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How to Prepare for an Onstage Interview Question

01, November 2012

One of the most nerve-racking elements of any competition is onstage interview. The onstage interview question is a difficult area of the competition to train for because you do not really know what to expect. And if you mess up the whole audience knows about it. So, no pressure right?

Miss Mississippi 2019 Mary Margaret Hyer selecting her onstage question at the Miss Mississippi 2019 pageant. Photo: Mary Margaret Hyer Facebook

On Stage Interview Finding Confidence During On Stage Interview

However, in this article I'm going to break down some strategies and tell you how to have confidence during your onstage interview question through preparation.

The First Step to Take – Preparation The first step you will need to take involves preparation. Prepare yourself just like you would when preparing for a job interview. Think to yourself, “What would a judge ask a potential Miss America, Miss Georgia, Miss Kentucky etc?”

These questions though they are randomly selected out of a container usually have to do with your platform, a controversial current event or something along the lines of why you feel you would be a good Miss (fill in the blank)? You will be judged on the way you answer your question, so in order to prepare invite some friends and family members over to the house and have them ask you random questions involving these topics.

Keep Your Posture in Mind

As you are onstage, you should keep your posture in mind. If you stand straight with your head high, then you will look confident. If you are tall do not bend over the mic to speak. I don't care if the microphone comes up to your knees I better NOT see you bending over. Step back and talk louder. Before the pageant, you should practice your posture and body language. How do you want to present yourself as you walk up to the interviewer, what do you want to do with your hands while you are listening to the question, and how do you want to address the audience and judges after hearing the question?

Simple Techniques for Controlling Your Nerves

There are simple techniques that you can use in order to control your nerves. To get the nervous energy away from your voice and face, curl up your toes, and take deep breaths before you go out on stage. Breathe deeply in and then slowly release the breath from your lungs. Lastly and most importantly be thankful. Be grateful that you are having the possibility to do something that you love, to earn money for college, and to open up doors of opportunity. Scientists have proven that you cannot be fearful and thankful simultaneously. In the body only one of these feelings can exist at once.

Choose gratitude over fear.

Side note: It's normal to have an accelerated heart rate as you when you are getting ready to answer a question. The adrenaline helps you perform better. Being thankful makes the adrenaline manageable but does not completely remove the nerves.

Listen Before Speaking

Before you answer your onstage question, you have got to listen CAREFULLY. Common sense right? Well, common sense is not so common. Many contestants out there that do not give a good interview simply because they are not able to answer the question fully. You will need to understand just what the judge is asking you before you jump in and start giving your answer. You are not docked points if you ask the emcee to repeat the question. If you don't fully understand then ask them to repeat.

Don’t Be Afraid of Silence

Before you speak, you should pause to think. That's natural. Adding in fillers “um” and “uh” will make you seem as if you are lacking the confidence you need. You should not be afraid of having some silence. A 1 second pause to you may feel like an eternity but to those of us sitting in the audience it seems completely natural.  Before you speak, wait until you have successfully collected your thoughts. Side Note: You should keep your answers down to around the 20 second mark...but don't rush your speech. Speak at a normal pace.

Show Personality

When you are answering the onstage question do not use this opportunity to tout your resume and seem important. Be personable. Judges score the girls they like better than the ones they don't, right? Armed with this knowledge think about the last time you were talking to a guy and the only thing he talked about was how good he was in sports or how much money he has. Then compare him to the guy who was more light-hearted. Who did you like better? Well, the judges are just normal people like you and I so apply this knowledge to pageantry.

Be bold and confident while maintaining a light-hearted nature of one who doesn't take themselves too seriously. Now, that you have the tips...how can you pull all of these tips together so that you nail your onstage interview question?

Your onstage interview preparation can be a great opportunity to have fun with your family and friends. Get a couple friends together and ask them to bring 5 questions each. Make a pizza….I mean a salad, and have them ask the questions as if you were on-stage. This is a great practice because they will be able to see things that you do not such as rocking, not blinking enough, or a funny stance.

Below is a recap of some technical pointers for your onstage interview:

1. I don't care if the mic comes up to your knees DO NOT bend over. Step back and talk louder.

2. Answer the question first to the host, then the judges, then the audience then back to the host.

3. Answer the question asked. Bunny trails = point deductions

4. Pause then answer.

5. Speak at a normal pace in your normal voice.

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