There are different ways to do it, but a good rule of thumb is to do what the WSB guys do and keep the reps low throughout, after warmups. This saves all your energy for the heavy stuff, where you need it the most.
This is one major disadvantage of the pyramid scheme most lifters use when maxing out (ie–8 reps, 6 reps, 5 reps, 3, 2, 1 max). You’re already wasted by the time you get to the money sets, and have a slightly higher chance of hurting yourself.
Instead, do something like this: mobility warmup (NOT static stretching), then light warmup with bar or bodyweight, then a set of 5-6, then sets of 3 until it gets hard, then singles till you reach a max.
Example for 400lb squatter
Magnificent Mobility style warmup
bar times 10
225x3 (this is only 55%!)
If you have a previous max you’re trying to beat, shoot to hit your max in 6-8 sets or so after your warmup. Take relatively even jumps between weights, never more than 10% (that’s 40 lb in the example), not less than 5%. That’s a rule of thumb guideline, not hard and fast rule. A lot of newbs, and even people who should know better, would do something like 135x6, 225x6, 315x5, 405 FAIL.
If you haven’t tested your max before, just try to take even jumps in weight. When it gets hard, drop to singles. When that gets hard, start decreasing the jumps in weight (eg. for our squatter above–feels good after 405, go for 415-420 instead of 435, keep going up in small jumps).
Rest is individual, but a rule of thumb could be to start between 1.5 min and 2 min for the first half or so of your sets, move up to 3 min after the first half of your sets. Thibs is a freak, and can do heavy singles with near max weight with only about 45 seconds to a minute between sets.