Overdressed for an Interview at Apple

Robert McKeon Aloe
4 min readAug 5, 2018


In 2014, I started a job search that took me to California. My wife suggested I apply out west in case the East Coast didn’t work out. I applied to an image processing engineer job at Apple, and a few weeks later, a recruiter called. She couldn’t tell me what the group was working on, but it was part of the Human Interface Device (HID) group.

I had a phone interview, and I thought I did terrible. He asked me questions I wasn’t prepared for, and I didn’t get much feedback on how I did. I was certain a mistake was made because I didn’t seem like I would fit for this job. I emailed the recruiter, and she said she had positive feedback about the phone interview and wanted to move forward. She also said it wasn’t a mistake.

Working in DC, Living in Pittsburgh

I got the homework, and I dropped everything. I was keen on at least getting to an in-person interview. I reviewed and revised, and I made sure I was going to do well. I sent it in, and a few hours later, I got the answer.

I setup the interview to be on the Friday two days before I would fly to Italy for a few weeks on vacation. I dressed up in a dress shirt, slacks, nice shoes, and a tie to get on the plane. I flew out on Thursday, and on the flight over, the plane had the Lego Movie playing. I hadn’t seen it even though everyone who knew me said I needed to see it (see my Lego basement below). I almost cried four times. I thought it was a good omen.

I arrived at LAX for a transfer, and I saw this interesting coffee shop called Klatch Coffee. For the first time in my life, I had given up eating added sugar for a few weeks except for espresso. I tried their espresso, and it was so good, it didn’t need sugar. It was the first time I drank espresso without sugar, and I haven’t looked back. Another good omen, but bad timing because I had a little trouble sleeping.

I had a good breakfast, and I was ready to rock and roll. My first interviewer didn’t show up probably because of traffic. It made me a little nervous. My second interviewer was my soon to be director, and he was so warm and welcoming. He was someone I wanted to work for doing whatever because he seemed like someone who knew what he was doing. He was also dressed very casually, and I felt very comfortable around him. To be clear, I was overdressed, but being dressed up has made me feel confident, so I don’t mind doing so. At least I didn’t have a tie and a jacket.

The interviews went well, and come lunch, I had a long interview with the same person who phone screened me (aka the hiring manager). I made the mistake of trying a kale smoothie because he was having one even though I had never had kale before. Word to the wise: Don’t try new foods during an interview. I did later find the best way to prepare kale is as follows: 1. Oil a pan. 2. Put the kale in the pan. 3. Open the garbage can. 4. Slide the kale into the garbage.

His interview turned out to be the hardest. He really explored the depth and breadth of my knowledge, and he ended with asking me a circuits question. I said, “But I haven’t done circuits in 8 years.” He said (paraphrasing) “I know; give it a try anyways.”

At the end, two more interviews were tagged on, so I knew I was doing well. I left and hung out in San Francisco for the rest of the day until my red-eye that night. The weather was fantastic; another good omen until I realized that’s just California 9 months a year.

The end result: I got the job, and I also had an amazing interview experience. I had tried to focus on just having a good experience rather than trying to prove myself, and I think it helped keep me relaxed.



Robert McKeon Aloe

I’m in love with my Wife, my Kids, Espresso, Data Science, tomatoes, cooking, engineering, talking, family, Paris, and Italy, not necessarily in that order.