As a hiring manager with more than 10 years of experience, I see, on a near-daily basis, how interview nerves can cause even the most talented candidates to fumble and totally derail. For that reason, I was very excited to see how ChatGPT can be used for interview preparation and in doing so, better manage some of that stress and anxiety. After some prompting and experiments, I saw that ChatGPT can create some pretty solid interview answers.
With that being said, there were some major mistakes that ChatGPT made while it was “coaching” me for interviews.
On that note, if you’d like to see the seven biggest mistakes that I have seen smart professionals making in their interviews, you can grab my interview cheat sheet here:
I also break down exactly what you need to say instead to wow the interviewer.
In this blog, I'll break down all the ways that ChatGPT can shortcut your interview preparation, what it cannot do for you, and all the mistakes it can potentially make, so you can avoid those.
Five ways ChatGPT can help you with your interview preparation
1. ChatGPT can prepare interview questions for you
First, and most significantly, ChatGPT did a WONDERFUL job generating mock interview questions for me. Here are three prompts I used:
- I am interviewing for a (job title) role. Can you give me 10 interview questions for a (job title) position?
- Can you share some behavioral questions that someone might ask me in an interview?
- Below, I am pasting the job description for the role I am interviewing for. Can you please generate 10 interview questions that are specific to this role? (Job description)
The questions it generated were exactly in line with some of the questions I would ask as an interviewer.
But here's where it messes up:
However, there were some questions that it missed. When I am coaching candidates for interviews, I am able to read between the lines of the job description and guess what pain points the company might be experiencing.
For example, I saw this in a job description:
You will work closely with the Executive Director and VP of Sales to create a cutting-edge and strategic marketing plan.
I immediately understood that this is likely a startup and any interview answers that say any of the following won't really work well:
- "I managed a marketing budget that was (insert large amount)."
- "To make this project successful, I cut through bureaucratic processes."
- "The team I inherited was large and I had to solve X, Y, and Z problems."
Do you see how this language can show that you might not be a good cultural fit for a small startup, with a small team, and a small budget? Rather, answers that speak to any of the following would likely be better received:
- Building teams from the ground up, on a tight budget
- Creating processes from scratch
- Implementing new tools or procedures company-wide
2. ChatGPT can do a mock interview with you
Second, ChatGPT did a fairly decent job helping me polish my answers. Here is the prompt I used:
Can you do a mock interview with me for a marketing director role? You ask the questions, I'll share my answers, and you give me feedback. Please ask only one question to begin.
It asked me a question, so here's what I promoted it next:
Here is my answer. Please let me know how this would be perceived as an interview answer. (Answer.)
It identified the strong points in my answer and gave me one piece of constructive feedback.
Then I asked it:
Okay, I amended my answer based on your feedback to the question, "(Question.)" Please let me know how this would be perceived as an interview answer. (Answer.)
And it gave me encouragement where it was warranted (which I found really sweet and endearing) and then it told me if there were any further points of constructive feedback.
But here's where it messes up:
The first thing I didn't like about using ChatGPT for mock interviews is it gives you feedback for one question at a time, so the feeling of being grilled in an interview didn't really come across; it felt too much like a "safe space."
Additionally, the fact that it couldn't give me cohesive, overall feedback about my candidacy was a big limitation for me. In other words, ChatGPT won't tell me, "you need to vary your answer length to fit the question and to keep the pace of the interview more conversational." It also won't tell me, "overall, almost all your answers focused on email marketing, and it didn't seem like you have any other skill within marketing."
I tried to get it to rate my overall interview performance after having it do 10 mock interview questions with me, and it failed to give me this sort of advice.
3. ChatGPT can write your interview answers for you
This took me multiple tries and steps, but in the end, I was somewhat happy with the results:
- First, I got it to generate 45 interview questions related to my target job.
- Then, I copied those questions into a separate file, because it was unable to provide answers to all of them in one exchange.
- For that reason, I had to separate the questions into groups of five.
- Then, I used the following prompt:
Using the challenge-action-result model, can you create sample interview answers for the following five questions? Please use the resume that I copied at the end of this prompt as your source material for the answers.
(Copied and pasted resume text)
Side note: If your resume isn't really fully fleshed out yet and ChatGPT isn't doing a good job with the prompt above, you can grab my salary-doubling resume cheat sheet by putting in your information below:
You'll see the cheat sheet in your email.
But here's where it messes up:
To be completely honest, I wasn't that happy with the answers it generated. I felt like the answers I could have written on my own would be more polished, would link ideas together much more smoothly, and shine the spotlight on my biggest strengths.
However, if I was completely unprepared for an interview, the answers it generated would help me brainstorm better ones.
4. ChatGPT can do very cursory research for you
Here's the prompt I used to get ChatGPT to start my research process:
I have an interview with (company name) for (job title) and the name of my interviewer is (name). Can you give me the following:
1. Information on the company, the industry, and its competitors
2. The culture of the company
3. How I need to speak to the company's culture in my interview answers
4. Questions I can ask (interviewer's name) at the end of the interview
5. Any mistakes I can potentially be making that would specifically affect my candidacy for a (job title) position with (company name)
While I really liked how quickly ChatGPT responded, I wasn't impressed with how cursory its research was. I could have spent literally two minutes on the company website and gotten more information than it gave me.
But here's where it messes up:
Unfortunately, some of the information it gave me was also outdated and irrelevant. For example, it mentioned the services the company initially provided when it first started but didn't mention that they were launching a brand new product – this would have been extremely relevant information to me if I was interviewing there.
Additionally, it didn't give me any useful information about my interviewer at all. I was better off looking at their LinkedIn profile.
5. ChatGPT can also give you common-sense advice about interviewing
Here are some prompts that I used to test how well ChatGPT can advise me:
- If I am studying their website, what exactly should I be looking for in order to portray myself as a really strong (job title) in an upcoming interview?
- What are some of the ways people mess up their interviews?
- What tips on body language and tone can you give me for an interview?
Six ways ChatGPT cannot help you with interview preparation
There are several things you have to do "manually" when preparing for interviews:
- Research your target company's top competitors.
- Do educated guesswork on the growth strategies your target company might be using. (And then doing the same for their competitors.)
- It obviously can't judge your tone, body language, or facial expressions.
- You would still need a friend to test Zoom with you.
- It provides no advice on cultural fit and your charisma, both of which are really important factors in the interview process.
The advice it gives you doesn't seem to be contextualized very well to the specific company you're interviewing for. Here's what I mean by this: The way you answer "Tell me about yourself" would and should differ very widely from one job title to the next and from one type of company to another. But ChatGPT can't seem to differentiate between the two. In my thirteen years of experience coaching candidates for interviews, the #1 mistake I see candidates making is exactly this – not being able to tweak their answer based on the interviewer and the company.
- Sixth and perhaps most critically, if you're already doing really well, the advice it gives you can be quite damaging! For instance, I pasted an answer that I thought was really spectacular to the question "Tell me about yourself." Then, I asked, "How would you improve this answer?"
It totally butchered my answer, removing all personality. It also made the language sound really robotic and stiff. When you're in an interview, coming across as enthusiastic is critical for customer-facing and leadership roles. I'm very concerned that the answers and feedback ChatGPT gave me were totally robotic.
So here's my final verdict:
ChatGPT is a FANTASTIC starting point for helping you brainstorm interview questions and your "first-draft" answers. However, you'll be most successful if you take what it gives you and put your own personal spin on it.
If you'd like to download my interview cheat sheet, where I break down the seven interview questions that I have seen smart professionals mess up all the time, and the exact framework that you can use to avoid those mistakes, you can grab it here:
You'll get a copy in your email immediately.
However, if you have an interview coming up and need interview help ASAP, you can explore our interview coaching service here, and schedule a consultation with our team here to see if our service is a good fit for you.