The complete guide to getting a job at Rivian, according to two execs who head up hiring for the surging Tesla rival

Summary List Placement

Launching a new product is difficult in any industry, but particularly so in the auto business, where the high costs of building and running factories leave little room for error. Tesla is the only American automaker founded after 1925 that’s selling consumer vehicles in significant numbers, and it took the better part of two decades to reach profitability.

Rivian thinks it can repeat the feat and has been growing its workforce quickly as it prepares to start delivering its first two models in 2021. The electric-vehicle startup had around 1,500 employees at the beginning of 2020. By January of 2021, its headcount had grown to around 3,500.

Insider spoke to two Rivian executives who are involved in the hiring process — vice president of talent acquisition Cindy Nicola and chief people officer Helen Russell — about the traits they look for in job applicants and the details they pay attention to during interviews.

Here’s what they said.

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Keep the personality traits Rivian looks for in mind

Nicola said Rivian looks for people who are passionate, curious, humble, selfless, and enthusiastic about solving problems. But that doesn’t mean the company wants its employees to be identical. Nicola said Rivian wants its workforce to reflect a broad range of perspectives and backgrounds.

“There’s a magic when you bring people from a lot of different backgrounds together,” Nicola said.

Make sure your application is specific and error-free

Make sure there aren’t any spelling errors on your application and include details that illustrate your professional accomplishments.

“We’re looking for people that have excellence in what they do,” Nicola said.

Be ready to talk about those details during your interview, but don’t focus too much on yourself

During an interview, Nicola pays attention to the amount of detail job applicants use to describe problems they’ve solved, to get a sense of the skills they have.

“We want people that are able to be incredibly specific about what they’ve done,” Nicola said. “If you’ve ever solved a really tough problem, you never forget it.”

But focusing only on yourself is a red flag for Russell. Given the collaborative nature of Rivian’s workplace, Russell notes how often interviewees use “I” and “we.”

If they use the word ‘I’ and never use the word ‘we’ — huge red flag,” Russell said.

Be curious about the right things

Doing research ahead of time will help you demonstrate how interested you are in Rivian.

“We want to see that they are prepared and that they are intentionally seeking Rivian out,” Nicola said of job applicants.

And be sure to have questions ready for your interviewer. Russell wants applicants to focus on the nuts and bolts of working at Rivian, like its culture or the way meetings are run, rather than PTO. One time, an interviewee’s first question was about Rivian’s benefits plan. Russell was not impressed.

“That should be at the end of a long list of questions,” Russell said.

Don’t be afraid to talk about your life outside of work

“The interviews that stand out are where people have shared life experiences as examples of a behavioral attribute that I’m trying to get at or something that was impactful to them,” Russell said. “That also shows me that they’re going to be comfortable showing up as them.”

Being candid about your weaknesses and your efforts to address them can also leave a positive impression, Nicola said, as long as you don’t resort to cliches like “I work too hard.”

“I’m not really a fan of that kind of response,” Nicola said. “I actually really prefer when someone can be self-aware and be a little bit vulnerable, because we all have stuff to work on.”

A follow-up note won’t hurt

After the interview, Nicola wants her team to take the lead on following up, but it won’t hurt your chances by sending a note that demonstrates your excitement about the prospect of working at Rivian, Nicola said.

“Normally, we would send a follow-up right away,” Nicola said. “And it’s just nice when you get an enthusiastic, passionate response back.”

Are you a current or former Rivian employee? Do you have a news tip or opinion you’d like to share? Contact this reporter at [email protected], on Signal at 646-768-4712, or via his encrypted email address [email protected].

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