Engineers can face up to nine interviews, a six-hour panel and a letter to Elon Musk

By | March 3, 2024

It takes several rounds of interviews to get hired at Tesla.South China Morning Mail

  • Tesla attracted more than 3.6 million registrations in 2022.

  • Tesla’s hiring process can include up to nine interviews, a presentation and sometimes a letter to Elon Musk.

  • 10 Tesla engineers broke down the process and offered tips for getting a job at Musk’s company.

Millions of people are lining up to work for Tesla.

The electric car maker said it received more than 3.6 million job applications in 2022. But engineers at Tesla say landing a role at Elon Musk’s best-known company is no small feat.

Tesla’s hiring process for engineers can require as many as nine interviews, a battery of tests and, in some cases, a letter to Musk himself.

Business Insider spoke with 10 current Tesla engineers about what it takes to work at the company. The employees spoke on condition of anonymity to protect their employment, but their identities and roles at Tesla have been verified by BI.

Several engineers said it took multiple attempts to get a role with the company and the process can be arduous. Typically, when applying externally for a new role, applicants must start the process from the beginning.

From start to finish, it can take up to six months for you to receive an offer letter.

The first step in the application process is fairly standard

Tesla typically responds to a successful application by scheduling an interview with a recruiter or HR representative.

Tesla engineers said they secured an initial job interview by submitting their resume to a job application on Tesla’s career page, chatting with a Tesla representative at a networking event, or having a colleague pass along their resume through the company’s internal recommendation system company.

“Sometimes it really comes down to who you know at Tesla,” says an engineer who has been with the company for six years. “It helps to go to a feeder college where a classmate can recommend you for a role.”

Recruiters often sift through thousands of applications and only grant interviews to about 20 applicants, according to four engineers involved in the hiring process. Only about half of those candidates make it to the next step, they said.

Tesla Fremont FactoryTesla Fremont Factory

Tesla employs more than 140,000 people worldwide.Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

After the initial culture fit interview – which includes traditional questions about why people want to work at Tesla and how they interact with others – candidates who progress typically chat separately with a manager and at least one engineer from their potential team. These interviews are more technical and sometimes include a take-home or live test.

“Tesla takes a no-bullshit approach,” one engineer told BI. “Sometimes at other companies you can get away with saying something that sounds impressive. At Tesla you can’t do that. If you don’t know something, take responsibility because they will always ask the follow-up questions.”

Panel interviews can last up to six hours

The next step in Tesla’s hiring process involves a presentation and a series of quick interviews that can last four to six hours.

Applicants are typically told to give a 15-30 minute presentation on a previous project, followed by a question and answer session about the project. Tesla employees said it is best for candidates early in their careers to present on group projects or personal ventures.

Between four and six engineers participate in the presentation and later break off to interview the candidate individually for approximately 30 minutes.

“We try to leave it quite open-ended because it’s a good way to find red flags,” an engineer involved in the recruitment process said of the presentation prompt. “We tell them not to present something confidential and that’s the biggest red flag when they present something like that. It’s an easy no when we know they’re not going to be trustworthy.”

Some Tesla engineers said they spent more than 40 hours preparing for the presentation over the course of several weeks. The panel can take place via Zoom or in person. A short break in the middle of the session is also included so that the panelists have time to have lunch.

The logo marks the showroom and service center of the American car and energy company Tesla in Amsterdam on October 23, 2019The logo marks the showroom and service center of the American car and energy company Tesla in Amsterdam on October 23, 2019

Tesla received more than 3.6 million requests in 2022.JOHN THYS/Getty

“You need to make sure you know the technical details of your project inside and out,” said one engineer. “It doesn’t have to be the most complicated technology, as long as you can talk about what you did in detail. You should be able to tell them why you went about it the way you did and discuss other ways to achieve it as well.”

After the panel, employees meet to cast a “blind vote” on the candidate — meaning the panelists all submit their scores at once — said an engineer with knowledge of the process. Candidates are scored on a scale of one to four. If a single panelist gives the candidate a score of one and can substantiate their opinion, the individual’s application is usually rejected, while a score of three or four is seen as a sign of approval for the potential appointment, the engineer said . .

Only about half of the candidates who make it to the panel stage are selected, two engineers said.

Wait a minute: it could take six months to get the job

Depending on the role, some applicants are offered the job after a successful panel interview. For higher level positions, candidates may proceed with an interview with Director or VP level employees.

Some applicants are required to fill out a form sent to a VP or director-level employee outlining three reasons why they would be a good fit for Tesla, three employees said. Some notes are even passed to Musk, the engineers said. Last year, Tesla’s CEO said in an email to employees that he had to approve all new hires.

From start to finish, the entire process can take one to six months, the engineers said. Seven engineers said Tesla had the most intensive interview process they had seen in the industry.

“Half the time we miss out because we’re too slow,” says an engineer with knowledge of the hiring process. “We know, but it’s somehow set up to find people who are so excited that they’re willing to wait. These are people who would probably get a higher base salary at another company, but they have the opportunity to also cash in on Tesla stock.”

A Tesla spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

Do you work for Tesla or have insights you would like to share? Contact the reporter via a non-work email address and device at

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