See if you can solve some questions that Apple asks during a job interview

It is no easy task to get a job at Apple, which is known for being one of the most challenging, fast paced, and exciting places to work. This dynamic becomes more intense if you happen to be an engineer or designer at Apple.

Like Microsoft, Google and other big tech companies, Apple asks both technical questions depending on your past work experience and some mind-boggling puzzles. The questions that are basically directed to determine the interviewee’s communication skills, problem solving ability and creativity.

Given below excerpts are interesting, puzzling and wacky and have been taken from the interview data from Glassdoor. These questions were asked to prospective Apple employees during their job interviews. While some required solving tricky math problems, others were simple but vague enough to keep you on your toes.

Software QA Engineer

The first example is something of a brain teaser.

There are three boxes, one contains only apples, one contains only oranges, and one contains both apples and oranges. The boxes have been incorrectly labeled such that no label identifies the actual contents of the box it labels. Opening just one box, and without looking in the box, you take out one piece of fruit. By looking at the fruit, how can you immediately label all of the boxes correctly?

The next example is a bit more interesting and needs a dash of creativity.

How do you test a prototype of a vending machine… if it doesn’t give back any change? How do you analyze what has gone wrong? You don’t have any access to internals of the vending machine.

Product Manager

Below are three interesting examples that were found during Product Manager interviews.

The first reads:
How would you write the business requirements for a toaster?

And the second:
Sequence the following four items in order of importance: Cost, Design, Quality, Time

And the third:
How would you solve an issue if you didn’t know exactly what the problem was?

Product Design Engineer

The questions asked to prospective Product design engineers at Apple are more pointed, as they are expected to be well versed in a number of disciplines, including engineering, design, materials science and more.

  • Some of the more interesting interview questions for this position include:
    * The interviewer set their iPhone on the table and asked me how I would design the Sound On/Silent toggle switch on the side of the phone. Why?
    * Please name 20 different ways to remove balloons from an apartment.
    * The interviewer set the rear cover of an old iPod Touch on the table and asked me to identify the materials. If you had designed this rear cover, what are 5 tests that you would conduct on the completed iPod Touch assembly to ensure that your rear cover design met all applicable requirements? Why?
    * If you are in a boat in the middle of the pond and drop an anchor, how does the water level vary with respect to shore?
    * What material property is related to the bendability of a given metal?
    * Describe the how you would test what material is made from the remote control of the Apply TV?
    * Do you do personal design work as a hobby?
    * The interviewer drew a picture of an adjustable Crescent wrench on the white board. Is there an optimal orientation or direction when using the wrench to torque a hex head bolt? Why?
    * Tosses an old Apple iPhone shell on the table. What materials do you see?
    * What are the different ways you can you tell if this part is steel or aluminium?
    * A cube (1-1-1m) of ice in a room (50C) sitting on a wooden table. the ice is 1m away from the walls around it’s 4 sides, except for 1 side is 30cm away. You’re given 2 insulating blankets (1m by 1m) that can be used to cover the ice block. The goal is to keep the ice in solid form as long as possible. Where would you put the blankets?

Software Engineer

To ensure that Apple products are best in class, software engineers are entrusted with this task for which they get a lot of money. Most questions asked to potential software engineers are mainly hardcore engineering problems. However, there were still few notable that managed to grab attention.

The first one reads:
If you have 2 eggs, and you want to figure out what’s the highest floor from which you can drop the egg without breaking it, how would you do it? What’s the optimal solution?

The second is a head scratcher but does have an answer:
You have a 100 coins laying flat on a table, each with a head side and a tail side. 10 of them are heads up, 90 are tails up. You can’t feel, see or in any other way find out which side is up. Split the coins into two piles such that there are the same number of heads in each pile.

This next one is as straight forward as they come:
Can you work long hours on a short deadline?

  • A few more goodies worth highlighting include:
    * If I put you in a sealed room with a phone that had no dial tone, how would you fix it?
    * Model an elevator.
    * Given a deck of cards, write a method to determine if it is “flush”.
    * There is a mission-critical (i.e. cannot be rebooted) server that is lagging, hard. You only have a terminal/shell prompt. How do you debug it?
    * Given an iTunes type of app that pulls down lots of images that get stale over time, what strategy would you use to flush disused images over time?”
    * The iPhone has a feature for when a user begins to enter a contacts name or email address a list of possible matches is built. How would you implement this in order for the search to perform quickly and change each time a user inputs a character?

Mechanical Engineer

One user on Glassdoor pointed out that he was asked the same questions during his interviews at both Apple and Lab126 (Amazon).

You put a glass of water on a record turntable and begin slowly increasing the speed. What happens first — does the glass slide off, tip over, or does the water splash out?

Global Supply Manager

A question in the Microsoft mold:
How many children are born every day?

And one more for good measure:
How would you breakdown the cost of this pen?

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