Elon Musk uses the same job interview question to sniff out liars

Elon Musk surpasses Bezos as ‘world’s richest person’

The Tesla CEO said at a World Government Summit asks every candidate the same question in an effort to catch out liars. Mr Musk’s fortune has surged in recent weeks and is currently ranked the world’s richest person on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Mr Musk told the 2017 summit he asks every applicant to “tell me about some of the most difficult problems you worked on and how you solved them”.

The CEO explained he asks the questions because “the people who really solved the problem know exactly how they solved it.”

“They know and can describe the little details,” he said.

Psychologists have touted the question as an example of Asymmetric Information Management (AIM) technique.

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Cody Porter, a senior teaching fellow in Psychology and Offending Behaviour, at the University of Portsmouth, said the AIM technique is an “effective and ethical” way of seeing whether a person is lying.

She said in an article for The Conversation: “At its core, it is designed to provide suspects with a clear means to demonstrate their innocence or guilt to investigators by providing detailed information.”

Ms Porter added that interviewers should give clear instructions to interviewees that “if they provide longer, more detailed statements about the event of interest, then the investigator will be better able to detect if they are telling the truth or lying”.

She said: “In contrast, liars wish to conceal their guilt. This means they are more likely to strategically withhold information in response to the AIM method.”

An experiment using the technique carried out by Ms Porter showed lie-detection accuracy rates increased from 48 percent without the use of AIM to 81 percent when the method was used.

In an interview with Auto Bild in 2014, Mr Musk suggested he wants to know whether an applicant really solved the problem they claimed to solve as it showcases “significant accomplishment”.

He added: “And of course you want to make sure if there was some significant accomplishment, were they really responsible, or was someone else more responsible?

“Usually, someone who really had to struggle with a problem, they really understand, and they don’t forget.”

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In the same interview, the CEO also said he doesn’t care if applicants have a university or “high-school education”.

Mr Musk instead said he looks for “evidence of exceptional ability” in new hires.

He added: “If there’s a track record of exceptional achievement, then it’s likely that that will continue into the future.”

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