It happens almost every time a contestant participates in a mock interview. After the mock interview is over, the judges offer their “helpful” feedback. Ideally, this would be constructive feedback that you can use to improve your pageant interview skills. Sadly, mock interviews often leave you feeling depressed and confused.
Unfortunately, most mock interviews aren’t run as well as you’d like. You expect the judges to be qualified, have experience judging this particular pageant, and know what a winning interview sounds like. But mock interviews are often thrown together at the last minute, with the host inviting their neighbor, co-worker, or family friend to judge. While it’s great that these people are willing to donate their time to help you with your interview, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re qualified.
When I get a call from a contestant who’s upset, confused, or just plain mad about her mock interview it’s usually because:
- The judges were not qualified.
- The judges didn’t understand what’s expected in a personal interview.
- The judges didn’t ask the right questions.
- The judges don’t know what a winning interview sounds like.
So how can you avoid feeling like your pageant mock interview was a hot mess? Just follow the tips below and you’ll end up with helpful feedback to improve your interview.
1. Keep an Open Mind
It’s natural to be nervous about your pageant mock interview. Whether it’s your first time or you’ve done a mock interview before, you’re probably not looking forward to it. But a mock interview can be helpful if you keep an open mind. Instead of dreading your mock interview, go into it with the expectation that you’ll get helpful information.
You might be doing the mock interview because you want to. But you may be doing it because your director is hosting it, your pageant friends are all doing it, or your Mom is making you do it.
Whatever your reason, if you approach the experience with an open mind you can get information that will boost your interview score.
2. Write Down the Feedback
Your mock interview might feel a little overwhelming when the judges, and others in the room, start sharing their feedback. It’s impossible to keep track of all the comments or suggestions with everyone sharing their opinion. You know how it goes, you get home and you remember a few comments and that’s it.
You can’t improve your skills if you can’t remember the feedback. So, write down all the comments. Even if you disagree with the feedback or it makes you upset, write it down. If you’re not great at taking notes, ask everyone in the room if it’s okay to record the feedback session on your cell phone.
Don’t evaluate the feedback right now. That will come later.
3. Evaluate the Judges
Now that you’re home and maybe it’s the next day, evaluate the judges. Let’s look at some key factors you should consider:
- Does the judge have experience judging contestants competing in this pageant or a similar pageant?
- Has the judge judged contestants at the local, state, national or international level at which you’re competing?
- Did the judge ask good questions or were they random questions that you would never be asked during your personal interview?
- Did the judge seem well-spoken and demonstrate the public speaking skills that you are required to display as a contestant?
Why should you take time to evaluate your judges? Because everyone will have an opinion about your personal interview. But not everyone will have the experience or qualifications necessary to provide you with accurate or helpful feedback.
And sometimes you may have a judge who is so critical that they leave you feeling depressed and confused. If when you evaluate that judge you realize that they’re not qualified, you can let go of their feedback because you realize they shouldn’t have been a judge.
They evaluated you, so it’s fair play to evaluate them.
4. Evaluate the Feedback
Now that you’ve decided who is, and who’s not, qualified to give helpful feedback, it’s time to review that feedback.
First, eliminate questionable feedback. If one of the judges wasn’t impressive or clearly didn’t know what they were doing, set their feedback aside. You don’t want to waste time worrying about feedback from an unqualified judge.
Next, look for common statements. If two of your judges said that you rambled and didn’t really answer the question, you know you need to work on that. If one of the judges and your director claim that you started every sentence with. “I would have to say…,” That’s helpful feedback for improving your interview skills.
Then, look for patterns. Let’s pretend one judge says your answers were too short and another judge indicates that you didn’t explain your answers. Both judges are telling you that your answers lack detail. Or maybe one judge says you didn’t really answer the question and another judge says you tend to ramble, that means your answer lacks direction. When one or more judges have essentially the same feedback, that’s good information to help you when practicing your interview.
Evaluating your feedback is essential for developing your improvement plan.
5. Use Feedback to Develop Skills
Now that you’ve probably weeded out 50% of the comments, you’re left with meaningful feedback that’s worth considering. As you review each piece of remaining feedback don’t ask yourself, “Do I agree with this feedback.” Instead, ask yourself, “Can I see why my answer may have come across in a way that resulted in this feedback?”
Try to resist the temptation to respond emotionally to the feedback that you received. It’s important to remember that when you’re in the interview room your judges will have a different perspective than your own. The key to getting a top interview score is not to explain your opinion from your perspective, but to explain it in a way that will enable the majority of judges to understand your opinion and how you arrived at it.
Write down the key points of feedback and your action plan. Your list might look like this:
- Answers too short. Work on adding more content to each answer.
- Couldn’t answer questions about community service other than platform work. Review all community service appearances/activities listed on contestant bio.
- Unclear opinions on current events. Research current events and practice possible questions.
So next time you’re invited to a mock interview, go ahead and accept with confidence. Now that you know how to assess your mock interview feedback, you can use confidently use that feedback to improve your content and interviewing skills.
You’re going to be FABulous!