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…