Can You Solve Elon Musk’s Favorite Brain Teaser?

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Technology companies are known for asking tricky questions when interviewing potential employees. For example, one of Google’s favorite interview questions is reportedly to ask, “how many people are using Facebook in San Francisco at 2:30pm on a Friday,” while Hewlett-Packard prefers, “if Germans were the tallest people in the world, how would you prove it?”

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Whatever the question, the purpose behind it is to see how the interviewee processes information and attempts to solve complex problems. The interviewers don’t necessarily care whether or not you end up with the right answer; it’s more about how you get to whatever you get to.

Knowing this, it’s probably not surprising to learn that Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, also has a favorite brain teaser.

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He reportedly asks:

“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?”

Don’t feel too bad if the answer eludes you. When CNBC took to the streets of New York and asked random passersby the teaser, the majority of people didn’t get it right. Of course, they didn’t also have a job on the line, so they probably weren’t as motivated as Musk’s interviewees.

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Ready for the answer?

Here we go.

The North Pole.

That’s the primary answer, but there’s also another, more complicated answer: one mile north of a circle with a one-mile circumference surrounding the South Pole (so, basically, 2 miles north of the South Pole. If that seems confusing, this Business Insider video clarifies:

“You’ll walk one mile south to reach this circle, trace that mile-long circle’s path, and return one mile north to your starting point.”

Now do you get it? Mr. Musk hopes you do.