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Elon Musk explains what he looks for when interviewing people for Tesla and SpaceX

“When I interview somebody, I really just ask them to tell me the story of their career. What are some of the tougher problems that they dealt with? How they dealt with those. And how they made decisions at key transition points. Usually that’s enough for me to get a very good gut feel about someone.”

Elon continues:

“And what I’m really looking for is evidence of exceptional ability. Did they face really difficult problems and overcome them?”

He will also try to make sure that the person is actually responsible for the accomplishments they claim. And the best way to do this is by asking detailed questions:

“Usually the person who has had to struggle with the problem, they really understand it, and they don’t forget.”

One thing Elon does not look for is a college degree - or even a high school diploma:

“If somebody graduated from a great university, that may be an indication that they will be capable of great things, but it’s not necessarily the case. If you look at people like Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Steve Jobs - they didn’t graduate from college, but if you had a chance to hire them, of course that would be a good idea.”

He concludes:

“[I’m] just looking for evidence of exceptional ability. If there’s a track record of exceptional achievement, then it’s likely that that will continue into the future.”