Tesla Software Engineer Interview Process

The California-based electric vehicle and clean energy company, Tesla, offers some of the world's best career opportunities for software engineers. It currently employs several software engineers who work on, develop, and maintain different types of software. This includes user Interface software and embedded software for vehicles, to name a few.

What makes Tesla an ideal company for software engineers is that it offers a host of employee benefits and lucrative salaries. In fact, the average annual pay for Tesla software engineers is around $126,000. That's nearly 21% higher than the national average.

Naturally, the Tesla software engineer interview is quite a tough nut to crack. But it’s certainly not an impossible feat if your tech interview prep is solid. This blog covers everything you need to know to prepare for your tech interview at Tesla.

We’ll cover: 

  1. What Is the Tesla Software Engineer Interview Process Like?
  2. Tesla Software Engineer Roles and Responsibilities
  3. Different Software Engineer Levels at Tesla
  4. Most Popular Programming Languages at Tesla
  5. Tesla Software Engineer Tech Interview Questions
  6. Tesla Software Engineer Behavioral Interview Questions
  7. 3 Key Tips to Prepare for Tesla Software Engineer Interview
  8. FAQs on Tesla Software Engineer Interview

What Is the Tesla Software Engineer Interview Process Like?

The overall hiring process at Tesla takes roughly two weeks. You can either apply through job websites or directly through the company’s website. 

Based on the experiences of several current and former Tesla employees and after studying multiple reliable resources, we have compiled the following skeleton of how a Tesla software engineer interview works. 

It typically comprises the following phases:

Round 1 and 2: Online Assessment and Phone Screen

The online assessment consists of 2 questions, and you’ll get around 90 minutes to solve them. This will be followed by the first phone screen. Here, the recruiter will review and follow up on the online assessment questions. They will also discuss the core details of the job role with you in order to familiarize you with the job responsibilities.

Such rounds also help the recruiter to assess your communication skills, fluency, and confidence.

After this, you will have the second phone screen. At this stage, you can expect an informational call with the hiring manager, who is likely to ask you some behavioral questions.

Round 3: On-site Interview

The on-site interview at Tesla is typically divided into 5 rounds, wherein each session lasts for about 45 minutes. These are discussed below:

Technical Rounds (3 Rounds)

There are three technical rounds. 

The first one covers design problems.  Here’s an example of a question that you can expect during this round:

Design a service to execute the following operations given a bunch of Redis instances.

  • Connection to instance
  • Create and update the entry in Redis
  • Flush an entry
  • Access data within the connection

The next 2 rounds will be on problem-solving, which will include Leetcode type of problems. 

Behavioral Round (2 Rounds)

The first round will be with a Senior Manager. The second round will be with the hiring manager, who will ask behavioral questions along with your current work-related questions.

Other Rounds

Besides these, you can also expect take-home interview problems. Here’s an example of a take-home interview problem at Tesla Autopilot:

"Find the smallest distance for a Tesla car to drive from one charging station 's' to another, 't' in a Tesla charging station network. The maximum range of the car in question is 320km, so it needs to charge in intermediate stations. However, each station has a charging speed of km/hr, indicating how many more kilometers the car can drive per hour charging before the car reaches the 320km maximum range.

The input is the names of the destination station and the starting station. A header file is provided with a list of charging stations with their names, coordinates, and charging speeds.

The output is a single line in the following format: starting station name, first intermediate station name, charge time in hrs, second intermediate station name, charge time in hours, …, …, destination station name.”

Based on the role you’re gunning for, you might also have a final round with Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of Tesla. Musk usually focuses on discussing past projects where you successfully solved a problem. 

Tesla Software Engineer Roles and Responsibilities

There are several software development teams in Tesla, all tasked with different roles and responsibilities. Some of these teams are as follows:

  1. Infotainment Software team
  2. Fleet Analytics team
  3. Autopilot Computer Vision and AI team
  4. Systems Automation
  5. Embedded Software
  6. User Interface Internalization
  7. Front-End Development

We’ll discuss in detail a couple of these software engineer roles at Tesla. You can get more details on Tesla’s official website.

Software Engineer in the Tesla Infotainment Software Team

You are expected to specialize in front-end software development and create exceptional user experiences. You will also have to collaborate with Tesla's top-notch back-end developers and design teams. Basically, you need to be determined enough to set the bar for what a car UI can be and create an interface that flows naturally. Responsibilities include:

  • Coding, designing, and debugging UI interfaces or architectures.
  • Coordinating with a cross-functional team of software developers, hardware engineers, and designers.
  • Prototyping of in-car customer experiences.

Software Engineer in the Tesla Autopilot Computer Vision and AI Team

As a Tesla software engineer in this team, you will have to contribute to one of the most popularly deployed and advanced computer vision stacks in the world. You will be working with deep learning algorithms, real-time software and deliver safety-critical features to several customers.  Responsibilities include:

  • Developing embedded C++ software to decode, assemble and interpret raw neural network outputs.
  • Building tools for debugging, visualizing, and validating the different layers present in the vision pipeline.
  • Working closely with customers to ensure signal quality, sufficient API performance, and that all gaps are understood and addressed.

Different Software Engineer Levels at Tesla

There are a total of 6 levels of software engineering posts at Tesla:

  • Associate Engineer – P1
  • Engineer – P2
  • Senior Engineer – P3
  • Staff Engineer – P4
  • Senior Staff Engineer – P5
  • Principal Engineer – P6

Most Popular Programming Languages at Tesla

If you have fluency in any of these programming languages preferred at Tesla, take that as a solid boost to your tech interview prep.

  • Python
  • SQL
  • Java
  • C++
  • JavaScript

Tesla Software Engineer Interview Questions

To give you a clearer idea of what to expect during the Tesla software engineer interview, we have compiled a list of questions. It comprises questions covering both technical and behavioral rounds.

  1. Discuss the process you implement for a programming task. Cover everything from requirements to delivery.
  2. Name some programming languages that you use. Which 3 are you familiar with the most?
  3. How do you approach error handling?
  4. What is SDLC?
  5. Name some popular SDLC models. What are the primary differences between them?
  6. Do you have any experience in the Agile software development process? If yes, what was it like?
  7. Define responsive designs.
  8. What is the difference between fluid and fixed layouts?
  9. How do you test and find bugs in an application?
  10. Define a stack. Mention two of its most basic operations.
  11. Describe quicksort using the Big O notation.
  12. Is an array different from a stack? How?
  13. Use your programming language of choice to implement Dijkstra’s Shortest Path.
  14. How will you implement linear search in JavaScript?
  15. What are web workers in HTML5? Why are they important?
  16. How to approach organizing CSS files? Discuss the pros and cons of this approach.
  17. What is the difference between black-box testing and white-box testing?
  18. Differentiate between functional and non-functional requirements.
  19. Would you choose a microservice approach over a monolithic app? Why?
  20. What is modularization?
  21. What are the elements to be considered in System Model Construction?
  22. What are internal milestones?
  23. Discuss the limitations of the RAD model.
  24. State the disadvantages of the spiral model.
  25. What are the different prototyping methods used in a software process?
  26. What are the types of polymorphism in C++?
  27. Differentiate between new() and malloc().
  28. What is the difference between BASH and DOS?
  29. Define a root account.
  30. Define CLI.
  31. When you’re riding a bike, what moving faster – the ground underneath the bike or the chain on the bike?
  32. How would you stop a large mass moving at a particular speed and then reset it?

Tesla Software Engineer Behavioral Interview Questions 

Behavioral interview questions are a part of every tech interview. These are used to test your soft skills and see if you are a good fit for the company. 

If you are an experienced software engineer, questions related to teamwork and project management will be of higher weightage. Listed below are some behavioral interview questions that you can expect at the Tesla software engineer interview:

  1. What makes you think you’re a good fit for Tesla?
  2. Rate yourself vs. your peers on a scale of 1-5.
  3. How would you design a hammock stand?
  4. What do you think is important while checking a team member’s code?
  5. Tell me about the project management tools you have used before.
  6. Describe a project you have completed successfully.
  7. As a software engineer at Tesla, how would you come up with estimates?
  8. What are you working on right now?
  9. What is your approach to ensure software quality?
  10. Do you prefer working alone or in a team?
  11. What do you consider while writing a database server?
  12. Did you have to deal with scaling issues in your past projects? Could they have been avoided? How did you solve them?
  13. Do you have any questions for us? 
  14. Tell me about a difficult software development problem that you faced and how did you solve it?
  15. Talk about any of your personal projects.
  16. How would you explain the concept of cloud computing to my not-so-technical mother?
  17. Why Tesla?
  18. When exactly do you consider a product to be finished?
  19. Teach me something I don’t know in the next 5 minutes.
  20. Have you ever contributed to open-source projects? Did you flag any issues?
  21. How do you prioritize requirements?
  22. How do you determine a project’s success?
  23. Which Tesla software engineering team interests you the most? Why?

Check out Tesla Interview Questions for more.

3 Key Tips to Prepare for Tesla Software Engineer Interview

While preparing for a software engineering interview at a company like Tesla, make sure you follow the steps mentioned below. These remain indispensable even if you have considerable experience in your arsenal.

  • Do Your Research on Tesla: While applying for big companies like Tesla, candidates often assume they do not need to research much as they are already pretty familiar with the company. Be sure you are not making the same mistake. You must possess thorough knowledge about the company's mission, vision, values, and goals.

    You start by going through Tesla’s About Us page and get a deeper insight into the company's culture. This will help you, particularly during the behavioral interview round.
  • Prepare for both technical and behavioral rounds: Before attending a Tesla software engineer interview, you must analyze the types of questions you will most likely be asked and practice them diligently.

    It is equally important that you prepare for behavioral rounds as well. The main purpose of these sessions is to gauge how you act/react in certain situations. Therefore, these will help the recruiters understand if you are a good fit for the company.
  • Keep Your Responses Brief and Concise: The best responses are always specific, clear, and concise. There are no two ways about it. You must focus on the context, numbers, algorithms, and technologies to ensure your responses hit the perfect empirical points.

Recommended Reading: FAANG Interview Tips for Software Engineers

Ready for Your Next Tech Interview?

Interview prep requires a solid plan and hard work. If you’re confused about where to start, let Interview Kickstart help you. IK is the gold standard in tech interview prep; we can help you land your dream job at FAANG and Tier-1 tech companies like Tesla. Since 2014, we’ve trained over 6,000 software engineers, with several alums now working for the biggest names in the tech scene.

We’re the only tech interview prep coach that offers programs tailored by domain, including data engineering, embedded systems, machine learning, and many more!

Join our free webinar to know more!

FAQs on Tesla Software Engineer Interview

1. What should you wear to a Tesla interview?

Based on several candidate responses as compiled by Indeed, the following are some of the recommended dress codes for Tesla interviews:

  • Business casual – 58%
  • Casuals – 15%
  • Formals – 14%


2. What are the top skills and requirements to work as a software engineer at Tesla?

The top skills and requirements are listed below:

  • Subject matter expertise
  • Cross-functional
  • Role-specific programming
  • Data analysis
  • Teamwork
  • Troubleshooting skills

3. What are the requirements to be a Systems Software Engineer at Tesla Autopilot?

Some of the requirements are as follows:

  • Proficiency in developing software on Linux host.
  • Experience in Computer Vision and Machine Learning.
  • Experience in working on software design, compiler design, etc.

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