Apple PM interview: the only post you'll need to read

Product manager interviews at Apple are challenging, and they’re different from other top tech companies. You’ll be up against an unpredictable interview process and questions that are specific to Apple.

The good news is that the right preparation will make all the difference, helping you land a job offer at your dream company. So we’ve put together the following guide to the Apple PM interview, including interview questions, preparation tools, and a summary of the overall process.

Consider this your ultimate guide to the Apple PM interview.

Here's an overview of what we will cover:

  1. Interview process and timeline
  2. Example questions
  3. Preparation tips

1. Interview process and timeline

The interview process for Apple PMs typically takes about four to six weeks to complete, although it could be a bit faster or slower depending on the particular location and position for which you’re applying.

Here’s a quick overview of the steps you may face along the way:

  • Resume, cover letter, and referrals
  • Recruiter phone screen
  • Phone/video interviews
  • Take-home exercise
  • Onsite interviews
  • Final interview

Important note: Apple has a functional organizational structure, making its functional areas (e.g. design, engineering, etc.) more autonomous than most companies of its size. Partly because of this, there is no standardized interview process, and the candidate experience will vary widely depending on which team you are applying for.

This makes Apple interviews particularly difficult to prepare for. To give you an idea of what may be in store for you, we’ll cover the steps that previous candidates have reported on Glassdoor, Blind, and Rooftop Slushie.

For extra help, take a look at our list of 15 top PM interview tips.

1.1 Resume, cover letter, and referrals

Step one is getting invited to an interview. For that, you’ll need a quality resume and cover letter that are tailored to PM positions, and Apple more specifically.

If you have yet to apply, you can optimize your documents using our PM resume and PM cover letter guides.

As with most companies, it can also be really helpful to get an employee or contact within Apple to refer you to the recruiting team if you're able to do so.

1.2 Recruiter phone screen

Once you’ve been invited to interview with Apple, you’ll first speak with a recruiter on a phone screen. This is universal across all teams.

During this call, you should expect the recruiter to ask you some typical resume and behavioral questions. So practice discussing your key experiences, especially those that you’ve included in your application, as well as your most impressive work accomplishments.

They'll be looking to evaluate your fit with Apple’s culture, your overall qualifications for the role, and whether you have a chance of succeeding in future interview rounds.

 At this point, the recruiter will likely give you an idea of what interview steps are in store for you. If not, don’t hesitate to ask clarifying questions about the process ahead.

1.3 Phone/video interviews

After the initial recruiter phone screen, you'll have your first PM-focused interviews. They will take the form of one or multiple video or phone calls that will last 30-60 minutes each. 

These interviews will be with an Apple hiring manager or product manager on the team for which you’re applying. Be prepared to answer common PM interview questions, as well as more targeted questions about your past experience.

There are more details on the types of questions to expect, and how to prepare for them, in section 2 of this guide.

1.4 Take-home exercise

In some cases, you will be asked to complete a written take-home exercise. This may occur after or between the initial interviews we’ve described above. Not all candidates will be assigned this exercise.

The intent of this assignment is to see how you approach the types of problems you might encounter on the job. The exercise will likely focus on a typical PM question, such as a metric or technical problem. 

In other cases, the take-home exercise will take the form of a panel presentation that you will prepare in advance and present to the team you’re applying to during the onsite round. In this case you will be given preparation materials and assigned a product concept to explore.

1.5 Onsite interviews

The next round is the onsite portion, which is a loop of seven to ten separate interviews. This may occur in person or virtually, depending on COVID-19 protocols. If you interview in person, one of the rounds will take the form of a lunch interview on the Apple campus.

You'll have at least one PM interview (though you could have more than one), and you'll also have interviews with a variety of people in your future team. For example, you might meet with other managers, directors, senior engineers, etc. 

The types of questions you’ll be asked fall into the following categories:

  • Behavioral
  • Design
  • Strategy
  • Technical
  • Analysis

We’ll dive deeper into these question types in section 2 below. If you’re well prepared to answer these questions, then you’ll be well prepared for the onsite interviews as a whole.

TIP: Apple is very proud of its products, so avoid appearing at the interview with any non-Apple gear such as a Fitbit or Whoop. If you have an Android phone, don't put it on display.

1.6 Final interview

In some cases, candidates who pass the onsite rounds are invited to one final interview with a senior member of the team. 

This usually takes the form of a relatively short but in-depth interview that tests any areas the team felt was missing from the onsite rounds, as well as your overall culture fit at Apple. Prepare for this interview as you would the onsite rounds, using the practice questions in section 2 and the tips in section 3.

If all goes well, this or the onsite round will be your last step as a candidate, and from there you just have to wait to (hopefully) receive your offer. 

2. Example questions

Below, we have compiled a set of example PM interview questions to help you practice for your Apple interviews. You’ll be asked a wide range of questions, which we've grouped in six buckets based on how frequently they were asked at Apple and in companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon. 

Here are the categories:

Apple PM interview question types

Now that you have a feel for the broad categories of PM interview questions, below are some examples for each question type from Apple’s candidate reports on Glassdoor, Blind, and Rooftop Slushie, as well as some questions from other companies to round out your preparation.

2.1 Behavioral questions (~50%)

Apple asks behavioral questions to assess your ability to build relationships and accomplish tasks autonomously. Your interviewer is looking for candidates with the right skillset to influence decision makers and to push projects through to the end.

This was the most highly represented type of question reported by past candidates, so pay extra attention to this section. Expect to be asked in-depth questions on your previous projects, how you performed as a product manager, the problems you solved, how you influence others, and what steps you take to execute an idea.

Also, take the time to study Apple’s seven core values and find ways to show that you align with them. Prepare examples from your past that represent each of these values.

All of the questions below were reported by real Apple PM candidates, so use them to prepare for the behavioral portion of your next interview.

Apple PM interview questions: Behavioral

  • Why Apple?
  • Why this role?
  • Tell me about yourself
  • Where do you want to be in five years?
  • What three words would you use to describe Apple’s products?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to convince someone of something without authority over them
  • Tell me about a challenging moment in your career
  • What is your most proud accomplishment?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to make a decision with a lot of ambiguity
  • Tell me about a time when you had a disagreement with one of your colleagues or managers
  • Tell me about a time you failed
  • Tell me about a time when you felt appreciated at work
  • How do you keep yourself organized?

For more information, check out our article on how to answer behavioral interview questions. This guide targets Facebook, but the method is applicable to any company.

2.2 Design questions (~20%)

One of the PM's core tasks is to help design new product features and improve existing ones. So interviewers ask design questions to assess your customer empathy, creativity, and ability to use a structured approach to design products.

As Apple is very proud of the products they produce, you’ll likely be asked design questions targeting them. So come in with a detailed understanding of Apple’s latest products. Be prepared to create a high-level product design with specific features, while explaining your implementation and product timeline.

The first three questions below come from Apple’s Glassdoor reports, and we picked the rest from Amazon, Facebook, and Google PM interviews. 

Apple PM interview questions: Design

  • Design a voice assistant product for kids
  • What's your favorite Apple product? Why? How would you improve it?
  • What feature(s) would you like to see added to "product X"?
  • Design a computer keyboard (answer)
  • Design an alarm clock for the blind
  • How would you improve Facebook? (answer)
  • How would you improve Google Pay?
  • Tell me about your favorite product that’s not an app or website

For more information, take a look at our articles on how to answer product design questionsproduct improvement questions and the favorite product question in PM interviews.

2.3 Strategy questions (~12%)

Strategy interview questions test whether you're comfortable thinking about the wide range of aspects good PMs need to take into account when making product decisions. At Apple, you’ll frequently be expected to take the lead on projects with minimal input from others, so you’ll need an excellent sense for strategy.

Come ready to share the processes and methodologies from your own PM playbook with the interviewer, and how you break down complex problems. You’ll be asked to discuss your product vision, and how you work with other teams to build out a roadmap.

The first three questions below come from Apple, and the rest are from Amazon, Facebook, and Google.

Apple PM interview questions: Strategy

  • What’s more important, fixing the customer’s problem or creating a good customer experience?
  • Our engineering teams are pretty used to employing x methodologies. What is your opinion of them? Have you used them in the past?
  • What are your favored tools to manage x process (workflow, people management, wire-framing)? Why?
  • Imagine you’re the CEO of Apple — what product would you eliminate from the lineup? [TIP: don't say iCloud]
  • How would you turn Facebook events around? (see our step-by-step answer)
  • What do you think that, as a business, we should do next?
  • How would you bootstrap a product that helps people find apartments?
  • If you were the CEO of LEGO, what new product line would you come up with to increase revenue?
  • Imagine you’re a PM at a startup that works with big data from the NHL — what’s the first product you would ship?
  • How would you sell live plants at Amazon?

For more information, check out our article on how to answer strategy interview questions.

2.4 Technical questions (~10%)

As a product manager, it will be important for you to understand technical concepts, to be able to explain them to others in a simple manner, and to be able to think like a developer.

As a consequence, you'll typically need to answer one or two technical questions during your interview process. Apple’s technical questions will vary widely depending on what team you’re applying for and what you’ve put on your resume. So if you have listed technical skills on your resume, expect to be tested on them.

The first six questions below are from Apple, and the rest are from Amazon, Facebook, or Google. As these technical questions come from different teams within Apple, as well as different companies, practice the ones that appear the most relevant to your experiences and the team you’re applying to.

Apple PM interview questions: Technical

  • Walk me through the components needed to build a data processing and reporting system.
  • Use a whiteboard to teach me something, work-related or otherwise.
  • Develop an algorithm that can detect if a string is a palindrome
  • Describe shell sort and its advantages and disadvantages
  • Describe the 3 different indexes and describe the properties of each. In what situation would you want to use one over the other?
  • How would you face a technical challenge you have never encountered before? Describe your methodology step by step.
  • How does the internet work? (answer)
  • How would you explain X concept (e.g Google Cloud) to your grandmother?
  • How would you design a method to identify if a number is prime? (answer)
  • Design a method that removes every other node from a linked list
  • Write a program to randomly shuffle an array of numbers

For more information, check out our article on how to answer technical interview questions.

2.5 Analysis questions (~8%)

Finally, Apple’s products use metrics to assess what is successful and what their team should start on next. Your interviewers will therefore ask you one or two questions about what metrics you would track for a given situation, or how you would investigate the changes in a given metric.

At the time of this article, there is very little Glassdoor data on Apple’s data analysis interview questions, so all of the following examples come from Amazon, Facebook, or Google.

PM interview questions: Analysis

  • What metrics would you use to determine success for the Facebook Newsfeed? (answer)
  • YouTube traffic went down 5% — how would you report this issue to the executive team? (answer)
  • What metrics did you use to measure the successful launch of your product?
  • What metrics would you use to measure the success of Facebook’s “Save Item” feature?
  • How would you measure the success of the new YouTube Player UI?
  • There's been a 15% drop in usage of Facebook Groups — how do you fix it?
  • You have just localized an ecommerce site in Spain and now see that traffic has reduced — what could be the reasons?

For more information, check out our article on how to answer metric interview questions.

3. Preparation tips

It’s best to take a systematic approach to make the most of your preparation time for PM interviews, and we recommend the following five steps. 

3.1 Deep dive into the product / organization

As you've probably figured out from some of the example questions listed above, you can't become a PM at Apple without being familiar with the company's products and it's organization. As a result, you'll need to do some homework before your interviews.

First, get further acquainted with Apple's values using the video below and the rest of their Brand Values YouTube playlist

Here are some more in-depth resources to help you study Apple and its products:

3.2 Brush up on product fundamentals

If you're already an experienced PM, then this step doesn't apply to you. But if you're more junior or if you're trying to break into product management, then it's worth spending some time refreshing your memory on basic product management concepts.

Here is a list of free resources to give you a starting point:

3.3 Learn a consistent method for answering PM interview questions

As mentioned previously, Apple will ask you questions that fall into certain categories: behavioral, design, technical, strategy, analysis. Approaching each question with a predefined method will enable you to build strong interview habits.

Then, when it comes time for your interviews, these habits will reduce your stress and help you to make a great impression. Here is a list of our free guides on different types of PM interview questions to help you prepare: 

BUT, having a method for solving PM interview questions isn’t enough by itself. You also need to be able to communicate your answers clearly, under the pressure of interview conditions. That’s where practice comes into play. 

3.4 Practice by yourself or with peers

Practicing by yourself is a great way to prepare for Apple's PM interviews. You can ask and answer questions out loud, to help you get a feel for the different types of PM interview questions. Practicing by yourself will help you perfect your step-by-step approach for each question type. It also gives you time to correct your early mistakes. 

If you have friends or peers who can do mock interviews with you, that's a great option too. This can be especially helpful if your friend has experience with PM interviews, or is at least familiar with the process. You can also find peers to practice with on our PM mock interview platform.

3.5 Practice with experienced PM interviewers

Finally, you should also try to practice with experienced PM interviewers as they’ll be able to give you much more accurate feedback than friends and peers. If you know a product manager who can help you, that's fantastic! But for most of us, it's tough to find the right connections to make this happen. And it might also be difficult to practice multiple hours with that person unless you know them really well.

Here's the good news. We've already made the connections for you. We’ve created a coaching service where you can practice 1-on-1 with ex-interviewers from leading tech companies. Learn more and start scheduling sessions today.

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Any questions about Apple PM interviews?

If you have any questions about Apple PM interviews, do not hesitate to ask them below and we will be more than happy to answer them. All questions are good questions, so go ahead!