Takeaways from Elon Musk’s Hiring Experience

I recently read a very compelling article about the hiring practices of Elon Musk. It was one of those stories that really hits home. Working in a staffing industry gives you a lot of insight into the more subtleties of hiring good talent, balancing the qualitative soft-skills with the hard, resume skills. My own thoughts and takeaways are as follows:

The first important question to ask is what problems the candidate has solved. Let’s face it, no one is looking for grunt work anymore. You’re trying to find an ambitious and talented person who takes pride in solving problems. Someone who’s looking for a 9-5 paycheck gig might not be focused on solving problems, and thus have no great answer. A stellar candidate, however, will be happy to tell you about the problems they’ve solved, and the creative methods they’ve used to solve them. Furthermore, they’ll be happy to solve problems at their new position as well.

While degrees are extremely helpful in tech-based jobs where knowledge and skills are crucial, they may not always be necessary. Especially when looking for more flexible and complicated roles, there is only so much that a degree can equip a candidate for. The rest will have to be up to personal discretion.

A collaborative work environment is critical nowadays, and negativity goes just as far as positivity. For that reason, it’s crucial to evaluate the temperament of the candidates you wish to hire. A candidate that doesn’t demonstrate accountability, integrity, positivity, and teamwork, will most likely not be a great fit for your team.

It is crucial to give the candidate an opportunity to sell themselves. A strong candidate believes they’re a great fit for the job, and is looking for a reason to tell you all about it. Open-ended questions like “what makes you a good fit for this position?” are a great way to open the door on that topic. A strong candidate is waiting for this opportunity, whereas a candidate with nothing compelling to say might dread this question.

You may want to consider a brain teaser, or even a practical puzzle, depending on the circumstance. A clever brain teaser is one that will require outside help, and you can gauge the candidate’s collaboration and communication abilities based on how quickly they ask for help, and how they communicate during the process. For analytical positions, you may want to consider a logical brain teaser to assess the candidate’s critical thinking abilities. However, not all positions will require on-the-spot thinking, so putting your candidate in the hot seat may not be necessary.

These principles are held closely to heart at GDI’s recruiting team. If you’re looking for quality consultants, you can trust us to find and qualify candidates using similar hiring processes.

by Jack Virag