Everyone’s talking about ChatGPT these days: this famous AI tool that can answer almost any question you have with mind-boggling accuracy, in a human-like language. 

For the sake of the experiment, I tried to see if the tool could come up with good answers to commonly asked questions in investment banking interviews. 

And the results were… interesting. 

On the one hand, the AI is capable of generating answers that sound good, that make sense when you’re hearing them. 

On the other, even though these answers are not “wrong”, there is still something missing in them… A “human variable”, a “soul” –  whatever you want to call it. 

And since they lack this “human element”, these AI-generated answers cannot perform well during a real interview. 

I explain why in this article, showing examples of interview answers generated by the AI. The “funny” thing is that these answers look very similar to the kind of answers that most candidates prepare… before wondering why they failed their interview. 

This article contains some critical advice on how to prepare for IB interviews so even if you’re not interested in AI per se, I highly recommend this read. 

The ChatGPT IB Interview Question Experiment…
ChatGPT Experiment

First, I asked the ChatGPT: “Let’s say I have an incoming IB interview at Goldman Sachs. Can you give me an example of an answer for the interview question: Tell me about yourself?”

Here is what the AI gave me:

“My name is [Your Name], and I am a recent graduate from [University Name] where I earned a degree in finance. I have always been interested in the financial markets and have taken several courses to deepen my knowledge in this field. My previous experience includes working as an intern at [Company Name], where I was responsible for conducting financial analysis and creating presentations for clients. During my time there, I gained hands-on experience in financial modeling and data analysis, and I was able to contribute to several successful projects.

I am now eager to take my skills and experience to the next level by pursuing a career in investment banking. That’s why I am particularly interested in Goldman Sachs, as it has a reputation for providing high-quality services and for fostering a culture of innovation and collaboration. I am confident that I would thrive in this dynamic and challenging environment and that I could make valuable contributions to the team.

In the long term, I hope to become a trusted advisor to clients and to help companies achieve their strategic goals through creative and effective financial solutions. Thank you for considering me for this opportunity, and I look forward to the chance to further discuss my qualifications with you.”

As you can tell, this answer is not wrong. In fact, it SOUNDS pretty good. It’s the type of answer that many candidates would provide to the question “tell me about yourself”. 

So we could say that the AI does a good job in replicating what most candidates are doing. Yet, if you give answers like that during your interviews, you WON’T impress recruiters, and you WON’T be among the top applicants (unless you have a truly exceptional background). 

You’re probably wondering” what’s wrong with this AI-generated answer? Here’s what’s wrong:

  • It’s super-generic. It’s literally the kind of answer that thousands of candidates will use again and again in interviews. And guess what? Recruiters stop paying attention the moment you start saying something that any random candidate could say… They automatically classify you as a “commodity” applicant – the type of applicant who means well but who never truly stands out from the rest. Just take one second to look at this sentence: “I am confident that I would thrive in this dynamic and challenging environment and that I could make valuable contributions to the team”. Do you think you would be the only one saying that? Do you think that recruiters will secretly think “Damn, this is sooo original…”? Well they might do, in a sarcastic way… But there is not one single scenario where saying generic stuff like this is going to legitimately make a strong impression on your interviewers. Only unique, highly personal answers perform well. 

 

  • There are no emotions. In the AI-generated answer above, there is no emotion at all. It sounds extremely robotic. And emotions are what really captures the attention of your audience. The reason Hollywood blockbusters are so successful is that they’re packed with intense, emotional roller coasters that keep the viewer at the edge of their seat. If you remove these emotionally-charged moments, no one would watch these movies. That’s the same thing with answering interview questions. If you only rely on logic and don’t inject some emotional components into your stories, you won’t be memorable, and you probably won’t get an offer. We’ll see later how to do that. 

 

  • It’s massively idealized. Look at this sentence: “In the long term, I hope to become a trusted advisor to clients and to help companies achieve their strategic goals through creative and effective financial solutions”. It sounds cool. I almost have tears in my eyes… But it smells BS from MILES away! No one will believe you if you say that. The more beautiful words and corporate jargon you inject into your answers, the less believable you will be in front of recruiters. If you want recruiters to really pay attention to you and value your answers, you need to sound as authentic as possible, by using simple language (no jargon) and sharing real, genuine motivations (not something that you’ve read in the “About us” section of the bank’s website). The AI did a very poor job at reflecting authenticity here. We’ll see how to answer properly in a few seconds. 

 

To further test the ability of the tool, I asked if it could help me with another very common IB interview question:

“Can you give me a good example of an answer to the question: Why investment banking?”

ChatGPT answer:

“I have always been interested in finance and the financial markets, and I believe that a career in investment banking will allow me to combine my skills and interests in a challenging and rewarding way. I am drawn to investment banking because of the fast-paced, dynamic nature of the work and the opportunity to help clients achieve their strategic goals through creative and effective financial solutions.

I have been impressed with Goldman Sachs’ reputation for providing high-quality services and for fostering a culture of innovation and collaboration. I believe that working at Goldman Sachs would provide me with the opportunity to work with talented and experienced colleagues, to develop my skills and expertise, and to make a meaningful impact in the industry. I am confident that I would thrive in this challenging and dynamic environment and that I could make valuable contributions to the team. Thank you for considering me for this opportunity.”

Do you think this answer is good? If you think that, well.. think again! It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just that it’s not good enough to make the cut. 

Same problems as for the first question: it’s 1) way too generic 2) devoid of emotions 3) massively idealized (utopian sentences like “to make a meaningful impact in the industry” should be avoided). 

Now, after the AI gave me this answer, I tried to see if it could improve the quality of the answer by giving further instructions reflecting my critical feedback above. 

Here’s what I told ChatGPT:

Your answer to the question “Why investment banking” is way too generic, lacks emotions, and far too idealistic. Can you give me another example of an answer that is 1) far more unique and personal (invent personal experiences that led you to grow an interest in IB) 2) infused with emotions and 3) far more practical, less idealistic?

Here’s what the AI replied:

“I first became interested in investment banking during my sophomore year in college when I had the opportunity to participate in a stock pitch competition. Working on this project, I was fascinated by the process of analyzing financial data and creating a pitch to sell a company’s value to investors. From that moment on, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in finance.

As I’ve delved deeper into the industry, I’ve realized that what excites me most about investment banking is the opportunity to work on deals that have a real impact on people’s lives. For example, I recently read about an investment banking team that helped a small business secure funding that allowed them to expand and create more jobs in their community. That kind of impact is what I want to be a part of.

I’m also drawn to investment banking because of the intense learning opportunities. I thrive in environments where I’m constantly challenged, and I know that investment banking will push me to develop skills in financial modeling, data analysis, and client management that will serve me well throughout my career.

And, of course, the people and culture at Goldman Sachs are a huge draw for me. In my research, I’ve been impressed by the firm’s commitment to collaboration and diversity, and I can’t wait to work with colleagues who are passionate about finance and helping clients achieve their goals.

Overall, I see investment banking as a field where I can make a tangible impact, constantly learn and grow, and work alongside some of the brightest minds in the industry. I’m excited about the prospect of starting my career at Goldman Sachs and contributing to the firm’s ongoing success.”

It’s definitely better, but we’re not quite there yet. Let’s break down each paragraph one by one:

  • “I first became interested in investment banking during my sophomore year in college when I had the opportunity to participate in a stock pitch competition. Working on this project, I was fascinated by the process of analyzing financial data and creating a pitch to sell a company’s value to investors. From that moment on, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in finance.” → Focus on one specific event that sparked the interest in financial analysis, which is good. Always better to use specific, personal examples to prove your motivation for something. 

 

  • “As I’ve delved deeper into the industry, I’ve realized that what excites me most about investment banking is the opportunity to work on deals that have a real impact on people’s lives. For example, I recently read about an investment banking team that helped a small business secure funding that allowed them to expand and create more jobs in their community. That kind of impact is what I want to be a part of.” → This paragraph is also decently good. “Real impact on people’s live” does sound a bit cheesy, but the example that is used to illustrate (e.g., helping a small business secure funding) is relevant. Ideally, we would need to make this example even more specific. For example: helping a small, family-owned wine producer in California secure more funding, allowing them to expand into more regions and creating over 200 jobs in their community”

 

  • “I’m also drawn to investment banking because of the intense learning opportunities. I thrive in environments where I’m constantly challenged, and I know that investment banking will push me to develop skills in financial modeling, data analysis, and client management that will serve me well throughout my career.” → Again, way too generic. Just a succession of cliches here (“environment where I’m constantly challenged, intense learning opportunities…)

 

  • “And, of course, the people and culture at Goldman Sachs are a huge draw for me. In my research, I’ve been impressed by the firm’s commitment to collaboration and diversity, and I can’t wait to work with colleagues who are passionate about finance and helping clients achieve their goals.”  → Ultra-generic, full of corporate jargon, exactly what you shouldn’t say to stand out.
 
  • “Overall, I see investment banking as a field where I can make a tangible impact, constantly learn and grow, and work alongside some of the brightest minds in the industry. I’m excited about the prospect of starting my career at Goldman Sachs and contributing to the firm’s ongoing success.” → Very generic and overly enthusiastic Prepare for IB interviews.