Engineering managers play a critical role in ensuring that technical projects run smoothly. They oversee the design and architecture of system and business applications, allocate resources, foresee and manage risks, and build processes to make sure that a project progresses seamlessly from start to finish.
Apple has its interests spread across electronics, online services, and computer software. They hire engineering managers to manage software teams and drive impactful projects. Apple is also known to offer great compensation packages to its engineers and engineering managers. In addition to that, the unique company culture and exciting work environment make EM careers at Apple significantly rewarding.
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This article will give you an idea of the engineering manager interview process, what Apple looks for in EM engineers, and how to plan your prep to nail the engineering manager interview. Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Typical Role of an EM at Apple
- Skills and Qualifications Required to be an Engineering Manager at Apple
- Apple Engineering Manager Interview Process
- Apple Engineering Manager Interview Questions
- Tips to Crack the Apple EM Interview
Typical Role of Engineering Managers at Apple
Below are the roles and responsibilities of engineering managers at Apple:
- Envision the design and architecture of the project to understand the core requirements for its completion
- Oversee the project and assign tasks to software engineers
- Allocate resources for the project, anticipate risks, and take appropriate action
- Communicate with other teams, including data and marketing teams
- Ensure that project roadblocks are effectively dealt with
Recommended Reading: A Comprehensive Guide to the Engineering Manager Role
Skills and Qualifications Required to be an Engineering Manager at Apple
Here are some of the essential and preferred skills and qualifications required by EM’s at Apple:
Though skill lists keep changing with time, here are some essential skills needed to be an engineering manager at Apple:
- Great interpersonal skills and the capability to work with multi-functional technical as well as business teams and varying levels of management
- Proven project management skills
- Technical leadership
- Experience hiring and building high-performance engineering teams
The below qualifications are what Apple looks for in engineers applying to EM roles:
- While a bachelor’s degree in CS is good enough to apply to EM jobs at Apple, a master’s degree in computer science, IT, or a related field is preferred
- 7+ years of experience in software engineering
- Proven working knowledge of an Object-Oriented Programming Language, preferably Java, Python, or C++.
Recommended Reading: Should You Be an Engineering Manager?
Apple Engineering Manager Interview Process
The engineering manager interview process at Apple is similar to the process for software engineers, with an increased emphasis on design and behavioral rounds. Coding rounds don’t have that much of an impact on the final decision. But you’re still required to be good at coding, especially coding up algorithms. As such, coding interviews carry more importance for junior software engineering positions.
The process consists of three main stages. Let’s look at each of them:
The Initial Recruiter Screen
This is the first stage of the process where a recruiter from human resources will contact you. The recruiter will ask you basic questions on your experience, compensation expectations, skills, and why you want to switch companies.
If your profile satisfies the expectations of the role, you’ll be called for the technical phone screen round.
The Technical Phone Screen Interview
The technical phone screen round is a test of your coding skills. Your ability to analytically approach coding problems and write error-free code is evaluated. The interview is remote and mostly happens via an interviewing tool or a shared document.
A hiring manager who is driving the recruitment for EMs usually interviews you during this round. If your performance in this round is satisfactory, you’ll be invited to the Apple onsite interview.
The Onsite Interview
The onsite interview is the most important in the process. It typically consists of 3-4 interview rounds, where various elements of your skills and experience are tested. Although there is a mandatory coding round during the onsite, the design and behavioral rounds are given greater importance. Here are the various rounds in the onsite interview:
- The coding round, where you’ll be asked to solve a core data structures and algorithms problem.
- The design round, where you’ll be asked to design an arbitrary scalable system.
- The behavioral round, where you’ll be asked questions on leadership, workplace conduct, relationships with coworkers, and general behavioral traits.
Recommended Reading: The Ultimate Guide to Crack Apple’s On-site Interview
Apple Engineering Manager Interview Questions
The interview questions asked at Apple’s EM interview can be classified into three main categories.
Coding questions asked at the Apple technical phone screen and the onsite interviews revolve around algorithms and core data structures. Check out our Apple Interview Questions page for practice questions and our exhaustive Problems Page for practice interview problems, along with comprehensive solutions.
Topics to Prepare for the Apple Coding Interview:
- Trees and Graphs
- Dynamic Programming
- Hash Tables and Queues
- Arrays, Strings, Linked Lists
- Graph Algorithms and Greedy Algorithms
- Sorting Algorithms — Quicksort, Merge Sort, Heap Sort, etc.
- 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.
- Write a program function to clone a given directed graph such that the cloned graph has the same edges and vertices.
- You’re given two sorted Linked Lists. Write a code to merge the linked lists such that the returning linked list is also sorted.
- You’re provided with the roots of two Binary Trees. Write a code to determine if the two Binary Trees are identical or not.
- 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.
- Write a code to reverse the order of words in a given sentence.
- You’re given an array of size N. Write a code to search for the second largest element in the array.
- 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.
- You’re given an array N of integers. Write a function to determine the inversion count of the array.
- You’re given a sorted array of size N. Write a code to delete all the duplicate elements in the array.
Want access to more coding problems along with complete solutions? Visit our comprehensive Problems Page.
Systems Design Interview Questions
Systems design is an integral part of engineering manager interviews, not just at Apple but other big tech companies as well. Below are some sample systems design interview questions for your Apple EM interview:
- How would you design a URL shortening service?
- How would you design a file-sharing service like dropbox?
- How would you go about defining security features for your database?
- What are some network protocols you must follow while building a scalable system?
- How would you design a cab-hailing service like Uber?
- How would you design a scalable music streaming service?
- What are some crucial security requirements while designing an operating system like iOS?
Behavioral Interview Questions
Behavioral rounds are extremely important for senior positions, including engineering manager roles. Here are some sample behavioral questions to expect at the Apple engineering manager interview:
- What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced while handling a team?
- Describe a situation when you’ve had a conflict at the workplace and how you handled it.
- Tell us about a time when an employee in your team wasn’t performing to their full potential and how you dealt with the situation.
- Tell us about the most challenging project you’ve worked on in the past.
- Tell us about a time when you had to make an important decision with little available data.
- How do you make sure everyone in your team is motivated to perform to their best potential?
- What are your thoughts about mental health? How do you make sure you’re in the right frame of mind when you come into work every day?
- Tell us about a time when you disagreed with your superior on the path taken for an important project.
- Tell us about a time when a coworker was uncooperative. How did you go about dealing with the situation?
- Tell us about a time when you liaised with multiple teams on an important project?
While answering behavioral questions, make sure your answers are in the STAR format. Every question you answer should talk about the Situation, Task, Action, and Result. By doing this, you’d give interviewers more clarity of what went down.
How to Prepare for the Apple Engineering Manager Interview
If you have an upcoming engineering manager interview at Apple, implementing the following tips will help you give your best shot at landing that coveted offer.
- Commence your prep at least 10 weeks before the interview. That way, you’ll have sufficient time to cover all the important topics.
- Solve at least one coding problem a day, understand patterns in problems and use analogous power patterns to solve new problems.
- Allocate more time to prepare for the systems design and behavioral rounds as these interviews carry higher importance for engineering management positions.
- Practice mock interviews with expert instructors who are employed as hiring managers and technical leads at FAANG companies to hone your interviewing skills and overhaul areas that need improvement.
- Prepare a good project portfolio that highlights the important projects you’ve worked on in the STAR format to give interviewers context and clarity. A good project portfolio can make a great impact at the interview.
- Think out loud during the interview and discuss solution paths with the interviewer to give them a window into your thoughts.
Recommended Reading: How to Prepare for the Google Engineering Manager Interview
Crack Your Next Engineering Manager Interview
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