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The billionaire CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, as well as the world’s richest man, asks job applicants a strange question to work out whether they fit the role. But can you work it out? Are you smart enough to work for the billionaire entrepreneur?
In the early days of SpaceX and Tesla, Mr Musk is said to have interviewed every single person eager to work for him, no matter what position they were applying for.
He would ask each candidate the following question:
“You’re standing on the surface of the Earth. You walk one mile south, one mile west and one mile north. You end up exactly where you started. Where are you?”
The correct answer to the question, which dates back as far as 1821, is the North Pole.
Another potential answer is the South Pole.
According to Musk’s biographer Ashlee Vance, however, Musk would then ask: “Where else could it be?”
There are infinite places near the South Pole – following Musk’s directions – that would take you back to exactly where you started.
The circle of latitude near the South Pole has a circumference of one mile.
From any point on this circle, walking one mile west along this circle will take you back to that same point. Therefore, any point a mile north of this circle of latitude is a solution to the problem.
According to puzzle expert Alex Bellos “there are more points to consider too”.
Writing for the Guardian, he said: “Consider the circle of latitude that has a circumference of 0.5 miles. Any point a mile north of this circle is also a solution. Indeed, the solutions are any point one mile north of a circle whose circumference is (1/n) miles for all n.”
The question is designed to show whether candidates can think and resolve issues quickly after being presented with data.
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Lotte van Rijwijk, team lead for Resume.io, said: “When smart leaders ask tough questions, they’re usually more interested in how you figure out your answer than whether you get it right.
“They’re not trying to trick you; they’ve sat in that interview seat, too, and they’re hoping your answer will prove you the perfect fit for your dream job.”
Elon Musk runs two companies Tesla and SpaceX, alongside two smaller companies – Neuralink Corporation and The Boring Company.
He is also the co-founder of PayPal, which was founded in 1998.
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