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How Pageant Directors Choose and Instruct Judges

01, December 2015

Outside of the competitors themselves, the pageant judges a system uses become the cornerstone of the contest. Because all roads lead to these individuals who will decide the fate of the competitors, choosing and more importantly educating them is critical to achieving the goal of the pageant. Need a judge for your upcoming pageant? Check out our judges database!


2019 national winners from the America's U.S. Miss system! Photo: America's U.S. Miss Facebook

First and foremost, recruiting judges involves using a variety of sources such as other directors, past competitors, pageant coaches, educators, professionals & beauty specialists, etc. These sources can act as either judges themselves, or act as contacts for you to meet other potential judges. 

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As the pageant world is relatively small, reputation goes a long way to narrow down a judging pool.  As directors strive to have judges who are professional, knowledgeable, and objective with touch of celebrity.  Knowing what pageants a judge has served on in the past is also a major tool in determining their base of knowledge and experience.

Discussions With Pageant Judges

Additionally, a simple interview/discussion with each judge ahead of time helps indicate to a director if each judge is a good fit for judging this particular system.   For example, a traditionally beauty/fitness judge may not have as much interview experience as a certified Miss America or scholarship program type judge.

Varied Backgrounds

Finally, it is often a goal to have judges with various backgrounds such as coaches, lawyers, entertainers, modeling agents, etc.  Having such a blend brings a well-rounded wealth of knowledge to the panel.

Once the judging panel has been selected, it is very important to properly brief and educate them prior to competition.  While the judges should have previously researched the system on their own, ensuring they understand the expectations and format of the pageant should avoid unnecessary confusion during the competition. Once the format has been briefed, the first thing to discuss with the judges is the focus of the pageant system; is this a glam, natural style, service, scholarship, or combination system?

For example, America’s U.S. Miss is a scholarship system and thus the interview portion of competition carries the highest weight in the scoring. In contrast, World’s Glamorous Miss is a glam system which weighs the three phases of competition (panel interview, on-stage gown, & on-stage personality wear) equally.

While it is natural that judges will come to the competition with their own tastes and preferences, focusing their attention on the system goals should highlight how to use their preferences when scoring.


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