Elon Musk: Interview Question

Elon Musk: Interview Question

“When you struggle with a problem that is when you understand it.” – Elon Musk

Attracting, developing and retaining the best people is not just an HR or recruiting priority, it is a leadership priority, if not THE top leadership priority. Having the best people is a company’s only durable competitive advantage. Business strategy and operating models can be copied, but people cannot. If a company does not have the best people, it short-changes itself. Why? Because average people produce average results and great people produce great results. When hiring people, the goal should never be good enough. The goal should always be great.

Interviewing is an important part of the people process. When Elon Musk, a man who has built three billion dollar businesses – PayPal, SpaceX and Tesla Motors – interviews candidates, he asks them about a complex problem they have worked on and how they solved it. If the person was actually the one who solved it, they will be able to answer questions about it on multiple levels; they will be able to go down to the brass tasks. If they cannot, you can assume they are not being entirely truthful. According to Musk, anyone who struggles to solve a difficult problem never forgets.

Hiring is an art, not a science. You are going to be wrong at least 30% of the time. The key is to figure it out fast. When interviewing, spend the majority of the time talking to candidates about their experience. Dig deep into what they have actually done. Keep drilling until you satisfy yourself that they are not just interviewing well, that they actually have real experience. You can do this by asking second- and third-level questions. How candidates represent and discuss their experience not only provides useful insight into them professionally, but also reveals their character and integrity.

All contents copyright © 2014, Josh Lowry. All rights reserved.


4 Responses to Elon Musk: Interview Question

  1. Jens Hanner says:

    Love this!


  2. Monica Wrike says:

    Elon is the best!


  3. Chad Brown says:

    GREAT interview question!


  4. Stalen Oak says:

    Interesting take.


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