Contestants prepare to give their Miss Universe Top 3 answers.

Asking each contestant to answer the same question as part of the onstage interview is a growing trend in pageantry. It enables the judges to make an apples-to-apples comparison of contestant answers to the exact same question. So how did this year’s Miss Universe Top 3 contestants handle the final question? Check out my scorecard below for the 2018 Miss Universe Top 3 answers.

Question: What quality in yourself are you most proud of, and how will you apply that quality to your time as Miss Universe?

Miss South Africa: “As Miss Universe, [you] have to be confident in who you are as an individual. A Miss Universe is a woman [who] has overcome many fears, and, by that, she is able to help other women overcome their fears. She is a woman that nothing is ever too much to ask for, and I think that is exactly who I am.”

Score: I gave this answer a very respectable 9. The content of her answer was nice, she delivered it beautifully, but she gave an indirect answer to the question. She didn’t actually say what quality she was most proud of in herself. And she didn’t discuss how she would apply that quality to her time as Miss Universe. As a judge, you might decide that confidence was the quality of which she was most proud, but she didn’t actually say that. She said a Miss Universe has to be confident and that confidence often comes from overcoming fears. She also implied that she would use her experience overcoming fears to help others, but she didn’t say how.

To make this a more direct answer, she could have answered using the two-part structure of the question. Perhaps something like this, “I’m very proud of the confidence I have in who I am as an individual. (Part 1) That confidence was developed by overcoming fears and becoming comfortable in my own skin. (Brief explanation.) As Miss Universe, I will use my experience developing confidence in myself to inspire others to never give in to fear and never give up on their dreams. (Part 2)”

Tip for You: Stick to the structure of a two-part question when delivering your answer. It’s very easy to get lost when answering a two-part question. Use the “first this, then that” format to deliver your answer. That way you’ll be certain that you’ve directly answered both parts of the question.

Miss Columbia: “I am incredibly compassionate about everything I do. I have discipline. With compassion, I put my whole self in every situation that I work [on]. I’ve done this as an actress, I’ve done this as [Miss] Colombia, and I do not doubt that I would do this as Miss Universe.”

Score: I gave this answer an 8 for several of reasons. 1) She identifies two qualities, compassion and discipline, instead of just one. 2) She goes on to only explain compassion and but doesn’t include an explanation of discipline. 3) She says that she uses compassion as an actress, but doesn’t elaborate. Does she mean she uses compassion to get into character? Or does she mean as an actress she makes charity appearances that demonstrates her compassion? 4) Then she says she’s “done this” as Miss Columbia, but doesn’t give an example. Additionally, she indicates that she will use compassion as Miss Universe, but doesn’t say how.

To really nail this answer she could have said, “I am incredibly proud of my ability to be compassionate about everything I do. As an actress, I use compassion every day to get into character. During my time as Miss Columbia, I’ve demonstrated compassion by volunteering for charity organizations and bringing awareness to important causes. As Miss Universe, I will continue to demonstrate compassionate through my commitment to helping others.”

Tip for You: Don’t offer two or three topics to a one subject question. Sometimes it’s hard to select one “favorite”. But you must resist the temptation to list several items. And if you mess up and list more than one, make sure you explain each one. As a rule, stick to one subject in a one subject question.

Miss Jamaica: “The quality I am most appreciative of is my drive, my determination. I am the founder of a foundation that spreads awareness for the deaf community, and this platform is such a great platform to just let [people] know that these persons need opportunities and equal opportunities like those in society. And so the Miss Universe competition will be the platform for me to use this foundation to spread awareness for all the deaf people around.”

Score: I scored this answer as a solid 10. She leads off with a strong introductory sentence indicating the quality she’s most proud of. Then she explains how she’s used that quality to benefit others. Lastly, as Miss Universe, she indicates that she will continue to use her drive and determination to benefit deaf people around the world. Answers just don’t get any better than that.

Tip for You: When you’re nervous, listen carefully and use the structure of the question to format your answer. Everyone is nervous during their onstage question. Even experienced contestants competing for the most prestigious titles get nervous. Because Miss Jamaica’s answer stuck to the format of the question, she delivered a great answer.

But I’m guessing that you noticed the final outcome of the pageant doesn’t match up to how I scored the Top 3 answers. Miss Jamaica gave the best answer but was Second Runner-up. Miss Columbia’s answer was weaker than Jamaica’s, but she placed as First Runner-up. And Miss South Africa won the title, even though she didn’t give the best answer. Why? Because in Universe and USA, the judges do not actually score the onstage question. The contestants are scored in Evening Gown and Swimsuit and then the judges switch to a forced-ranking ballot. In a forced-ranking ballot the judge lists the contestants in the order they would like them to finish. So, while the judges may have been impressed by Miss Jamaica’s answer, the majority of them ranked Miss South Africa as the winner.

Final Tip for You: Know whether or not your pageant actually scores the Onstage Question portion of the competition. Some pageants do, and some pageants don’t. If your pageant scores your answer, focus on delivering a great answer. If your pageant doesn’t score your answer, your goal is just to avoid a huge mistake (remember Miss South Carolina Teen USA 2007?) Knowing whether or not your onstage answer is scored, can make a big difference in how nervous you are when delivering your answer.

So those are my scores and critiques of the Miss Universe Top 3 answers. To see how I scored the Miss Universe Top 5 Questions, click here. By watching, and learning from other pageant competitions you can improve your skills and deliver a winning performance!