Meet the team

How To Get A Job at Tesla

By Anna Bradley-Smith

Last updated: Apr 5, 2023

    Table of contents

Tesla saw record employee growth and sales in 2020, and this year it has continued on that trajectory. Check out our guide for getting a foot in the door at innovative company that looks set to keep speeding into the future.

Editorial credit: Nadezda Murmakova /
Editorial credit: Nadezda Murmakova /

2020 saw a hiring frenzy take place at Tesla as its workforce skyrocketed to more than 70,500 by year's end to keep up with record demand.

During the year, the electric vehicle company sold almost 500,00 vehicles — it’s biggest sales year to date. On top of inspiring record sales, it also continued to inspire thousands of people from across the globe to join the tech giant as it paves the way in vehicle sustainability. And a piece of good news for jobseekers is each and every resume is looked over by a human team member.

Cindy Nicola, Tesla’s head of global recruiting, told CNBC it was painstaking, but the team didn’t want people to feel like they’re going into a black hole.

“It isn’t easy. But to be honest, we’re super excited and want to be respectful of the fact that people are interested in Tesla.”

Tesla Org Chart

If you’re one of those job hunters, read on for an inside look in Tesla’s hiring process and tips to make sure you stand out from the crowd.

History and culture

The best way to get a start at Tesla is to know the history and culture of the company so you’re armed with the right knowledge when you start networking.

Tesla was founded in Palo Alto, California in 2003 by entrepreneurs Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning as Tesla Motors Inc., named after renowned electric engineer and inventor Nichola Tesla. Its mission is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy largely through electric vehicles, but it also makes other energy-efficient products, such as solar panels and roof tiles.

It is currently led by CEO Elon Musk, known for inspiring his staff through his contagious zeal — and of course his space exploration company SpaceX.

Innovation is at the core of everything Tesla staff members do, and to keep up they’re expected to give their all to the job which often requires long hours and a deep commitment. In fact, almost every anonymous employee review of Tesla focuses on the long hours and lack of personal life that comes with the bargain. But those same anonymous employees also emphasize the fast-paced, inspiring work environment that provides an opportunity to think outside the box and impact the world. Deepak Ahuja, former CFO for Tesla, once described the company’s work culture as a “non-stop adrenaline rush.” Employees have to love the mission, and to get noticed you have to make it clear you’re in all for a sustainable future.

“We are extremely mission-driven. There’s a lot of energy in the world around what we’re trying to do. We have really tough problems to solve, so I think people want to be a part of that,” Nicola said. “There’s not many companies that you can work at today where there’s really a direct impact between the work you do and changing the world.”

Tesla says open communication and a collaborative working environment is key to its success, and anyone with the talent, energy and focus to solve hard problems can have a seat at the table. The company also offers internships and undergraduate programs for people to develop technical skills and prepare them for a job at Tesla.

How to get a foot in the door

According to Tesla, it doesn’t matter what school you went to or what job you came from, what counts is the quality of the work you’ve done and your commitment to the company’s mission.

Nicola told Fast Company that if you are interested in a job at Tesla, you should go right ahead and apply. “Some [people] have never done the job before we hired them,” she said, adding what they did show was a track record of success in whatever they were doing beforehand. “We are looking for excellence.”

Although that can be daunting for younger, entry level candidates, Nicola says this is where it’s important to show extracurricular activities, such as club memberships, competitions, serving on boards “or are involved in sports or other things that show that the person is well-rounded, passionate, and a team player.”

“There are four main principles that are important at Tesla — being innovative, driven, collaborative and trustworthy,” Nicola said. “It really is important for us to preserve the culture that we do have, and to design assessment processes that are making sure that people have the right DNA to be successful at Tesla.”

To stand out with your resume, it’s critical you highlight those traits and how you’ve displayed them in the past using both work and personal situations. You can also use specific references who can explain the kind of character you have.

Key to having your application considered is showing that you understand precisely what skills the role you are applying for requires and demonstrate the character to excel in the job. A great way to make sure you’re on point is to reach out to someone who holds a similar position in the company and find out exactly what the job entails and get tips and tricks regarding the hiring and interview process.

Keep in mind the application process is tailored for each specific position. “One of the things that is unique about the way I run my business is that we do not have a cookie-cutter approach,” Nicola said, adding diversity — both visible and cognitive — was fundamental to the company’s success. “So we shy away from that one-size-fits-all approach.”

How to prepare for the Tesla interview process

One thing goes without saying here: do your homework before the interview, and not just on Musk and Tesla, but on issues the company is trying to solve.

Nicola says, for example, someone going for a sales role should make sure they’ve gone into a Tesla store and can discuss their impression of the customer’s journey and how they might improve it.

Because of the intense competition for roles at Tesla, the interview process can be intense and demanding so buckle up for a ride — and at all stages keep the company’s mission central to your dialogue.

1. Phone interview

The first step in the process will likely be a phone interview with a hiring manager. Expect to have your general skills assessed and be asked about your interest in the company. If all goes well, you’ll likely be scheduled for an in-person interview.

2. In-person interview

The interviewing process takes a little time, and there are often more than one interviews, so get comfortable. With each interview, you’ll be proving to the company that you’re the kind of person who will fit well with its culture and demonstrating your potential to help it reach its goals. Candidates are often asked ‘Why Tesla?’ Make sure to prepare a clear answer to this question in advance. It also pays to think ahead and focus on one specific accomplishment that you’re most proud of, and explain in detail why that is.

Some other questions you may hear in the process are: What motivates you? What do you know about cars? What are some ways you’d change the company culture? Describe some problems you’ve faced in your life or career and how you solved them; give me some more details about everything you put on your resume; tell me about a time you had to work with a team to solve a problem or overcome an obstacle; and what makes you different from everyone else we’re interviewing?

Tesla likes to throw riddles and seemingly unrelated questions at candidates too, such as: you are standing somewhere on earth. You walk one mile south, one mile west, and one mile north. You end up exactly where you started. Where are you? Or, you're in a boat floating in a large tank filled with water. You throw an anchor overboard. Does the water level in the tank rise or fall?

If you get one of those questions, don’t panic. Breathe deep, think as clearly as you can, and give it your best shot.

3. Test

Following the interviews, you’ll be invited to the assessment center where you’ll spend a day or two doing various activities so the company can test out your abilities.

Nicola said the company is a big believer in show don’t tell, and wants to assess candidates problem solving chops.

“We are looking for people that are comfortable with ambiguity,” Nicola said. “What we are doing here is really hard, it’s never been done before, there’s not always an instant right answer, so when we are doing those problem-solving exercises we are actually looking for how people think and how they approach problems, versus having the perfect answer.”

During the test stage, it helps to explain your thought process to interviewers to demonstrate communication skills and problem solving abilities.

Last of all, your application will be reviewed by Elon Musk himself. Yes, Elon personally reviews the application of every candidate who passes the interview and assessment stages. If he agrees with the hiring managers who’ve endorsed you up till then, you’re hired.

The ORG helps
you hire great

Free to use – try today