An ex-Tesla recruiter reveals what it's like to interview with Elon Musk
Stephan Savoia/AP Images
• Former Tesla recruiter Marissa Peretz described going to work for the automaker in 2010.
• She had to interview with cofounder and CEO Elon Musk in order to land the role.
• According to Peretz, the brief, "intense" interview lasted about 12 to 13 minutes.
When Marissa Peretz got a call from Tesla in 2010, she was thrilled.
The then-seven-year-old automaker was considering bringing her on as one of its first recruiters. But before she could join the team, Peretz had to get through an interview with Tesla cofounder and CEO Elon Musk.
Peretz, who has since gone on to found Silicon Beach Talent with fellow Tesla alum Max Brown, said she wasn't too nervous about the interview.
"I think ignorance is bliss, to some degree," she told Business Insider. "He had the personality and presence of somebody who commanded a lot. But because he wasn't a household name yet, I didn't realize I was interviewing with someone like Steve Jobs. I just was interviewing with this guy who was building a company."
Peretz met with Musk at SpaceX's office in Hawthorne, California, and she had been told that if she lasted more than five minutes in the interview, it was a sign she "was doing okay."
"I think I got 12 or 13 minutes or something like that," she said. "I was so excited. It was pretty intense for those minutes."
She said Musk tends to ask short questions, including, "Tell me about your most significant technical accomplishment, the project that you're most proud of."
Brown previously said this question is meant to vet a candidate's technical expertise.
"He gives you kind of an open opportunity to impress him," Peretz said.
In her case, Musk also asked her some recruiting-specific questions.
"He asked, 'What makes you the right person to build my company? Why should I trust you?'" she said.
Peretz had admired Tesla since college. She worked on a project in which she had to create a business model for a electric rental car company at the University of Arizona's Eller College of Management. One of the cars in her fictional fleet was a Tesla Roadster.
"That's what drew me to Tesla, being part of a movement that was going to change sustainability," she said. "I was not necessarily a car person at the beginning, though I have now converted."
Peretz said she doesn't remember her exact answers to Musk's interview questions, but said her long-held enthusiasm for the company ended up serving her well.
"When I had my interview with Elon in person, I actually brought my business plan to show him," she said. "He got a chuckle out of it and really enjoyed it. I just know that I cared so much about the mission that that's what closed the deal for me."
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