ChatGPT and Developer Hiring: What Tech Leaders Should Know

ProfilePicture of Damien Filiatrault
Damien Filiatrault
Founder & CEO
A tech manager uses ChatGPT to help hire software developers

ChatGPT, developed by OpenAI, has quickly become a popular tool among software developers in the job search and interview process. ChatGPT has been used to help developers refine their resumes, prepare answers for job applications, and practice for interviews in a low-pressure environment. Unfortunately, it’s also being used to “game” job applications and even manipulate take-home or asynchronous technical interviews.

If you’re hiring developers in 2023, it’s important to understand ChatGPT and how developers are using it today (both good and bad). In this article, we’ll break down the most common applications of ChatGPT in the job search and interview process. We’ll also provide specific recommendations for hiring managers looking to adapt their processes for evaluating candidates in an era where AI is widely accessible. Lastly, you’ll find specific examples outlining how you can leverage ChatGPT in your own recruitment efforts.

Table Of Contents

How Are Developers Using ChatGPT in the Recruitment Process?

It didn’t take long after ChatGPT was released to the public for developers to start using it in their job search efforts. Below are a few of the key ways developers are using it when job hunting. 

1. Refining Their Resume, Cover Letter, and Job Application

ChatGPT can help developers summarize their responsibilities and key achievements in previous roles and projects. The outcome is a more polished and professional resume, cover letter, or even LinkedIn profile. Along with tailoring the resume to the role and making it more concise, it can help clean up English copy and remove spelling and grammatical errors. This is a particularly useful tool for non-native English speakers.

ChatGPT summarizing and correcting grammar errors in a developer's resume

In truth, this application of ChatGPT is likely good for candidates and employers alike. Imagine a really great developer applies to your position but struggles to capture the value they created in previous roles. You would likely pass them over! With help from ChatGPT, the developer can more effectively bundle up the most important qualities you want to see, making sure they don’t slip through the cracks. 

2. Practicing for Interviews

Let’s face it: not everyone interviews well. But this doesn’t necessarily mean a candidate isn’t strong. Practicing in advance can help a developer calm their nerves, get in the right frame of mind, and refine answers to technical and behavioral questions.

A gif of ChatGPT suggesting questions and answers for a developer interview

ChatGPT makes it easier to prepare for interviews in a focused, directed way. Developers can use it to generate typical interview questions, not dissimilar from using Google Search. The advantage of ChatGPT, however, is the level of personalization and speed of response. 

Three of the common use cases here are:

A gif of ChatGPT creating a mock interview for a PHP developer

The Dark Side of ChatGPT: Using AI to Manipulate Developers’ Interviews

As with anything, there are always bad actors. The job market is no exception. Developers have documented ChatGPT’s ability to generate “surprisingly coherent” answers to technical questions, which can then be used in job applications. In the same article, ChatGPT was shown to explain theoretical or abstract concepts. ChatGPT even passed the Google coding interview with a “Strong Hire” recommendation for a Level 3 Software Engineer.

While these may sound concerning, these applications are only effective when coding exercises aren’t conducted with video and/or screen-sharing. Because so many companies in the talent space rely on asynchronous, take-home, and/or non-video-based methods to evaluate candidates, however, they can be easily manipulated. More on that below. 

How Some Companies Evaluate Candidates When AI is Widely Accessible

At this point, you may be wondering what a hiring manager should do.

As leaders, we must acknowledge that ChatGPT is here to stay (and will only get smarter). Our best approach is to understand how it’s being used, recognizing the usefulness it offers to both us and candidates. On the other side, it’s also important for leaders to continue to use, or implement, evaluation methods that reduce the risk of candidates manipulating the recruitment process using ChatGPT.

The Importance of Live Coding Exercises

Now more than ever, live technical interviews are critical for assessing a candidate’s technical ability. At Scalable Path, we’ve always used a live-coding approach in which candidates can’t generate responses via AI. These are a few things you can replicate in your own interview process: 

Assessing Soft Skills, Not Just Technical Ability

As a technical leader, you know a candidate is more than just their technical skills. At the end of the day, they need to be a good fit with your team and culture. Their ability to communicate well, work with others, and problem solve are equally important. Communication skills – verbal and written alike – can’t be faked in a live interview.

Importance of candidates' hard and soft skills according to employers

Consider Explicitly Asking Candidates About It

Often, being direct is the most effective way to de-risk whether a candidate will be overly reliant on AI tools to do their job. Consider asking them outright if they’ve used ChatGPT, and if they have, how. You can also dig in a bit more here: how do they see its primary benefit as a tool? What are its strengths and weaknesses?

As we said above, ChatGPT will actually be beneficial in many ways for developers. On the job, they can use it to identify bugs in their code or find answers to technical challenges without sifting through Stack Overflow, for instance. And asking the question will also give you a sense of their honesty and integrity. 

How You Could Leverage ChatGPT in Your Hiring Efforts

We’ve now discussed how candidates may be using ChatGPT in the job search process and how to modify or refine your interview process to account for it. But are there ways you can use ChatGPT in your own hiring efforts?

Of course, the answer is yes. Below are some of the key ways you can leverage this AI-powered tool to streamline your hiring process. 

1. Draft Job Descriptions or Give Them Your Company “Voice”

ChatGPT can help hiring managers capture the essential elements of the role they are hiring for. Specifically, it can help you:

A gif of ChatGPT generating a job description paragraph from a list of requirements.

Perhaps more interestingly, though, ChatGPT can be used to add sentiment and tone to make your job description more compelling and unique. So, you can upload your unique company values, culture, and general stylistic choices to make it your own. Why is this powerful? Well, instead of a generic or rote job posting, you can leverage AI to make your posting more appealing to potential candidates. 

A gif of ChatGPT generating a job description paragraph with a unique tone.

2. Brainstorm Developers’ Interview Questions

In the same way that a candidate may use ChatGPT to generate interview questions, you can use the tool to come up with potential questions of varying difficulty. 

A gif of ChatGPT generating a set of interview questions for a PHP developer

From this preliminary list, you can select the ones that make sense for the role and seniority, then modify them based on your unique product and technical challenges. 

A gif of ChatGPT generating a set of questions for a technical challenge

3. Summarize Candidates’ Resumes and Cover Letters

Depending on the size and stage of your company, you may already use a talent management system like Lever or BambooHR to review candidates. But if you’re not (and even if you are!) ChatGPT can help you summarize information from applicants. 

This Google Sheets add-on allows you to simplify and summarize data from disparate documents. Some key opportunities here include cleaning up candidate names and contact information, and formatting information.

4. Draft Email Replies

Especially if you get a lot of applicants for a single role, emailing each one by one can be tedious and time-consuming. But getting back to candidates can still be important for showcasing your company’s culture, leaving unsuccessful candidates with a positive perception. 

A gif of ChatGPT generating an email response for candidates that didn't pass the interview process

You can do this directly in the OpenAI interface, or leverage the Google Sheets add-on mentioned in point 3. You can use it here to draft email replies for unsuccessful candidates or enhance the tone of the email to align with your company’s voice. 

A gif of ChatGPT generating an short email response for candidates that didn't pass the interview process

A Word of Caution: Relying on ChatGPT Alone Could Be Risky

As with anything, there’s a balance between quality and efficiency. Job descriptions, emails, and other forms of communication are a representation of your company’s brand. If a job description or email is perceived as impersonal, it may not engage potential candidates, and at worst could turn them off from considering the role. In addition, your written communication should be inclusive and always accurate. Relying on ChatGPT alone could cause you to miss language you don’t want to be using. 

If you decide to use ChatGPT in your hiring efforts, just be sure to review and edit the content so it aligns with your brand and culture.

Final Thoughts

The use of ChatGPT in the programming industry is already widespread, both for candidates and hiring managers. As leaders, we should recognize ChatGPT as a tool that can enhance our hiring efforts, and help candidates put their best foot forward. But we also need to understand its limitations and risks. Small adjustments to your evaluation process, like live video interviews with screen-sharing, reduce the risk of hiring a candidate that’s able to game the system. And leveraging it as a tool in your hiring process, rather than relying on it, will make sure you communicate your company and brand effectively.

Originally published on Mar 9, 2023Last updated on May 20, 2023