Watching the Miss America pageant is always a fun way to spend an evening. But, the moment the winner is crowned I start receiving text messages asking what I thought of the Top 5 Questions. So here are last night’s Miss America Top 5 Questions, how I would score the answers, and some pageant coaching tips to improve your onstage interview.
Question 1: “There are multiple investigations into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia on the election. Well, did they? You’re the jury: guilty or innocent? And please explain your verdict.”
Answer, Miss Missouri: “Right now, I would have to say innocent, because not enough information has been revealed. We are still investigating this and I think we should investigate it to its fullest extent. And if we do find the evidence that they have had collusion with Russia, then they should — the justice system should do their due diligence and they should be punished accordingly.”
Score: I’d give this answer a 9. She clearly states her opinion in the opening sentence and demonstrates that she understands the issues related to this topic.
I scored her down a point for having a weak closing sentence. She sounded like she was reaching for words and struggling to create a closing sentence. A better closing sentence might have been “If evidence is found that proves collusion with Russia and President Trump or key leaders on his campaign staff, they should accept the consequence of their actions. In our country, we believe in equal justice for all.”
Tip for You: No matter what the rest of your answer sounds like, always close strong.
Question 2: “Last month, a demonstration of neo-Nazis, white supremacists and the KKK in Charlottesville, Va., turned violent and a counter protester was killed. The president said there was shared blame with ‘very fine people’ on both sides. Were there? Tell me yes or no, and explain.”
Miss Texas: “I think that the white supremacist issue, it was very obvious that it was a terrorist attack. And I think that President Donald Trump should have made a statement earlier addressing the fact, and making sure all Americans feel safe in this country, that is the No. 1 issue right now.”
Score: I’d give this answer a 7 for two reasons. 1) She was aware of the situation but did not demonstrate an accurate understanding of the facts. 2) If you listen carefully, you’ll hear that she didn’t actually answer the question.
The question asked was if there were “very fine people” on both sides. Her answer referenced what she thought about President Trump’s response. She never commented on the people involved. She did not discuss whether or not both sides shared responsibility for the violence. A better answer might have been: “We were all saddened by the violence in Charlottesville and the death of one of the counter protestors. Unfortunately, we have been seen more and more violence at these types of events. While good, fine people can have different opinions and disagree politically, it’s important that we support the right of free speech but immediately leave an event if it begins to become violent. It’s my hope that we can learn from this unfortunate event and agree to disagree, peacefully.
Tip for You: Listen carefully to the words of the question and don’t get distracted by words/issues that aren’t directly related to the question. After she heard “president” she decided it was a question about President Trump and she started formulating her answer in her head. She didn’t wait to realize it was a question asking her to comment on the people involved in the event.
Question 3: “One hundred ninety-five countries signed the Paris agreement, in which each country sets nonbinding goals to reduce man-made climate change. The U.S. is withdrawing from the agreement, citing negligible environmental effects and negative economic impact. Good decision? Bad decision? Which is it and why?”
Miss North Dakota: “I do believe it’s a bad decision. Once we reject that, we take ourselves out of the negotiation table. And that’s something that we really need to keep in mind. There is evidence that climate change is existing, so whether you believe it or not, we need to be at that table. And I think it’s just a bad decision on behalf of the United States.”
My score: 9+ This is a good, solid answer that demonstrates she understands the news story as well as contributing factors to the U.S. withdrawal. She states her opinion up front and explains why she thinks it was a bad decision.
My only critique on this answer is that it ended on a negative statement, “it’s just a bad decision.” A better ending might have been: “There is evidence that climate change is existing, so whether you believe it or not, we need to be at that table. We all want to leave a clean environment for future generations.”
Tip for You: You should always try to end on a positive note whenever possible.
Question 4: “A recent poll found slightly over half of Americans favored leaving Confederate statues in place, while others want them removed. Keep them or get rid of them? What’s your vote and why?”
Miss New Jersey: “I don’t think that the answer is to get rid of these statues. I think the answer is to relocate them into museums. Because we are truly defined by our country’s history, and I don’t think it’s something that we need to forget. We need to always remember it and honor our history of America because it truly makes us who we are as Americans. So they should be moved to museums.”
My score: 9+ She clearly states her opinion in the first sentence, explains why she feels that way and offers an alternative solution.
She ends by saying “So, they should be moved to museums,” but if she had flipped her last two answers, that would have had an even better close. She could have gone with: “So, they should be moved to museums. We need to always remember and honor our history of America because it truly makes us who we are as Americans.”
Tip for You: Ending your answer with a “flag wave” statement is always a good idea.
Question 5: “Given the evidence that concussions from playing football can cause brain damage, would you support legislation that outlaws full-contact football in elementary and high school? Yes or no, and why?”
Miss D.C.: “I do believe that I would. As someone who wants to go into the medical profession, I know how important it is to keep our kids safe so that they can have a quality education. And when they’re getting to high school and they’re playing these sports, they’re able to do so at the best of their ability and they’re not limited because they chose to play football at a young age.”
My score: 9 She clearly states her answer right away and personalizes it to her interest in the medical profession. It always great if you can personalize your answer.
Her closing sentence sounds a bit negative. If you consistently end on negative statements the judges might think you have a negative outlook on life. I would have loved to see her add a positive summary phrase at the end of her answer. Something like, “So, I would support legislation outlawing full-contact football because I think there is nothing more important than the health and success of our youth.”
Tip for You: Never end on a negative statement.
What’s the worst onstage question you’ve been asked? Leave your comment below.
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