Interview Insider

Posted on by Dean Furda

After submitting your regular decision applications, you may have the opportunity to interview with alumni volunteers. The interview is an informative, enlightening, and even fun experience. Together with the Penn Alumni Interview Program, we are excited to offer tips for a successful interview experience. Here are the top ten:

1. Check your email.
Alumni interviewers primarily contact applicants by email. Check the email on your Common Application regularly. Take a quick look at your “spam” folder just in case the request misses your inbox.

2. Practice!
Don’t let this interview be your first—do a mock interview with friends or family at home.

3. Be on time. 
Learn the route on Google Maps beforehand and be sure to add ten minutes to the trip. Expect to get lost or stuck in traffic. You might choose to do a practice drive prior to the interview.

4. Strive for professionalism in all interactions.
Treat your interviewer as you would treat a teacher, coach, or mentor.  Be timely, polite, and appropriate in your emails, manner, dress, and follow-up.

5. Know the University.
Read student blogs, discover the website, search YouTube for school-specific videos, and find your passions reflected in specific majors and campus opportunities (from research to clubs and community engagement).

6.  Prepare questions.
Express interest by asking questions. Go beyond inquiries requiring only a quick Google search and delve deeply into academic programs, campus culture, and the lifelong community.

7.  Be open to learning about different experiences.
Alumni interviewers, similar to the composition of any University class, have varied backgrounds, interests, and journeys. Learn from your alumni interviewer’s experience—even if you anticipate that it will be different from your own. 

8. Remember to be yourself!
Share your successes and challenges. Be authentic and open with your interviewer. Your interviewer will be honest in sharing his or her experiences. Let your unique personality shine.

9. Send a thank you note.
Remember that alumni interviewers volunteer their time for the University. It’s a nice idea to send a quick message to your interviewer to express your appreciation for the opportunity. 

10.  Be patient.
Some colleges are unable to interview all applicants as applicant volume may exceed the number of alumni interviewers. Please do not worry if you do not receive an interview—not having an interview will not be counted against you in any way.

For more information on the interview, review last year’s articles: Interviews, Why This School, Share Interests, and Bring Questions.


*PAGE 217
refers to the always legendary and occasionally dreaded essay which was once a mainstay of the University of Pennsylvania application. The question read as follows: “You have just finished your three hundred page autobiography. Please submit page 217.”

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