I Interviewed at Apple Retail

I'm a 30-year-old multimedia professional and Apple "fan girl" who -- for the purposes of this article -- will go by the pseudonym "Lucy" (since I do not want my current employer to know that I have been interviewing for a new job).

I landed a job interview at Apple simply by submitting a cover letter and resume through the Apple website. I was invited to a "hiring event," where I was given a glimpse into the company culture and hiring process.

Having worked in retail in my teenage years, I was now unhappy working in multimedia at my current company, whose environment seems to be "do more with less." So I decided to see if I could get my foot in the door by landing a sales position at an Apple store.


A great leader program

Apple has a Store Leader Program that I thought would be interesting. You go through a 24-month immersion at a store to learn how to "secure a leadership position" at any store in the world. I guessed the starting pay would be low, but I could put up with that during two years of ladder climbing at a good company, provided it paid off at the end by giving me a managerial position.

In my application to Apple, I explained that I was a recent graduate of a top-tier university, which I attended online. An Apple HR person based in the San Francisco Bay area e-mailed me two weeks later to invite me to the hiring event. I was told in an e-mail that attire would be "business casual," so I wore black pants and pumps with a light blue button-down shirt. The outfit was fine because some of the interviewers were wearing jeans. A suit would have been too much, but jeans would have been too little.

Technically, I was a new college graduate in April of this year when I interviewed with Apple. I just happened to be about eight years older than the rest of the college grads who showed up at the hiring event held at a local hotel. I wasn't worried though because I felt I had something everyone else lacked -- experience.


A group experience

I didn't know what to expect of the interview itself, but was sure I wasn't facing a one-on-one interview since this was being called an "event" and I wasn't being given the name of any potential interviewer. I searched online through Google and even on Twitter to find out what the format of the interview would be, but there was little information. What I certainly didn't realize was that I was entering into a three-hour interactive group experience.

Everyone checked in at a table by turning in college transcripts and picking up name tags to wear. My group of 25 to 30 people made small talk outside until five Apple store leaders and a few HR representatives led us into a conference room. We entered to the sound of trendy rock music. The Apple team ushered us in by lining up on each side of the door to applaud and yell "Woohoo!" at us. From that very moment, it was evident that this was a very different kind of job interview. We were shown a video about Apple and were introduced to the group that would be evaluating us. Then it was our turn to introduce ourselves and explain why we chose Apple, as well as why we chose retail as a job path.

Most of the candidates seemed to have been picked up from the local state college at a recruiting event. Again, I was the only person there not in their 20s. I was aware that I clearly didn't fit in and made a joke about it when I introduced myself. I immediately made friends with a guy, whom I later ran into actually working at an Apple store when I went in to buy an iPhone. I was not at all surprised that he had gotten the job, because he was clean cut, approachable, friendly, professional and polite.


Trial by fire

Next we were divided into groups and asked to come up with ideas that we would then present to everyone. As we sat in our groups sharing our ideas to create our presentations, a store leader or two would come by and eavesdrop. Each group received a large piece of butcher paper and one marker, to create a poster to feature our ideas. Apple seemed to be interested in what ideas we would conjure up, but also seemed to be testing our ability to work with others. They were also reviewing our public-speaking ability, given how we each had to stand before the group to introduce ourselves and our group's ideas. I've been to group and panel interviews before, but never with that many people. I think Apple may have been gauging leadership ability through public speaking. One Apple employee did thank me for being there and another told me how inspiring she thought it was that I had completed my degree online.

We were told at the end of the event that we would receive e-mails to let us know if we were moving forward in the process. If we were moving forward, we'd be expected to attend another interview in the next two days. There would be a third interview after that, along with an assignment to create a short video. I received an e-mail within 48 hours that thanked me for my time and interest, but informed me that I wouldn't be moving on to the next round.

I'm sure I didn't get the job because of my age. I think Apple was after someone who was easy to mold -- which maybe they perceived me not to be, due to my age and experience level. I'm still curious as to what the starting pay in the Store Leader Program is, since that wasn't revealed to us.

It was a great experience to have attended the event, and it certainly gave me a glimpse at what life working within the Apple retail organization would be like.

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14 Comments

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Ash A

Hi, I'm currently apply to apple- this is my first job application that requires a cover letter. How does one right a cover letter to Apple? thank you

July 26 2012 at 10:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jeanne021556

I look for a job EVERY DAY. As an example, I've tried to get a job at Pizza Hut and AT&T selling cell phones. NEITHER company would hire me. Not because I'm unqualified. I'm over 50. I can serve a pizza and I use an iPhone and have been in Telecom for over 25 years. I'm qualified. I'm just old. So tell the GOP to shove it. Try and get a job today. I'm not lazy. I want to work and I HAVE to work to keep a roof over my head. Businesses are not hiring older workers.

November 21 2010 at 3:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jeanne021556's comment
Nick Yetes

What about OVERQUALIFICATION do people not get get?

If you are 50 and worked in telecom and I am a manager at a pizza shop and I have to hire 2 new delivery people, who do I pick: the 50 year old who has worked at ATT and is a tech wiz and lived off of $60k+ salaries (probably even higher), or one of the 6 college grads who will work outside school hours gladly for $10 bucks / hour and doesn't know a better life yet. DUH. Its not an age thing. It is experience, it is what the persons past experiences are, and what the person is used to and expects form a job. If I am hiring for a low-paying, low-thinking job, I am not going to hire someone the opposite - even if they are a good worker and have tons of experience. The only exception would be if that experienced person came to me and rationally explained that he was passionate about being a delivery person because of, say, he likes to drive and interact with random people and really wants a change - as in he is choosing to go this route instead of just settling for it.

My advise to the people with too much experience for a job - find out what you are passionate about - what you would love to do - and go for those positions, or make them yourselves by becoming an entrepreneur.

January 26 2011 at 2:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
eb

Interesting article but it's a gross assumption to say you were "too old" or "not easy to mold." FWIW, I've seen Apple Store employees over the age of 30 - or they were a very old looking 20-something.

November 18 2010 at 3:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
eg3

I actually went through the last part of what she was talking about, so you get the email saying you have been selected for the second interview process. Out of of all the people (30-40 people) they selected about 6 or 7 people, they took us to the back of the Apple store and we went through a group interview. On the way in there you see people fixing the Apple products that had been brought in by customers to the Genius Bar, specialists who are on the phones for customers who call in. They then took us into a fairly small room, there was the store manager and one of the lead tech specialists and they ask you generic interview questions i.e., Tell us about a great customer experience..in front of everyone, so it can be a little nerve racking. You're there with the manager and one of the tech specialists they start to ask questions about how you started to use Apple products and what your favorite app was. It lasted about 1 hour, in the room we were in, there were big drawing boards with drawings of the Apple Products and notes on how to use the products and what sort of demographic they are going for. They did tell us that we were in the 2nd step of a 3 step process, where after the group interview, there would then be a one on one with the store manager. All in all I only got as far as the 2nd step but it was neat going in the back of the store and seeing everything that a normal customer wouldn't see.

November 18 2010 at 10:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Geo

I am very interested in knowing how you earned two degrees with the poor grammar and spelling abilities you've demonstrated here. Why would you want to work for a company for which you obviously have so much contempt? Do you think the hiring manager could sense your contempt and that is the reason you were turned down?

November 17 2010 at 11:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
manolo

I love Apple products, but the fact remains that in all the times I've been to a store, I doubt anyone there is over 25, including the store manager. I feel your pain and frustration when you mention (lightly) about your age, however, the best way to fight against corporate brainwashing and age discriminatory practices is by boycotting their products. Remember: Steve Jobs is no spring chicken and none of those hippies that run it are younger than 55. In fact Steve Jobs is closer to the grave than many of us would think. And when the novelty wears out, many of these young people will choose to get real jobs instead of pretending to be happy to see more people coming through their doors. Let's see how well that Peter Pan experience pans out in the future. The vast majority of the consumers that drive the economy in this country are people over 30, not the 20 somethings Apple likes to cater to. Yet another reason a crappy product like WIndows outsells anything Apple makes any day of the century. Woo-hoo!

November 09 2010 at 9:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to manolo's comment
JIM

Hi Bud,

The only reason Windows outsells Apple is because Apple had a "closed model" early on, it also doesn't hurt when your selling crappy PC's for $200 LOL. Apple doesn't make cheap hardware bro, heads up

November 17 2010 at 8:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
hal

Funny, the last time I was in the Apple Store a couple weeks ago there were two workers who appeared to be in there 60s and the guy I talked to about a cable I needed was about 40. He was on the geeky side and a bit slovenly.

November 17 2010 at 9:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
larry

think age discrimination comes to mind....disheartening to see one being considered too old before hitting 30....not to mention against the law

November 09 2010 at 9:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to larry's comment
manolo

This is why companies like Apple come up with such ridiculous hiring strategies that only people with no serious life plans could pass.

November 09 2010 at 9:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ron

bull shit! got 2 college degress and can't get an interview to work at OSH (owned by Sears). Applied for 3 posistions which are still open and they said" presuing other candidates". Probably just hiring retards and knuckle draggers. Goto a typical OSH and its the lowest quality workers ever, and I can't even get a job sweeping the floors!
I hate it when big companys say they are hiring just for good press.!

November 07 2010 at 7:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Ron's comment
Matt

Have you ever heard of being overqualified for a position? Companies are wary of hiring overqualified people, because they tend to get bored with the position quickly, and many times are looking at the job as a temporary living until they find something better.

November 10 2010 at 1:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Janet

Very interesting. I always wondered what it would be like to work for one of the Apple stores. I never bothered to think about what the interview process would be like. Thanks for sharing your story. I enjoyed reading it.

October 24 2010 at 7:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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