Your Guide To Acing SpaceX Interview Questions

Space Crew Team - 08 March 2024

SpaceX is leading the charge when it comes to private space exploration, and they're always looking for talented engineers to help them achieve their goals. If you're lucky enough to score an interview with SpaceX, you'll want to be prepared to answer some tough questions.

In this article, Space Crew will be offering some tips, advice, and guidance for acing your SpaceX interview. After reading this guide, you'll have all the information you need to apply with confidence!

What Does the SpaceX Interview Process Look Like?

Before discussing the questions you'll hear in your SpaceX interview, let’s quickly review the process. The SpaceX interview process is notoriously difficult and includes multiple rounds of interviews, both technical and non-technical.

You can typically expect the following from the SpaceX interview process:

  • Prescreening Interviews (2-4 Rounds)

  • Onsite Interviews (4-8 Rounds)

  • Assessments (2-4 Rounds)

Applicants can expect around 7-9 interview rounds before reaching the offer stage (with a few assessments mixed in for technical roles). While there isn't an exact timeline for SpaceX's interview process, most applicants who make it through the entire process report that it takes around two months.

Be sure to check out our full Guide on the SpaceX Interview Process to learn more about the different types of interviews you can expect and more useful tips!

What Kind of Interviews Questions Does SpaceX Ask?

Like many enterprise-level companies, SpaceX relies on a few different interview styles to make sure they're getting a well-rounded picture of potential hires. The main three include:

1) Screening Interviews

The first step in the process, these interviews are typically conducted over the phone or via video chat (e.g., Skype, Zoom, etc.) by an in-house or contracted recruiter. The purpose of these interviews is to screen out candidates who don't meet the basic qualifications for the role.

Example: A screening interview for a software engineering role might include questions about coding experience, abilities, and employment history.

2) Behavioral Interviews

Behavioral interviews are designed to assess how you've handled situations in the past. This is done by asking you questions about specific events in your professional life.

Example: A behavioral interview question for a software engineering role might be, “How did you handle conflict with your manager?”

3) Technical Interviews

Technical interviews are designed to assess your knowledge of the specific skills required for the role you're applying to. They'll usually be hosted by managers or employees within the department you're applying for.

Example: A technical interview question for an engineering role might be, “How would you design and analyze a heat shield for a capsule upon splashdown?”

Now that we've covered the basics of the SpaceX interview process, let's take a look at some of the most likely questions you'll hear during your interview and discuss tips to ensure your answers stand out.

Note: Where data is available, we've arranged the questions according to how often they're asked in SpaceX interviews, according to data collected by Glassdoor and Business Insider.

SpaceX Screening Interview Questions

  1. Why are you interested in working for SpaceX?

  2. What experience do you have that makes you a good fit for the role you’re applying to?

  3. What would you say was your greatest accomplishment in your previous role?

  4. SpaceX is a fast-paced work environment. How do you think you would handle the stress of the job?

  5. What do you know about SpaceX and our mission?

  6. Why do you want to leave your current company?

  7. What can you tell me about our products and services?

  8. How would your previous coworkers describe you?

  9. What questions do you have for me about SpaceX?

  10. We’re looking for team players at SpaceX. Can you give me an example of a time when you had to work with a team to accomplish a goal?

Tips for Answering SpaceX Screening Interview Questions

1) Do your research

Make sure you know everything you can about SpaceX before your interview. This includes reading up on its mission, values, and history as well as familiarizing yourself with the company's long-term goals. The better you understand the company, the easier it will be to answer screening questions.

2) Understand the Purpose of Screening Interviews

Screening interviews are designed to weed out candidates who don't meet a position's minimum requirements. With that in mind, the way to ace a screening interview is by ensuring the interviewer knows that you do meet those criteria.

To avoid this, make a list of every requirement mentioned in the job listing and write out notes or talking points to back up your qualifications for each one.

3) Use a Framework

When you don’t instinctively know the answer to a question, don’t panic, look at the questions from different perspectives, and think about how you can make your answer as solid and comprehensive as possible. Below, we suggest the STAR framework, which helps you craft compelling stories that lead to strong answers.

SpaceX Behavioral Interview Questions

  1. Tell me about a successful project you were involved in. What was your role? What was the result?

  2. Tell me about your greatest professional accomplishment.

  3. What experience do you have in this field?

  4. Describe the most exciting project or team you ever worked on.

  5. Describe a time when you had to overcome a significant obstacle on a job.

  6. Tell me about a time you had a conflict at work. How did you handle it? What have you learned?

  7. Describe a time when you had to manage a large project.

  8. What do you do when you encounter a problem that you don’t know how to solve?

  9. Tell me about a time when you had to make an important decision.

  10. Describe a time when you had to deliver bad news.

Bonus: What is the most challenging problem you've had to solve, and how did you solve it?

Elon Musk has asked prospective engineers this question at both Tesla and SpaceX. His reasoning is pretty straightforward - while anyone can describe a difficult problem, only someone who really had to solve it will be able to explain their solution convincingly. Definitely prepare a compelling answer for this one!

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Tips for Answering SpaceX Behavioral Interview Questions

1) Use the STAR Method

To ace behavioral questions, you'll need to be able to structure your answers in a way that makes them compelling and comprehensive. The STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method is a great way to do this. For those who are unfamiliar with answering questions using the STAR method, it works like this:

  • Situation: Start by describing the situation you were in. Really try to set the scene - give enough relevant detail to allow your interviewer to imagine themselves in your shoes.

  • Task: Next, you describe the task you were given, the goal you were trying to achieve, or the problem you were trying to solve. Again, be as specific as possible.

  • Action: This is where you describe your actions to accomplish the task or reach the goal. Be sure to focus on your contribution - what did you do?

  • Result: Finally, you describe the result of your actions. What happened as a direct result of the things you did? Did you achieve the goal? If not, what did you learn?

2) Be Concise

While it's important to give your interviewer a complete picture of the situation you're describing, you don't want to ramble on. Be sure to edit your stories so that they are clear and concise - you want to make sure that your interviewer stays engaged and doesn't tune out.

3) Choose Your Stories Carefully

When it comes to behavioral questions, it's important to choose your stories carefully. You want to make sure that you're sharing stories that will showcase your skills and abilities in a positive light. Take some time to think about which of your experiences will allow you to demonstrate the qualities that SpaceX is looking for.

SpaceX Technical Interview Questions

Technical questions are a vital part of the interview process for technical roles. Since they're so specific, we've broken this section into three parts: engineering questions, computer science questions, and assessments.

Engineering Technical Interview Questions

  1. Describe the inverted pendulum problem.

  2. How do you build a strong structure?

  3. Where would you expect the failure mode to occur for a beam attached to the wall by two ends?

  4. What are the three modes of heat transfer?

  5. Which of the three heat transfer modes is the most effective?

  6. Can you describe an application where radiation would be the most effective?

  7. How are beams manufactured?

  8. What information would you need if you had a bolt you had to set the torque spec for?

  9. What is the relation between stress and strain?

  10. Can you describe the behavior of stress versus strain?

Computer Science Technical Interview Questions

  1. What is the space complexity of insertion sort?

  2. What is the space complexity of quicksort?

  3. What is the difference between a thread and a process?

  4. How would you implement a stack using a queue?

  5. What is the difference between an array and a linked list?

  6. What are some advantages and disadvantages of each data structure?

  7. List as many STL containers as possible.

  8. How does a hash map differ from a set?

  9. What is the difference between TCP and UDP, and when should you use one over the other?

  10. Describe the last personal project you worked on.

SpaceX Technical Assessments

In addition to interviews, technical applicants will likely be asked to take on 1-2 technical assessments. These are usually take-home tests and vary between multiple-choice exams and long-form problem sets.

Past applicants have reported a wide range of questions and topics, so it's difficult to make predictions. With that being said, here are some examples of the kinds of things that come up:

  1. You're given two arrays of strings. Determine if all the strings in the first array are present in the second array and return a boolean. Now assume both arrays have a million elements each. How would your answer change to improve efficiency?

  2. Given this piece of C code, can you determine what the bug is? If so, how would you fix it?

  3. How would you design a bike that works well on Mars?

Tips for Answering SpaceX Technical Questions

1) Take Your Time

Anyone who works on rockets for a living knows that technical problems take time to solve. That means SpaceX's interviewers aren't going to make a note if you take a moment or two (or even three) to collect your thoughts before answering a tricky question.

2) Study Your Fundamentals

If you're interviewing for a role that's even remotely related to engineering, it's important that you brush up on your fundamentals. This includes things like fluid dynamics, material science, and thermodynamics.

The same goes for software development roles. Make sure you know your data structures and algorithms.

3) Practice Your Assessments

Depending on the role you're interviewing for, you may be asked to complete a technical assessment as part of the interview process. These assessments can vary widely in difficulty, so it's important that you practice as much as possible beforehand.

Some people have reported being asked to write code on a whiteboard, while others have been given take-home assignments. Either way, the more you practice, the better your chances of acing the assessment.

4) Ask Questions

If you're ever unsure about something, don't be afraid to ask questions. SpaceX's interviewers are more than happy to help you out, and they'll respect you for showing an inquisitive attitude.

Be warned, though - some of SpaceX's technical interview questions and assessments are intentionally open-ended. While it never hurts to ask for clarification, there might be some cases where your interviewer is trying to see how you handle ambiguity!

Acing the SpaceX Interview Questions

The SpaceX interview process can be daunting, but with the proper guidance and preparation, you'll be able to take it on with confidence!

Space Crew has job posts from hundreds of cutting-edge space companies, like SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic. You can browse jobs by keyword, field, and location, so you'll only see results that are relevant to you.

So, what are you waiting for? Start searching for your space career today!

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