Elon Musk asks people to answer a tricky riddle at Space X interviews

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Job interviews should be seen as positive news – but often having one on your horizon becomes a nightmare.

It's difficult not to be nervous whoever is carrying out the interview.

But can you imagine one with CEO Elon Musk, 49, whose company SpaceX is leading the way on private space exploration? You really would be on tenterhooks.

It's a fair expectation. He reportedly asks potential employees to solve a tricky riddle during interviews at the tech firm.

According to an authorised biography by Ashlee Vance, the question is designed to put people on the spot, and see what they're really made of.

A video of the ultimate riddle was shared on TikTok by mechanical engineer @pinkpencilmath – and people were stumped.

She told the Mirror: "Elon Musk asked this question to people that interviewed at SpaceX and Tesla. Think you can get it? Let's try!

"You're standing on the surface of the Earth. You take a walk one mile south, one mile west and one mile north. You end up exactly where you started. Where are you?”'

Her comment section was flooded with guesses as people tried to answer the riddle.

One joked: "I'm here in the interview."

Another said "In your head: because this question denies the theory of relativity," while a third admitted: "My home because he is not going to hire me."

But others were more game and threw their hat in a ring with a potential answer.

One guessed: "There are a few solutions. One is the North Pole but anywhere one mile north of a place close to the South Pole where you can walk in a west-east direction where a full rotation is 1mi/1/2mi/1/3mi etc."

Another commented: "You're standing on the surface of the earth, so if you walk three miles a different way and come back where you started, it is the North Pole."

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A third speculated: "One mile west of where you started?"

The twist is that the riddle actually has two correct answers.

The first answer, which most engineers answer correctly, is the North Pole.

But Musk would then ask candidates a follow-up question to add some pressure: "Where else could you be?"

“The other answer is somewhere close to the South Pole where, if you walk one mile south, the circumference of the Earth becomes one mile", his biographer Vance explained.

"Fewer engineers get this answer, and Musk will happily walk them through that riddle and others and cite any relevant equations during his explanations."

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For those among us that struggled, Musk doesn't actually care whether you got the correct answer.

He sees it as an opportunity to check whether prospective applicants approach problem solving and process information.

Mr Vance adds: “[Musk] tends to care less about whether or not the person gets the answer than about how they describe the problem and their approach to solving it.”

  • Elon Musk
  • Spacex
  • Maths-Whizz

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