Prior to this year’s competition, the Miss America Organization announced the addition of a personality question. Each of the Top 7 contestants would answer a question that was meant to show “who they are.” While most of the questions were about topics you’ve probably prepared for, one of the answers was clearly unexpected.
Miss Louisiana was asked, “Please fill in the blank. I know a lot of people love it, but I think ___ is totally overrated.” My heart sank when I heard her question because while it sounds pretty simple, it’s actually not the type of question most contestants prepare to answer.
And, unfortunately, her answer showed that she had not practiced this type of question. She said, “I know a lot of people love it but I think…(pause)…goodness gracious…I think rompers are totally overrated!”
So, what’s the secret to answering this type of question? Well, step #1 is to identify what type of question this is. You can probably tell that’s it’s not an accomplishment/achievement question. You know, where you share your academic achievements of what you’ve accomplished with your platform.
It’s also not a storytelling question. You know, when you tell a story about your happiest memory or proudest moment.
It’s a much lesser known, risky question: it’s a “funny” question. It’s a question that’s meant to show your sense of humor and the fun side of your personality. Why is that a risky question? Because you have to give an answer that all of the judges think is funny. And that’s hard because sense of humor is very personal. What one person finds funny, another person thinks is stupid. So, your challenge is to answer in a way that all the judges will at least see some humor in your answer.
The trick here is not the topic you decide to talk about, it’s the details that you provide about that topic. Let’s break down the question:
First, you need to identify something that you think is overrated. For the purposes of this example, I’ll pick scuba diving.
Next, you need to describe that topic in a way that makes it sound slightly ridiculous. Here’s my answer: “I have always thought that scuba diving is overrated. I have absolutely no interest in being stuffed like a sausage into a wetsuit. And then, jumping off a perfectly good boat into unknown waters to swim down to a depth where the water is pitch black, just to stare at a bunch of fish. If I want to see colorful fish, I’ll go to my local aquarium.”
The words that I used and the way I described the activity make it sound funny, even if you like scuba diving. And that’s what they’re looking for with this question.
Let’s try a different example. Let’s pretend that in this answer I say that tandem skydiving is overrated.
Here’s my answer: “I am not the least bit interested in tandem skydiving and have always thought it’s overrated. I see no reason to fling myself out of a perfectly good airplane that is not about to crash. And if I was going to jump out, I certainly would not want to be strapped to someone I’ve never met before. And after you jump, you have to spend the first few seconds praying that a tiny backpack opens and your life is saved by a square of super thin fabric. If I want that kind of excitement, I’ll go to an amusement park.”
Are you getting the hang of it? Okay, then let’s try answering the question with Miss Louisiana’s topic: rompers.
Here we go: “I have always thought that rompers are an overrated fashion choice. You first wear a romper when you’re a baby, but it’s called a onesie. Then you wear a romper when you’re 6 and your Mom wants all the kids to wear matching outfits for a photo. And later when you wear a romper, it’s called a school uniform. Now that I’m an adult I thought that I had safely escaped rompers, but they seem to be everywhere. I definitely think that rompers are overrated and should be limited to those moments when you’re too young to pick your own outfits.”
Are you getting the hang of it?
So, when you’re asked a question that seems to be out of left field, categorize the question before you answer. If it’s not a typical pageant question, it might be a ‘funny’ question. And if it’s a funny question, just pick your topic and add detail so that your winning personality can shine through!
What “funny” topic do you struggle with? Leave your comment in the box below.