Want a job at Apple? Here are 10 of the toughest interview questions

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Want a shot at working here? Better get these answers correct first.
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We alternately praise and criticize the folks at Apple depending on whether they just created the iPhone or Apple Maps, but there’s no doubting that it’s a company which employs some pretty darn smart guys and gals.

Whether you’ve ever dreamed of joining Cupertino, or just want to scramble your brain and break out in a cold sweat at some nightmare interview questions, check out a selection of ten of the toughest brainteasers to be asked in genuine Apple interviews, courtesy of job site Glassdoor.

    1. “If you have 2 eggs, and you want to figure out what’s the highest floor from which you can drop the egg without breaking it, how would you do it? What’s the optimal solution?” — Software Engineer candidate
    2. “How many children are born every day?” — Global Supply Manager candidate
    3. “You have a 100 coins laying flat on a table, each with a head side and a tail side. 10 of them are heads up, 90 are tails up. You can’t feel, see or in any other way find out which side is up. Split the coins into two piles such that there are the same number of heads in each pile.” — Software Engineer candidate
    4. “There are three boxes, one contains only apples, one contains only oranges, and one contains both apples and oranges. The boxes have been incorrectly labeled such that no label identifies the actual contents of the box it labels. Opening just one box, and without looking in the box, you take out one piece of fruit. By looking at the fruit, how can you immediately label all of the boxes correctly?” — Software QA Engineer candidate
    5. “How would you breakdown the cost of this pen?” — Global Supply Manager candidate
    6. “Are you smart?” — Build Engineer candidate
    7. “You put a glass of water on a record turntable and begin slowly increasing the speed. What happens first — does the glass slide off, tip over, or does the water splash out?” — Mechanical Engineer candidate
    8. “What’s more important, fixing the customer’s problem or creating a good customer experience?” — Apple At Home Advisor candidate
    9. “If you’re given a jar with a mix of fair and unfair coins, and you pull one out and flip it 3 times, and get the specific sequence heads heads tails, what are the chances that you pulled out a fair or an unfair coin?” — Lead Analyst candidate
    10. “How would you test a toaster?” — Software QA Engineer candidate

How did you fare? Obviously without the answers, it’s not too easy to gauge — but I do a lot better on the brainteasers than the nightmarish interview questions like number eight. If you have had experience of a real Apple interview, or an equally tough tech interview, make sure to leave your comments below.

I’m sure Cult of Mac readers would be fascinated to know the deets.

Source: Business Insider

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  • Tutu Rulianda

    The question number does not prohibit using two separate of drinking glasses of water. So the solution is dropping each of the eggs into the water and observing which one is standing vertically, then we are able to find out which is the highest level. The optimal solution is using salty water to get an optimized result.

    The question number three does not mention about being unable to hear the unique sound when a head up coin and a tail up coin is dropped. So the solution is that each of them is dropped into the quite far table location from the location of mixed coins. After identifying and separating the head up coins from the tail up coins, then switch up each of the tail up coins one by one until the pile has 50 head up coins. Then switch up the rest of tail up coins one by one until the second pile has 40 head up coins. At last put each of the 10 head up coins into the second pile until it has the same 50 head up coins like the first pile.

    • wedel1cm

      Question 3 didn’t ask how many were heads or tails “up” though, just to split them so the same number of heads are in each pile. It doesn’t matter the orientation, they all have a heads side and a tails side – just split them evenly.

      • Tutu Rulianda

        Yes. You’re right, I was less meticulous and I was distracted by the word “up”. Thanks for your correction. It turned out to be that I was not quite so prudent if I had been atttending an interview with such that particular questions.

      • Tutu Rulianda

        I think I’m no longer fit and proper to follow this forum. I don’t know. Perhaps I just sensed a little bit of profanity from someone. But for wedel1cm thanks for providing the correct answer. I’m out of any kind of forum by the Cult of Mac.

    • essjay

      I don’t think either of your answers are correct. For 3 It specifically says you can’t tell, via any means, whether the coins are heads up or not so dropping them won’t work. Instead you just take ten coins and flip them all. So you’ve got a pile of 90 and a pile of ten both of which are guaranteed to have the same number of heads. Note that it doesn’t care about the number of tails.

      Problem 1 is just pure maths with the optimum strategy being to drop the egg in increments of n, and working out what n is. It’s quite a well known maths problem.

      • http://nelc.livejournal.com NelC

        Every egg I’ve ever dropped has been from approximately kitchen counter height, and I don’t think any of them survived. So I think I would return the eggs to whoever wanted to know and say that the answer was zero floors, to a first approximation.

  • ShitIconSays

    Number 8 should always be creating a good customer experience.

  • Sebastian

    Q4:

    You can take a fruit from O/A label box. If it’s an apple, take the A label and stick it on. Now we have an O labeled box ( which is labeled incorrectly and must have the mix inside) and we stick the O/A label on it. The remaining box from which we took off the A label must be labeled as O.

  • David

    How many children are born every day?

    None… Babes are born… Not children

    • http://nelc.livejournal.com NelC

      Babies are a subset of children.

  • David

    Q1, start from level 1 and 2 and drop both eggs, if they don’t break, move up to 3.. and 4 and so on until one egg breaks…. The highest floor would be the one before it breaks

    • Blakniss

      If the eggs don’t break they are super eggs, or fossilised eggs, or not eggs.

      ;)

  • Yaman

    Yair matters.. You need thesamenumber of each in each pile

  • RKo

    #1 drop one egg going up the even numbered floors. When it breaks, try the floor just below it with the other egg.
    #3 shake up all of the coins real nice so that they are radomized and split them 50/50, hope for the best.
    #7 what are the dimensions and fullness of the glass? Don’t blindly make a decision without all of the variables.
    #6 yes.

  • Mac4Ever

    Q1: With the first egg keep doubling the heights until it breaks, then with the second egg start from the height before it broke and keep incrementing the height until it breaks, the solution is the last height before the second egg broke.
    In the worst case this method’s complexity is limited by log(n)+n/2 which despite still being in O(n) achieves an asymptotic speed up of 2.

    • Mac4Ever

      *Speedup not speed up – thanks autocorrect

    • http://erudyci.net Michał Dziewulski

      That’s the best solution I can think about. Are you a programmer?

    • silmasan

      What about the damage it received with the previous impact(s)?

      Also, sample variation.

  • Incyc

    #1: From my prior experiences being a klutz, eggs break even a few feet from the ground, so there’s no floor from which you can drop the egg assuming you’re dropping it out the window. But the question doesn’t mention that you have to drop it out a window, so it doesn’t matter what floor you’re on, if you let go of the egg a few feet from that floor’s ground, it will break.

  • Blakniss

    I’d fail at most of these questions, but the egg one was easiest:

    1. I’d make a nice omelette or some scrambled eggs with the 2 eggs
    2. I’d use my vast knowledge of eggs to conclude that they would break from just about any height, because they’re eggs – especially if we’re measuring height in terms of floors. That’s just common sense.

    Done.

  • Blakniss

    The fruits was also easy.

    Once you open a box you essentially know what’s where because of the labels.

    I’m bad at explaining this but if you remove an orange, the box must either be labelled apples or apples and oranges. If it’s labelled apples and oranges, then it’ll be JUST oranges inside. After that, it’s just a matter of switching the labels cause they are all wrong.

    I think.

  • Blakniss

    Good customer experience 100% of the time.

    Getting what you asked for is only a small part of the customer experience. There’s also the journey between asking and getting.

    I’ve taken stuff for fixing and gotten them back fixed after a horrible customer experience, and never went back to these places again.

    • aardman

      “Fixing the customer’s problem” is a subset of “Good customer experience”. You can do the former without achieving the latter. You can’t do the latter without accomplishing the former.

      • Blakniss

        Yea.

  • Chop

    Question 1 is a simple riddle.myou can never crack or break the highest floor with an egg. So the answer should be “there’s no floor which you can break with a mere egg…

  • P3rcy

    #6 – Depends if you ask me in American English or British English. Which answers the question.

  • Pobo

    How do you drop an egg from a floor. Isn’t the floor all ready on the ground.

  • Dan

    1) Go to the top floor and drop the egg, doesn’t say it needs to be dropped out of a window.
    3) Coins all have a dude which is heads, split evenly into two piles and each will have 50.
    4) Let’s call these box 1/2/3. Open box 1, take label from either 2/3 accordingly. Let’s say it’s box 2. Swap label from 3 to 2, and original from 1 to 3.
    5) Too long to type, screw it.
    6) That depends on the level of knowledge I have compared to the subject in question.
    7) Depends on the volume of water inside.
    8) Depends in the client, some prefer a tech with more knowledge, others want a personable tech. It’s up to you to decide which while working with the client.
    9) Fair. An unfair coin would yield the same result more times than not, up to 100% of the time.
    10) Long answer, blah blah blah.

  • aardman

    Question 1. Start at the first floor and stop as soon as it breaks. Then you know at what floor you can toss an egg wherein the egg doesn’t break.

  • Erza-San

    Not trying to be negative but I think the interviewers had already heard everything from desperate people, not saying I am not but anyway, so no matter what your answer is, experience is still that matters in the end, or you know someone from the inside or influential, etc. e.g. son of a manager.

  • herbaled

    What’s a fair coin? What’s an unfair coin?

    • http://nelc.livejournal.com NelC

      A fair coin, as defined by any math problem on probability, is one that will equally likely show a head or a tail when flipped. An unfair coin will not.

      The problem with this question, as I see it, is that there are many ways to be an unfair coin. They could be slightly unbalanced so that one side or the other comes up more often, though not for certain. Or they could be coins with sides both the same. If the unfair coins are of the latter type, then the probability that this one is unfair is zero, since we get mixed results. If the coins are of the former type, then the answer depends on the weighting of the unfair coins’ results, which is imponderable. Notice that we haven’t been told the proportion of unfair coins in the mix.

  • http://nelc.livejournal.com NelC

    For 7, I think we can discount the water spilling, as that would depend on how high you filled the glass. If you filled it to the top, it would spill almost immediately, whereas if you just let a dribble in, it wouldn’t spill before the glass tipped or slid. As we’re given no information on the depth of the water, we can’t answer as to when it would spill.

    Does anyone know the likely top speed of a variable-speed turntable? I assume there must be such things, there’s no limit to what pointless gimmicks you can sell an audiophile with deep pockets.