Elon Musk’s Great Recruitment Strategy Uses “Hands Test” – Instead of Scores

Elon Musk is notorious for discrediting traditional education as a way to find the best talent, saying that “college is mainly for fun, not for learning.” And while companies across the country rely on degrees as a tool for finding talent, Musk is convinced that skills matter more than degrees. In doing so, his company, Tesla and SpaceX, are attracting and retaining some of the brightest minds of our time from around the world — without the need for a degree. But the recruitment process requires two things, which boils down to one thing: “test hands”.

What the Hands Test does is field candidates without the traditional gatekeepers like degrees. Instead, it qualifies candidates through direct experience and a practical experience test. It’s very simple, like any well-designed process or product, built for simplicity and efficiency – and any company can use it to find top talent.

1. First-hand experience

Although there is a lot of debate over experience versus education, for Musk, it’s not simply that experience is more important than education. Rather, experience is a form of education. In many ways, it is the best education. In fact, a report from the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) inadvertently proves Musk’s theory.

The AACU study found that three-quarters of hiring managers believe a college education is essential. However, the reason was not based on a specific curriculum, but the “soft skills” gained from that college are said to give it. The same soft skills (such as creativity, emotional intelligence, or resilience) are known to be difficult to assess in an interview, and whose development is not limited to college coursework or student life but real-world experiences.

In other words, education is not limited to what is taught within the walls of the classroom, but what is learned through direct experiences. For this reason, direct experience is sought as a way to discover talents with deep knowledge. For example, when reviewing applications, consider which candidates have the first-hand experience needed for a startup, or at least required the least amount of training to be successful on the job.

2. Hands-on testing

Elon Musk has a history of applying engineering processes and strategies to other aspects of his work and life. So much so that this is why the billionaire lives in a tiny house worth $50,000. Just as comprehensive product testing is a function of product development, so is candidate testing.

Sure, a job interview is a test, but instead of actually checking the candidate’s abilities, many companies simply assess the candidate’s knowledge. However, this is a fatal flaw as there is a huge difference between memorizing and reciting information and understanding how something actually works. To overcome this challenge, put the candidates to the test with a closely related practical test.

To effectively test candidates, take tests (eg, assignment or assignment) that closely match what the role itself might encounter. To obtain an accurate measure of an individual’s ability to effectively perform the tasks of the job, ensure that the scope of the test is limited to the resources necessary to perform the test or task in question.

The recruitment process is undoubtedly cumbersome. Thus, the faster you can vet and narrow down applicants, the sooner you can conduct interviews, publish hands-on tests, and discover the needle in the haystack — the way Tesla and SpaceX discover the world’s best talent. Because scrutinizing your future work isn’t just about finding weirdly effective ways to retain employees (especially with the great quitting outbreak). But you also have an effective hiring strategy to efficiently attract and discover new employees so your business can get back to work.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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