I have been invited for an interview with Notre Dame, but I live in Canada.
The admissions email said that they prefer it if candidates attended in person, but the interview request form asked if you would prefer to do it at your home location (which I am assuming means by phone). I know that it is always preferable to go to the interview in person, but I see that their website declares that all interviews are evaluated equally, regardless of the means used.
I've looked into traveling to Notre Dame, IN, and it would take me 2 days of travel each way and would cost $1,500. Also, their "decision date" is February 18, so I would have to leave on short notice.
I'm not trying to make excuses, but I'm wondering if I will be penalized for asking for a phone interview rather than an in-person interview.
You needn't have to worry at all. Your geographical disposition is the cause that at such a short notice, you'dn't be able to make it to an in-person interview. As much as we applicants seek good schools, so do schools seek good applicants and any amount of errors or lapses that might occur will be equally detrimental to both of you.
You could comfortably ask for a telephonic round, or at best, most schools request their alumni members to conduct the required interviews in-person, on behalf of the school authorities, if both the applicant and the alumni member reside near to one-another. I have known of three such cases from some of my college buddies and seniors. Don't bother and place a formal request, a convenient plan can always be sorted out.
I am AWESOME and it's gonna be LEGENDARY!!!