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What’s it like to interview for a job at Tesla?

Tesla Interview Process

Thanks to several anonymous anecdotes and first-hand accounts from former employees, it’s no secret that working at Tesla is extremely demanding. Much like Apple, Tesla is laser-focused on “changing the world,” and as a direct result, the company expects that employees will work exceedingly hard and tackle impossibly challenging problems for far more than 40+ hours a week.

One of the reasons why Tesla is such a fascinating company to keep tabs on is because it’s successfully managed to infuse a bit of fast-paced Silicon Valley innovation into an auto industry that famously likes to keep things slow and steady. And because Tesla is dead set on hiring world-class engineers, developers and security professionals, we thought it’d be interesting to highlight a few threads which highlight what the interview process at Tesla is like.

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In a rather informative thread on the topic at Quora, employees describe an interview process that seeks to gauge an applicant’s passion for the company as much as his/her technical prowess. In one of the more interesting responses, a Tesla powertrain test engineer James Wong writes that there were two issues that seemed to permeate throughout the entirety of his interview process.

  1. How passionate you are about the company and their mission. Do you have a compelling reason to work there?
  2. Can you handle the stress and hit the ground running? It’s tough working here and no one will hold you hand.

In addition to a phone screen with a recruiter and a phone interview with senior engineers, Wong adds that he also was tasked with creating a presentation highlighting some of his past work in front of Tesla engineers and other higher-ups.

“After the presentation,” Wong writes, “then I have a series of 1 on 1 interviews with each panelist. It was a mix of technical probing questions about your past work, knowledge of fundamental engineering topics (kinematics, statics, and dynamics), and behavioral questions. Often they would ask you technical questions outside your domain to see if you can figure it out (I was asked some EE and coding questions).”

Another response on the thread, this one from an anonymous employee, also relays that Tesla is looking for passion.

Process was very quick. Started with a phone call Tues, another call Friday and then was invited out to meet the team the following week…

Above all, they look for passion about tesla. There are plenty of qualified people for each position. Also if Elon and JB would have their way, everyone would be an engineer at Tesla, regardless of if you’re actually in engineering, or if you’re in finance, hr etc. It’s a meritocracy, so don’t be afraid to (slightly) overstep your boundaries once in a while. You’ll eventually be rewarded for it.

Similarly, if we comb through Tesla interview experiences on Glassdoor, genuine interest in the company and its stated mission appears to be a key trait Tesla recruiters are looking for.

One individual who interviewed for an engineering also relayed that a “recurring” theme to his interview was an effort to “Not a specific question but more like a recurring was to ensure the interviewer that I had genuine interest in and passion for working at Tesla and that I would be comfortable with the long hours of work frequently faced while working there.  “

As for the mechanics of the interview process, most Tesla employees on Glassdoor described a three-part process that began with a phone call and concluded with two in-person interviews.

A life long Mac user and Apple enthusiast, Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 6 years. His writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and most recently, TUAW. When not writing about and analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions, the most recent examples being The Walking Dead and Broad City.