How to Survive a Pageant Mock Interview
You know it’s coming. There’s just no escaping it. If you’re a local or state titleholder, at some point your director’s going to call you to tell you they’ve scheduled a mock interview. You’re absolutely dreading it.
Pageant directors schedule mock interviews to be helpful. But it often doesn’t feel that way. You’ve been through this before. The mock judges don’t understand pageant competition, have conflicting opinions about your interview skills, and it feels like they nitpick you to death.
When one of my VIP Coaching contestants tells me their director has scheduled them for a mock interview I take a deep breath, assure them that’s it’s going to be okay, and walk them through How to Survive a Pageant Mock Interview. Your mock interview can be helpful, you just need to know how to handle it.
1. Set Your Expectations
It’s important to realize ahead of time that your mock interview may not be all you hope it will be. The director may have had a hard time finding mock judges, may not have adequately trained them on what kind of questions to ask or avoid, and didn’t explain what to look for in a pageant interview. When that happens, you may end up knowing more about pageant interview than your judges. Disappointing, but real.
So, go into your mock interview expecting it not to be perfect. The judges may not be qualified, they may not ask the right questions, and they may give suggestions that don’t relate to your pageant. But at least they’re there, volunteering their time to help you succeed. By setting realistic expectations, you won’t be crushed if the questions are weird and the comments not helpful.
2. Go With the Flow
Your mock interview is not going to be as formal and structured as your pageant interview. It’s going to be a bit more casual and relaxed. Everyone might already know each other and it could feel like more like a social get-together than a pageant interview.
Don’t get annoyed if they’re running behind schedule, chat about what they just saw on social media, and seem a bit unprofessional. It’s okay. You can still get helpful information from your mock interview. Be patient and go with the flow.
3. Listen to Feedback, But…
So, the questions are over and the feedback portion of your mock interview has begun. You won’t survive emotionally unless you remember to do two things:
- Don’t take anything personally.
- Remember to consider the source.
Of course, the feedback feels personal because they’re critiquing you and your personal interview. But, this part of your mock interview is about gathering information. That’s it. You don’t have to agree with the feedback or defend your answers. You’re just gathering data.
Once you’ve gathered the data (you took good notes, right?) it’s time to consider the source. If the person who suggested that an answer was terrible has never judged a pageant, competed in a pageant, or interviewed and hired someone for a job before they may have been in over their head. If their feedback seems wrong or out of line to you, it’s okay to let go of that feedback.
However, if they’re an experienced judge, held several titles, or have experience interviewing people in the business world, you probably want to hang on to that feedback and move on to the next step.
4. Evaluate and Analyze Feedback
This happens after the mock interview when you’re home and feeling relaxed. You read over your feedback notes and look for patterns and consistency. Did several judges mention they didn’t understand your platform? Then you probably need to work on that. Did everyone agree that you said, “I think,” at the beginning of every answer? Then you will want to fix that. Don’t focus on the one-off comments that other judges, or your director, didn’t seem to agree with. Tweak your interview based on the patterns and consistency in the feedback. That’s the feedback that can lead to higher interview scores.
So, next time you get that I-scheduled-a-mock-interview-for-you email, don’t panic. It’s just part of the process of getting ready to compete. You can complain and dread it, or use it to improve your skills. It’s up to you.