If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a hundred times, “Pageants are won in the interview room.” Why does everyone keep saying that? Well, because it’s true! Your personal interview is the best opportunity for the judges to get to know you. They get a sense of who you are and if you’re ready to be the titleholder. So, if you want to get top scores check out my 5 secrets to a winning pageant interview.
1. Listen, Listen, Listen. Many contestants only listen to the first sentence of the question. After that, they “tune out” the judge and start formulating their answer. While you may think you’re being efficient, the judges can tell that you’re not paying attention. Plus, if you stop listening too soon, you risk giving an answer that doesn’t match the back end of the question. It takes patience and practice to listen all the way to the end of each pageant question. But that’s exactly what you need to do. If you work on listening during your practice sessions, you’ll listen during your pageant interview. It takes real skill to remain focused on what the judges are asking. Your focus and patience will pay off when the judge can tell that you’ve paid them the courtesy of really listening to their question.
2. Read Between the Lines. Sometimes the question you hear is not really the question the judge is trying to get at. For example, “How do you juggle the many activities you’re currently involved in?” is really code for “How will you manage your time to fulfill the duties and responsibilities of the titleholder?” And “Tell me about your favorite family holiday?” is code for “What are your family values?” Many questions seem simple on the surface but have a hidden agenda. Make sure you understand the real purpose of a question, so you deliver an answer to what they’re really asking.
3. Get Specific. Contestants who aren’t exactly sure of how to handle a question, often give vague, generalized answers. And those generalized answers tend to be the exact same answers other contestants are using. So, don’t just keep repeating the same keywords and phrases you’ve heard other contestants say. When you give an overused answer, all the judges are going to hear is “blah, blah, blah.” When you get a question, start your answer, add two or three specifics about the question, and then wrap it up. Use examples, statistics or stories about your personal experience. Detailed, specific answers will help you get top pageant interview scores.
4. Know Your Bio Content. No matter how totally fabulous you are, make sure you know your bio content before you step into the interview room. As an experienced judge, I’m always surprised when I ask a question straight off the contestant’s bio, and her answer doesn’t match her bio. Once, I had a contestant ask me to tell her what she had written on her bio so she could answer the question. And you won’t get points for answering tough current events questions if you can’t remember the awards and achievements listed on your contestant resume. So, make sure that you’re familiar with each piece of information on your bio and ready to answer questions any question. The first step to marketing yourself as the next titleholder is to know the information on your pageant resume.
5. Finish Strong. Occasionally, no matter how well-prepared you are, you’re going to give an answer you don’t love. You start out well, get lost in your content and drift off at the end. Even if you think your answer was awful, remember to finish strong. Why? Because typically by the end of your answer the judges aren’t actively listening anymore. They’re looking at your resume and trying to decide what question they want to ask next. Or, they’re wondering whether or not it’s their turn to ask the next question. If you feel like your ending is just a bit weak, focus on maintaining your volume all the way to the end of your answer. If you drop your volume, the judges will notice and sense that you don’t love your answer. So when you feel like your answer wasn’t the greatest, keep that volume up and finish strong!
So next time you’re all dolled up in your best interview outfit, remember these 5 secrets to a winning pageant interview. Your pageant interview will never be the same!