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I work in a position I am fairly happy with and am also reasonably happy with the location and pay, but I have this inkling I might be happier somewhere (physically) else and get paid more (including cost of living changes). It would take a fairly large amount to get me to leave where I am now, but I would like to take interviews for four reasons, 1. Gain experience with interviews -- I have only ever really had one (for my current position), 2. See what I am worth in the market ( I work embedded software and the market is (almost always) hot) 3. See what other companies are out there 4. Get free trips to other parts of the country.

I am fine using vacation to take these interviews. Is it disingenuous to apply to jobs in this situation? What should I say to interviewers? Do I owe my current boss an explanation (we are on very good terms)?

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I've known people that will go on interviews solely to stay current on their interview skills/see what skills companies are looking for. These people would rarely consider leaving their current job, therefore they are wasting other companies' time in this way.

Is it disingenuous? I would only say that if the company asks this person if s/he is interested in leaving.

I personally don't think it's disingenuous per se, mainly because there could always be an "offer he can't refuse".

Additionally, if you feel underpaid, a proven way to get a raise is to come to your boss with an offer of more money. Obviously, the only way to get this offer is to interview with other companies. I've done this personally in the past.

To answer your questions more directly:

Do I owe my boss an explanation?

No, this is a business relationship. When you find better pastures, if you are not under contract, you are free to sever your relationship and look elsewhere. When loyalty/feelings get involved in business, there's a much higher risk of being shorted (personal experience!).

What should I say to my interviewers?

The truth. Tell them you are interested in the company and would like to see if you are capable of working for their company. And an interview would help you get to know the company and its expectations.

It's also fair to say you are happy at your job currently, but you never want to leave other potentially better opportunities ignored.

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    I'd add that it's dangerous for one other reason: possibility of burned bridges. If the OP is offered a job, declines it then a year down the road decides they are finally ready to leave, well, a lot of companies won't interview you again. – NotMe Jan 21 '15 at 15:07
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Is it disingenuous to apply to jobs in this situation?

Are you being honest with your interviewers? Are you telling them that this is just "interview practice, to see what you are worth, to see other companies, to get free trips"? If not, that seems to be the definition of disingenuous (at least to me).

Disingenuous (adjective): lacking in frankness, candor, or sincerity (source: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/disingenuous)

What should I say to interviewers?

That depends on how honest you wish to be.

If you wanted to be honest, you'd at least indicate in your initial conversations before the interview that you "have this inkling [you] might be happier somewhere (physically) else and get payed more (including cost of living changes). It would take a fairly large amount to get [you] to leave where [you are] now".

Even better would be to let prospective employers know your real motivations for interviews.

If you don't wish to be very honest, then you don't have to say anything regarding your motivations, other than something like "I'm looking for career advancement that I can't get in my current company".

Do I owe my current boss an explanation (we are on very good terms)?

It's general considered acceptable not to notify your current employer about your job search until you are ready to resign your current job.

  • Mentioning that it would take "a fairly large amount" to get you to change jobs is good. This sets the expectations with the potential employer that you are currently happy and they will need to give you their best offer first. – Garrison Neely Jan 20 '15 at 19:17
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That's a bit murky. Companies spend a lot of time and money to interview you, so it's not really fair to have them do this when you have absolute no intention to take a job.

The best thing would be to be up front and set proper expectations. For example you can say "I'm pretty happy where I am and it would take a significantly better opportunity for me to consider a change" during a phone screen or initial e-mail contact. Than the company knows that you will be hard to land and they can make a an informed call whether they want to go ahead with an interview anyway or not.

This being said, interviewing is pretty much the only accurate way of figuring out your market value. Many companies compare salaries through external clearing houses, which doesn't strike me as particularly ethical either and is clearly something a regular employee can't do. So personally I would say one "market value" check interview every one or two years seems justifiable.

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