice. If you are doing this, you ARE wasting their time. How would you like it if you applied to a company who was only conducting interviews as practice for their interviewers?

If you feel that you need to practice your interviewing skills, you can ask friends/family to conduct mock interviews or reach out to organizations that provide this type of service ( some for free ).

Once you feel you that are prepared, apply to all of the companies on your list, attend as many interviews as you can, and if you receive multiple offers select what you feel is best for you.

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Interviewing, like everything else, gets better with experience. You need to dust off the cobwebs.

Interview with a company or two before hitting the serious one. Why not? It's an hour out of your time and theirs. Worst case, it's not a fit for either of you, but they get to check you off of the list and you get experience. Best case, maybe it's awesome and you get a job with them.

By your 3rd interview in a few weeks, you will be a pro at it. You'll get over the nervousness and you'll have a better understanding of what they actually want to know, versus what you think you should say. It will make for a more productive interview for both parties.

Most companies are required to interview at least 3 people for any job, and despite the delusions of the Internet, many hiring personnel already know the winning candidate ahead of time. They are simply doing extra interviews for CYA reasons. So remember that employers definitely play this game as well.

It's part and parcel of doing business. Do the interviews, but keep an open mind with the company and ask them really legit questions about their company so that you can get an honest assessment.

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If you want practice interviewing, or you want to hone your interview skills, you should seek out appropriate channels. Interviewing with a company for whom you have no intention of working is a waste of resources. It may seem like you're "only" wasting an hour of their time, but in a highly competitive job market, wasting an interview slot can easily cost a company in terms of missing out on a great candidate. Plus, consider the opposite situation - how would you like it if you showed up at your dream employer to interview, and they turned you down - then, later, you found out that they only called you in to give the hiring manager practice interviewing candidates?

But, you may not care about wasting someone else's time, and that's really your decision to make. However, even if you don't care about wasting people's time, using other employers as practice may not be effective. Mainly because you are unlikely to get specific, actionable feedback. If you "flunk" a practice interview, you are unlikely to get any details on why, or any feedback on how to improve: employers generally don't go into these details because there's no real benefit for them, and being detailed can put them at risk (if the candidate perceives their details as discriminatory, for instance).

So, if what you're really after is high quality interview practice you may be better off utilizing other resources. Many (quality) third party recruiters are willing to do mock interviews, or at least to have a conversation with you and point out specific feedback. Similarly, many university careers offices will do mock interviews and provide feedback - even if you have been out of school for some time, most university careers offices provide a "lifetime" of support in this manner. And if you have friends or colleagues you trust, you can always use them as well - professional mentors can be a great source of actionable feedback on improving interview techniques.

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  • Often you don't need direct feedback on what went wrong. If you're really rusty on interviewing, one failed interview can act as a reminder of a lot of small things you neglected. (Mostly lack of preparation.) Of course, a dry test interview run by a friend could achieve the same purpose. – Llewellyn Sep 13 '19 at 10:34
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You don't need to disclose your full intent when interviewing with a company.

Yes, go ahead and start interviewing. Get some real-life practice on "lower-hanging-fruit" if you have the time. Then when you're confident go for the high-stakes aspirational choices.

Nor should you feel at all bad about it. Big companies especially have a overwhelming advantage over candidates in terms of power and choice. You have to watch out for your interests and your career, and not employers which you don't even work for yet.

Moreover, keep in mind that by interviewing with and then rejecting lower tier employers, you are also giving the potential employers a way to gauge their offers against the pool of candidates out there. That's actually valuable and NOT at all a waste of their time.

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