Want To Get a Job at the Apple Store? Here’s What the Interview Process Looks Like

Want To Get a Job at the Apple Store? Here’s What the Interview Process Looks Like

For some people, getting the chance to work for Apple seems like one of the coolest jobs on the planet. Being surrounded by everything Apple. Super discounts on iMacs. Talking to customers about how incredibly magical the products are. If that all sounds awesome to you then go ahead and disregard the fact that it’s easier to get into Harvard than to get hired by Apple. Here is Cult of Mac’s first-hand look at how the Apple hiring process plays out.

Spending copious amounts of time on Apple’s website on March 2nd, I stumbled across the hiring section of the site and thought to myself, “Hmmm why not apply for some jobs and see what happens?” Figuring nothing would come of it due to my blogging background, I submitted my resume for a couple of desk jobs in Cupertino, LA, and then applied for all the available retail positions in the Phoenix area. Within two days of submitting I was shocked to get an email inviting me to an “Apple Career Seminar” at a Phoenix hotel in two days. I was told I had to reply within 24 hours because slots were filling up quickly.


The First Interview: This interview was a large group event. About 30 candidates for open Apple Store positions were in attendance waiting to get into the group seminar when I arrived. Speakers blasted MGMT and Apple employees were cheering in their usual Launch Day fashion as we walked into the conference room. Lasting approximately two hours total, we were treated to some videos showcasing what’s it’s like to work for Apple, introduced to some managers, were asked questions as a group about Apple and their products, and had a public speaking portion where we each stood in front of the group to introduce the person next to us. A group of six managers sat at the back of the room taking notes on everyones responses and actions while listening to the speaker. Towards the end we were broken off into groups of six and took turns answering typical job interview questions: “Why do you want to work for Apple?” “Explain a time you didn’t get along with a co-worker.” “Tell me about a time when you had to deal with an angry customer” etc. At the conclusion of the meeting we were told we’d be informed within the next 48-hours if we made the cut.

Note: During the seminar it’s helpful to raise your hand on every question and act super excited about everything Apple.


The Second Interview: I received a phone call 72 hours after the “Apple Career Seminar.” The person on the phone asked how I liked the hiring event, if I was still interested in pursuing a career with Apple and if so, which position I was seeking. I was informed that they don’t hire Geniuses without having them start at the bottom as Apple Specialists, but I could work my way towards the position. She asked me some more questions for about 10-15 minutes and then asked if I could come in for an in-person interview the next day. Questions asked: “Tell me about your technical experience.” “Tell me about a time you had to do something technical without knowing how to accomplish the task beforehand,” etc.

The Third Interview: I arrived for my interview on time at 9am, but I was told that the manager who was going to interview me was busy and I was asked to wait around for a few minutes. The experience at the group seminar made me feel like every response I made (whether it be to a question or situation) was being evaluated (and I’m fairly certain this is accurate). While waiting for my interview I acted extremely interested in the iPod Shuffles and Nanos (particularly the finish and headphone jacks) and talked up the security guard and a few employees. Thirty minutes passed before the manager came out to interview me, by which time another candidate had come in for his 9:30am interview. We were told we would be interviewed together. During our 1-hour interview we were mostly asked to recall past work experiences and situations. Some of the questions were repeats from the past two interviews, like “Why do you want to work for Apple?” Others included “Tell me a time when you didn’t meet your own expectations.” “Tell me a time when you exceeded the expectations of others.” “Tell me a time when you went above and beyond for a customer.” We were also allowed to ask questions about the inner-workings of the Apple store. The interviewer was incredibly nice and helpful and told us we should both hear back soon about coming in for another interview.

Note: I was specifically told over the phone not to wear a shirt and tie to this interview (I had worn one to the seminar because that’s what I had chosen to wear that day out of personal preference), so I went with a bow-tie and suspenders (sorry Apple, not everyone loves t-shirts). If you’re really wanting a job with Apple I would recommend casually dressing like all the hipster guys you find at the store.


The Fourth Interview: Five days after my first in-store interview I went back for an interview with the head manager. By this point I had been surprised that no one had questioned me about blogging for Cult of Mac (Apple has little love for blogs that post rumors). This interview changed all that. We started out with easy questions, like the standard, “Why do you want to work for Apple?” Then I started getting more personalized questions: “What websites do you visit for news?” “How did you get started with Cult of Mac?” “You want to get a PhD in English Lit, how does that fit in with Apple?” “Are you ok with not being allowed to blog anymore?” “Are you sure?” “Where do you want to be in 5-years?” “What do you want to achieve by working at Apple?” The manager was really nice and laid back. We had a good 20-minute conversation at the end of which de told me I should be hearing about a job offer within 72 hours.

The Rejection: An entire week went by before I heard anything back from Apple. Finally, seven days since my last interview, the manager’s secretary called me to let me know that even though they enjoyed getting to know me they were going to “move in another direction.” Before I could even get a question in she hung up the phone on me, which was a little odd seems how everyone else had been extremely welcoming and polite. I’ve heard from others that they only received an email for their rejection notice, so I’m not certain what standard protocol is for that.

My Tips For Hopeful Apple Employees:

1) Get a referral. If you don’t know anyone that works for Apple then go to the store, express interest and meet employees. A friend at the store sent in a referral for me after the seminar and claimed it puts you a little bit ahead in the hiring process.

2) Be outgoing at all time. Whether it’s at the seminar, or during your one-on-one interviews, make it a point to be friendly, not only to Apple employees but other people around you as well. Perhaps it’s my adorations for Apple’s highly calculated nature, or pure paranoia, but everything, even the small things seem to be graded.

3) Fit the mold. Apple doesn’t hire based on technical knowledge alone, they also hire based on personality. Spend some time at your local Apple store if you haven’t lately and get a feel for the type of people that they hire (ie. check out their dress, and the way they interact with people).

4) Know the products. You don’t have to know everything about all Apple products but it’s helpful. I was the only person at the seminar that could explain what Joint Venture was and why the switch to Intel chips was important. It helped me stand out and the head manager remembered me afterwards.

The questions and timeframes will vary slightly from place to place, but format of interviews should remain about the same, as Apple is a company that loves uniformity and simplicity. This is only a peek into the first steps of getting hired, but it should be valuable to anyone hoping to join Apple’s ranks. Of course this is all coming from a guy who got rejected…

  • Corey

    Thanks for taking the bullet on this one. Apple+Retail = SuperRetail

  • Support 18inc

    I’ve worked at an Apple call centre in the past before. Great money, amazing environment…it’s be a dream to work at an Apple store. I loved working for Apple. This doesn’t sound promising though.

  • prof_peabody

    The “always be happy and outgoing” part sounds rather daunting for normal people.

  • billyadams

    Wow, the interview process has changed quite a bit. I went through the process back in June 2007 and it was nothing like that. I had a couple simple interviews with a manager and then the store manager. Got a job offer on the spot. I didn’t take it because it was going to be full-time hours without the full-time benefits. But I’m glad I didn’t have to go through this process.

  • billyadams

    Wow, the interview process has changed quite a bit. I went through the process back in June 2007 and it was nothing like that. I had a couple simple interviews with a manager and then the store manager. Got a job offer on the spot. I didn’t take it because it was going to be full-time hours without the full-time benefits. But I’m glad I didn’t have to go through this process.

  • Justin Tran

    Buster Heine! This is the best article by far to read! Thanks for all your immense devotion to “Cult of Mac” and the times you put into your researches! WOW!!!

  • Jaredfretwell

    Thanks for this article. This is exactly the reason why I chose not to apply at the Apple store. I love Apple as a company and I feel like their retail customer service overall is very good. I know that If I end up working there then I’ll eventually come around to hating Apple and the retail stores. I say that because I went into the same mindset before working at Best Buy. By the time I quit a year and some change later, I viewed the company in a totally different/negative way.

    On top of that, I don’t think I could handle always being outgoing and happy at work all the time. I’d drive myself crazy.

  • Rigogibson

    But what does a retail position pay after all these interviews??

  • Mike Rathjen

    “I was specifically told over the phone not to wear a shirt”

    So they want you to be topless or wear a wife-beater?

  • that guy u wish u were

    I worked at the apple store for about 3 months, I only went through the group event and the face to face interview with the store manager, got hired but the pay was crap and the hours were just as bad, its ridiculous for a store to have about 50 employees, its like you meet someone new every day you come to work…. overall it was a good experience, just sucked I had to talk a lot and explain to the customers why I believe a mac is better than a PC and answer ridiculous questions to… If i were to apply for a job at apple, it would be on the corporate side and not the retail.

  • that guy u wish u were

    lets just say its money you use to buy gas or spend at the movies

  • 300AShareMakesMeSmile

    Did you mention that Steve Jobs is your idol or gush that you’ve always wanted to become a cult member? No? I wouldn’t hire you, either, if was in charge of hiring prime Apple candidates for spreading the gospel of St. Steve. I’ll bet you didn’t even high-five your interviewers.

  • Eloquently

    I think it also helps if you are liberal.

  • CharliK

    According to my sources, the number of interviews depends on the area and how many stores have openings. Those big fair things are most often done for a whole district.

    Also, the stuff about tech is true. It matters if you are trying to be a genius or trainer but if it is just a sales job they care more about your service skills and that you don’t freak when you have to touch a computer

  • estragon_nyc

    I went through the application process about ten years ago, and there were aspects of it back then I thought were a little bit weird. At the time, I wrote it off as Apple trying to do something new and not really knowing what would work; surely the weird parts would drop away as they figured out what they were doing. But this sounds like they’ve totally embraced the crazy instead of working it out. There’s stuff in here that sounds like it was borrowed from Scientology or EST or something…and honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if that were literally true. I’m kind of creeped out by this.

  • Jason

    It also helps if you attractive. Helps sell products.

  • Seth

    This is certainly of the best articles that has been written at Cult Of Mac. It’s very informative, insightful, and actually interesting.

  • GrimWit

    Great article, thanks for jumping through the hoops. I have often wondered what it took to get a job at an Apple Store. After reading this I pass but it makes me wonder about some of the staff I have run into in an Apple Store.

  • TheLip

    I guess the borg figured you could not be assimilated. This is really good insight for those that would consider working in an Apple store ( not enough money in the world for me).

  • Patranus

    You should have left after 20 minutes.
    Waiting around for 30 minutes is definitely not an attribute I would look for in an employee.

  • Anna

    Somehow it reminds me of a insurance company’s conference…

  • iHate_Is_Back

    I’m not trying to be a smart ass when I ask this.
    Why in the world would anyone want to subject themselves to such a strenuous process just to work retail for minimum wage or just over minimum wage and put up with a mob of rude people pissed off that their iPhone/iPod/insert product name here crapped out on them? Even though it’s an Apple store it’s still just retail and retail is far from glamorous.

  • AriRomano

    5. Don’t blog :X

  • christo

    Surely CoM’s history of leaking Apple information (of which we’re grateful) completely negates you from working in any official capacity for the company?

  • [Deleted User]

    Yeah I totally agree. If I were Apple I wouldn’t hire any ex-bloggers when there are other viable candidates, so there’s no animosity coming from my end. I enjoyed the experience. I was surprised they let me go as far as I did in the interview process when Cult of Mac Writer was listed at the top of my resume, and each manager made similar comments like, “oh I saw on your resume that you write for CultofMac, I visit that site all the time!”

  • ruledbysecrecy

    “so I went with a bow-tie and suspenders”

    …oh dear.

  • Stevec5375

    It’s so interesting watching young people go through this crap. Been there, done that. Give it a few years and after you’ve been laid off and used and abused a few times. You’ll finally figure out what corporate America is all about.

  • Taryn Lazarus

    It can’t be that hard, the staff at the Chermside store are appalling!

  • Taryn Lazarus

    Where is your nearest Apple store? I can’t say that I would believe attractiveness to be high on the criteria given the stores I have been to.

  • Rigogibson

    Sooooo we’re talking McDonalds dollars here? For all this time interviewing, it should add up to a bit better wage than that.

  • Johnny

    So these days wearing a t-shirt is being hipster? What else should we avoid in order to be considered “normal”?

  • Jemma

    Are you serious about the bow tie? That must have looked rather stupid. If you don’t really care about cultural conventions why not go naked? :)

  • debnmckinney

    SO glad I found this. I submitted my resume, got a phone call. The phone call went well. She asked me to visit a store and get back with her. I did. I didn’t hear anything back. So I left a voice mail. Nothing. I eamiled her to ask if the position was still open. No response. HIGHLY rude and unprofessional and reading this and the responses makes me believe things are not happening “to” me but “for” me. So…onward!

  • debnmckinney

    SO glad I found this. I submitted my resume, got a phone call. The phone call went well. She asked me to visit a store and get back with her. I did. I didn’t hear anything back. So I left a voice mail. Nothing. I eamiled her to ask if the position was still open. No response. HIGHLY rude and unprofessional and reading this and the responses makes me believe things are not happening “to” me but “for” me. So…onward!

  • Brad

    I’m on board with Stevec5375…I find it interesting that so many people feel like this example of job hunting and interviewing is the exception and not the rule. It’s an employers’ market these days and anybody NOT prepared to go into an interview all stoked about the company and willing to drink at least a LITTLE of the Kool-Aid isn’t going to get the job. Personally, I’d be reluctant to offer a job to somebody who’s unwilling to be assimilated to some extent. And, it doesn’t matter what the job or pay grade are; people either approach the interview with maturity and integrity or they don’t.

  • Alexander

         I just went through almost the same process Buster went through for an Apple Store outside my town. First was the career seminar which although everyone were warm and good people, left me with a sense I was joining Scientology….surprisingly I got a call that same day to schedule for an interview the following day. I figured what the heck…let me show initiative and give them more of my background with my retail and customer service experience and my background with Apple products and follow the advice given by Buster here. No problem. What struck me odd with the interview was I was told it would be a 1:1….it was 2:1….one manager interviewed me while the other kept staring at me not saying anything….more like observing. I’m in my 40’s and these guys were way younger than me so I didn’t sweat that. But even more odd was I was told they were really hiring for Apple Specialists and knowledge of Apple products wasn’t necessary yet these managers seemed to ask me questions that sounded like otherwise and then told me I would fit more as an Apple Inventory Specialist…I was told at the seminar you have to work your way up to that position….these managers told me I could start out as an Inventory Specialist then work to being an Apple Specialist…I asked to confirm if they had an opening for that and they said yes….no one said this at the Career seminar. Strange I thought….so now they want me to film a 3 minute video of why I would be an important part of the Apple Store without being on camera face to face and email it to them within 48 hours to base for judgment on getting a third interview with their Regional Manager. At first I thought I can do this but then thought how odd of a request just to apply for retail?…I decided to look and research and found this article amongst many on everyone else and their experience with either interviewing or working with Apple and it confirmed my feeling  I had of being within a cult. I mean seriously??? What company asks for an applicant to send a video for consideration for a 3rd interview??? Especially when this is just retail??? I know Apple pays well above retail but this is still retail and not an office job. Anyway, rather than go through with this and get a rejection letter like so many Apple Store applicants have I decided to find work elsewhere knowing this can’t possibly be for me.
           I still love Apple products….so I’m not trying to bash but I just don’t like what the Apple Store and company stands for with practices like this. If anyone else had an interview with them asking for a video to be sent like me please let me know….I’d hate to think I was the only one subjected to be asked for a weird experiment like that.

  • iGuest

    I just went to the Apple Job hiring event, researched and took advice from this article. I was upbeat, sat in the front, answered questions and was positive during the group interviews making it clear that I was about customer service even though I said I had a few years experience with apple products. On the inside I felt uncomfortable on the when the managers were judging everyone’s answers in front of 30 people and in groups but didn’t show it. I honestly didn’t like the group interviews, because it was more of the first person to think of examples to answers and wasn’t 1 on 1. I think they took me more of a non-technical person just because I never got in-depth with what I knew, how could I when you’re interviewing with 4 other people at once? After all I applied for the Creative position and when they asked “Why do you want to work for Apple?” my answer was the only one that didn’t stumble,” Well I’m great with people, even though I’m new to Apple’s products in the past few years I really think it would help me relate to customers”  

  • ProbablyHittingOnYou

    Bow ties are cool.

  • Rod

    Fantastic article, thank you for that! I have been invited to the first group session interview for today so your article has given me great insight into your experience. Thanks!

  • Rhebert2010

    I’m scheduled for my third interview on Tuesday. So far… nothing weird. Then I’m in my 40’s and have worked in the film and television industry for 20 years.. so nothing much surprises me. I love the product, the vision, the innovation and the people and can think of nothing more I would like to do than to convert PC droids and get them to drink the Apple Kool Aid.. or would that be cider? I’ll let you know how it goes. :)

  • Gonsalezangela

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  • E5133t

    My interview process started and ended yesterday. The ‘A’ in Apple stood for arrogant! I was blown away by the speaker who kept challenging us to give him new adjectives to why Apple was so great.  One applicant pulls out his iPad and iPhone and sets it in front of him.  He probably got hired, or went home and put on a black turtleneck and jeans.

    It was a huge kiss my rings session, to the point where I felt as though I was being punked.  When we broke into small groups the presenter was leading my group and he was looking off into space and yawning through most of our answers. 

    I doubt many of us were sent on to a second interview.  I felt as though they were selling a pass to an exclusive club and one that they did not want me to be part of.  No explanation as to why just, “no.”

    I do think my ship was sunk when I asked about store leadership in our small group breakout.  He said that it was completely off the table!  Very curt, cogent and rude.  I can not, unfortunately afford to be a Specialist at 11$/hour and hopefully work my way up. 

    If I make one suggestion it would be that the initial process needs to be less “tell me how great I am” and more tell me about you, the applicant.

  • carver7

    “I think it also helps if you are liberal”

    I don’t belong to either party but I came to the same conclusion when I saw the question about what news sources the applicant looks at.

  • Richard Neville

    This maybe a little old to reply to, but I also have just been through the group event, I owned and operated my own Apple authorised repair centre, i was the sole person there, so customer service, tech work, phone support etc was all me.
    I have had to shut the business down and move and have applied thinking with 5 years representing Apple I would be a shoe in.

    after reading this article and those interview questions on glass doors dot com where some people got to the 4th 1:1 interview and still got rejected, I think i have lost all hope..
    Maybe applying to Stanford would be more up my alley? :)

    Thank you for the article, If i do get another interview i might try more casual i think.

  • Nobamanomore

    Would never want to work at Apple. I couldn’t keep a straight face selling overpriced inferior products.

  • AdrianWoo

    I got asked for an interview 1 year ago. I cannot believe the amount of ass licking there was. Anyway, I found out that one of my asian friends that does not speak english very well (but has retail experience) and is not very computer savvy (did have an iPhone though). http://dishingtech.blogspot.co

  • James Sterling

    Anywhere between $10/hr and $16/hr.

  • James Sterling

    Trying to figure out why in the world you’re here….

  • Kourosh H Esfahani

    Friends please keep in mind that, in capitalism and a monster like apple, if you really wanna enjoy your time and life, you must be your own monster already otherwise you have to be one of those fake smily people who will hate the company later on. I went through the same hiring process and they rejected me!
    I studied industrial design and i was tutoring computer softwares at uni level but at the end i couldnt find anything about their standards!!!
    I’d like to work with them but I prefer to be asked… Not me Asking them…
    I know it’s sound unrealistic but I don’t wanna be an small, temporary soldier

  • flostik2008

    Apple employees get paid less then Costco employees. But you can guess what line in your resume would be more valuable. My interview process at apple http://www.zhenyavlasov.com/job-interview-with-apple/

About the author

Buster HeinBuster Hein is Cult of Mac's Senior News Editor and lives in Phoenix, Arizona. Twitter: @bst3r.

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