This year, two Elon Musk-led companies ranked in the top 10 in Vault’s Most Prestigious Internships Rankings. While Tesla, which ranked No. 7., is perhaps the more well known of the two, it is SpaceX, which ranked No. 10., that’s more valuable. Latest valuations put Tesla, the electric vehicle giant, at $32.8 billion and SpaceX, the spacecraft and space-launch services leader, at $33.8 billion. And recent estimates put SpaceX as being worth more than $120 billion in the near future.
To achieve his vision and milestones Elon Musk has has developed some pretty distinct hiring practices over the years. Even if your company 's objective isn't to populate another planet, you can channel his tactics for finding the best candidates. Here's how.
Let us take as an example SpaceX, a 5.000-person company, it would be been impossible for Elon to take the first screen of every candidate. At first nearly every candidate had to pass through his gates however until recently the best candidates get a call with a team manager, and then the best of the best must pass through Musk himself. "That's a lot of interviews," he has said.
Elon goal is to understand whether the person in front of him is a problem-solver or simply the member of the team that solved the problem. He clarifies in his interview with CNBC, that the real solver would be able to answer questions through the levels
“They'll be able to answer on multiple levels. They'll be able to get down to the brass tacks. And, if they weren't, they'll get stuck. And then you can say, 'Oh, this person was not really the person who solved it.' Because anyone who struggled hard with a problem never forgets it." -Elon Musk,CNBC March 2020
According to Business Insider & CNBC these are the interview questions that take place within Elon’s big-tech companies from SpaceX to Tesla. Important to highlight that the interview questions may differ depending on the role.
The questions used provide a deep insight into the candidate's problem solving, communication as well as passion to learn mindset, the key pillars when it comes to working under Musk's companies.
"Work on something cool, and be able to speak in detail about the specifics of what you did. Own the project.” - SpaceX Interviewees
Glassdoor have reported being asked engineering and physics riddles in their interviews. Here's one
How can this help today’s recruiter? The questions should be relevant to the skills they'll need on the job. "I'm not necessarily looking for someone who has brilliant analytical ability if their job is going to be assembling hardware," Musk said.
Even When SpaceX built a yogurt stand in its headquarters, Musk instructed her, "Go to Pinkberry (Big US-based yoghurt chain and find me the employee of the month."
Former SpaceX talent director Dolly Singh said that Musk used to tell her to find the single best person on the planet for any given job, no matter the role.
“ I ‘don’t care if you even graduated high school, “There’s no need even to have a college degree at all, or even high school,” Musk said during a 2014 interview with the German automotive publication Auto Bild about his hiring preferences more broadly.
Skills, passion and potential is what drives Elon Musk’s recruitment mindset. Bill Gates or Larry Ellison, Steve Jobs people that did not graduate from College but had vision, passion and the skills to achieve great things.
For the average SME or even the big corp recruiter focusing on the skills and the potential is a key strategy when it comes to finding the right talent out there. Not settling for anything less than someone with passion and persistence to what they do is something that no recruiter/Hiring Manager can skip.