Have an effective strategy in place to help you make an excellent first impression and to end the interview on a winning note.

Want to know the best question to ask if you want to end your interview on a great note?

The two most important parts of any interview are the “bookends” – the first impression you make and the last. These segments of the college interview are crucial to the way the interviewer sees you now and how they remember you in future.

To make a great first impression: dress for success, arrive early, and prepare for just about every question you might face during the interview.

All this preparation matters. The first couple seconds set the tone of the entire interview and relationship. A positive showing can mean the difference between an acceptance letter and a “Next!”

Whether you nail your time with the interviewer or feel like giving up half way through because things aren’t going as planned, you can still end strong (and even salvage a poor showing). Marshall Darr, in his short piece on Medium, shares exactly how.

At the very end of the session, interviewers always asks “Do you have any final questions?” as a way to wrap things up before you shake hands and head your separate ways. They already believe you’ve covered everything. This is your opportunity! You know it’s coming, and it’s time to make your power move.

With a spirit of innocence and curiosity, ask:

“I was wondering what your best moment so far at [School Name] was?”

This is a compelling question for three reasons:

First, you’ll get key, heartfelt insights on the interviewer’s values, the school and how well you might fit in on campus. Because this is a very intimate part of the conversation, the interviewer will be “off script” and you’ll get uncensored feedback and input.

Next, there’s no higher note to end on than with your interviewer’s fondest memory of the school. Everyone loves to talk about their best memories and experiences. Their good feelings will now subconsciously be linked with your prospects as a future student. That can be a real win for you!

And finally, besides being an emotional plus for you, this question will also give you a good idea of what the school might value and the kind of culture on the campus. Or, if the interviewer struggles to come up with a meaningful memory, that can be a helpful red flag for you as you are making your school decision.

So, rather than wrapping up with a slightly awkward “Thanks for your time,” give this question a shot. My bet is you’ll leave the interview flying high and confident you’ve made a positive impression on both the interviewer and the school.


Mike McKinnon (mike@cofp.net) is the founder and CEO of College Planners of America.
He knows that navigating the path to college alone can be hard. Doing it affordably is even harder.
Click here if you might like Mike’s help as you or your student head toward college and beyond.