UPenn Interview: How to Prepare + Sample Questions

Handshake interview
April 7, 2023
Contents

”Mary

Reviewed by:

Mary Banks

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 5/4/22

Unsure of what to expect during your UPenn interview? Read on to learn more about how to prepare for the UPenn interview and leave a lasting impression!

Aside from submitting a standout application that demonstrates your capacity to excel at the University of Pennsylvania, you can also participate in an interview to help the committee learn more about you and your standout personality!

If you feel hesitant to complete this optional application material, it might help to know UPenn’s interview is meant to be relaxed, conversational, and informative! You won’t be put on the hot spot or asked difficult questions. In fact, you’ll mainly be asked to share more about your passions and goals!

To increase your excitement for this opportunity and decrease your stress, this guide will go over how to prepare for the UPenn interview and provide you with sample answers to draw inspiration from!

How to Get an Interview at UPenn

The best part of the UPenn interview is you don’t have to do anything to get one! UPenn aims to interview all of their first-year applicants. Typically, over 90% of their applicants are offered interviews.

Understanding the UPenn Interview Process

Once you submit your application, you may be invited to interview. A volunteer alumni member that has undergone interview training will reach out to you to schedule a virtual meeting. 

The alumni won’t have access to your application, as they’re hoping to gain deeper insight on your candidacy and learn additional information that’s not on your application. Considering there are limited volunteer alumni, you may not be invited to interview. Your application will be assessed equally regardless.

You can expect your interview to last 20 to 45 minutes. The interview is an opportunity for UPenn to learn more about you and for you to learn more about UPenn! At the end of each interview, students are given the chance to ask their alumni members questions about UPenn or their experience at UPenn.

UPenn Interview Questions and Answers

Understanding the interview process should help you feel more prepared for your interview. However, knowing the questions you can expect to be asked will be even more beneficial! Here are five common UPenn interview questions alumni members like to ask:

1. Can You Tell Me a Little About Yourself?

This first question is pretty standard and common in interviews. It's a great opening to help you feel more comfortable and to give you a chance to highlight important aspects of your past, present, and future that you think your interviewer should know. 

However, as an introductory question, your answer should be brief. While you want to share critical moments from your past, you don’t want to begin at your second birthday and work your way up.

Focus mainly on your high school experience, what your current goals are, and what you hope to achieve during your post-secondary career and beyond.

Here is a sample answer to give you some inspiration:

Currently I’m a senior at Julia R. Masterman Secondary School. Aside from being a student, I’m an avid piano player, the head of the debate team, and will soon be interning at a local public interest law firm in the summer to assist with fundraising, content creation, and administrative tasks. 

I’ve had a passion for law since my freshman year when I took part in a protest that sought to prevent mass infrastructure building on Indigenous land near my town. 

I have since spent my time honing my analytical, critical thinking, speaking, and writing skills by taking various AP courses including English, Comparative Government and Politics, and United States History, to name a few, and participating in debate club. 

I’m excited to begin the next chapter of my career at the University of Pennsylvania by enrolling in their Political Science degree and ultimately their JD degree so that I can continue fighting for equal human rights as a lawyer. 

2. What’s Important To You?

To answer this question, consider your passions, career goals, and values. Try to tie your values with UPenn’s to demonstrate how well you’ll fit in at their school. 

Try to think of three aspects of your life or future that are the most important to you and build a narrative around them. 

Consider this example of a student hoping to join the healthcare field:

While family is important to everyone, I didn’t realize just how important it was to me until I lost my grandmother to cancer two years ago. 

Living in a rural area, we have limited access to healthcare. So, while neighboring towns had the newest chemotherapy and radiation treatments, my town had limited access to these treatments, which was part of why my grandmother passed away within just six months of her diagnosis.

Without the financial means to travel to a larger city weekly for her treatments, my grandmother received inadequate treatment for her cancer. I think UPenn says it best, the way things are isn’t the way things have to be, which is the lesson I learned first-hand with my grandma.

Ever since, it has become extremely important for me to join the medical field and change rural healthcare so that equal and comprehensive healthcare is provided to everyone and fewer families have to go through what mine did. I hope to begin this journey at UPenn by majoring in Biomedical Sciences. 

3. What Are Your Current Academic/Extracurricular Interests?

This question is pretty straightforward. Remember, your alumni interviewer doesn’t have access to your application, so this isn’t meant to trick or test you. Just answer this question honestly! Talk about your extracurriculars and academics and why you chose them.

Your answer could look like this:

Throughout high school I was an avid reader and writer, a passion that started in my freshman year when my English teacher suggested I read the novel God of Small Things over the summer. I fell in love with the author’s language and ability to evoke so much emotion through only a few words.

I’ve taken AP English classes to develop my writing and analytical skills and joined my school’s reading club. I participated in several poetry slams both inside and outside of my school, making it to the state-wide championship in my senior year. I also volunteer at my local library to help teach ESL students how to read, which allows me to share my passion with others and contribute to my community.

4. What Led You to UPenn?

You’ll spend a large part of your interview talking about your accomplishments, interests, and experiences. For this question, you should focus on UPenn and its unique offerings.

You should conduct thorough research to answer this question and tailor it to your specific career goals. Think about the type of college experience you hope to receive at UPenn, why you applied to it in the first place, and what you’re looking forward to the most. 

Here’s how a student interested in attending UPenn’s prestigious nursing school might answer this question:

UPenn’s extraordinary nursing program is the major factor that drew me to apply to this school. Not only is it the top nursing program in the nation, but it offers unique clinical experience that I know will advance my training and help me become the most well-rounded nurse I can be. 

I am particularly interested in gaining experience at Chester County Hospital, as I plan on becoming a cardiac nurse and know Chester is a top-rated hospital for this specialty. 

I also know UPenn’s nursing community is tight-knit, supportive, and connected by the collective drive to do more for patients and improve healthcare, which I would love to be a part of and contribute to. 

5. What Plans Do You Have For the Future?

As a college applicant, you clearly have career aspirations for the future. Use this question to share these aspirations and how UPenn will help you achieve them!

Here’s a sample answer to help you brainstorm your response:

In the near future, I plan on becoming a productive UPenn student that can make meaningful contributions to the school community. After joining UPenn’s undergraduate Neuroscience program, I hope to aid in their research efforts, specifically in its Center for Neuroscience.

Once I’ve completed my undergraduate, I hope to join UPenn’s prestigious medical school to gain the skills and experience necessary to become a leader in healthcare and an outstanding neurosurgeon. 

These responses answer the question at hand in a concise way while still highlighting crucial details about the students’ life, skills, and aspirations!

How to Prepare for a UPenn Interview

After going over UPenn’s common interview questions, you should feel less nervous about your interview! To ensure you have the most enjoyable experience, consider also following these tips:

Do Not Research Your Interviewer

While this tip may seem counterproductive, UPenn strongly urges its prospective students not to interview their alumni member. 

The interview is meant to be a fresh conversation between two previously unknown individuals! Just as your interviewer will have no background information on you, it’s expected you don’t have any on them either.

Dress Appropriately

UPenn suggests students dress for their interview as they would for a school photograph or class presentation. You should let your personal style through so you feel comfortable and can present your best self to your interviewer.

Tell Your Story

You shouldn’t bring a resume or a portfolio to your interview. Your passions, experiences, and personal story should be shared through your answers. Ensure you have a good understanding of the points you want to highlight before your interview.

Prepare Insightful Questions

You should prepare at least a couple questions to ask your interviewer at the end of the interview. UPenn suggests the following questions:

  • 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?

Your interviewer’s answers can offer you useful perspective on what you can expect as a UPenn student!

FAQs: UPenn Interview

We’ve spent the majority of this guide going over UPenn interview questions. For any other questions you have about this interview, read on to find your answers!

1. Do All UPenn Applicants Get Interviewed?

While UPenn attempts to interview every applicant, due to the limited availability of their alumni members, not all applicants are invited to interview. 

2. Is It Good to Get an Interview From UPenn?

If you get an interview from UPenn it simply means there is an alumni member within your geographical region available to interview you. While you should absolutely accept the invitation and complete an interview, the invitation itself does not mean anything in terms of how your application was received.

Alumni interviewers will not have access to your application. They are simply trying to learn more about your interest in UPenn, your values, and goals.

3. How Long Is the UPenn Interview?

The exact length of the interview will depend on your interviewer, but they typically last around 20 t0 45 minutes.

4. How Important Is the UPenn Interview?

The UPenn interview is not part of the application process. Students that opt out of their interview or are not offered one will not be disadvantaged. However, completing one can further demonstrate your interest in UPenn and allow you to make an excellent first impression, both of which can increase your chances of admission!

5. How Should I Prepare For My UPenn Interview?

Fortunately, UPenn expects its students to go into their interviews without any knowledge of their interviewers, meaning you don’t have to take the time to research your alumni member! You also shouldn’t prepare a resume, as the conversation is meant to flow more naturally and casually. 

Instead, you should brainstorm key traits, abilities, accomplishments, and goals that you believe your interviewer should know and prepare response outlines for the listed questions in this guide. Ensure you also come up with a few questions to ask your interviewer at the end of the interview.

6. Where Do UPenn Interviews Take Place?

Currently, the UPenn interviews are hosted virtually through Zoom, Google Hangout, other similar software, or over the phone.

Final Thoughts

Completing your UPenn interview may seem like an additional, unnecessary step in your application. However, this interview can offer you valuable information on your dream school and help bring life and color to your application!

Keep the tips shared in this guide in mind and remember to let your personality shine through!

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How to Get an Interview at UPennUnderstanding the UPenn Interview ProcessUPenn Interview Questions and AnswersHow to Prepare for a UPenn InterviewFAQs: UPenn Interview

”Mary

Reviewed by:

Mary Banks

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 5/4/22

Unsure of what to expect during your UPenn interview? Read on to learn more about how to prepare for the UPenn interview and leave a lasting impression!

Aside from submitting a standout application that demonstrates your capacity to excel at the University of Pennsylvania, you can also participate in an interview to help the committee learn more about you and your standout personality!

If you feel hesitant to complete this optional application material, it might help to know UPenn’s interview is meant to be relaxed, conversational, and informative! You won’t be put on the hot spot or asked difficult questions. In fact, you’ll mainly be asked to share more about your passions and goals!

To increase your excitement for this opportunity and decrease your stress, this guide will go over how to prepare for the UPenn interview and provide you with sample answers to draw inspiration from!

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How to Get an Interview at UPenn

The best part of the UPenn interview is you don’t have to do anything to get one! UPenn aims to interview all of their first-year applicants. Typically, over 90% of their applicants are offered interviews.

Understanding the UPenn Interview Process

Once you submit your application, you may be invited to interview. A volunteer alumni member that has undergone interview training will reach out to you to schedule a virtual meeting. 

The alumni won’t have access to your application, as they’re hoping to gain deeper insight on your candidacy and learn additional information that’s not on your application. Considering there are limited volunteer alumni, you may not be invited to interview. Your application will be assessed equally regardless.

You can expect your interview to last 20 to 45 minutes. The interview is an opportunity for UPenn to learn more about you and for you to learn more about UPenn! At the end of each interview, students are given the chance to ask their alumni members questions about UPenn or their experience at UPenn.

UPenn Interview Questions and Answers

Understanding the interview process should help you feel more prepared for your interview. However, knowing the questions you can expect to be asked will be even more beneficial! Here are five common UPenn interview questions alumni members like to ask:

1. Can You Tell Me a Little About Yourself?

This first question is pretty standard and common in interviews. It's a great opening to help you feel more comfortable and to give you a chance to highlight important aspects of your past, present, and future that you think your interviewer should know. 

However, as an introductory question, your answer should be brief. While you want to share critical moments from your past, you don’t want to begin at your second birthday and work your way up.

Focus mainly on your high school experience, what your current goals are, and what you hope to achieve during your post-secondary career and beyond.

Here is a sample answer to give you some inspiration:

Currently I’m a senior at Julia R. Masterman Secondary School. Aside from being a student, I’m an avid piano player, the head of the debate team, and will soon be interning at a local public interest law firm in the summer to assist with fundraising, content creation, and administrative tasks. 

I’ve had a passion for law since my freshman year when I took part in a protest that sought to prevent mass infrastructure building on Indigenous land near my town. 

I have since spent my time honing my analytical, critical thinking, speaking, and writing skills by taking various AP courses including English, Comparative Government and Politics, and United States History, to name a few, and participating in debate club. 

I’m excited to begin the next chapter of my career at the University of Pennsylvania by enrolling in their Political Science degree and ultimately their JD degree so that I can continue fighting for equal human rights as a lawyer. 

2. What’s Important To You?

To answer this question, consider your passions, career goals, and values. Try to tie your values with UPenn’s to demonstrate how well you’ll fit in at their school. 

Try to think of three aspects of your life or future that are the most important to you and build a narrative around them. 

Consider this example of a student hoping to join the healthcare field:

While family is important to everyone, I didn’t realize just how important it was to me until I lost my grandmother to cancer two years ago. 

Living in a rural area, we have limited access to healthcare. So, while neighboring towns had the newest chemotherapy and radiation treatments, my town had limited access to these treatments, which was part of why my grandmother passed away within just six months of her diagnosis.

Without the financial means to travel to a larger city weekly for her treatments, my grandmother received inadequate treatment for her cancer. I think UPenn says it best, the way things are isn’t the way things have to be, which is the lesson I learned first-hand with my grandma.

Ever since, it has become extremely important for me to join the medical field and change rural healthcare so that equal and comprehensive healthcare is provided to everyone and fewer families have to go through what mine did. I hope to begin this journey at UPenn by majoring in Biomedical Sciences. 

3. What Are Your Current Academic/Extracurricular Interests?

This question is pretty straightforward. Remember, your alumni interviewer doesn’t have access to your application, so this isn’t meant to trick or test you. Just answer this question honestly! Talk about your extracurriculars and academics and why you chose them.

Your answer could look like this:

Throughout high school I was an avid reader and writer, a passion that started in my freshman year when my English teacher suggested I read the novel God of Small Things over the summer. I fell in love with the author’s language and ability to evoke so much emotion through only a few words.

I’ve taken AP English classes to develop my writing and analytical skills and joined my school’s reading club. I participated in several poetry slams both inside and outside of my school, making it to the state-wide championship in my senior year. I also volunteer at my local library to help teach ESL students how to read, which allows me to share my passion with others and contribute to my community.

4. What Led You to UPenn?

You’ll spend a large part of your interview talking about your accomplishments, interests, and experiences. For this question, you should focus on UPenn and its unique offerings.

You should conduct thorough research to answer this question and tailor it to your specific career goals. Think about the type of college experience you hope to receive at UPenn, why you applied to it in the first place, and what you’re looking forward to the most. 

Here’s how a student interested in attending UPenn’s prestigious nursing school might answer this question:

UPenn’s extraordinary nursing program is the major factor that drew me to apply to this school. Not only is it the top nursing program in the nation, but it offers unique clinical experience that I know will advance my training and help me become the most well-rounded nurse I can be. 

I am particularly interested in gaining experience at Chester County Hospital, as I plan on becoming a cardiac nurse and know Chester is a top-rated hospital for this specialty. 

I also know UPenn’s nursing community is tight-knit, supportive, and connected by the collective drive to do more for patients and improve healthcare, which I would love to be a part of and contribute to. 

5. What Plans Do You Have For the Future?

As a college applicant, you clearly have career aspirations for the future. Use this question to share these aspirations and how UPenn will help you achieve them!

Here’s a sample answer to help you brainstorm your response:

In the near future, I plan on becoming a productive UPenn student that can make meaningful contributions to the school community. After joining UPenn’s undergraduate Neuroscience program, I hope to aid in their research efforts, specifically in its Center for Neuroscience.

Once I’ve completed my undergraduate, I hope to join UPenn’s prestigious medical school to gain the skills and experience necessary to become a leader in healthcare and an outstanding neurosurgeon. 

These responses answer the question at hand in a concise way while still highlighting crucial details about the students’ life, skills, and aspirations!

How to Prepare for a UPenn Interview

After going over UPenn’s common interview questions, you should feel less nervous about your interview! To ensure you have the most enjoyable experience, consider also following these tips:

Do Not Research Your Interviewer

While this tip may seem counterproductive, UPenn strongly urges its prospective students not to interview their alumni member. 

The interview is meant to be a fresh conversation between two previously unknown individuals! Just as your interviewer will have no background information on you, it’s expected you don’t have any on them either.

Dress Appropriately

UPenn suggests students dress for their interview as they would for a school photograph or class presentation. You should let your personal style through so you feel comfortable and can present your best self to your interviewer.

Tell Your Story

You shouldn’t bring a resume or a portfolio to your interview. Your passions, experiences, and personal story should be shared through your answers. Ensure you have a good understanding of the points you want to highlight before your interview.

Prepare Insightful Questions

You should prepare at least a couple questions to ask your interviewer at the end of the interview. UPenn suggests the following questions:

Your interviewer’s answers can offer you useful perspective on what you can expect as a UPenn student!

FAQs: UPenn Interview

We’ve spent the majority of this guide going over UPenn interview questions. For any other questions you have about this interview, read on to find your answers!

1. Do All UPenn Applicants Get Interviewed?

While UPenn attempts to interview every applicant, due to the limited availability of their alumni members, not all applicants are invited to interview. 

2. Is It Good to Get an Interview From UPenn?

If you get an interview from UPenn it simply means there is an alumni member within your geographical region available to interview you. While you should absolutely accept the invitation and complete an interview, the invitation itself does not mean anything in terms of how your application was received.

Alumni interviewers will not have access to your application. They are simply trying to learn more about your interest in UPenn, your values, and goals.

3. How Long Is the UPenn Interview?

The exact length of the interview will depend on your interviewer, but they typically last around 20 t0 45 minutes.

4. How Important Is the UPenn Interview?

The UPenn interview is not part of the application process. Students that opt out of their interview or are not offered one will not be disadvantaged. However, completing one can further demonstrate your interest in UPenn and allow you to make an excellent first impression, both of which can increase your chances of admission!

5. How Should I Prepare For My UPenn Interview?

Fortunately, UPenn expects its students to go into their interviews without any knowledge of their interviewers, meaning you don’t have to take the time to research your alumni member! You also shouldn’t prepare a resume, as the conversation is meant to flow more naturally and casually. 

Instead, you should brainstorm key traits, abilities, accomplishments, and goals that you believe your interviewer should know and prepare response outlines for the listed questions in this guide. Ensure you also come up with a few questions to ask your interviewer at the end of the interview.

6. Where Do UPenn Interviews Take Place?

Currently, the UPenn interviews are hosted virtually through Zoom, Google Hangout, other similar software, or over the phone.

Final Thoughts

Completing your UPenn interview may seem like an additional, unnecessary step in your application. However, this interview can offer you valuable information on your dream school and help bring life and color to your application!

Keep the tips shared in this guide in mind and remember to let your personality shine through!

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