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Would You Pass a Job Interview with Elon Musk?

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How would you handle a job interview with Elon Musk?  (Other than fainting or grabbing his hand and telling him how much you’ve always wanted to meet him.) The excellent news is Elon is no fan of secrets to help save the environment – he’s just made freely accessible all of his patents for his range of electric vehicles.  Elon is calm and confident enough to know that in an Elon Musk job interview, even if you know the answers, he’s still in charge. The question is, how do you impress the man who’s already looking to the stars for where to build his next office?


After all, Elon is an extremely high-profile and demanding employer. If you can get hired by him, you can get hired by just about anyone. Thinking about how you’d perform in a job interview with Elon Musk can help guide your performance in interviews for sales, marketing, and people operations positions throughout your career.

Elon Musk’s favorite interview question

Because as described in an article in Inc. Magazine, while speaking at the world government summit in Dubai in 2017, Elon described the question he asks of every lucky candidate just fortunate enough to be interviewed by him:


“Tell me the story of your life and the decisions that you made along the way and why you made them, and also tell me about some of the most difficult problems you worked on and how you solved them.”


Musk in that speech made it abundantly clear that that question was fundamental. So how would you answer? 


It’s helpful to realize that this question, like a lot of Elon’s awesome inventions, is just a piece of elegantly simple engineering. He’s asking:


  • What’s your academic background?
  • What’s your job experience?
  • How have you turned both of those into the kind of skills my company needs?
  • Can you translate these into anecdotes about exiting projects you’ve taken on?
  • In short, can you impress me and keep it short?


This shows you that even demanding interviewers like Elon Musk ask questions that aren’t so different from what any interviewer might ask you. But if your interviewer is as demanding as Elon, the key is to be prepared for them. You might not hear particularly unusual questions, but the pressure is on to have a great and, above all, memorable answer. Don’t forget: he’s asking about problems you solved, but above all, he wants to know the solutions you can bring.

The dreaded job interview riddle

There is another question you’d better be aware of your Elon Musk job interview. This one was mentioned in an article in Curiosity Magazine.


“You’re standing on the surface of Earth. You walk one mile south, one mile west, and one mile north. You end up exactly where you started. Where are you?”


The answer? You’re on the north pole. The Earth is a sphere, and you’ve made a triangle that brought you back to where you started.


It’s worth remembering that this question is testing two things. 


  • First of all, can you think logically and quickly? That’s the mark of pure, not learned, intellect.  So maybe do some brain training exercises before job interviews. Most decent sales and marketing jobs these days value your ability to think fast and develop new skills quickly.
  • Secondly, are you resourceful enough to do your preparation and check out the kind of question he’s going to want to ask? If you know what kind of interviewer you’re going to be dealing with, you can avoid feeling caught off-guard by this kind of question. Check Glassdoor, or talk to anyone you may know who works or has worked at the company. These are good ways to get a sense of what to expect.
  •  Remember though: no rule stops him from thinking of a new problem. Neither life nor interviews are fair and you don’t get to set the rules.


Just hope he hasn’t decided the third test is taking a test drive on one of his new rockets.

Don’t forget to do your homework

It’s probably a good idea before you get a job interview with Elon Musk to watch some of his interviews on YouTube. As polarizing as he is, he’s a fascinating man, and you may learn enough to become a billionaire, innovator, futurist, or possible villain for the next Bond movie.


After all, as Elon once said, “When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.”