Miss Teen Hawaii International 2017 pageant contestants ready for interview. Photo courtesy: Miss Teen Miliani Mauka International Instagram.
Pageant interviews are exciting and nerve-wracking all at once. It is imperative to have a lasting impact on the judges during what is likely your most heavily weighted area of competition. This is your prime opportunity to shine and introduce the judges to the next queen – you, of course! Pageant interviews have the capability of turning into a sink or swim situation. Don't be caught without a life vest – utilize these tips to make sure you stay afloat and ace your next interview!
1. Be Late Many of us have been told by both directors and coaches alike that, "if you're on time, you're late!" This is especially true for the interview portion of your pageant. Many times there is a "staging" area before hand, where contestants may be sectioned off by groups. If you are not present, someone will notice. Be at least 15 minutes early prior to your scheduled time, and even earlier if your directors suggest. (Read: Why Are Girls Always Late?)
2. Bring Unnecessary Items Cell phone, purse, chewing gum, heavy perfume, your friends and family... leave them behind for just this short period of time. The only thing going into the interview room should be you and your beautiful dress or suit.
Lyndsay Stafford, Mrs. Memphis International 2017 at the 2017 Mrs. Tennessee International Pageant. Photo courtesy: Lyndsay Stafford Instagram.
3. Use Slang Words Feeling comfortable and having strong rapport with your judges is exciting, but you pose the highest risk of letting slang slip out at this juncture. Even the occasional OMG, BTW or YOLO have no place in your pageant interview, so do your best to hold them back! Remember, they are in search of a well spoken, articulate and grammatically correct titleholder. (Read: How To Answer Beauty Pageant Questions)
4. Don't Dress For The Part A pageant interview is like a job interview. You are applying to be an exclusive representative of a pageant, essentially serving as its brand ambassador for a year. However, the pageant interview room is no place for boring work suits. Look for something professional that fits well, while flattering with colors and details that express who you are as an individual. Be sure to test run your selection before the actual interview. Make sure it is comfortable to both sit and stand in. Also, make sure it doesn't bunch or ride up too far when you sit in a chair. (Read: Does My Interview Dress Have An Impact On Winning Over Judges?)
Miss American Sweetheart contestants at the 2017 National Miss American Coed pageant. Photo courtesy: Miss American Coed Pageants Instagram.
5. Air Dirty Laundry You should always project your positive, glowing attitude in your interview! Directors aren't looking for a titleholder that poses the risk of naysaying their system. Negative comments and experiences specifically regarding other systems, contestants, businesses, sponsors and the like are absolutely off limits. Always do unto others as you would want them to do unto you. No one likes to be talked about negatively, so please think carefully about what you say when mentioning others.
6. Lie One fear contestants have is not knowing the answer to something challenging during interview. We're all human – it really is okay to not know an answer! What matters is how you handle the situation. If you make something up, they may ask you elaborate through follow-up questions. You'll trip over the answers and your body language will be a dead giveaway that you aren't telling the truth. Instead, be honest and admit you don't know the answer. Finish strongly and confidently tell the judges what you DO know about that particular topic.
Piper Blanch, IJM Minnesota Preteen 2017, confident for interview at the 2017 International Junior Miss Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska pageant. Photo courtesy: Brandy Blanch.
7. Don't Listen Nervousness can cloud our active listening skills. Be patient and try to relax as your judge asks each question. Visualize each question in your mind as it is being asked, and don't rush the answer. If you truly don't understand the question, ask for clarification.
8. Forget Your Body Language Manners Remember that much of what we communicate to others isn't actually coming from our mouths. Non-verbal communication accounts for approximately 60 to 90 percent of all human communication! Don't forget to sit up tall and maintain good eye contact – don't slouch, gesture wildly or fidget – and don't forget to smile! (Read: 5 Body Language Mistakes You are Making in Interview)
Rori Van Nortwick, Mrs. Alaska United States 2016, with local titleholders at a mock interview. Photo courtesy: Mrs. Alaska United States Pageant Instagram.
9. Forget to Prepare Prepare, prepare and prepare some more! Be sure to know the pageant system, especially the mission and core values. Be knowledgeable of current royalty, directors, sponsors and partners, history of the program, and about all phases of competition. You'll need to be able to effectively articulate the system's attributes throughout the year if chosen as a titleholder. In addition to knowing the pageant, don't forget about the most important piece of the puzzle – you! Keep a copy of your bio, your application and all required paperwork. Review what is contained in your paperwork before interview day.
10. Don't Be Yourself Relax and try to actually enjoy the interview experience! An optimistic attitude filled with positive self-affirmations will do wonders in the interview room. The most important thing to remember during your interview is to remain true to yourself. Just be you and don't forget to have some fun! "Don't worry about everyone else; tell your own story," said Karry Thorson, who is a regional, state and national judge for Miss American Coed, National American Miss and Miss America preliminaries. "We want to learn what is unique and special about you!"
Pageant contestants practiced their interview skills during a mock interview hosted by Confidence & Poise, LLC. Photo courtesy: Mary Swenson.
Going Forward It's completely natural to be nervous about your pageant interview and wonder what mistakes you might make along the way. Remind yourself of these interview don'ts to up the ante on your interview skills. If you're feeling pre-pageant jitters, sign up for mock interviews in your area. We'd also be happy to help you practice and prepare for your next interview! Check out information on our one-on-one coaching and/or VIP memberships here. Good luck!
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