We provide competency-based behavioral interviewing training for interview teams including hiring managers, recruiters, and interviewers.
LEIF EVEREST • JULY 2023
Interviewing Candidates Who Prepare With ChatGPT
Many job applicants are including a new way to prepare for interviews — practice interviewing on ChatGPT. A recent TikTok showed how to put a job description into ChatGPT to get relevant interview questions. With the video getting more than 2 million views, the number of candidates turning to AI-based tools like ChatGPT will only increase.
ChatGPT generates interview questions that can be based on the industry, role, and level, as well as focus on behavioral-based interviewing. Savvy candidates can even ask ChatGPT to create questions that mimic the specific interview model the company uses. This includes well-known models like STAR (Situation-Task-Action-Result) or CAR (Challenge, Action, Result).
Making it even more realistic, ChatGPT will ask follow-up questions based on the candidate’s responses. Throughout the practice interview, ChatGPT can also be prompted to provide real-time feedback to improve the quality of the answers.
A candidate can easily take it a step further by asking ChatGPT for the top responses to interview questions for the specific job and even feed their resume into the tool for more detailed answers. For example, we asked ChatGPT about being a teamplayer in a software sales job. The chatbot gave a surprisingly realistic example about collaborating with product development to meet the client’s requirements. If we had fed in a resume to tailor the answer, the results would have been even more relevant.
Distinguishing between prepared candidates and qualified candidates
Does this level of preparation actually make it easier or harder for interviewers to find the most qualified candidates? The answer is both.
Candidates who take this extra step are likely to walk into the interview with more polished answers and confidence. Some candidates will use ChatGPT to make their existing answers more succinct and make a better impression in the interview. Previously they may have been overlooked, even though they were the best fit for the job.
Other candidates may simply rehearse ChatGPT’s answers, making it challenging for interviewers to learn about the candidate and their strengths. As a result, the candidate who aces the interview by using ChatGPT answers may be different than the new employee who shows up for their first day of work.
Interviewers may need to adjust their strategy to help candidates show their true selves during the interview process so both the company and the candidate make the best decision.
Behavioral-based interviewing training still works
Fortunately, we don’t need a new approach to effectively evaluate candidates in the ChatGPT era. Using an improved version of behavioral-based interviewing training such as Effective Interviewing!® still gives you the tools and strategies needed to encourage authentic responses and get past prepared answers.
In recent years, interviewers who use behavioral-based interviewing have had to improve their techniques to accurately evaluate more prepared candidates. By using easily accessible resources, such as college interviewing classes, online interview coaches, and tips and techniques from YouTube and TikTok, candidates are more savvy than ever.
In response to this shift, interviewers wanting authentic interviews have moved away from traditional behavioral-based interview formats that can encourage generic answers. ChatGPT hasn’t brought a brand-new challenge, it’s just made a long-standing issue even more concerning.
Here are specific best practices to consider during the recruiting and interviewing process when using behavioral-based interviewing with ChatGPT-prepared candidates:
- Avoid generic questions. By using common or generic interview questions, you are more likely to hear prepared answers that have been improved upon by ChatGPT. With questions unique to your company or the candidate’s specific experience, you are more likely to hear an original, unrehearsed answer.
- Ask effective follow-up questions. Even if you ask a common question, you can effectively drill past a prepared answer. After a candidate answers a question, ask a series of follow-up questions to get more details about their personality and their experience. These days, many interviewers are finding that follow-up questions are even more important than the initial question — and often where you get the information needed to better determine whether a candidate would succeed in the position.
- Leave competencies out of job listings. When you include specific competencies in a job posting, savvy candidates put them into ChatGPT to guess your interview questions — often, accurately. Competencies are innate abilities required for the job, such as collaborative and results-driven, and they often sneak into job postings unwittingly. Make it a point to leave these descriptions out of a job posting so competency-based questions and behavioral interviewing techniques will be more effective. Candidates cannot easily prepare for these questions ahead of time if they don’t know the competencies you are looking for.
- Don’t rely on “give me an example” questions. When you start the interview by asking for an example of a competency, interviewees often can deduce the competency being assessed, such as hardworking or team player, and can tailor their answer to the competency. Additionally, most ChatGPT practice sessions include these types of example-based questions and candidates often show up with prepared stories to tell around specific competencies. When you vary from this predicted script, the candidates must provide answers in real time, which helps you better assess who they are.
- Expand on well-known interview formats. If you are already using an interview format like STAR or CAR, make sure to not rely too heavily on these questions alone. Candidates often prepare answers around these questions, especially if they are requesting that ChatGPT use these formats. With a more robust interview approach using a series of follow-up questions, you can more thoroughly evaluate the candidate.
Turning to the Interview Funnel™ approach
Companies have found our Interview Funnel™ approach to be helpful with prepared candidates. With a structured yet conversational interview, the candidates talk about their accomplishments and strengths, as well as share specific examples. Interviewers then have the information to know if a candidate is likely to succeed.
Before the interview, the team creates a clear list of competencies required for the job that is only available to the interview team. During the interview, the interviewer looks for strong and repeated evidence of the competencies, and then measures the evidence against the required competencies. And because of the careful balance between a structured interview format that also appears conversational, the process encourages more authentic answers.
Leveling the Playing Field
A candidate who uses an AI-based tool like ChatGPT to prepare for an interview might appear to be a top candidate. However, they may or may not be the best fit for a job. Unfortunately, companies who still use traditional interview questions may favor the candidate who prepares with AI-based tools instead of identifying and hiring the candidate most likely to succeed.
Companies that understand the role these tools play in interview preparation can level the playing field between candidates who do and don’t use the technology. By implementing a more comprehensive interviewer training like our Interview Funnel™ process, you can make sure you are accurately assessing candidates based on their fit for your company.
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