Everything You Need to Know About Apple’s SDM Interview Process


Working in Apple comes with countless benefits, along with its challenges. Be prepared that working here implies working long hours, which means little work-life balance. This company is very secretive about a lot of the work that they do. Apple’s compensation is at the top end of the spectrum for all positions.

Related read - Software Development Manager’s roles and responsibilities

Before coming in for the interview, it’s important to stay updated with the latest Apple products and to have knowledge about the latest happenings in the tech industry.

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The Apple interview process varies depending on the position

For example, the interview process for a software development manager position is much more in-depth than for a position at an Apple Retail Store or a first-level telephone support specialist.

The SDM interview process goes two ways -

The first is technical, and the second is management capability.

1. Technical round:

The company will want to at least establish that you are technically competent enough to manage the team and contribute significantly to the work. You may be asked to write a code. Normally, they realize that most managers do not have the time to code regularly. So, expectations are set accordingly, but, occasionally, managers are expected to be active coders in a role.

For this round, practice concepts like sorting algorithms, binary search trees, arrays, shortest path algorithms, BFS, DFS, search algorithms, and dynamic programming.

A technical round for the SDM interview process would cover topics like Data Structure and questions on String/Array/List/Trees/Graph/Matrix/DP.

Before you start your preparation, ask your recruiter what the job expectations are. Based on that, you can plan your preparation.

2. Management capability round:

The questions from this round for the SDM interview process are issues related to performance management, team dynamics, and motivation. How do you interact with the team and other managers, how do you manage, etc. The best way to prepare for these questions is with real-life examples of how you did them in your daily work.

Remember one keyword here: STAR! You should answer in STAR format to extract your thought process in different situations and what actions you chose in those situations.

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## Let’s take a look at the Apple SDM interview process:

Step 1 - Connecting with a Recruiter

The first step - connect with a recruiter, or the recruiter will reach out to you. You will have to apply for the job on Apple’s online career portal.

Step 2 - Filling out Application

Next - filling out the application. In this step, the company wishes to discover your motivation to work for them, and why you think you would be an ideal fit for the company.

Step 3 - Then is the phone interview (including several stages)

  • Phone screen with a recruiter, including a couple of technical questions to get a basic sense of your skills, followed up by a series of technical phone screens with team members.
  • Phone screen with the hiring manager
  • Technical phone screen with another manager

This includes a coding challenge on a shared platform and other technical questions

A phone interview shouldn’t be too hard to get through

Having a poor performance in the phone interview would mean having to wait for a year to apply again.

Step 4 - Apple on-site interview

This round focuses on testing the technical knowledge of a candidate. The on-site interview lasts over 6 hours, comprising 5-6 rounds with members of the team with which you’re interviewing, as well as key people with whom your team works. The on-site SDM interview at Apple includes:

  • 1-2 system design rounds,
  • zero or one coding interview,
  • one people management,
  • one project management,
  • and one career/behavioral.

You can expect a mix of one-on-one and two-on-one interviews. Apple is a ‘unique’ company that includes two-on-one interviews. Each interviewer usually focuses on a different area. Be ready to code on a whiteboard and make sure all of your thoughts are communicated.

Apple tests data structures, algorithms, and system design.

So, spend most of your time on these topics.

For great interview performance: You’ll need to study three topics: data structures & algorithms, systems design, and soft skills like leadership and communication.

Data structures/algorithms

Make sure you know your basic algorithms and data structures from computer science, and that you have no problem explaining your thought process on a whiteboard.

System design rounds

Be sure that you are acquainted with basic distributed system design concepts: load balancers/ACID/BASE/CAP theorem, availability (four 9s, etc.), reliability, scalability, latency, etc., (if that’s not a part of your current or previous role).

I recommend reading the Designing Data-Intensive application by Martin Kleppmann. This book will provide you with the required knowledge of distributed systems and will help you to understand the systems.


Practice interview questions online to evaluate yourself. Use our platform https://www.interviewhelp.io/, to practice mock interviews.

Note that having knowledge of Apple techniques is unnecessary, but may give you some extra points.

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