Principles of Good Practice

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All participants are expected to abide by the following Principles of Good Practice. These principles are updated annually, so please review them before each admissions cycle.

Our main goal in presenting the guidelines below is to remind alumni that the college application process can be fraught with anxiety. We sincerely hope that a student's alumni interview will be a positive, engaging part of their Penn application process. We believe that it is our responsibility to ensure that all prospective students have a comfortable and equitable opportunity for self-representation.

Are you eligible to participate? Please review our Eligibility Requirements to make sure.

Members should 

Create a positive and mutually respectful atmosphere.
When interacting with prospective students and families, strive to establish a comfortable and conversational tone, use appropriate language, be polite and professional, and ask pertinent questions.

Represent Penn well.
Be honest and forthright in sharing your own Penn experience, but also remember that there is not a single common path through Penn. Much of what makes Penn so special is the myriad backgrounds and perspectives that students individually bring to campus, which in turn facilitate the many experiences that undergraduates can have. 

Set personal bias aside.
Each applicant should exit the interview feeling that he/she has been treated fairly by Penn. Avoid value judgements, and never make an applicant feel that his/her choices and activities are wrong-headed, uninformed, or insignificant.

Always be considerate of an applicant's comfort and safety.
Applicants should feel safe during all phases of the interview process. Interactions with prospective students will occur in a public location that is mutually agreed-upon, and which presents no difficulty or disadvantage to either the student or interviewer. Meeting locations should occur within a travel time of 40 minutes, via car or public transportation, and demonstrate respect for the commitments and culture of both the student and the interviewer. Acceptable interview locations include coffee shops, public libraries, building lobbies, and other common spaces. 

Schedule the interview with as much advance notice as possible.
The interview should take place at a time mutually agreed-upon by both parties. Alumni should never attempt to to schedule interviews with less than 24 hours' notice, or create an undue sense of urgency for the student when requesting a meeting. When possible, a student should be offered a few potential meeting times for the interview. Scheduling and logistical arrangements for the interview should show respect for both the applicant's and the interviewer's obligations to school, work, and family. 

Offer to conduct the interview virtually if an in-person meeting is not possible.
In regions where we have enough local alumni, we ask that volunteers first make efforts to arrange a face-to-face meeting. however, if an in-person meeting will not be practical, please offer to conduct the interview virtually -- via Skype or another videoconferencing service, or over the phone. Applicants appreciate this effort, and the Admissions Office gives equal weight to virtual and in-person interviews. Over one-third of all Penn interviews are conducted virtually.

Have a genuine conversation with the student. 
The interview should be a natural, two-way conversation. This is an opportunity for the applicant to learn about Penn from the experiences of an engaged alumnus, as well as to inform the Admissions Office about the applicant. Be sure to fully address the interests and questions of the student. Pay attention to personal and intellectual qualities of the applicant such as a student's enthusiasm, commitment, sensitivity, articulateness, depth of insight and thought, and social and cultural awareness. 

Be proactive. 
Please read all Interview Program communications, promptly accept or decline assignments, pay close attention to important dates and deadlines, keep your profile up-to-date, and inform your Committee Chair (and/or the Interview Program staff) if you are unavailable to complete any interview assignment. 

Members should NOT:

Convey any impression or expectation about the applicant's probability of admission.
Members should be encouraging and resourceful, but should never evaluate a student's chances of admission or at any time represent themselves as a "gatekeeper" in the Penn Admissions process. Students with questions regarding their application status should be directed to contact the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

Conduct interviews in a home, or in other non-public spaces.
It is NOT permitted to conduct an interview in a private residence -- either the student's or the interviewer's. Every effort should be made to ensure that the interview space is neutral, comfortable, and appropriate. If the interview is to take place in a professional office space, we ask that it occur in a conference room or other general meeting space.

Communicate with the applicant outside the context of the interview.
Please refrain from communicating with the applicant except to arrange and conduct the interview, and to address specific follow-up questions raised by the student. Members should contact students who have been admitted to Penn only after receiving communication from Penn Admissions or the Alumni Interview Program staff.

Meet applicants socially, or establish connections with applicants on social media.
Members should not meet with applicants for reasons other than the alumni interview. Alumni should never seek information about the student in newspapers, Google, or social media sites. Members should never attempt to connect with applicants via applications including Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc., and should decline such invitations from students.

Ask the student to do any special preparation for the interview.
Members should endeavor to learn about the applicant only through the interview conversation itself. Do not ask the student to provide any materials or documents such as grades, test scores, or a resume. If a student presents a resume or any other material at the interview, the alumnus should gracefully set it aside, and explain that the goal of the interview is to learn more about the applicant purely through conversation.

Interview applicants they know personally.
Members should decline all interview assignments for applicants they know personally, or where a significant social/professional relationship exists between the interviewer and the applicant's family.

Interview applicants from any high school where they maintain an active relationship.
Members should refrain from interviewing applicants who attend a particular high school where the alumnus has a separate current affiliation or position. Potential conflicts include alumni parents who have a junior or senior attending that same school, high school employees or regular volunteers, members of boards or steering committees, or other ongoing relationships.

Make direct comparisons between Penn and other institutions.
Members should avoid contrasting Penn with other universities, or making disparaging remarks about any academic institution. Alumni should not ask an applicant about other schools to which they have applied, although they may record this information in the interview report if a student volunteers it of their own accord.

Serve as interviewers when their children are applying to college.
Members should voluntarily recuse themselves from interviewing and other admissions-related activities if they have a child applying to college (regardless of whether or not their child is applying to Penn). Committee leaders with a child applying to college are expected to identify a substitute who will perform the duties of Chair or Interview Manager during that cycle. If a member has other personal or family relationships with the prospective Penn applicants, they should reach out to the Interview Program staff to discuss their eligibility. 

Members will notify the Penn Alumni Interview Program if they commit or witness any breach of the above expectations. Any member found in violation of our Eligibility Requirements or Principles of Good Practice is subject to deactivation from the Interview Program.

When in doubt, please contact the Penn Alumni Interview Program with any questions or concerns.


[ See also: Eligibility Requirements ]