22 Interview Questions You Need to Nail to Work for Elon Musk

22 Interview Questions You Need to Nail to Work for Elon Musk was originally published on Vault.

Recently, billionaire Tesla CEO and SpaceX founder Elon Musk hosted Saturday Night Live. In his opening monologue, Musk poked fun at his “erratic” behavior, saying, “To anyone I’ve offended, I just want to say, I reinvented electric cars, and I’m sending people to Mars in a rocket ship. Did you think I was also going to be a chill, normal dude?” Musk also pointed out that he was the first person with Asperger’s to ever host SNL—“or, at least, the first to admit it.”

No matter what you might think of Musk’s appearance and performance on SNL, the fact is his companies are highly desirable places to work. In fact, in our latest Internship Rankings, Tesla and SpaceX ranked among the six most prestigious firms to intern for. And it’s SpaceX that made the bigger leap in the rankings versus last year. Tesla rose three places to rank No. 5, while SpaceX rose four places to rank No. 6. SpaceX also ranked among our 10 Best Internships for Software Engineering and among our 20 Best Tech & Engineering Internships.

Not surprisingly, SpaceX interns who took our survey called SpaceX’s interview process “very selective.” They also called it “professional,” “smooth,” “reasonable,” “respectful,” “challenging,” and “highly technical.” Indeed, if you want to intern for SpaceX, you’ll have to nail several challenging and highly technical interview questions. And below is a list of such questions that SpaceX interns told us you need to answer to land an internship with the “groundbreaking,” “trend-setting” firm.

Behavioral/Intro Questions

1. “In five minutes or so, tell me about yourself and your strengths.”

2. “Tell me about a project you’re proud of.”

3. “Tell me about a time you showed leadership in a conflict.”

4. “What was your greatest engineering challenge, and how did you overcome it?”

5. “Discuss a time when your project didn’t work. How did you handle it? What would you do differently? How would you successfully repeat it in half the time?”

6. “Describe a situation where things went wrong and it was your fault.”

7. “Walk me through the process of something you designed. Now, if you were to do it all again, what would you change?”

8. “Why do you want to work here?”

Technical/Engineering Questions

9. “How does a 3-phase AC motor work?’

10. “How does a DAC (digital to analog converter) work?”

11. “How does DHCP (dynamic host configuration protocol) work?”

12. “What is DNS (domain name system)?”

13. “Why do we used twisted pairs of wires?”

14. “What makes coaxial cables better for high frequency signaling?”

15. “Explain the physics of a low pass filter. Where do you put the probes? How does attenuation work on a physical level?”

16. “Given a power source input and load, would you use a P-channel MOSFET or an N-channel MOSFET to power the load?”

17. “If there is a bar sticking out of the wall, and you apply a force at the end of it, how does the stress change if you increase the width of the bar?”

18. “If a copper wire inside of a rubber sleeve is put in tension, does the copper or rubber take more of the stress?”

19. “What is a pressure gauge? How does it work? How would you conduct a valve leak-by test? What gas would you use?”

Rocket/Space Questions

20. “Describe the dynamic behavior of Falcon 9 as it is ascending and re-entering with regards to stability.”

21. “Describe the process of designing and fabricating a high-pressure, reliable fueling system for a rocket engine. Describe the temperature, pressure, and velocity of the flow from a rocket engine at the plenum, nozzle exit, and combustion chamber. What happens if you weld two different metals on a joint in a rocket engine’s plumbing?”

22. “Design a reaction control system for a rocket.”

Read more about the internship program at SpaceX here. And see our latest rankings of the 100 Best Internship Programs here.

By Derek Loosvelt - Vault
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