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10 Common Questions Asked in a Miss America Interview

12, September 2016

Our new Miss America was just crowned, and while we saw the ladies strut their stuff on stage in Evening Gown, Talent, and Onstage Question, earlier this week each delegate participated in the Interview competition. The interview is a panel-style interview with 5-7 judges that lasts for 10 minutes. It is worth 25 percent of the overall score. If you are planning to compete in an MAO local and have dreams of becoming Miss America, there are a few questions you will probably get in that interview.

Miss Idaho 2019 Grace Zimmerman. Photo: Grace Zimmerman Instagram

10 Common Questions in a Miss America Interview

1. Tell us about yourself?

Don't: Start listing everything on your bio sheet and tell the judges your demographics.

Do: Many moons ago, we started a Miss America interview with an introduction before the judges asked us questions. They took that out. Now the judges start with this. Think of the interview as an essay and this question is your introduction paragraph. What would you say in an essay to grab the reader's attention? Make sure you have a thesis statement, ending with the strongest and most important aspect you have in your competition arsenal so the judges ask you questions about that. Be sure to include the name of your platform and don't just say, "I've been working with my platform." (Read: The 10 Toughest Pageant Interview Questions and How to Answer Them)

2. Why did you decide to compete?

Don't: I do not care how true it may be, do NOT tell the judges you are there for the scholarship. You sound like a pageant gold digger when you do this.

Do: You can totally acknowledge that the scholarship would be helpful and alleviate some of the burden associated with a college degree. However, make sure to add other things you hope to do with the title. How you would like to use the title to leverage exposure for the needs of your platform and ultimately continue to grow the local so you can gain more sponsors to assist future titleholders with scholarships and state preparation.

3. Of all the pageant systems out there, why did you choose Miss America?

Don't: Again, don't you dare say the scholarship opportunities. Why? A lot of pageants give out scholarships now, even MAO's biggest rival in pageantry, Miss USA state pageants have some scholarship ties to specific schools (as do MAO scholarships). 

Do: What was the "it" factor that attracted you to Miss America besides the scholarships? If you're just looking at dollar signs, you're never going to find out everything this organization can offer you.

4. What are the four points of the crown?

Don't: Stand there like a deer in the headlights. I kid you not, I was competing before the internet and Google were a big thing and my high school teachers treated Wikipedia like the plague. I was asked this and full on looked at the judges and said, "They mean something?" 10 years ago I was 18/19 and it was okay, now, you have the world of information in your hand and you better know this answer. By the way, the judge told me what they were.

Do: Know the four points of the crown confidently enough that you down have to make invisible points on your head to try to remember them when a judge asks (yes, I did that and then was excited when I remembered. Pretty sure it was the same judge).

5. Which point on the crown means the most to you? D

on't: Be unprepared for this question. Have an answer and state it confidently.

Do: Be confident in your answer and describe why. Tell the judges why one point is more important to you than the others by giving them at least three examples of how it applies to your life and what you stand for more so than the others.

6. Who is your favorite Miss (State)?

Don't: Please have an answer for this! Even if you are from out-of-state and competing where you go to college, have an answer! Do your research.

Do: Be prepared with an answer and three reasons why she is your favorite.

7. Who is your favorite Miss America?

Don't: Do not say the current titleholder (especially if Miss America was within the last few weeks and she hasn't done anything) unless you can really support why. Saying a current, or very recent, titleholder makes it sound like you have only been paying attention to the pageant a short time and haven't done your research. Make sure you have a strong answer if you use a current/recent titleholder.

Do: Have an answer that is genuine and you can support. It doesn't have to be her service that made her stand out. The platform hasn't always been around in the competition.

8. What area of competition would you change and why?

Don't: Don't be afraid to answer honestly, but don't sound negative when you do so.

Do: Be diplomatic in your answer. A lot of girls would say swimsuit but don't sound like a reporter trying to ride the coattails of a women's rights movement when you explain it. Acknowledge both sides, why the pageant has the phase, why you want to eliminate it, and offer a solution to replace it.

9. What would the crown mean to you?

Don't: Start crying and get emotional. You can show emotion without tears. Again, do not talk about money and the scholarship as your sole reason.

Do: Be genuine and answer honestly. You can mention that the scholarship would help cover your costs, but what having that crown would mean to you 10 years from now is really how you should be answering this. Ten years from now, will you look back and say, "Wow, this crown paid for my college, it was great!" or will you look back and say, "Wow, this crown gave me the opportunity to pay for my college expenses so that I could focus on changing the world through my platform rather than working to pay off student debt and because I didn't have to take overtime or a second job, I was able to make an impact in someone's life"?

10. Anything political.

Don't: Get into an "I'm rubber, you're glue" battle with a judge. Don't outright state your opinion as if it's the only one that matters.

Do: If you have ever had to solve a conflict between two children, you know there are two sides to every story, but there is common ground as to why it happened in the first place. The same goes for political questions. Make sure you state both sides. Begin with the opposing side as you see it from their perspective, then state your side, why that is, and what you would like to see done to gain common ground if possible.

Going forward Remember, Miss America, no matter the level of competition, is a job. Treat the interview just like you would a job interview. So, get a coach, practice, watch the news, do whatever you have to do to make sure you nail it and get on the Miss America stage. Click here to find an interview coach.

You have 10 minutes with the judges. In many systems, girls only get 1-4 minutes, so you have more than double that and can take advantage of it. Tell stories, get personal and give details; use that time for all it's worth. In the fourth quarter, football coaches remind their players, "15 minutes for the rest of your life." Ladies, you have 10. Good luck!

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