Advice > Product management

Apple Product Manager Interview (questions, process, prep)

By Kannika Peña with input from the following coaches: John J . June 17, 2024
Apple PM interview guide

In this guide, we’re going to cover everything you need to know to prepare for product manager interviews at Apple.

Information on Apple job interviews is minimal online, especially for the PM position. The company has a reputation for being quite secretive about its processes and culture.

One thing that’s no secret is that 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 with insights from expert Apple PM coach John, we’ve put together the following guide to the Apple PM interview, including interview questions and tips, 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:

Click here to practice 1-on-1 with PM ex-interviewers

1. Apple Product Manager Role and Salary

Before we dive into your Apple product manager interviews, let’s take a look at the role first.

1.1 What does an Apple Product Manager do?

A product manager at Apple is responsible for leading the creation, development, and monitoring of customer-centric products, services, and experiences across Apple’s entire ecosystem: electronic products such as iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple Music, Apple TV+, Maps, other apps, and more.

As an Apple product manager, you will be working closely with other product managers and cross-functional colleagues across content production, business intelligence, data science, marketing, design, and engineering.

An Apple product manager is expected to fulfill product owner responsibilities. But more than that, a PM/EPM/TPM who can get highly technical is valued at Apple. You’ll need to be able to discuss technical concepts with both engineers and non-technical people such as non-developers and business partners, build relationships, and drive cross-functionality to succeed in your role. 

In some product manager roles at Apple, you will find that it is a mix of product management and product marketing. What this means is that you’ll need to have the ability to talk about your product and why it matters, know how to position your product, and create messaging to support its launch.

Finally, if you want to make an impact as a PM at Apple, you’ll need to go beyond just delivering and make sure you’re working on projects with high visibility.

“Organizing chaos and building coalitions is a huge success trait. Success is defined by people who deliver. Delivering your top priority items every time is key. Getting involved in high visibility and important efforts is the best place to be.” Apple Senior Technical Product Manager John.

What are the required skills for an Apple Product Manager?

Reviewing the current product manager posts at Apple, you’ll find that most of them will require a BA/BS degree or relevant work experience. Some will require at least 7+ years of product management experience, and involvement in at least one product development cycle. Apple PM job posts commonly ask for experience in analytics, experimentation, data storytelling, experience in cross-functional teams, handling data, and leading Agile/Scrum projects. Each team will have slightly different key qualifications and requirements for the role.

Unlike other top tech companies that focus on MVPs (minimum viable products), Apple is focused on delivering products that exceed expectations, so it has no problem taking its time before launching. This product culture influences how they choose their personnel. As expert PM coach John shares, Apple wants highly qualified people who are willing to commit, build one’s reputation over time, and put in the work patiently. If you expect quick wins and fast returns, then you might not fit in Apple’s culture.

1.2 How much does an Apple Product Manager make? 

Based on the computations from Levels.fyi, the median total compensation package of an Apple PM is $290k, 28% higher than the median total compensation for a US PM in 2024.

Location plays a part in the difference in base salary based on Glassdoor data. To compare:

  • Apple India PM: est. average of $24k/year
  • Apple Australia PM: est. average of $63k/year
  • Apple US PM: est. average of $176k/year

Below you can see the average base salary of the different product manager positions at Apple US, as of early 2024, based on Levels.fyi data:

Apple PM Compensation 2024

Ultimately, how you do in your interviews will help determine what you’ll be offered. That’s why hiring one of our Apple PM interview coaches can provide such a significant return on investment.

And remember, compensation packages are always negotiable, even at Apple. So, if you do get an offer, don’t be afraid to ask for more. If you need help negotiating, consider booking one of our salary negotiation coaches to get expert advice.

2. Apple Product Manager 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, and Blind.

Note: if you are interviewing for a product leadership position (VP, Director, Group PM), read our guide on how to prepare for product leader interviews.

2.1 Resume, cover letter, and referrals

First, recruiters will look at your resume and assess if your experience matches the open position. This is the most competitive step in the process, as millions of candidates do not make it past this stage.

You can use this free resume guide to help tailor your resume to the position you’re targeting. 

And if you’re looking for expert feedback, you can also get input from our team of ex-FAANG recruiters, who will cover what achievements to focus on (or ignore), how to fine-tune your bullet points, and more.

2.2 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.

2.3 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. Because most PM posts highly value relevant hands-on experience, be prepared to talk about your past roles. Highlight proficiencies, specific achievements, and strengths that you think make you a great candidate for the role.

There are more details on the types of questions to expect, and how to prepare for them, in section 3 of this guide.

2.4 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.

2.5 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. 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 3 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.

2.6 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 were 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 3 and the tips in sections 4 and 5.

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. 

3. Apple Product Manager 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, Meta, and Amazon. 

Here are the categories:

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 and Blind, as well as some questions from other companies to round out your preparation.

3.1 Behavioral questions 

Apple asks behavioral questions to assess your ability to build relationships and accomplish tasks autonomously. Your interviewer is looking for candidates with the right skill set to influence decision-makers and 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 influenced others, and what steps you took 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. We’ve put them into two sub-categories: 

  • Motivational fit questions: aim to reveal whether you fully understand and align with the company’s core values, and whether your own values, motivations, and aspirations make you well-suited for the position
  • General behavioral questions: aim to dig deep into your past experiences and behaviors at work, to show how you handle specific professional challenges and situations using your leadership, interpersonal, communication, and problem-solving skills

Example Apple PM interview questions: Behavioral

Motivational fit questions

  • Why Apple? (sample answer from Amazon interviews)
  • Why this role?
  • What three words would you use to describe Apple’s products?
  • What do you believe to be your strengths for this role?
  • Where do you want to be in five years?
  • When was the last time you learned something new?
  • How do you keep yourself organized?

General behavioral questions

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

3.2 Design questions 

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, Meta, and Google PM interviews.

Example 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 Meta? (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 questions, product improvement questions, and the favorite product question in PM interviews.

3.3 Strategy questions 

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.

Example 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]
  • Describe a testing method you have implemented. Describe the requirements for a project testing devices.
  • Do you prefer Waterfall or Agile management?

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

3.4 Technical questions 

As a product manager, it will be important for you to understand technical concepts, be able to explain them to others in a simple manner, communicate at a high level with engineers, and 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.

Example 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.

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

3.5 Analysis questions

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, Meta, or Google.

Example 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 e-commerce site in Spain and now see that traffic has reduced — what could be the reasons?

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

4. Apple Product Manager Interviewing Tips

You might be a fantastic product manager, but unfortunately, that’s not necessarily enough to ace your interviews at Apple. Interviewing is a skill in itself that you need to learn.

Let’s look at some key tips to make sure you approach your interviews in the right way.

4.1 Come as your best self at work

Whether you’re coming in for a virtual or onsite interview, be sure to come at least 15 minutes early. As for your attire, be comfortable but not sloppy–how you would be at work at your best.

If you have a virtual interview, make sure you’re in a distraction-free environment. Test your equipment beforehand and preview your interview link an hour before to ensure everything works fine.

4.2 Be ready to talk about YOU

You’ll find that the majority of the reported Apple interview questions revolve around your past job experiences. So be prepared to talk about yourself, your accomplishments, and how you’ve made an impact in your previous roles. Be sure to focus on how these experiences make you a qualified and competitive candidate, based on the requirements for the job.

4.3 Ask clarifying questions

Some of the questions you will be asked will be quite ambiguous. In those cases, you’ll need to ask clarifying questions to get more information about the problem and to reduce its scope.

Jumping straight in without asking questions first will be a red flag to the interviewer and will hinder your answer.

For instance, if you were asked, “What would be your 10-year strategy if you were CEO?” you can respond by asking some questions about the company’s current situation and any business objectives the interviewer may have in mind. This way, you’ll have a better understanding of what the company needs in the coming years and have more information from which to build a strategy.

4.4 Justify your choices

Apple wants to see the reasoning behind your answer so make sure to justify each decision you make. You'll need to make plenty of trade-offs as you arrive at a solution, so be sure to call them out.

4.5 Be data-driven

Apple is looking for product managers who can make decisions based on data and can judge everything they do by relevant metrics.

In an interview situation, it's okay to make assumptions because you might not have access to the facts and data. But you need to make it clear that in real life, you would seek out that data and that your approach would be highly data-driven.

If you have hands-on experience with handling data in your previous roles, be sure to highlight how you used data to drive actions.

If you find that your answer about a previous role may reference sensitive information, note this to your interviewer but don’t disclose it. One of Apple’s values is privacy, and they won’t require you to divulge sensitive or confidential information.

4.6 Demonstrate user empathy

Apple wants product managers who can empathize with its users.

When answering a PM interview question, your first instinct should be to focus on the user. Identify who uses the product, why, and what the use cases are. Avoid designing a product based solely on personal preferences. 

That said, do as Apple does and don’t just rely on customer feedback or user preference. When answering questions regarding user experience, propose how you plan to tap internal expertise to inform your design solution.

One of Apple’s values is accessibility, i.e. ensuring that all users have equal access to their products and services and using technology for better accessibility. When answering design questions, highlight the accessibility aspect of your proposed solution. 

4.7 Check in with your interviewer

Interviewers differ in their willingness to provide hints. Some may wait for you to ask about customer or product details, while others expect you to make assumptions on your own.

Gauge this by asking a direct question or specifying your assumptions. If the interviewer tends to offer specifics, they’ll engage. If not, limit additional questions to demonstrate your ability to make decisions independently.

4.8 Answer methodically by using a framework

Like other tech companies, Apple wants you to solve a problem methodically. You can use the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) framework when answering behavioral questions.

We also recommend the BUS (Business objective - User problems - Solutions) framework for answering product insight questions and the SPSIL (Situation - Problem - Solution - Impact - Lessons) framework for behavioral questions.

4.9 Don’t get stuck in a framework

As we just said above, frameworks are extremely helpful. However, some of our successful candidates have mentioned that excessive reliance on frameworks may hinder your performance.

During the interview, trust your instinct, and don’t be afraid to deviate from the framework if needed. A framework is there to help you craft a better answer, not make you twist your answer to fit the framework.

4.10 Center on the company’s core values

When answering culture fit and behavioral questions, share stories from past experiences that align with Apple’s core values. When designing a product or a strategy, consider how your answer aligns with these values.

4.11 Treat the interview like a conversation

Keep in mind that the interview is a two-way discovery process. While the interviewer assesses if you’re a good fit for Apple, you’re also evaluating if the company aligns with your aspirations and preferences.

4.12 Save questions and feedback for your interviewer

You’ll have a few minutes to ask your interviewer questions as the interview wraps up. Arriving without questions may suggest a lack of interest in the company or the role.

5. Preparation plan

Now that you know what questions to expect, let's focus on preparation. 

Below, you’ll find links to free resources and four introductory steps to help you prepare for your Apple PM 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 resources:

5.2 Learn a consistent method for answering PM interview questions

As mentioned previously, Netflix will ask you questions that fall into certain categories like culture, behavioral, design, strategy, and estimation questions. 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.

If you’re just looking for a jumping-off point, you can start learning about the different question types you’ll need to master in the following PM interview guides:

Once you understand how to answer each question type, you also need to be able to communicate your answers clearly, under the pressure of interview conditions. That’s where practice comes into play.

5.3 Practice by yourself or with peers

In our experience, practicing by yourself is a great way to prepare for PM interviews. You can start practicing alone, asking and answering questions out loud, to help you get a feel for the different types of PM interview questions. It will help you perfect your step-by-step approach for each question type. And it also gives you time to correct your early mistakes.

Use the example questions in section 3 above to practice with. You might also want to watch our product manager mock interview videos and compare your answers to those of former PMs from FAANG companies.

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.

5.4 Practice with experienced PM interviewers

Finally, you should also try to practice product manager mock interviews with expert ex-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 Apple and other leading tech companies. Learn more and start scheduling sessions today.

 

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