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Most Common and Effective Job Interview Question by Elon Musk that Works

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by John K. Kumi · 3 min read
Most Common and Effective Job Interview Question by Elon Musk that Works
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Interestingly, a study published in the Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition in December 2020 proved the strategy used by Elon Musk to be very effective.

Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA) and Space Exploration Technologies Corp (SpaceX), has over the years employed an interview technique and found an interview question to spot those who lie about their exceptional capabilities just to get a job. An interview granted in 2014 cements his perception of paying little attention to college degrees and high school certificates as qualifications to get a job. The people who are hired for a job have enough power to break or make the company, hence the need to make sure that they mean every word they say during an interview.

In the 2017 World Government Summit, Elon Musk revealed that he mostly asks all his interviewees a common question to spot whether they are really up to the standard they portray. Since it is mostly difficult to critically scrutinize and identify truthfulness in the answers interviewees provide during a job interview, he throws the same question to all of them:

“Tell me about some of the most difficult problems you worked on and how you solved them.”

The idea is to separate those who answer with every little detail used in solving the problem from those who struggle to back up their claims with proper details of the solution.

Interestingly, a study published in the Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition in December 2020 proved this strategy to be very effective. The study made mention of Asymmetric Information Management (AIM) as a technique that gives the interviewees a good chance to prove their guilt or innocence with detailed information. One of the authors who is also a teaching fellow at the University of Portsmouth, Cody Porter pointed out that if people can come out with detailed information about the event of interest, investigators would be able to spot whether they are lying or not.

She added that “small details are the lifeblood of forensic investigations and can provide investigators with facts to check and witnesses to question.”

The study proved that truth-speakers mostly provide more details to back up their claims as they seek to prove their innocence. Liars, on the other hand, strategically withhold information as they understand that throwing more light on their solutions may further expose them to investigators. They provide less information to conceal their guilt.

The AIM technique captured in the study shows the effectiveness of Musk’s strategy proven to be 70% productive in spotting liars. Musk in his interview stated that the question demands an answer to verify whether the interviewee was largely responsible for any significant achievement or someone else was responsible. He added that someone who struggled with a problem has a clear understanding of the details, and does not forget.

This is a huge lesson to job seekers to provide enough details to questions asked during an interview to prove that their capabilities go beyond talking and smartness to attempt a fabrication of something that never happened.

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John K. Kumi
Author John K. Kumi

Excellent John K. Kumi is a cryptocurrency and fintech enthusiast, operations manager of a fintech platform, writer, researcher, and a huge fan of creative writing. With an Economics background, he finds much interest in the invisible factors that causes price change in anything measured with valuation. He has been in the crypto/blockchain space in the last five (5) years. He mostly watches football highlights and movies in his free time.

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