How to order interviews
When you interview, the order of the interview sequence matters. Like any skill, you become a better interviewer with practice.
So, schedule interviews first with the companies you are least interested in and save your top companies for later in the process. It’s also okay to interview at companies to practice or to understand your market value — companies do this all the time with hiring candidates.
The other factor to keep in mind when ordering your interviews is that big companies take much longer to interview than small companies and are less likely to expedite their interview processes; so, start the process with them well before small companies. For example - we recently worked with a CS PhD whose Google interview process took 4+ months and their interviews with a small research lab took under 2 weeks.
It’s generally harder to control when you start interviewing at a large tech company so take the initial phone screens, on-sites, etc. whenever they are offered. It’s generally easier to accelerate processes at startups if you have an offer from a bigger company.
When you’re strategic about your interviewing order and get offers early, you start to have the power to not only walk away from bad offers but you can even accelerate interview processes at companies you are more interested in.
Because interviewing is so difficult for companies, one of the strongest signals is having a competing offer elsewhere. We have had clients skip all the way to on-site stage (no phone screen, take home, etc.) when they have another offer at a reputable company.
We recommend using calendar booking tools like Calendly or Mixmax for easier scheduling.
What if you get an offer while you’re still interviewing?
Generally we recommend stacking your final interviews so you get offers around the same time - this makes comparing and leveraging offers to negotiate better deals easier to do.
However, this isn’t always possible. So if you get an offer and still have other companies you want to interview at, decline to see the offer until you are done interviewing. This prevents them from pressuring you to make a decision.
Companies are generally comfortable with you not seeing the details of an offer and allowing you to review it at a later date. Once they give you an offer they want to apply deadlines so you don’t shop it around.
You’ve got this!
Getting a job is an exhausting process, filled with arbitrary rejection, and the need to jump through lots of hoops.
Be wary of interview fatigue.
Your biggest enemy when interviewing is not the company you are interviewing or the other PhDs also looking for jobs, but rather you feeling exhausted and/or desperate which leads you to poor, frantic decision making.
If you want to learn more about this - check out our article on the #1 mistake PhDs make when job searching.