Youngsters and aspiring PMs, please don't lie in your interviews, be honest

I am looking to hire a PM and I recently rejected a candidate who, I could see, was clearly reading from ChatGPT.

I could see them typing in and making distinct eye movements, which told me they were reading through; all of their responses contained precise definitions from textbooks and the appropriate buzzwords.

Instead of calling out their BS, I started to press them on a specific topic, and I was shocked by how quickly they entered the prompt into the GPT and read out the responses. They eventually ran out of justifications or ways to back up their claims and just babbled on.

All of the junior candidates who are currently being interviewed should be honest and admit when they don’t know something. That would be more valued and respected than lying. Contrary to popular belief, detecting crap is much simpler.

We frequently anticipate your cluelessness and requests for clarification. Everything else can be taught, so we frequently screen applicants to see if they can think rationally. If they can, we are willing to invest in them.

That’s it folks! I wish everyone luck in finding their ideal job soon.


How can you be certain that they were reading from a chatbot? I type out my “so tell me about yourself” as part of my interview preparation in order to make it succinct and relevant to the position. I also write answers to some typical interview questions. This is kept in the document that I use to take notes during the interview. The interviewers must be able to see me scrolling and scanning. Particularly by the last interview, when I’m checking my notes for information provided by earlier interviewers.

To be clear, I’m not reading my typed responses word for word; rather, I’m skimming them to make sure I don’t miss any important details.

My point is that you might want to ask them if they are “cheating” rather than making the assumption that they are.


I love this - I haven’t interviewed remotely so it never occurred to me it could be an “open notes test”


I’ve taken notes during face-to-face interviews. In interviews, I typically say up front that I might be looking over my notes as I formulate my replies.

Unless the interview is more “conversational,” I’d prefer to appear prepared and give thoughtful responses rather than speaking instantly.


I recognize the sentiment of the post, but I was curious how the OP could be so certain that the interviewee is using ChatGPT without much proof. Reminds me of a time when I was in school and was accused of cheating because I used difficult words in an essay, knowing full well that this foreign student would not be able to comprehend them.


I understand your frustration. It is always disappointing when you find out that a candidate is not being honest in an interview. However, I think it is important to give them the benefit of the doubt at first. It is possible that they are simply nervous and not used to interviewing.

Here are some tips on how to detect deception in a job interview:

  • Ask open-ended questions. This will give the candidate a chance to expand on their answers and provide more details. If they are simply reciting a canned answer, they will likely struggle to answer your questions in a thorough and thoughtful way.
  • Ask probing questions. These are questions that require the candidate to think critically and provide specific examples. For example, you could ask a candidate to describe a time when they had to deal with a difficult situation or a time when they had to work under pressure. If they are able to provide specific examples that demonstrate their skills and experience, then they are likely being honest.
  • Pay attention to body language. People who are being dishonest often fidget, avoid eye contact, or give vague answers. If you notice any of these signs, it is a good idea to follow up with the candidate to get more clarification.
  • Check references. This is always a good idea, but it is especially important if you have any concerns about the candidate’s honesty. When you check references, be sure to ask questions about the candidate’s work ethic, reliability, and honesty.

If you are still unsure whether or not a candidate is being honest, you can always ask them to take a polygraph test. However, it is important to note that polygraph tests are not always reliable.

I hope these tips help you to detect deception in job interviews. Remember, it is important to be fair and give the candidate the benefit of the doubt. However, if you have any concerns about their honesty, it is always better to be safe than sorry.


If you use ChatGPT long enough you’ll start to see patterns in words used, the way it constructs sentences, the accurate but useless information provided, etc. Once you’re aware of these things it’s pretty easy to spot them live.

Some examples that I have noticed when using it for a side project (specific to me):

  • does not use contractions
  • doesn’t use active voice
  • it uses a lot of filler words
  • it has limited vocabulary

It can get better with more prompting and knowing what and how to ask, but definitely not something anyone can do during an interview.


Definitely. You get used to ChatGPT if you don’t use detailed prompts. Anyone who is using basic one sentence prompts I feel are easy to figure out now.


When I asked them to tell me about themselves and they were reading, I assumed that they had a document set up that they were using as a guide. I was and would be totally fine with that for other questions as well. Proves a candidate’s level of preparation.

But when they began typing in and then reading the definitions from the text books, things started to go south. This is when it dawned on me that no amount of planning can provide you with such precise knowledge.

Additionally, this candidate kept defending a few concepts that don’t exist, like the use of Hotjar for heat mapping in Android and iOS apps. Before telling them that Heat maps cannot be done on apps, I started to grill them. The proof was in the expression on his face. They continued to read even after that. That was very annoying and irritating.


I always do a tailored “tell me about yourself.” Beyond that, I typically have a response to “tell me about your favorite product” because I don’t like choosing favorites and sometimes blank on that answer and it’s difficult to answer concisely but thoroughly without prep. I also have questions for the interviewer. I add additional questions and responses based on previous interviews. For instance, if the recruiter says the hiring manager will be interested in project x because of y, I’ll create a question like, “Tell me about a time when you did y?” And create a crisp answer revolving around project x.

I keep one document per job and add a running log of interview notes as I have additional meetings.

The idea isn’t that I’m reading the whole time. It’s not meant to be a comprehensive resource.

I don’t use my pm interview notes (frameworks, helpful numbers for case studies, etc) as that would be too distracting for me.


I in no way support dishonesty during job interviews, but as someone trying to transition from an Implementation role into the Product space, I find that the Product space is very oddly gatekept.

My mentors all claim that they got into product by accident, but nowadays it seems like you need a master’s degree, to have a highly specialized degree when you graduate, or to have someone give you a chance from within an established position.

I’ve been applying for entry-level positions that, according to their descriptions, call for 3–8 years of experience. an entry-level position.

Again, I agree completely that all job applications should be completed honestly; after all, they serve as your first impression. Product also appears to be extremely difficult to breach without a lot of luck.


Although I don’t have a formal education and have 16 years of experience in product management, I find it extremely frustrating when people with less experience than me act as gatekeepers.

This entire industry is rapidly filling up with egotistical individuals who are more interested in enhancing their stature and emerging as the next “thought leader” than they are in creating ground-breaking products.


It’s unfortunate that you had to encounter a candidate who attempted to deceive during the interview process by using ChatGPT to provide answers. Honesty and transparency are crucial qualities in any professional setting, and it’s important for candidates to be upfront about their knowledge and expertise.

It’s great to hear that you value candidates who are honest about their limitations and are open to learning. Admitting when they don’t know something demonstrates self-awareness and a willingness to grow, which are essential traits for any team member.

Screening candidates for their ability to think rationally and critically is a wise approach. These skills are foundational and can lead to more effective problem-solving and decision-making within the project or organization.

As you continue your search for a Product Manager, it’s essential to prioritize qualities like integrity, adaptability, and a strong willingness to learn. Finding someone who aligns with your team’s values and can contribute positively to the organization will greatly impact the success of your projects. Best of luck in your search for the right candidate!


People applying for the position for the wrong reasons could be the issue. It can be well paid, which may attract more douchebags who will serve as gatekeepers.


You make a valid point @RobMartin. The allure of a well-paid position can indeed attract individuals who are solely motivated by financial gains rather than a genuine interest in the role or a passion for product management. This can lead to a negative work environment, especially if these individuals exhibit gatekeeping behavior.

Gatekeeping, where certain individuals try to restrict access to a particular field or knowledge, can be detrimental to team dynamics and hinder collaboration. It is essential to foster a culture of openness, cooperation, and mutual respect within the organization to ensure that everyone can contribute their best.

To address this issue, consider the following strategies when hiring for the Product Manager role:

  1. Clarify role expectations: Clearly define the specific responsibilities and scope of the Product Manager position within your organization. This will help potential candidates understand what is expected of them and determine if they are a good fit for the role.
  2. Focus on product vision: Look for candidates who demonstrate a strong understanding of product strategy and have a clear vision for the products they have managed in the past. Assess their ability to think strategically and align the product roadmap with business goals.
  3. Analytical skills: Product Managers need to make data-driven decisions. Assess candidates’ analytical abilities and their experience using data to inform product decisions and track product performance.
  4. Collaboration and leadership: A successful Product Manager must collaborate with cross-functional teams and lead without direct authority. Look for candidates who can work effectively with different stakeholders and have excellent communication skills.
  5. Market and customer empathy: A great Product Manager understands the market and customers deeply. Look for candidates who can demonstrate their understanding of customer needs and have experience conducting market research.
  6. Innovation and adaptability: The tech industry is constantly evolving, so it’s essential to find candidates who are innovative and adaptable to change. Ask about their experience in managing product lifecycles and how they have adapted to shifts in the market.
  7. Problem-solving abilities: Product Managers encounter various challenges. Assess candidates’ problem-solving skills and how they approach complex issues related to product development, user experience, and business constraints.
  8. Culture fit: Consider how well the candidate aligns with your company’s culture and values. Look for individuals who are motivated by the company’s mission and show a genuine interest in the industry.
  9. Track record of success: Review the candidate’s past product management experiences and their track record of launching successful products or improving existing ones.
  10. Product passion: Find candidates who are genuinely passionate about the products they manage and can articulate their enthusiasm during the interview.

Remember that the success of a Product Manager largely depends on their ability to understand customer needs, manage the product lifecycle, and collaborate effectively with various teams. Tailoring the hiring process to assess these specific skills and qualities will help you find the best fit for your Product Manager role.

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Yes, even though I’ve worked in a variety of business-related fields (marketing, sales, operations), I’m still regarded as a junior with only about three years of “official” experience in product. which, in the end, I agree with, but my professional background is much richer than that.

All of this is to say that Product is currently being gatekept by a lot of people, and that finding a job—even with experience—can be a very frustrating process. I’m relieved I’m not the only one dealing with this. I appreciate you sharing.