Tesla Interview questions

The Most Common Tesla Interview Questions (with Answers)

The most effective way to prepare for a Tesla interview is to practice real Tesla interview questions. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a cheatsheet for your Tesla interview, so you know the answer to questions before they’re asked? Luckily, this cheat sheet exists–Tesla published it themselves. Tesla outlines the values they’re looking for on their own site. Tesla employees and candidates have shared real Tesla interview questions and the Tesla interview process all over the internet on sites like Glassdoor and LeetCode. But how do you know which questions will actually be asked? We’ve compiled the most common Tesla interview questions and answers so you can go into your interview with confidence.        

How Not to Answer Tesla Interview Questions

One of the worst mistakes candidates make is just casually scanning Tesla interview questions online before their interview. They study questions carefully, but don’t prepare answers–they plan to “wing” their answers. But Tesla interviewers certainly don’t have such a casual attitude. They’ll carefully note your responses and meticulously review what you shared. 

While you shouldn’t memorize interview responses word-for-word, you should have a pitch prepared along with common interview responses. As a ROLE at Tesla and a mentor at Pathrise NAME  emphasizes coming to behavioral interviews prepared with examples from your previous experience. “Preparing rough answers beforehand will help you communicate confidently.” Tesla excess like NAME at Pathrise landed jobs by acing Tesla interview questions, demonstrating their soft skills, technical skills, and cultural alignment with Tesla.

If you’re preparing for a Tesla interview, don’t just read the questions in this article. Actually write your own response (or modify our example answers), then practice the answers aloud with a friend or in the mirror. You will absolutely be asked some of the Tesla interview questions in this guide.

Common Tesla Interview Questions

Unlike other top tech companies, Tesla is fairly tight-lipped about their interview process and common questions. However, Tesla hiring is usually team specific. That means each team or mini org chooses which interview questions to ask. The hiring process is very similar across teams and orgs.

Tesla asks behavioral questions based on past experiences, such as how you solved a problem in a past role or handled conflict. This means STAR interview technique (situation, task, action, result) will be the most critical step to succeeding in any interview. Here are some examples of behavioral questions at Tesla.

  • Tell me about a time you failed.
  • Tell me about a time you disagreed with your manager.
  • Tell me about a time you faced a tight deadline with limited resources.

These types of questions will come up in almost any interview you will ever have or have had. But since these questions are so common, we won’t analyze them in-depth here. Check out our full guides on answering “tell me about yourself” questions and “what areas do you need to develop further” questions–these simple questions come up in almost every interview. Instead, we want to focus on technical and behavioral interview questions specific to Tesla.

Behavioral Tesla Interview Questions and Answers

Tesla’s top 3 questions are behavioral interview questions specific to Tesla as a company. These questions are designed to assess how you think and relate to Tesla. While these questions don’t necessarily require you to know anything about Tesla, sharing Tesla-specific information will certainly help you prove your genuine interest and culture fit.

1. Why do you want to work for Tesla?

This is your chance to demonstrate cultural alignment with Tesla and show you’ve done your research. While you obviously shouldn’t lie, prepare a thoughtful answer that’s connected to Tesla’s stated values, mission, and history. 

Based on our data, the most effective way to answer is to explain why you’re a good candidate and how you connect to the company mission, values, products, and goals. Check out our full guide to answering “Why do you want to work here” questions because they’ll come up in almost every interview. However, your answer should depend on the company.

Our answer: 

“That’s a great question. I want to work at Tesla because I feel that our goals align. I have always been passionate about sustainable yet scalable products that make a positive impact, just like how Tesla’s mission is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.

In my past role as a product manager at Etsy, I worked to build streamlined back-end functionality for creators to easily upload their products, interact with customers, and sell their creations more easily and sustainably. The intuitive updates and accessible products I managed increased creator NPS by 60% and led to a 45% increase in creator retention.

With my experience working with Etsy creators to streamline design to give creators a more accessible platform, I know I can provide valuable input to the team so that Tesla can continue to offer the best products with the most intuitive UX and designs. In addition, I know that as a company Tesla values moving quickly and reasoning from First Principles, which are extremely important to me in my future role. I am looking to join a vision-driven technology company with first principles with a focus on sustainability impacting the world.”

2. What is your favorite Tesla product and why?

This is your chance to thoughtfully show your familiarity with Tesla’s vehicles while also demonstrating your understanding of Tesla’s principles. You can take the question in many directions. Some candidates might choose a highly successful Tesla vehicle, then share the specific features Tesla designed to make the product successful. Others might be more straightforward, sharing the devices they use most often and why they find them useful to their work. While both these approaches are effective, they can be combined:

Our answer:

“My favorite Tesla product has to be the Model Y. The 320 miles of range with easy charging access make it one of Tesla’s most accessible models, much more so than other electric vehicles. Features like games, mirror lights, and Rainbow Road mode embody Tesla’s principle of “Make it (Ridiculously) Fun”. The large storage space makes it more scalable and usable than other electric vehicles, which helps separate Tesla.”

The fastest way to fail this question is to thoughtlessly list a vehicle model name and move on. While a casual one-word answer won’t necessarily work against you, it wastes an opportunity to showcase your culture fit and passion for Tesla products.

You can use the same STAR method to answer these other common Tesla interview questions:

  • We have seen a lot of people like you. What makes you different?
  • Tell me about the problems you’ve worked on and how you solved them
  • What exactly motivates you to work in this certain area?
  • Why Tesla?
  • What do you know about cars?
  • What would your former boss and coworkers say about your performance?
  • Talk in detail about everything that you put on your résumé?
  • Explain how XYZ works.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to work in a team to solve a problem?
  • How do you cope with repetition?

Brain Teaser Tesla Interview Questions

Tesla is known to ask brain teaser questions, no matter the role, to assess critical thinking and problem solving. These questions range from riddles to simple estimation problems.

1. Tesla Riddle

This Tesla interview question, known as “Elon Musk’s favorite riddle”, comes up in many Tesla interviews. It’s designed to assess your problem solving and visualization skills under pressure. While there is one clear right answer (the North Pole) , the interviewer also wants to hear you think critically aloud. A thoughtful and well-communicated answer could still win you some points with the interviewer, even if it’s incorrect. But a correct answer with clear communication will help you stand out.

Our answer:

“To end up exactly where we started, you’d have to start at the North Pole. From the North pole, any direction away from the North Pole would be south. Then walking west would be circling the Pole. Turning back North would be walking back to the North Pole. You could do something similar at the South Pole, but you couldn’t walk south from there.”

2. You’re in a rowboat, which is in a large tank filled with water. You have an anchor on board, which you throw overboard. Does the water level in the tank rise or fall?

This is another straightforward (albeit difficult) riddle, involving volume or directions, that assesses your critical thinking skills and communication. They usually have one right answer. However, if you give the wrong answer but have a thorough explanation with logical reasoning, you could still get a positive review by the interviewer. But there isn’t as much of a need to draw on external information like world events.

Our answer:

“This is a tricky one… But I think the water level would go down. At first glance, you might think nothing changes because the anchor and the boat are both floating on the water… but it’s more complicated than that. When the anchor is in the boat, it’s weighing the boat down, displacing its total weight. It makes the boat heavier, which might displace water. But when the anchor falls to the bottom of the river, it displaces only its volume. That would mean the water level would go down.”

3. How many children are born daily? 

Like the previous questions, this type of logic questions is designed to assess your critical thinking skills and communication. However, estimation questions in particular ask you to draw on your knowledge of other facts (like the global population, birth rates, hospitals, etc) to help answer the question. These questions also assess how well you can quickly make numerical estimations and generalizations, which are very common on the job.

Our answer:

“That’s an interesting question. Well, there are about eight billion people on Earth. And they live to about 70. If we divide 8 billion by 70, we’d find how many people fall into each age (ie how many 1 year olds). 114,285,714 to be exact, so about 115 million 1 year olds. Divide that by 365, we get about… 300,000. Or 313,111 to be exact.

People born per day

However, this calculation assumes an even population distribution by age, which isn’t accurate. It also assumes a stable 2 birth rate. But birth rates vary tremendously by location and year. I think I saw in the news that South Korea had a birth rate as low as 0.68, while other countries are as high as 6.7, something that Tesla CEO Elon Musk discusses often in regards to social security programs. I would guess there are more young people than 70 year olds in most populations, even in low birth rate countries like South Korea or Japan, since people sometimes die early and birth rates used to be much higher in previous eras. And if there are more young people, then there are more births. So the real number is probably higher than 300,000.”

Technical Tesla Interview Questions from LeetCode

Since most Tesla interviews are team specific, team members often use Leetcode questions in software engineering interviews. You can find a list of common Leetcode Tesla interview questions on Leetocode’s company wise page–though the leetcode list is behind a paywall. Users on Github have compiled this list of Leetcode questions for free. Users on Leetcode have also shared their experiences with Tesla interview questions on the Leetcode forums, which are free.

We highly recommend using Leetcode to practice for technical interview questions at Tesla. But if you can’t pay for Leetcode, the aforementioned resources can be almost as helpful. Some of the most common LeetCode style questions in Tesla interview questions today include:

Technical Tesla Interview Questions for software engineers

Beside Leetcode style questions, here are some of the most common Tesla interview questions asked in software engineering interviews.

  • Design a service to execute the following operations given a bunch of Redis instances: connection to instance, create and update the entry in Redis, flush an entry, access data within the connection
  • What happens when you search google.com on a search engine?
  • Find the shortest path between two Tesla chargers.
  • Write a command-line program to evaluate a set of equations like: a = b+2, b = 3+5, c = a+b
  • Write a problem to find the angle between the hours and minutes hand of a clock.
  • How do you address errors in your code?
  •  C++ when developing software for autonomous vehicles?
  • Define Black Box Testing and White Box Testing and explain their differences.
  • Which kind of approach do you prefer — a microservice approach or a monolithic approach?
  • What is your approach for doing Unit Testing for your peer’s code?
  • What process do you follow to test and find the bugs in the application that you’ve developed?
  • What are some key requirements you need to consider when designing for Tesla autonomous Vehicles?
  • Which Operating System do you prefer that guides self-driving vehicles, such as Tesla Model 3?
  • What are the differences between blocking and non-blocking calls in Node.js?
  • You have a set of date intervals represented by StartDate and EndDate. How would you efficiently calculate the longest timespan covered by them? Explain the time complexity.
  • What is A*, and what are its implementation details?
  • Explain how divide-and-conquer algorithms work. Discuss a few examples where this approach can be used.
  • What are Red-Black Trees and B-Trees? Explain best use cases for each of them.
  • If you need to design a scheduler to schedule a set of tasks, where several tasks need to wait for some other tasks to complete, before running, what algorithm will you choose to design the scheduler? And explain how you can implement it.
  • Given two classes and an interface, explain how to implement the interface.
  • Imagine you have a receipt from a retail store. Design a database schema to store all the details on the receipt. If you have coupons to manage, how would you change the database schema?
  • Given an integer array nums, move all 0’s to the end of the array while maintaining the relative order of the non-zero elements.
  • What is a PATCH operation? How is it different from PUT?
  • What is the difference between design and architecture?
  • How would you find the most expensive queries in an application?
  • How would you deal with failures in a distributed system?

Tesla interview questions for mechanical & electrical engineers

Unlike software candidates that usually face Leetcode questions, engineering candidates can expect more less standardized engineering questions. Check out these 50 essential engineering interview questions that often come up at top companies like Tesla.

Tesla interview questions for data scientists?

Data Scientist candidates can also expect Leetcode style Tesla interview questions, which can be found here or on LeetCode. Beside Leetcode style questions, here are some other common Tesla interview questions for data scientists:

  • Given a polynomial function with n terms and k degrees, how many partial derivatives can you form?
  • Write a command-line program to evaluate a set of equations.
  • A fair six-sided die is rolled twice. What is the probability of getting 2 on the first roll and not getting 4 on the second roll?
  • There are 100 products and 25 of them are bad. What is the confidence interval?
  • Use “dplyr” package in R to solve a case.
  • Solve exponential function and get the maximum likelihood estimator.
  • Case study related question about remanufacturing data — and how one can ensure if a part that has been gotten back for remanufacture should not defect again — using the data.
  • Reverse a string but ignore special characters.
  • Reverse a linked list in-place recursively and return the new head pointer.

Tesla interview questions for product managers

Product manager Tesla interview questions tend to emphasize soft skills like communication over technical skills. However, you should still be prepared to answer-technical questions.

  •  What do you think are Tesla’s key growth areas?
  •  If you had to present a new product idea to the Tesla leadership panel, how would you prepare for it?
  • We are having a problem in a sign-up flow for an email service. Users are not signing up for a primary service provided by Tesla. What should you do?
  •  It is your responsibility as the Product Manager at Tesla to develop a plan for expanding into new markets. Investigate your opportunities.
  • Can you think of anything you would change about the website/web app of Tesla?
  • If you didn’t have any engineering or financial restrictions, how would you improve a product you love?
  • What product would you build at Tesla and why? How large do you think the market would be for this product?
  • Users are complaining that a mobile app is slow. As a product manager, what will you do?
  • Let’s say you want to introduce bikes all over a university campus. As a product manager for these bikes, what design and product innovations will you bring?
  • What is the competitive landscape for Tesla’s product?
  • In your opinion, who are Tesla’s primary competitors?
  • If a new competitor to Tesla enters your business in a big way, how would you change your strategy?
  • Imagine you are the CEO of Tesla. What is your plan for the next 5 years?
  • Tell me about a product you love. How would you track success for this product? What would you improve?
  • What would you do to manage the stakeholders’ expectations and make sure the development team’s productivity remains high?
  • If you were the PM of a travel company, what would you bring as a new product to market?

Tesla interview questions for design

Design interviews tend to be far less technical. Tesla interview questions for designers will usually be more behavioral or based on your portfolio. However, these semi-technical questions have come up in past Tesla interviews.

  • Design, specify and describe a new feature for community apartments rental.
  • Do you think it is possible to design a TV-remote with only one button?
  • How would you design an alarm clock for the blind?
  • Design an app which helps people find a medical general practitioner.
  • How would you design an airport traffic control system?
  • What product would you design for the purpose of finding roommates?
  • Which features are important to the customers of Tesla? What are your tips and tricks for choosing which ones to implement first?
  • How would you structure a product roadmap for Tesla?
  • What design would you come up with for an amusement park app?
  • Do you have any ideas on how to design a TV remote for older people?
  • How would you build a Book recommendation service?
  • How would you design a minivan?
  • Could you design a user interface for banks?
  • How would you approach designing an ideal kitchen for Tesla’s customers?
  • How do you leverage data to shape your design work? How might you apply this at Tesla?
  • What steps would you take to make a smart lock more efficient and effective?
  • What would you design differently to improve the Twitter news feed?
  • Design an app that offers personalized recommendations for grocery items based on the user’s shopping history.

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Check out our other Interview Questions to prep for your next interview:

Patrick Bohan

Hi, I'm Patrick, I write about the job search. After graduating from Cornell, I became a content lead at UBS where I helped professionals at Fortune 500 companies understand their stock options, salary, and benefits. When I'm not writing about the hiring process, I write novels for teens.

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