SpaceX Interview Questions | Glassdoor

SpaceX Interview Questions

Updated Aug 16, 2018
562 Interview Reviews

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  1.  

    Computer Engineer Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate in Hawthorne, CA
    No Offer
    Positive Experience
    Average Interview

    Application

    I applied online. I interviewed at SpaceX (Hawthorne, CA) in January 2017.

    Interview

    An online coding challenge
    A phone interview
    Another phone interview
    A 48 hour coding challenge
    They fly you down to Hawthorne, CA to give a presentation on your final challenge/project. You get a chance to explain how and why you did it the way you did.

    Interview Questions

    • "What is the size of an integer on a 32-bit system?"   5 Answers

  2. Helpful (2)  

    Planner Interview

    Anonymous Employee
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Average Interview

    Application

    I applied online. I interviewed at SpaceX in June 2017.

    Interview

    Started with a phone interview, then a half day in person with a 20 minute presentation. I ended up talking to a few different groups that had openings that the original manager thought I could be a good fit for as well.

    Interview Questions

    • Casual conversation for the most part, nothing unexpected for the role.   Answer Question
  3. Helpful (15)  

    Software Engineer Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate
    No Offer
    Negative Experience
    Average Interview

    Application

    I applied online. The process took 6 weeks. I interviewed at SpaceX.

    Interview

    - 30 min online quiz
    - Recruiter call
    - Recruiter interview
    - Engineer interview
    - 6 hour coding test
    - 15 min presentation about coding test
    - 1 on 1 interviews

    The 6 hour C++ coding challenge isn't challenging in the technical sense. The coding test tries to challenge your ability to either:
    1. to imagine what they could throw at you and do your due diligence to come prepared for it,
    2. type really, really fast and know how to implement data structures,
    3. know knowledge about the challenge ahead of time by either knowing someone who interviewed before, knowing an employee, or by reading this review (which kind of falls into 1).
    4. working well in the trade space of non-functional v. functional requirements; product owner type skills for those of you who scrum.

    If you are reading this review, you already have a leg up on other candidates that haven't. My advice is to implement a library of common data structures before the interview. It has to be your own work and you _will_ need them. If I had this advice before I had my interview, I would have finished it in 1.5 - 2 hours.

    I don't think this coding challenge really tests what it was intended for that well, which is why I am revealing this information to you. I have had the same technical problem from other interviews and it was administered much better with an in person design session and a reasonable coding portion. My hope is to level the playing field and give feedback to improve SpaceX's interview process.

    I think the test was intended to set a high bar and to see if you could code with stress. I believe that's easily overcome by reading this review and it doesn't test what it should test: communication skills (verbal and non-verbal), how do you approach problems, can you code, can you design, can you work well with others, what knowledge do you have about data structures or are you just looking it up and coding it.

    Either way, the 6 hour test does reveal something about the company and the people that work there. I would have loved to have reached the one on one interviews or the presentation stage to see what SpaceX is all about. Unfortunately, I am left with a less than satisfying impression of the company.

    Interview Questions

    • Nothing was technically difficult. It was just the odd situation you are placed in.   Answer Question

  4. Helpful (15)  

    Software Engineer Interview

    Anonymous Employee
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview

    Application

    I applied in-person. The process took 4+ weeks. I interviewed at SpaceX.

    Interview

    The interview was definitely more advanced than for any other place I have applied for. Guidance was excellent throughout the process. My recruiter always communicated with me in a timely manner and clearly described the next steps. Here is an overview:

    * Call with recruiter
    Not technical, discussion on possible fit in the company.

    * 30min quiz
    Basic technical questions, really should not be a problem if you have the experience required for the job.

    * 60min call with an engineer
    Some advanced technical questions here (in my case, OS, networking, advanced C++), not extremely hard, as most of the answers should be known at a college level if you have taken the aforementioned classes.

    * 6-hour coding test
    This is where the real stuff begins. You have to provide a standalone program that solves a problem. You are in contact via email with an engineer who can review and run tests on your code.

    The problem itself was not very hard, but it's the time pressure that makes it hard. As mentioned in another review here, I definitely recommend coming prepared, so that you can directly attack the problem. I also suggest refreshing your knowledge on data structures.

    While the test focuses on the ability to efficiently design and implement a solution, it also tests your ability to make trade-offs given the tight deadline.

    * Full day on-site interview
    In my case, I was flown in the day before, fare and hotel paid for.

    We started with a tour of the impressive facility (just this part is worth giving your best on the 6-hour test!), before moving to a 30-60min panel interview on the 6-hour test above. This panel was much more technical than I expected, with advanced questions about things that were not in the original problem (eg: how to rewrite your program given a new XYZ constraint).

    After lunch I had three 1-on-1 technical interviews followed by a discussion with the director of engineering.

    We ended the day with a dinner with some members of the team (different than the ones who interviewed me). It was a great opportunity to talk about non-work-related things like housing, etc.

    In addition of being well prepared and being able to show that you love what you do, I would recommend to show that you are curious and professional. For example, if you fail to answer a question at any stage of the interview, you should be prepared to answer it (and more on that same subject) at the next stage.

    Also, have a good night sleep before the 6-hour test and the on-site: you need to be in your best shape to put all the chances on your side.

    Interview Questions

    • What does C++ 'mutable' keyword does?   1 Answer

  5. Helpful (14)  

    Software Engineer Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate in Los Angeles, CA
    No Offer
    Negative Experience
    Average Interview

    Application

    I applied online. The process took 4+ weeks. I interviewed at SpaceX (Los Angeles, CA) in April 2015.

    Interview

    The process began with me submitting an application online through the SpaceX careers site. 6 months later, I was contacted by an internal recruiter looking to setup some interviews with me for a Software Engineering position.

    The recruiter started by asking basic experience questions, whether or not I would be interested in interviewing, and then setup a first phone screen interview. The recruiter asked me to provide my expected salary without even describing any position or location that I would be working in. I deflected the question because providing salary that early in the process with no knowledge of the job would only work against me.

    The first phone screen was an hour long and focused mainly on work experience, behaviors on the job, and discussing some basics of the position that is looking to be filled. After this interview, I was contacted by a completely separate recruiter who wanted to setup a second phone screen.
    The second phone screen was also an hour long and involved more work experience questions, more descriptions of the position being filled, and coding in CollabEdit. After this interview, I was contacted by the original recruiter who wanted to setup a third phone interview.

    The third phone interview was identical to the second phone interview except that it focused less on experience and more on questions like, “What’s your favorite programming language and why?” There was some coding in CollabEdit, but again, it was fairly basic stuff. Finally, after this interview, another recruiter contacted me to setup an onsite interview session. Travel was arranged with a third party travel agency to fly from where I was to Los Angeles.

    Before you can interview onsite, you have to fill out an online “formal” application on Jobvite.com. Again, the salary expectation question was asked. Only this time it was required. I suggest that you either leave this field at an obviously fake number or ballpark on the high side after researching salaries online. If you lowball it, you’re going to get screwed by the offer.

    The onsite process started with a brief tour of the manufacturing and assembly floor area. After the tour, I was lead to a small meeting room upstairs. Five or so different groups of people were ushered in one at a time for an hour at a time to perform various interviews. First it was an interview with some business analysts. Questions revolved around work experience, how you can tackle problems in the workplace, and how you feel about working 55+ hours a week. Red flag #1.

    The second group was two engineers who asked programming questions. No questions regarding work experience were asked. You are expected to write legible code on a whiteboard, ask questions to clarify the problem, and to show that you know how to break down a problem into steps and solutions. This interview was quite awful because the engineers weren’t very personable. One of them said nothing the entire time, and the other seemed like he was trying to show off how smart he was. Red flag #2.

    The third group was another pair who asked more programming related questions. Again, no questions were asked regarding work experience. This interview was identical to the second interview in terms of format. I ran out of time without solving the problem, and I’m pretty sure that went against me. As with the second interview, one interviewer didn’t speak much while the other went on and on with questions.

    The fourth interview was with some sort of project manager or evangelist trying to “sell” the position. I was turned off by a lot of what he said.

    1) Elon Musk seems to be an idol at SpaceX. Decisions at even the most detailed level are sometimes dictated by him. He even has the final say on all applicants. This is problematic since the evangelist said that Elon is sick of “old schoolers” from Boeing and Lockheed Martin applying to SpaceX because he wants a “new generation” company.

    2) The entire office space is one giant open office. The partitions between desks are waist high. No one has their own office at SpaceX according to the interviewer.

    3) People work 50-55 hours on average per week regardless of the position. Engineers will often work more during bug fix rollouts, deployments, weekend duty, and more.

    The final interview was with the hiring manager. He came right out and stated, “I expect you to work 55 hours or more per week. I want you to setup a command center at your house so that you are available after hours and on the weekends if necessary.” Red flag #3. He went on to describe their software development process. It sounded chaotic.

    The process ended after weeks of hearing nothing from the recruiter even though he said he would get back to me with a decision in days. I sent multiple follow up emails and heard nothing. The only email address you get is to Jobvite, so I assume it’s easy for the recruiters to simply ignore or filter out everything you write.

    Interview Questions

    • Why SpaceX?   Answer Question
    • Describe a project that you were proud to work on. How did you overcome a challenge on that project? If you had to do it again, what would you change?   Answer Question
    • Write a function to reverse the words in an array.   Answer Question
    • Write a function to parse a special formatted string to a tree structure.   1 Answer
    • How do you feel about working 60 hours per week?   Answer Question

  6. Helpful (6)  

    Software Engineer Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate in Hawthorne, CA
    No Offer
    Positive Experience
    Easy Interview

    Application

    I applied online. The process took 4+ weeks. I interviewed at SpaceX (Hawthorne, CA) in November 2015.

    Interview

    First was online screen with some basic multiple choice test on C questions. Then phone screen with recruiter, recruiter copies down some answers to basic C++ questions. I actually almost flopped here due to how surprised I was at this process. The idea is the recruiter takes these answers and shoots them to an engineer for pass/fail evaluation. Give detailed answers and persistently ensure the recruiter writes down exactly what you want, don't worry about anything else like I did. The idea is to communicate with an engineer over and opaque recruiter, and as awkward as this might be, just do it well.

    Got to the 6 hour online test. I'm pretty new to interviews (recently from university) and my expectations didn't really match reality. To anyone else that's on the socially unaware side like I am, this test can be pretty difficult in terms of communication. In my case I needed to implement data structures, and multiple different sorting algorithms (for different types of data), along with code to use these to solve a particular problem. The problem itself isn't too hard if communication is clear. The idea is that a test proctor is available over email. It's assumed that as an interviewee you take full advantage of the proctor and ask a lot of questions, and ask for meaningful advice. This is a no brainer to most, but some of us learn "the ropes" of interviews through experience.

    As a specific example you're able to ask the proctor if you're headed in a good direction, or if he has a valuable suggestion or hint. It seems to be designed like a cheap business alternative to flying people over for in-person interviews. So treat the 6 hour test like an in-person interview and communicate a lot with the proctor.

    Also be sure to be able to comfortably implement a range of data structures at-will. Trees, lists, vector, hash table, etc. Make sure to try to simplify the problem fully with the help of the proctor. In retrospect the test is pretty cool, and could have been a lot of fun. Just be sure not to be naive like me and assume these are like strict university "test proctors".

    Interview Questions


  7. Helpful (1)  

    Software Engineer Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate
    No Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview

    Application

    I applied online. The process took 3 weeks. I interviewed at SpaceX in June 2015.

    Interview

    Applied on company website. Received a call from HR several weeks later asking to schedule a technical interview. Completed two 30-minute phone interviews with the team that was interested in me. The interview was over phone and shared online text editor.

    After the interviews I received a call from HR 20 minutes later regarding the team's decision.

    Interview Questions

    • Explain what a red-black tree is. What is the Big O for rebalancing? Here is a red-black tree class written in C++. Write a function to rebalance the tree.   Answer Question
    • Explain what * and ** means in python.   1 Answer
  8. Helpful (2)  

    Software Engineer Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate
    No Offer
    Negative Experience
    Difficult Interview

    Application

    I applied online. The process took 6+ weeks. I interviewed at SpaceX in February 2016.

    Interview

    I heard back from them a month after applying.

    The first step is an online C/C++ quiz where you look at snippets of code and try to determine if there is a problem (off by one, infinite loops, etc) or if the code is good.

    After that you get a phone interview from someone who is likely not a programmer. They have a list of questions and want to hear maybe a 2 sentence answer to write down. This person is not interested in hearing examples or thinking process. It's essentially a pop quiz that gets passed to an engineer afterwards for grading. Unfortunately this method provides little to no feedback. During other interviews with companies, I'd be talking to an engineer and so if I struggled a bit we would work through it together. Here you'll just get stuck and likely fail.

    If you pass that, which I didn't, the next step is a 1 hour phone interview with an engineer.

    After that, a 6 hour coding challenge in a screensharing environment so that an engineer can watch you code. This is presumably so that you can't blatantly copy and paste stuff from github or stack overflow.

    Then there's the onsite interview.

    Interview Questions


  9. Helpful (6)  

    Software Engineer Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate
    No Offer
    Negative Experience
    Average Interview

    Application

    I applied through a recruiter. The process took 3 weeks. I interviewed at SpaceX.

    Interview

    I went through multiple phone interviews, multiple choice coding quiz, plus a 6 hour coding project test. Passed them all very well. Was ready for on-site interview and they bailed because they couldn't pay my market value. This was a sad waste of time.

    Interview Questions

    • Multiple choice 'what's wrong with this code' sort of test had multiple defects in the code and the choices didn't always match the situation well. Pick the one you think they want to hear and you'll do fine.   Answer Question

  10. Helpful (10)  

    Software Engineer Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate
    No Offer
    Negative Experience
    Average Interview

    Application

    I applied online. The process took 3 days. I interviewed at SpaceX in April 2014.

    Interview

    I applied online on the company website. I received an email almost the next day with an invite to take 45-minute multiple choice C/C++ quiz. All questions were about finding the potential error in a short snippet of code. I finished the quiz quickly and got a reply 2 days later asking me to setup a time for a phone screen....

    Then, poof ! Nothing !! No reply from HR! Silence! I checked back twice, asking what happened. And nothing!! As if I applied to a fake company! Very unprofessional and rude! Well, thankfully I am employed so I don't need to work for these clowns. My advice is not to take employment at this company too seriously.

    Interview Questions

    • When is the best time to contact you. That was difficult to answer because there was nobody from HR to arrange a phone interview with. They just ignore candidates.   2 Answers

    SpaceX Response

    Apr 15, 2014 – Lead Recruiter

    Thanks for your message. We are very sorry to hear you had a negative experience. I believe this may have been caused by some email issues we experienced over the last couple weeks. Sporadic email... More


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