Answering Elon Musk’s complicated question is just the beginning, as it is only a pretext to analyze the candidates further and determine if they have the mindset to work at Tesla or SpaceX.
3 min read
Whether you love him or hate him, there’s no denying that Elon Musk is one of today’s hottest characters, and millions of people would do anything to work at his companies. But if you want to start working at Tesla or SpaceX, in addition to meeting the position’s requirements, you will have to answer the strange question that he asks the candidates in the interview.
A video from the account “Pink Pencil Math” went viral after revealing what Musk’s question is. Apparently, the eccentric billionaire shows up “by surprise” in some random job interviews, just to throw people off. It would be a type of test to measure how candidates react under pressure. That is, if they are able to think coldly and solve a problem with the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX in front of him.
The user, a mechanical engineer famous for explaining mathematical concepts in a simple way, explained the riddle: “Elon Musk asks people he interviews for SpaceX and Tesla this question. You are standing on the surface of the Earth. You walk, one mile south, one mile west, and one mile north. You end up exactly where you started. Where are you?”
The video, published last March, already exceeds 792,200 views and has accumulated almost 32,500 likes. It also has more than 4,100 comments, mostly from users trying to give a correct answer to the question.
What is the solution to Elon Musk’s riddle?
TikTok users suggested several possible starting points across the globe, from the Bermuda Triangle to Ecuador. Actually, the question to get to work at Tesla or SpaceX has two answers.
1. North Pole. This is the choice of most candidates because if you think about it, it makes the most sense. But Elon Musk has another question to baffle fast-responders: “Where else could you find yourself?”
2. South Pole, which is where the circumference of the Earth becomes a mile. However, very few candidates give this second answer, says Ashlee Vance, the businessman’s biographer.
Whatever it sounds like, the tycoon’s intention is not to rule out candidates, but to give them the opportunity to explain the reasoning behind the answers. In addition, it is a way to see how they would act when solving problems, how they handle failure and frustration and how they process new information.
Added to this, the ideal profile of a Tesla or SpaceX worker includes having a degree in computer science or some related career, being meticulous in understanding code and having done internships, among other characteristics.