What it’s like to interview at Tesla

The decider.
The decider.
Image: Reuters/Rebecca Cook
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This question originally appeared on Quora: What Is It Like To Interview At Tesla Motors? Answer by James Wong, powertrain test engineer at Tesla Motors.

This is how my interview went for the role of powertrain test engineer, a full-time role.

Throughout the entire interview process, there were two major points the interviewers wanted to address:

  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 your hand.

Phone screen

This is where the recruiter just wants to get to know you, learn about your skills, and chat with you about the role. Be prepared to tell the recruiter what you know about Tesla and why you want to work there.

Phone interview with team

Either the hiring manager or a senior engineer will chat with you about your experience and will try to dive a litter deeper into the technical details. I wasn’t asked any specific crazy physics or “gotcha” questions during the interview. Instead, the interviewer asked me to expand on my experience, explaining how things worked, problems I’ve solved, etc.

On-site interview

Before the interview, I was asked to create a presentation about my past work. My presentation was about my internship project at a different company. I presented for about 30 minutes which included a Q&A session for panel of about six people. The panel consisted of the hiring manager, senior engineers, and directors.

After the presentation I then had a series of one-on-one interviews with each panelist. It was a mix of technical probing questions about past work, knowledge of fundamental engineering topics (kinematics, statics, and dynamics), and behavioral questions. Often they would ask technical questions outside your domain to see if you could figure it out (I was asked some EE and coding questions). There may be an additional phone interview if someone couldn’t make it.

Overall the process wasn’t difficult, but they really want to see if you are passionate about Tesla and their mission. I really liked the interview process because not only are they looking for someone who is capable, but also someone who is actually passionate about working for the company and the space they’re in. It helps weed out the people who are only interested in the company because of the name.

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