What does Elon Musk look for in interview candidates?

SpaceX career page reads “SpaceX is looking for world-class talent ready to tackle challenging projects that will ultimately enable life on other planets”. When you have a mission to make humans multi-planetary species, you need a team of individuals with extraordinary competencies.

An article published on Mon, Jun 11 2018 on CNBC website by Zameena Melia mentions SpaceX VP of Human Resources Brian Bjelde giving three key qualities in candidates:

1. Passion

2. Drive

3. Talent

He also mentioned that the team wants to learn the following about the candidates. The candidates should be prepared to answer these interview questions.

  • What makes them tick?
  • What motivates them to do their best work? and 
  • How they like to be challenged?

The employee must be aligned with the mission of the organization. Candidates must believe in the vision of the organization and their core belief system should be in synch. They would be motivated to apply their skills with passion and creativity. 

As per Mr. Bjelde, the resume will not be doing the work. That is the reason they test the talent and skills in real-life situations, whether it is a welder or an engineer. In an interview in 2014, Musk mentioned that credentials are nice signals of abilities but these are not prerequisites to achieve incredible things. This suggests a high level of skill or talent doesn’t need the support of degrees in his opinion. 

Another competency that comes into the picture for interviews is problem-solving. Elon Musk signals his thoughts through his tweets. On November 6, 2020, Elon tweeted asking interview candidates to get in touch with him with details about the most difficult problems they solved and how did they solve these. The rationale behind that is supposed to be proven that if the candidate really worked for these, they would be knowing and enthusiastically telling about the minute details. The candidates who are not telling the truth may be telling about broader parts of the projects.

Each organization has its own way of evaluating its candidates for organizational and job role fit. The candidate must be aware of the organization and its requirements.



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