Elon Musk Puts Potential SpaceX Hires Through a Grueling Interviewing Process One Former Employee Calls a 'Gauntlet'

The grueling culture begins even earlier than on the first day of work, according to a former SpaceX employee.
Elon Musk Puts Potential SpaceX Hires Through a Grueling Interviewing Process One Former Employee Calls a 'Gauntlet'
Image credit: Bill Pugliano/Stringer/Getty Images
3 min read
This story originally appeared on Business Insider

It's well established that working for Elon Musk at SpaceX can be intense.

But the grueling culture begins even earlier than on the first day of work, according to former SpaceX employee Josh Boehm, who described the "gauntlet that is the SpaceX interview process" to Business Insider.

There "was a very strict hiring policy," Boehm, now co-founder and COO of Cyph, said. "Elon and Gwynne [Shotwell] from the top down said we only really want top talent coming in. It was really difficult to bring people in and get them on the team."

Here's what the interview process entailed, according to Boehm, who worked at the company from 2013 to 2016:

  1. Teams in HR pore over piles of resumes.
  2. Then applicants have two to four phone screenings to see if they are qualified for in-person interviews. 
  3. Candidates who make it through those four phone conversations are brought to the SpaceX campus for a full day of interviewing with "everyone who might work with them."
  4. Interviewers talk to candidates in pairs where they are "grilled" in seven to eight one-hour interview sessions. 
  5. Halfway through, they get a break for lunch and to take a tour of factory. The second half of interviews then commence. 
  6. If even one person expresses doubt at any part in the process, the interview comes to a halt and the applicant is immediately sent home.

The process sounds incredibly similar to interviewing at Musk's other company Tesla, as Business Insider's Aine Cain reported in a separate piece.

Interviewing at SpaceX wasn't only hard on potential hires, but also employees already working at SpaceX.

"It was frustrating at times because when I was leading software quality assurance it was very difficult for me to get the resources I needed to expand and get additional help," he said.

Lack of sufficient resources was tough, especially as Boehm noted he frequently worked 12-hour days and all nighters. 

Despite that schedule, Boehm said he still enjoyed his time there, and still would be at SpaceX if it weren't for the desire to go off and start a company on his own.

"If I had more than 24 hours in a day I would love to still work there," he said. "It's a great environment and I do believe in the mission."

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