How to Get a Product Manager Job at Apple

It’s normal to be tech-obsessed and dream of a job at one of the biggest and most disruptive technology companies of the 20th and 21st centuries. Apple has created two million U.S. jobs and is present (often dominating) in markets all over the world. Naturally, competition is fierce, as Apple themselves state, “this is where some of the world’s smartest, most passionate people create the world’s most innovative products and experiences.” If you want to get what could be the most rewarding job of your career, you’ll need to be prepared. Luckily, we have all the insider knowledge you need to bring your A Game.

Job Overview

  • Average salary for a Product Manager: $161,607
  • Average salary for a Senior Product Manager: $203,308
  • Benefits: If you’re working in San Francisco, you get free transportation to and from the office in air-conditioned shuttles and busses, and the food in Cafe Macs in subsidized and reportedly delicious. At all locations worldwide you’ll receive health and dental care, discounts on products for you and your family/friends, paid time off and an employee stock purchase plan. Maternity benefits and paternity leave are available internationally.
  • Locations: Headquartered in Cupertino, California, US.
  • Background required for PM role: Minimum of 5 years experience in Product Management, a BA/BSc is preferred but not necessary if your experience level makes up for it.

Company Values

Apple’s mission statement was released in 1977 by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.

Jobs and Wozniak quote

Steve Jobs then set out Apple’s Core Values in 1981, which still serve as a great guide for what the company stands for, especially as the company currently doesn’t have an ‘official’ mission statement.

Apple's Company Values

What Does it Take to Be an Apple PM?

Background and Transition

For all Product Manager jobs at Apple, you’ll need at least 5+ years in a product management role, for some you’ll need 8+. So it’s extremely unlikely that your first real PM role will be with Apple! However, if you are in engineering or marketing, you may be able to transition into product at your own company before attempting the move. You could also consider a Product Management Certification to boost your career and move up the ladder faster.

While you’ll definitely need some technical experience and know-how, it’s not necessary to have a degree in CSS. Most positions don’t specify which Bachelors subject they require, and clearly value experience over your formal education background. Basically, with hard work and perseverance there’s nothing stopping you from getting that job!

Culture Fit

Like many of the bigger tech companies, Apple are keen to create a culture within their workforce. If you’re going for a job at Apple it’s important to feel like you relate to their original core values. The overall mission seems to be to empower humanity through technology, and to leave the world better than you found it.

Based on previous interviews, having the right personality is very important. Apple want employees who care deeply about what they’re trying to achieve, and to come into work with enthusiasm. If your job is just a paycheque to you, getting a job at Apple might be a bit out of your reach. You’ll need to demonstrate your wider product knowledge, such as industry trends, popular books, and thought leaders.

Man walking past Apple store

The Interview Process

Naturally, the interview process differs depending on the job you’re going for, but they mostly start out the same way. You’ll begin with a 30 minute, fairly informal phone interview with a recruiter, just to measure how well you fit the basic requirements of the job. While this is the easiest part of the interview process, it’s still your foot in the door! Don’t underestimate how important this first impression is! 

Once you’ve passed the phone interview, you’ll move on to a FaceTime with a team leader. This is where they’ll start to measure your technical abilities and weight up your cultural fit within the company. They’ll want to know everything from what software you have experience with and what your approach to conflict resolution is. Not only are they getting their first glimpse at whether you’re capable of doing the job, but whether you’re someone they want to work with every day.

The next step depends on which position you are applying for. It may be a panel interview with different team members, or it could be a set of group interviews which include other candidates. In either case, you can expect around a six-hour on-site process. This is where things get difficult!

Example Interview Questions

One question which repeatedly comes up across interviews for all jobs roles is “Why Apple?” so before you head into that interview it’s important to know exactly why you want this job. For the best answer, use the Past-Present-Future technique. Think about what Apple’s past means to you, what you love about what they’re doing now, and what excites you about what they’ll do in the future.

Apple will also ask you a mixture of questions based on your technical abilities, your background, and your future with the company. Many candidates find themselves acting out role-play scenarios with the interviewer to show how they would handle various situations. They are also one of the companies that ask puzzle-questions meant to test your critical thinking:

“Explain to a child how a router works.”

“Where do you want to be 5 years from now?”

“What’s more important, fixing the customer’s problem or creating a good customer experience?”

“Can you define empathy for me?”

“Show me, using just your voice, how you would demonstrate to a manager that you disagreed with their decision.”

‘What three words would you use to describe Apple products?”

“How do you keep up to date with the latest product events; like podcasts, blogs or websites?”

“What would you miss about your last job if Apple hired you?”

“If you’re given a jar with a mix of fair and unfair coins, and you pull one out and flip it 3 times, and get the specific sequence heads heads tails, what are the chances that you pulled out a fair or an unfair coin?”

Apple products

The most important thing to remember when heading into any product job is to remain focused on your goal. Keep reminding yourself why you want this particular role at this particular company so badly. Also remember the hard work you put in to get to this point, and how much you deserve your dream job. With a bit of confidence and a cool head, you’ll crush it!

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