THE APPLE INTERVIEW
Looking to land a job at Apple but don’t know what the process looks like?
Well, you’ve come to the right place. Detailed in this post is a look at the timeline of the interview process, preparation guidelines, and what's different or unique about Apple’s interview process as opposed to other tech companies.
(keep scrolling FOR A FULL WRITEUP with DETAILS)
THE APPLE INTERVIEW explained
Apple’s interview process differs from a lot of the other larger tech companies and that is in large part due to the number of interviews and their on-site process.
Apple usually starts hiring at ICT2; these positions are for those with 0-2 years of experience. The growth track ends at ICT6.
We’ll now go through the interview process, preparation tips, and a deeper dive into what makes Apple’s hiring process unique. At the end we’ll provide you with some sample questions asked in an Apple interview.
BEFORE THE INTERVIEW
updating your RESUME
The first thing you should do is update your LinkedIn and resume to be metrics / deliverables driven. Be succinct, show how what you’ve done relates to the position, and tailor it to the job description as it will better demonstrate how you’re a fit for the role.
Here is our guide on how to prepare for the coding interview with a 12-week plan.
CHOOSING YOUR LANGUAGE
Apple, like most of the other tech giants, doesn’t require that you know any one particular language, but you do need to be proficient in at least one. Acceptable languages include: C#, C/C++, Python, Java, and a few other mainstream languages. It’s best to pick the programming language you’re most comfortable with and stick to it.
PRESCREEN with recruiter
From resume submission to first contact will take about a week. If the recruiter thinks your resume is a good match, they’ll reach out to you over LinkedIn or email. From here, the recruiter will ask you to set up a time to chat; it’s best to schedule this call as soon as possible so that you seem ready and eager.
This initial phone screen will last anywhere from 15-30 minutes. The recruiter will not go into anything technical; the recruiter mainly wants to gauge your interest level and see if you can speak to what’s on your resume. One-line answers won’t cut it for behavioral questions; spend some time reflecting on past accomplishments and how they relate to Apple and the role you’re applying for. As a best practice, be able to speak to each line on your resume for about a minute or two each.
Questions you can expect:
Why do you want to work for Apple?
What’s your favorite Apple product or services? (e.g. Apple Maps, Siri, Apple Pay)
What was your favorite project to work on at your last company and why?
Fare well here, and you’ll move onto the technical portion of your phone screen.
Technical Phone interview
If you’ve successfully made it through the prescreen, the recruiter will set up your technical phone screen with a hiring manager or a member on the team you’re looking to join. From pre-screen to technical phone interview will be about a week and then to schedule your next technical phone interview will be 1-3 days.
Here, you’ll have one or two technical phone screens which will be a mix of resume Q/A and a coding question centered around data structures and algorithms; the coding question will be administered through a shared editor such as Codility. Each of these coding interviews will be about 45-60 minutes where you’ll have about 30 minutes to complete the coding challenge.
Apple technical phone interview questions:
Collapse a binary search tree into a sorted list
Find circular loop in linked list
Give the complexity of various sorting algorithms
If you’ve passed your technical phone screens, then you’ll be invited to an on-site interview. Anticipate a 2-week wait period before being brought in.
Here is where your patience, skills, and domain knowledge really come into play. The on-site interview will last about 6 hours where you’ll meet with 8-12 people and in some cases upwards of 15.
Each interview will either be a 1:1 or 2:1 and will be about 45 min to an hour. For 2:1 interviews, if you start responding to an interviewer's question and then proceed to write code, you might be cross-questioned by the other interviewer. Sometimes, they may pose a question one after another giving you little time to answer. In any case, make sure you take one question at a time, and stay focused. Take the time to understand the questions clearly and don’t rush.
Your on-site interviews will be a mix of behavioral, domain knowledge, and coding.
Behavioral questions are a big part of Apple’s interview process. It’s a good idea to prepare a few anecdotes on your enthusiasm for Apple, how you work in teams, how you work under pressure, and times you’ve displayed leadership.
Apple really wants to find out who you are as a person and whether or not they could see themselves working with you. They’ll ask you questions about Apple products and services, previous projects you’ve worked on, a personal evaluation, and some questions to test how you think creatively.
Brand loyalty is huge at Apple, so be prepared to speak about different products you like, dislike (why?), and where you think improvements can be made. Whatever the questions may be, do not take them lightly and bring your full attention.
Apple interviews for specific teams (i.e. Maps, Calendar, Siri, etc.) so they expect you to know the product or service you’re interviewing for, ideas about how it works (Siri for example), and the complications that go into building it. The questions asked will be related to the work the team is doing and the problems they’re trying to actively solve. So for example, if you were looking to join the iOS team, it’s good to have a strong foundation on operating systems and the challenges associated with them.
Be prepared to work through questions on a whiteboard and discuss your thought process, as your interviewer will look at how you approach problems, what questions you ask, and other approaches you may be able to take. In many cases, your interviewer is not so much concerned with whether or not you solved the problem (which is important) but rather how you think about the problem. It’s important to articulate your thought process throughout.
Data structures you should know
Arrays, Linked Lists, Stacks, Queues, Trees, Graphs, Heaps, Hash sets, Hash maps
Algorithms you should know
Depth first search, Breadth first search, Binary search, Quicksort, Mergesort, Dynamic programming, Divide and conquer
Note: For higher level candidates (3-5 years of experience) you can expect questions on system design.
Don’t forget about the lunch interview. Whereas at some companies this is more of a light conversation, at Apple, lunch acts as another interview — and it will be technical/domain specific. It can’t be stressed enough that you must be comfortable talking about your domain expertise and how you can make an impact to the problems they’re solving now and in the future.
THE OFFER / NO offer
At this stage, you can expect to hear from your recruiter within a week. However, if you don’t hear from them, it’s best to send them a friendly reminder email so that you stay top of mind for them. From the first contact to the offer, you can expect the whole process to take about 1.5 to 2 months.
In the event you don’t receive an offer, you’ll most likely have to wait 3-6 months before reapplying for that same position. But it’s recommended that you keep your options open as recruiters will often consider you for multiple roles as they see fit, so keep an open mind and browse through a few that are interesting to you and that align with your career path.
If your interviews went well, Apple will reach out to you, at which point they’ll make you an offer, send you documents to sign, and discuss any further questions you have.
For your phone screens you’ll most likely be using FaceTime (it may be over Skype as well).
Questions will come at you fast, so practice thinking under pressure, and prepare for interruptions which can throw off your thought process.
Interviewing is team specific
You will interview for specific teams and will be expected to know the product or service you’re interviewing for, the challenges associated with building it, and how it works. Questions will be based around problems the team is looking to solve and technical questions related to the job.
Don’t have to wait 6 months to reapply
The good news is, Apple will consider you for multiple positions so if the one you were applying for doesn’t work out but they find a fit for you on another team then they’ll get you another round of interviews.
Lunch is an interview
The team will take you out to lunch, but don’t think that this doesn’t count as an interview because it does. With you doing the majority of the talking, it’s suggested that you order something light.
HOW TO BEST PREPARE FOR YOUR INTERVIEW
In our experience, it’s best not to try to memorize specific questions. There are no silver bullets.
The questions that companies ask are always changing, because companies of this size are always trying to stay ahead of the curve and try new things. The questions you face will also depend on the team and the hiring manager.
Instead, it’s best to work your way through the fundamentals so you understand the underlying concepts and can answer even new types of interview questions with confidence.
Need help preparing for the interview?
Check out the Definitive Interview Prep Roadmap,
written and reviewed by real hiring managers.