Apple store employee tells all

February 18, 2011, 12:19 PM UTC

It can feel like a cult, he says. And behind the scenes, it’s “all sell, sell, sell!”



A store opening in Australia. Image: Nodeblue

Apple’s (AAPL) 46,600 employees tend to like where they work, and it’s rare that one talks out of school.

But in the current issue of
Popular Mechanics
, of all places, an Apple retail store employee talks candidly — if anonymously — about what’s going on behind those whoops, hollers and high-fives.

A few excerpts:

The Apple Credo: Sometimes the company can feel like a cult. Like, they give us all this little paper pamphlet, and it says things like—and I’m paraphrasing here—”Apple is our soul, our people are our soul.” Or “We aim to provide technological greatness.” And there was this one training session in which they started telling us how to work on our personality, and separating people into those with an external focus and an internal focus. It was just weird.

Pushing MobileMe: We aren’t paid on commission, but you fear for your job if you’re not selling enough. We’re supposed to sell AppleCare product support with just about everything, and honestly, those aren’t that hard to sell, since they aren’t a bad deal. But we’re also supposed to push MobileMe, and that’s really hard to sell. Nobody ever sells it.

Security: There are security guards everywhere. They are undercover, so you can’t tell who they are. A lot of them are retired cops, and they get paid really well. They have to deal with people doing things like wheeling in strollers and trying to use them to roll off with Time Capsules and iPods.

Working There Makes You Power Hungry. When I’m there, I get sucked into the competitive culture. Normally I’m pretty low-key, but when I’m at the store, it’s all sell, sell, sell! I wanna work my way up, get promoted and eventually get to the Genius Bar—which is where you want to be. Who doesn’t want to be a genius?

Click here to see the full text of “Confessions of an Apple Store Employee.”

Also on Fortune.com:

[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]