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The Ultimate Guide to Crack Apple’s On-site Interview

Posted on 
July 12, 2021
|
by 
Abhishek Som

Apple has the biggest market cap among FAANG companies and is known for its stringent interview process that filters in only the best talent. 

Known for compensating software engineers with lucrative packages, Apple attracts superior talent from the tech world. As you would expect, the technical interview at Apple isn’t a walk in the park. The company has a rigorous on-site interview that tests engineers on a wide spectrum of coding and design skills. Cracking the Apple on-site requires a sound prep strategy and being consistent with it. 

In this article, we’ll look at what it takes to crack the Apple on-site interview.   

Here is what we’ll cover:

  • The interview process at Apple
  • What does Apple look for in engineers?
  • Preparing for the Apple on-site interview — key concepts and topics
  • Proven tips to crack the Apple on-site interview
  • Apple interview questions
  • Gear up for your next Apple interview

The Interview Process At Apple

Apple’s interview process fundamentally tests your ability to solve coding problems. The on-site typically comprises 3-4 rounds, and hiring managers test you on concepts around core data structures, algorithms, and large-scale distributed systems design. The on-site interview also has a dedicated behavioral round, where hiring managers evaluate if you’re the right cultural fit for the company. 

Below are the main rounds in the on-site:

  • The Coding Round: Usually a timed assignment, where you’re asked to solve 1-2 coding problems on algorithms and data structures. Your ability to approach the problem from different angles and arrive at the most optimal solution path is tested here. You can expect a few questions about your approach and the concepts you applied while solving the problem(s).
  • The Design Round: The systems design round involves designing an arbitrary system. Hiring managers ask you questions about the hows and whys of your design. You’ll be asked to outline the approach to designing massive scalable systems with low latency. The design interview is an important round for senior developer and managerial interviews. 
  • The Behavioral Interview: The behavioral interview is an important step in the hiring process at Apple. In this round, hiring managers ask you questions based on workplace-related situations. You can also expect questions pertaining to your past projects, the skills you employed and acquired, and what you expect out of your role at Apple. Behavioral interviews are given added importance for senior and managerial positions that involve handling a team and performing cross-functional roles. 

What Does Apple Look for in Engineers?

Like most other tier-1 tech companies, Apple looks for engineers with perceptive problem-solving skills — people who can provide solutions to real-world problems through technological intervention. From an interview perspective, however, Apple specifically looks for engineers who:

  1. Are good with data structures and algorithms: Being adept with core DS and algorithms is essential to developing innovative software, products, and applications.
    Apple’s coding round focuses on core DS and algorithms that test engineers’ problem-solving capabilities. 
  2. Are good with large-scale distributed systems: Having the prowess to develop large-scale systems with low latency, identifying flaws, and modifying systems based on requirements is an essential attribute that hiring managers at Apple look for. So, focus on concepts in scalable systems, network protocols, and database management to prepare yourself. 
  3. Have the right attitude: Having the right attitude is important to make the right impression with the hiring panel. The behavioral interview tests your behavioral and psychological tendencies in a workplace setting.
    Preparing
    elaborate and well-structured answers to commonly asked behavioral interview questions is extremely important to ace the behavioral round at Apple.
Did you know? In junior developer interviews, coding rounds are more important, while design rounds are more critical in senior developer interviews.

Preparing for the Apple On-site Interview — Key Concepts and Topics

Now you know the interview process and the qualities Apple looks for. But how do you make sure your prep is geared towards acquiring these? To give you a fair idea, here is the list of topics that feature in technical interviews at Apple.

Topics on core DS and algorithms (for the coding round):

Regardless of what position you’re applying to, you’ll be asked questions around the following topics pertaining to algorithms and data structures.

Topics on distributed systems design (for the design round):

Systems design interviews are important for programmer roles at Apple. Here are some concepts on distributed systems design that feature in Apple’s technical interviews:

  • Object modeling
  • Online, batch, and stream processing
  • Network protocols
  • Web servers
  • Sharding techniques
  • Database management
  • API and Concurrency
  • Scalable systems

Topics for behavioral interview (for the behavioral round):

We’ve already emphasized the importance of behavioral interviews at big tech companies. Prepping for behavioral interviews with a dedicated strategy is important, regardless of what position you're applying to. Behavioral interview questions are generally around the following areas:

  • Relationships with coworkers and superiors
  • Work-life balance
  • Challenging past projects
  • Work pressure 
  • Dealing with clients
  • Co-curricular and extra-curricular interests

Topics to Focus on While Preparing for an Apple On-site

Through data collected from recent interview trends at Apple, here is the overall weightage of areas that feature in Apple’s on-site interview:

  • Data Structures: 63% of questions asked are from this category
  • Algorithms: 16% of questions asked
  • Systems Design: 21% of questions

Recent interview trends also indicate that Apple mostly favors the following topics:

  • Linked Lists
  • Arrays
  • Trees and Graphs
  • Engineering Product Design

Graphs and Trees

From the above topics, candidates reported encountering a majority of problems involving graphs and trees. It is a widely known fact that Graphs and Graph algorithms feature quite frequently in technical interviews at big tech firms. Keeping with this, Apple lays considerable emphasis on Trees and Graphs. Questions asked are mostly around Binary Trees and Binary Search Trees

Arrays

Problems related to arrays also frequently appear in on-site interviews at Apple. For this section, focus on specific problems that employ applying concepts in Arrays. Popular problems include the Word Ladder problem and the Three Sum Problem. Identifying patterns in problems is key to solving new problems that are challenging and tricky. 

Curious about what these patterns are? Sign-up for our FREE webinar to learn how “Power Patterns” can help you nail that next tech interview.

Proven Tips to Crack the Apple On-site Interview

Cracking the Apple on-site requires the right prep strategy. If your interview is coming up, below is a list of tips to help you carry the day. 

Pick an Object-Oriented Programming Language

Java, C++, Python, and JavaScript are popular Object Oriented Programming languages that FAANG recruiters consider. Choose an OOP language that you’re proficient at and can articulate your thoughts clearly. Remember, articulation is key during the on-site interview. 

Practice Solving Problems Every Day 

Problem-solving is central to coding interviews. Developing your problem-solving skills requires enormous hours of patient and consistent practice. The approach you adopt while solving problems is important. Don’t mug up solutions; instead, categorize problems based on inherent patterns in them and approach problem-solving through pattern recognitions. 

Ideally, you should solve at least 1-2 problems every day in the weeks leading up to your interview. What’s even more important is to find the right resource. Without that, you could stumble while trying to find optimal solutions to problems and making a lasting impression at the interview. 

You can also use popular coding platforms like Leetcode and TopCoder to expose yourself to a wide spectrum of problems. 

If you want to take your problem-solving skills to the next level, Interview Kickstart is just the resource you’re looking for. 

Give Yourself at Least 10-12 Weeks to Prepare

A crucial aspect that many engineers ignore is the prep timeline. Covering the important concepts around DS and design requires time. While drawing up your strategy, don’t ignore the amount of time it takes to get proficient with the core topics for the interview. 

Ideally, giving yourself a solid 12 weeks to prepare will help you understand and solve a wider range of problems, significantly boosting your problem-solving skills in the process. 

For the ideal technical interview prep timeline to understand what exactly to focus on week-on-week leading up to your interview, click here

Don’t Approach Problems in Haste During the Interview

When you’re presented with a problem, and you’ve read the problem statement, don’t jump right in. Clarify and ask questions before you go about finding your solution. Candidates who ask insightful questions often draw the attention of hiring managers.

Also, while you go about solving the problem, look at the solution from different angles. Think out your solution aloud to give the hiring manager a window into your thought process. You’re given points not just for finding the right solution but how you think out your approach.    

Practice Loads of Mock Interviews

Just practicing mock interviews isn’t going to cut it. You must practice with the right professionals — those who’re closely associated with the hiring process. That’s because they are the right individuals who can give you exactly the feedback you need to hone your interviewing skills and improve areas where you’re lacking.

If you’re looking for the perfect resource to practice mock interviews with hiring managers from Apple and other FAANG companies, Interview Kickstart is everything you’re looking for.

Apple Interview Questions

In the Apple on-site, you will fundamentally be asked questions around data structures, algorithms, engineering product design, and behavioral tendencies in a workplace.

Below are some common interview question types that can be expected at Apple’s on-site interview. 

  1. Write a function fib() such that it takes an integer n and returns the nth Fibonacci number. 
  2. Write a function to implement a queue with two stacks such that it employs both the enqueue and the dequeue method. 
  3. Write a function that takes a list of integers and returns the products of the list. 
  4. You’re given an array of integers. Write a code to determine if there are three integers in the array whose sum equals a given value. 
  5. Write a program function to clone a given directed graph such that the cloned graph has the same edges and vertices. 
  6. You’re given two sorted Linked Lists. Write a code to merge the linked lists such that the returning linked list is also sorted.
  7. You’re provided with the roots of two Binary Trees. Write a code to determine if the two Binary Trees are identical or not. 
  8. Given the root node of a Binary Tree “B,” write a code to swap the right and left children for each node of the tree. 
  9. Write a code to reverse the order of words in a given sentence.
  10. You’re given an array of size N. Write a code to search for the second largest element in the array. 
  11. You’re given an array A of size N. Write a function to find the minimum index-based distance between two elements in the array. 
  12. You’re given an array N of integers. Write a function to determine the inversion count of the array. 
  13. You’re given a sorted array of size N. Write a code to delete all the duplicate elements in the array. 
  14. You’re given a string S. Write a code to determine if the characters of the given string can be rearranged to form a palindrome. 
  15. You’re given a directed graph “B.” Write a function to perform breadth-first search starting from 0. 
  16. You’re given a directed graph with vertices V and edges E. Write a code to find the total number of strongly connected elements in the graph. 
  17. You’re given the arrival and departure times of trains arriving at a station. Write a code to determine the minimum number of platforms required in the station so that no train is kept waiting. 

Want to check out more interview problems with varying degrees of difficulty to get ready for your Apple interview? Check out popular interview problems with complete solutions. 

Apple Behavioral Interview Questions

As mentioned earlier, behavioral interviews are an extremely important part of the hiring process at apple. Offering succinct answers to questions asked by recruiters is key to making a good impression at the interview. 

Here are some common behavioral questions to expect at Apple’s technical interview:

  1. Has there been a time when you missed a project deadline? How did you deal with the situation?
  2. What do you think is the most impressive thing about working at Apple?
  3. Tell us about a challenging project you worked on in the past and what learnings it imparted?
  4. Tell us about a time when a particular project was particularly stressful and threw your work-life balance out of gear. 
  5. Tell us about a time when you dealt with an uncooperative colleague? How did you collaborate and make it work?
  6. How do you maintain a healthy work-life balance?
  7. Tell us about a time when you had conflicting views with your superior/manager on the course of a project?
  8. Tell us about a time when you had to make an important project decision with little available information. 
  9. Tell us about a time when you were asked to shift teams? What do you think of the exercise?
  10. What do you think of Apple’s culture? Why do you think you’d be the right fit if you were given an offer?
  11. What do you think are the biggest barriers to productivity in a workplace?
  12. Tell us about when a project required you to acquire new skills and share your learnings with the team?

If you’re looking for more behavioral questions asked at technical interviews, click here.

Gear Up for Your Next Apple Interview

Is your next big interview just around the corner? Register for our free technical interview webinar and begin your journey of landing coveted offers from your favorite companies. 
Interview Kickstart is the gold standard for technical interview prep. We have trained over 5000 software engineers for the toughest tech interviews at FAANG and other Tier-1 tech companies. To learn more about our program, register here.

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