Coffee house in west Philly with two students having coffee
Interviews

The interview is a two-way exchange between you and a Penn alumni volunteer. It’s a conversation—nothing to be nervous about. Just relax and be yourself. This is an opportunity for Penn to learn a little more about you, and for you to learn a little more about Penn.  

The Penn Interview

Typically, more than 90% of applicants are offered an interview, depending on volunteer availability. Our interviewers aren’t admissions officers, but they are excited to learn more about you and to share their Penn experiences. 

Things to remember:

  • Please don't worry if you're not invited to interview. Since we aren't able to reach every applicant, not having an interview won't be held against you in our review.
  • Alumni interviews are offered to freshman applicants. Interviews are typically not offered to transfer applicants. 
  • Interviews may be offered in-person or virtually. Penn Admissions evaluates both types of interviews equally. Please note that on-campus interviews aren’t available.
  • Applicant names and contact information are provided to members of the Penn Alumni Interview Program, who will contact you directly. There’s no pre-screening of applicant files, and alumni volunteers don’t have access to your application.
  • Penn alumni volunteers receive in-person and/or virtual training to ensure you have a positive experience. 
  • If you receive an invitation for an alumni interview, we strongly encourage you to make time for the opportunity. If you have to decline the interview, please respond to your interviewer explaining why you can’t participate in the conversation. If you have concerns about specific circumstances as they relate to your interview, contact Penn Admissions. Be sure to follow up directly with your interviewer.
  • It’s our policy that applicants can’t request interviews.

Initial Contact
Alumni interviewers contact Early Decision applicants between mid-October and the last week of November. Interviewers contact Regular Decision applicants between December and February. QuestBridge Finalists are typically offered interviews in November. Interviews are not available by request.

Please be patient and understand that an interview offer is likely, but not guaranteed.
We suggest that you frequently check the email address provided in your application, as this is the most likely way you’ll be contacted to schedule an interview. Alumni interviewers may also contact you through the phone number listed in your application. Please respond courteously and promptly (within 3-5 days). Remember, this exchange is the start of the conversation with your interviewer, so first impressions count. If alumni interviewers don’t receive a prompt response from you, then they might assume you wish to decline the interview.

We know you’ll be tempted to research your interviewer. Please don’t. In the same way that we ask interviewers not to look up Penn applicants online, we ask that you refrain from researching your interviewer using internet searches or connecting with them through social media. The Penn interview is designed to be a fresh conversation between two interested (and interesting) but previously unknown individuals.

Where to go
In-person interviews are conducted in public spaces, frequently coffee shops, offices, libraries, and schools. Make sure that you’re familiar with the location beforehand and leave extra time for potential travel delays. If you think you’ll be late, please let your interviewer know by phone. Virtual interviews are conducted using Skype, Google Hangout, other similar chat software, or by phone.

What to wear
Dress as you would for a school photograph or a presentation in class. Be comfortable and let your personal style show through so you can focus on the interview, not what you’re wearing.

What to Bring
Just yourself. Please don’t bring a resume or a portfolio. Your passions, personal story, and questions will bring the conversation to life. (Note that international applicants may be asked to bring additional documents.)

The interview isn’t a test. It’s a way for you to share information about yourself in your own words. The conversation will focus on your interests, as well as your decision to apply to Penn. It’s also an opportunity to learn more about the University.

These are the type of questions your interviewer may ask:

  • Can you tell me a little about yourself?
  • What’s important to you?
  • What are your current academic and/or extracurricular interests?
  • What led you to apply to Penn?
  • What classes, programs, and activities on Penn’s campus are exciting to you?
  • What plans do you have for your future?

The interview will also include time for you to ask questions. Make the most of this opportunity by thinking about your questions beforehand. Write them down and bring them with you if it makes you more comfortable. Penn is a dynamic and ever-changing University, so your Penn alumni interviewer may not be an expert on campus life as it is today, but their experience will offer you valuable perspective.

As you prepare your own questions for your interview, consider including the following Penn-specific questions on your list:

 

  • Can you tell me about the most influential parts of your Penn experience?
  • What is one of your favorite Penn traditions?
  • In what ways are you still connected to campus and your Penn peers?
  • What are the advantages of the Penn alumni network?

After your interview, a quick thank-you note is always appreciated. Beyond expressing your gratitude, no further contact with the interviewer is necessary or expected.

Your alumni interviewer will submit a summary of your discussion to the Admissions Committee, to be added to your application.

At some point after the interview, you may receive a survey asking you to evaluate the interview experience. This survey is optional, anonymous, and will not be shared with Penn Admissions. The information will be used by the Penn Alumni Interview Program to continue to improve the process for all applicants, so please be honest when providing feedback.

You can review the Penn Alumni Interview Program Principles of Good Practice.