News & Insights
for Business Leaders
This is what it's like to have an interview with Elon Musk

This is what it's like to have an interview with Elon Musk

Executive Grapevine | Executive Grapevine International Ltd

World renowned genius, space-venturing entrepreneur and, now, recruiter?  

SpaceX Founder Elon Musk has become a household name due to his increasingly daring feats of science and innovation.

He is, in essence, the Willy Wonka of the tech world - but what’s it like to be interviewed by him?

A recent thread on Quora posed the same question, asking candidates if they had any past experience with the inventor.  

The top comment came from Jeff Nelson, former Google engineer who was interviewed by Musk at PayPal. He wrote: “I interviewed with X Commerce in 1999 (later renamed to PayPal), and it was one of the strangest interview experiences of my career.

“At the time, the company had something like 10 employees, none of whom were serious backend engineers except Elon Musk himself, so when they brought me in for the first day of interviews I talked to several people, but it was all soft skills.

“They kept telling me that Elon would do the tech interview.

“The interview with Elon was exceptionally conversational. As I recall, he only asked two questions.

“'What do you want to be doing in 5 years?’

“This is one of the most common interview questions that everyone asks. I think I said something about wanting to advance to management.”

Nelson went on to say that Musk asked if he had any question for him, and they launched into a long discussion about commerce and business models. But the tech genius didn’t ask one tech-related question.

Nelson then claims Musk made him a very disappointing offer which he turned down.