Get a Job at Apple: Interview Process and Top Questions

Exponent TeamExponent TeamLast updated

As one of the top tech companies in the world, the Apple interview process is notoriously thorough, lengthy, and can be challenging even for senior team members.

Apple employs about 80,000 people across the United States. Those jobs are highly competitive — each position gets an average of 54 applicants per job every day.

The difficulty and length of the Apple interviews, as well as a lack of transparency about the process, unlike other large tech firms that share information about interview formats, makes it difficult to get a job there.

We developed this interview guide with tips and advice based on the experiences of those who have actually gone through the process.

Below, we break down the Apple interview process and the top interview questions you should expect to answer.

What is the Apple interview process?

Apple's interview process is decentralized compared to other tech firms, meaning the process may differ according to each role.

Because of this, it's difficult to know exactly what to expect in an interview.

Applicants have reported that the process can take as long as one to four months between first submitting the resume and completing all interviews, with little feedback between each stage.

The process may include:

  • One or two phone screens with a recruiter
  • A take-home assessment
  • One or two virtual interviews
  • An onsite in-person or virtual interview loop

Apple is organized by functional specialties and led by experts, rather than by general managers, allowing for maximal functionality and innovation.

This means that you will interview directly with the team to which you are applying; even the first recruiter you speak with is part of the team.

Those teams include:

  • Software and Services
  • Machine Learning and AI
  • Hardware
  • Design
  • Operations and Supply Chain
  • Marketing
  • Corporate Functions
  • Sales and Business Development
  • Apple Retail
  • Support and Service
“We interact with teams across Apple, from design to hardware to marketing. Being passionate about photography helps me focus on building the best products for our customers.” — Emilie, engineering manager for Apple’s iOS Photos and Camera Engineering team

Passionate innovation, collaboration, and creativity are upheld as important characteristics of Apple’s workplace.

Apple also places a strong emphasis on values. Taking the time to understand Apple's company culture will play a big part in helping you get the job:

  • Accessibility
  • Education
  • Environment
  • Inclusion and diversity
  • Privacy
  • Racial equity and justice
  • Supplier responsibility

Step 1: Recruiter phone screen(s)

The first step is a phone call or two with a recruiter that usually lasts about 15 to 30 minutes.

The recruiter will ask you basic questions about your resume, experience, and work history.

Recruiters are attached to different teams at Apple, so they have deep familiarity with each team’s preferred interview style.

Now is your best chance to find out more about the remainder of the interview process, so don’t be afraid to ask questions about what to expect and how to best prepare like:

  • What is the engineering manager interview process like?
  • Does Apple have any interview prep resources I can use?
  • How long will this interview process take?
  • Is there anything I can do to stand out?

Step 2: Take-home assessment

For certain positions, such as data science, the recruiter may give you a take-home coding assessment that will be evaluated and reviewed in future interview stages.

The assessment will test you on coding languages named in the job listing, so make sure to practice ahead of time.

Candidates have said these assignments were simple yet open-ended with a firm time limit.

Examples of previous take-home assessments include:

  • Write a complex SQL query.
  • Write an API that connects to one of Apple’s data sets.
  • Reorganize text file contents in a specific order based on specific constraints.

Step 3: Virtual interview(s)

The recruiter phone screen is usually followed by 1 or 2 interviews conducted virtually using FaceTime or Zoom.

Subject matter experts have said that these interviews “feel behavioral,” but the questions asked were also “very domain specific.”

Virtual interviews are conducted for every role at Apple. Expect questions related to your domain expertise.

  • Describe your engineering background.
  • Tell me about a time you handled conflict on a technical team?
  • How do you think about designing and building scalable systems?
“Unlike other companies that want to assess product sense and how you approach a problem, there was a certain level of domain depth that was evaluated. I felt that this person was trying to gauge whether I should advance to the panel." — Successful Apple Product Manager interviewee

Machine learning fundamentals

Interviews for machine learning roles differ slightly from others.

Instead of a typical one-day interview loop, you will face two separate specialized interviews: machine learning fundamentals and general coding.

The ML fundamentals interview focuses specifically on your ability to analyze, articulate, and develop ML methods.

In these interviews, Apple is looking for:

  • Confidence in discussing the machine learning toolkits;
  • Effective explanations of complex ML concepts in user-friendly terms;
  • Familiarity with and ease of working with large quantities of data;
  • Ability to translate AI research into useful metrics to solve real-world problems;
  • A focus on collaboration in past projects and future aspirations;
  • Interest in Apple’s current machine learning advancements and research.

Coding interview

ML and Software Engineering candidates reported coding interviews during this stage, but you will also be asked to code in the onsite interview loop.

The general coding interview is more of a skills assessment. Communication skills are key here, but so is a deep knowledge of cutting-edge algorithms.

In these interviews, Apple is looking for:

  • Ability to quickly and effectively use a variety of data structures and algorithms
  • Experience in the coding language featured in the job posting such as Python, Swift, JavaScript, or Objective-C.
  • Confidence working with large quantities of data
  • Problem-solving skills to detect and debug complex engineering problems
  • Incorporation of design thinking and user experience into your technical work
  • Innovative coding while keeping user data secure

Step 4: Onsite interview loop

The nature of your onsite loop is highly dependent on the role and team to which you’re applying.

Depending on the position and your location, this interview may be in person, but are increasingly conducted online.

During onsite interview loops, candidates face 3 to 8 interview rounds lasting 45 minutes to 1 hour each, which means the entire interview loop could take as long as 5 to 6 hours total.

Some interviewees have reported the interview loop being split across two days.

Your interviewers will vary widely by role; sometimes there are only 1 or 2 interviewers at once, while others face a full cross-functional panel.

What are the top Apple interview questions?

Interviews at Apple are highly technical and focus on domain knowledge and coding, but expect to field behavioral questions, too.

Apple is heavily brand-focused, so make sure to show your passion and knowledge for Apple itself.

Below is a list of Apple interview questions reported by candidates for each loop.


While Apple’s interviews are largely technical, behavioral and culture fit questions play a key part in the interview process. Apple wants to see that you are a perfect fit for company culture and naturally embody its mission and goals.

According to Apple, it’s best to be yourself in interviews rather than answering questions based on what you think interviewers want to hear.

Try to incorporate your interests, experience, and past successes into your answers to show why you’re the right fit for the job.

Product Management


For coding questions, you should be familiar with the following common data structures:

  • Arrays
  • Linked Lists
  • Stacks
  • Queues
  • Trees
  • Graphs
  • Heaps
  • Hash sets
  • Hash maps

You should also practice using the following algorithms:

  • Algorithms
  • Binary search
  • Dynamic programming
  • Depth-first search
  • Breadth-first search
  • Divide and conquer

Some past coding questions include:

Machine Learning

System Design

Software engineering questions will run into system design questions throughout the interview loop.

Some common system design questions at Apple include:

  • Why use a message queue?
  • Design AirTag.
  • Design an Applicant Tracking System (ATS).
  • Design a messaging application.
  • Design YouTube.

Apple Interview Loops Explained

Apple is looking for innovative thinkers who can write clean and efficient code or documentation.

Past candidates have reported that these interviews are highly technical and and test candidates’ coding ability and domain knowledge. One person said they gave a presentation on a past work project.

In addition to technical and coding sessions, you will face behavioral interviews where you’ll be expected to answer questions about your expertise and past successes.

Product Manager Roles

Product manager candidates reported fielding a mix of technical and behavioral questions that assess:

  • Project execution and prioritization abilities
  • Product sense
  • Ability to complete a complex project
  • Ability to work well under pressure

Some PM interviewees have been asked to give a “deep dive” presentation about past projects they have completed in other roles.

"One interviewer asked about my prioritization matrix—what kind of prioritization matrix I adopted, and if there are competing priorities, how I go about prioritizing, what has worked, what hasn't, have there been differences between the consumer vs. the enterprise world, etc." — Apple project manager interviewee

Practice answering project prioritization questions.

Software Engineering Roles

Those applying for roles in software engineering have also been asked to give a presentation about past projects; others have reported fielding a full day of coding questions. Some reported that interview rounds and coding questions could be redundant.

Applicants mainly faced questions or problems on:

  • System design (with tradeoffs)
  • Data structures
  • Mobile design
  • Matrix manipulation

Data Science

Data science candidates usually face 3 to 4 rounds of interviews during the onsite interview loop on topics including:

  • Coding
  • ML domain
  • Behavioral questions

Data science positions require a unique combination technical skills and interpersonal communication.

You will be working closely with people on your own team, but also with cross-functional teams. This requires exceptional leadership and communication skills.

During the technical rounds, display your ability to articulate ML concepts using both technical jargon as well as simplified terms for stakeholders and general users.

Interview tips

  • Be an active participant in the interview process. Try to develop a relationship with the recruiter early on in the interview process. As a member of the team to which you’re applying, the recruiter is there to represent you and answer all of your questions related to the next steps in the process.
  • Do your research. Spend some time learning about the Apple team you are applying to and the job you are applying for. This will help you better explain your interest in the role and and will demonstrate your expertise not only on the subject matter, but how Apple itself approaches the domain. You may also be asked specific questions about Apple products, so make sure you’re well-versed on the latest developments and innovations from Apple.
  • Prepare to discuss your past successes. Interviewers and recruiters already know about your basic work history from your resume. The interviews are an opportunity to show how you have performed well in the past and plan to bring that to your work at Apple. Make sure to come prepared with lots of examples of past accomplishments and projects, as you may be asked to give a presentation.
  • Collaboration is key. Since Apple’s work environment is highly team-focused, it is imperative to display your ability to collaborate and communicate effectively. Some ways do to this are by talking about past experiences when you accomplished something with a team or helped lead a project. Take your time talking through your answers and stay focused; it’s better to over-explain than under-explain.
Practice your communication skills for coding and behavioral interviews using the STAR method.


  • How long is the Apple interview process? It’s impossible to give an exact timeline since the Apple hiring process is decentralized and differs for each team and role. Some candidates heard back from a recruiter about their application 2 months after submission; others heard back right away and reported a swift and streamlined process. It might take anywhere from 3 weeks of 4 months from beginning to end.
  • Does Apple hire students or new graduates? Yes, Apple offers internships for current students as well as early career opportunities.
  • Are Apple interviews in person or virtual? Interviews with Apple may be in person or virtual depending on a number of factors, including your team, position and location. Apple recommends that candidates be ready for virtual interviews at least 15 minutes early in case of any technical issues or interruptions. Candidates may also request accommodations if necessary.

More interview prep resources

Your Exponent membership awaits.

Exponent is the fastest-growing tech interview prep platform. Get free interview guides, insider tips, and courses.

Create your free account