Apple Software Engineer Interview Questions

Preparing for Coding Interviews is no easy task. And preparing for Interviews at Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google (FAANG), and other top tech companies is all the more daunting. 

Apple is known for its wide variety of innovations, and its devices are considered status symbols by many. Working at Apple is a dream for many software engineers, but turning it into reality needs a lot of hard work. Apple is known to have the hardest tech interviews of all, and the competition is immense. You need to stand out from the crowd to crack this interview. 

To help you prepare for your next coding interview at Apple, we’ve come up with all the details you need to know  — the interview process, sample questions, and much more. 

Here’s what we’ll be covering in this article:

  1. Software Engineer vs. Software Developer
  2. Software Engineer Levels at Apple
  3. Interview Process at Apple
  4. Skills Required to Crack the Tech Interviews at Apple
  5. Interview Questions at Apple
  6. Tips to Prepare for Apple Software Engineer Interview
  7. Apple Interview FAQs

Software Engineer vs. Software Developer

These two terminologies are often used interchangeably. Though there are some similarities, there are some things that make these roles different from each other. Let’s look at the roles and responsibilities of a Software Engineer versus a Software Developer:

Now that you know what a software engineer is expected to do, let's see how you can grow in this role at Apple. 

Software Engineer Levels at Apple

Unlike other tech companies, where we refer to fellow software engineers using the terms “senior,” or “fellow,” every software engineer at Apple is referred to with the title “Software Engineer” along with a rank that reflects their seniority, as given below: 

  1. Software Engineer I
  2. Software Engineer II
  3. Software Engineer III
  4. Software Engineer IV
  5. Software Engineer V

Employees who join at entry-level are given the title “Software Engineer I,” and it keeps increasing as you progress in the role.

Interview Process at Apple

The interview process at Apple is similar to the Interviews at other FAANG companies. From submitting your resume to receiving the offer letter, the process usually takes 1.5 to 2 months. The process generally looks like this:

1. Prescreen With Recruiter

After about a week of submitting your resume, if your resume is shortlisted, a recruiter will reach out to you over LinkedIn or email to set up a time for a phone call. This Interview will last for about 15-30 minutes. And the questions will not be highly technical.

You can expect questions about your work experience and questions like:

  • Why do you want to work for Apple?
  • What’s your favorite Apple Product?

2. Technical Phone Interview

If you clear the prescreen, they’ll schedule the next technical phone interview, usually a week later. You’ll have one or two technical phone interviews, where you’ll be asked questions about your resume and a coding question on Data Structures and Algorithms. The Coding Interviews will be for about 45-60 minutes, where you’ll be given 30 minutes to complete the coding problem.

Read Technical Interview Questions at Apple to understand the type of tech questions asked at Apple Tech interviews. 

3. Onsite Interview:

The onsite interview will last about 6 hours (usually conducted by two people at a time). You’ll meet several Apple employees, and the interviews will be a mix of behavioral, domain knowledge, and coding challenges. Each interview will be for about 45-60 minutes. 

Check out The Ultimate Guide to Crack Apple’s On-site Interview to learn more.

3.1 Behavioral Interview:

Behavioral interviews focus on your past performance and how you understand the situations. These Interviews are usually taken to assess your potential for future success in the organization.

You can expect questions like:

  • Tell me about a time when you had too many things to do, and you were required to prioritize your tasks.
  • Give me an example of a time when you tried to accomplish something and failed.
  • Give an example of a difficult situation you’ve faced and how you handled it.
  • Give two examples of things you’ve done in previous jobs that demonstrate your willingness to work hard.

For more behavioral interview questions, click here.

3.2 Domain Knowledge Interview

Apple usually interviews for specific teams (Maps, iOS, Siri, Calendar, etc.), so they expect you to have some domain knowledge about the product or service you’re being interviewed for. The questions will be related to the work the team is currently doing and the problems that they’re trying to solve. 

For example, if you’re being interviewed for the iOS Team, it’s good to have strong knowledge of Operating Systems and any challenges related to them.

3.3 Coding Interview

In this Interview, the Interviewer usually looks at how you solve a problem, your approach, and what kind of questions you ask. It’s important to articulate your thought process so the interviewer gets a clear picture of what you’re thinking. This will be a complete technical interview, where you’ll be asked questions about different Data Structures and Algorithms.

We’ll discuss few problems in later sections.

Topics to Cover for  Tech Interviews at Apple

The technical questions at Apple mostly consist of problems related to data structures and algorithms.

Data Structures

In data structures, you can expect questions from the below topics:

Algorithms:

In Algorithms, you can expect questions related to the below topics:

Apple Coding Interview Questions for Software Engineers

We have created a list of categories and the type of questions you can expect for each.

Arrays

An array is a data structure that contains a group of elements. Typically, these elements should be of the same type, such as an integer or a string. Arrays are generally used to organize data so that the group of elements can be easily searched and sorted.

Let’s look at few coding questions on Arrays:

  • Array Product Problem

Problem Statement: Given an array of number nums of size n, find an array of numbers products of size n, such that products[i] is the product of all numbers nums[j], where j!=i.

(Refer to Arrays Product Problem for a solution to this problem.)

  • Determine sum of three integers

Problem Statement: Given an array of integers and a value, determine if any three integers in the array sum up to the value given.

Linked Lists:

A linked list is a linear collection of data elements. The order of the elements in a linked list is not determined by their physical placement in memory. Instead, each element points to the next. 

Let’s look at few coding questions on linked lists:

  • Reverse Linked List

Problem Statement: Given a linked list, zip it from its two ends in place, using constant extra space. The nodes in the resulting “zipped” linked list should go in this order: first, last, second, second last, and so on.

(Refer to Reverse Linked List for a solution to this problem.)

  • Add two integers

Problem Statement: Given the head pointers of two linked lists, where each linked list represents an integer number (each node is a digit), add the linked lists, and return the new linked list.

Trees:

A tree is a non-linear data structure. It can be empty with no nodes, or a tree is a structure consisting of one node called the root and zero or one or more subtrees.

Let’s look at few Coding Questions on Trees:

  • Tree Iterator Problem

Problem Statement: Implement an Iterator over a binary tree with integer values. Your Iterator will be initialized with the root node.

1. next() method must return the next number in the in-order traversal of the tree.

2. hasNext() method must return whether the next element exists.

Both methods must run in average O(1) time and use O(h) memory, where h is the height of the given tree.

(Refer to Tree Iterator Problem for a solution to this problem.)

  • Determine if two binary trees are identical

Problem Statement: Given the roots of two binary trees, check if the two trees are identical (have the same layout and data at each node)

Dynamic Programming

Dynamic Programming can be considered an optimization of plain recursion. A recursive solution that has repeated calls for the same inputs can be optimized using dynamic programming.

Let’s look at few coding questions on dynamic programming:

  • Equal Sum Subset Partition Problem

Problem Statement: Given an array s of n integers, partition it into two non-empty subsets, s1 and s2, such that the sum of all elements in s1 is equal to the sum of all elements in s2. Return a boolean array of size n where i-th element is True if i-th element of s belongs to s1 and False if it belongs to s2. Any valid answer will be accepted. If such partitioning is not possible, return an empty array.

(Refer to Equal Sum Subset Partition Problem for a solution to this problem.)

  • Number of ways to cover a Distance

Problem Statement: Given a distance dist, count the total number of ways to cover the distance with 1, 2, and 3 steps.

Searching and Sorting

Searching refers to finding whether a search key is present in the data. Sorting refers to arranging data in ascending or descending order according to a certain sequence. 

Let’s look at few questions related to Searching and Sorting:

  • Find Two Missing Numbers Problem

Problem Statement: Given an unsorted set of numbers from 1 to N with exactly two missing numbers, find those two missing numbers.

(Refer to Find Two Missing Numbers Problem for a solution to this problem.)

  • Sort an array of 0s, 1s, and 2s

Problem Statement: Given an array A[] consisting of 0s, 1s, and 2s. Sort the array to arrange all 0s first, all 1s next, and all 2s in the last.

Head over to the Learn and Problem pages for more.

Tips to Prepare for Apple Software Engineer Interview:

Preparing for interviews takes a lot of time and patience, and there are no shortcuts. But, there are some best practices you can follow to stay ahead of the game:

  1. Learn the fundamentals: The questions asked at these companies are often challenging, as they’re always trying to stay ahead and innovate new things. It’s best to learn the fundamentals to understand the underlying concepts, which will assist you in solving any kind of coding problems related to that concept.
  2. Practice with different tools: It’s a good idea to practice with a whiteboard, having mock interviews, and use your time effectively.
  3. Avoid memorizing things: Companies like Apple keep updating and adding to their long list of interview questions and problems. Memorizing will not get you anywhere. Instead, focus on understanding the logic behind every problem and develop solving patterns. 

Interview Kickstart can help you with all this and more! With IK, you get the unique opportunity to learn from and engage with FAANG tech leads and hiring managers.
Here’s what
Aliya Mussina, IK alum and Software Engineer at Apple, has to say about IK’s program:
Interview Kickstart's Program Met All My Expectations.

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Apple Interview FAQs:

Q. How soon after an unsuccessful attempt can I apply for any other role at Apple?

A. As per research, you would most likely have to wait for about 3-6 months before applying for the same position again. To be certain, check with your recruiter.  Apple may consider you for multiple positions. So, if the one you’re applying for doesn’t work out, and they find you fit for any other team, they’ll get you another round of interview.

Q. Do I need to concentrate on any specific programming language for Apple software engineering roles?

A. Apple, like most other tech giants, doesn’t require that you know any particular language, but you need to be proficient in one. You can go for any programming language like C#, C/C++, Python, Java, or any other programming language of your choice.

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