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How to Succeed in Pageant Interview

07, August 2018

The interview portion of any pageant competition is often the most intimidating part of the entire pageant experience. Part of the intimidation is that interview is usually the section of the competition where the contestant receives the highest percentage of their score. Combining the high stakes of the scoring with the uniqueness of the judging process can make anyone feel nervous.

Whether you are sitting across the table from your judge or you are standing at a podium in front of a whole panel of judges, it is a very different feeling than when you are on the stage and the judges are in the audience watching you.

The interview is also the very first time that you meet the judges and they meet you. First impressions are a big deal and because this is often how the pageant begins, the whole interview experience can feel like a lot of pressure! Not to worry though, we have come up with an all-inclusive guide to pageant interview. With this guide, you are sure to ace your next pageant interview.

In order to help you get through our exhaustive article we have provided you with links to our subsection. Choose the subsection that interests you the most or read it like a book. Either way you will find tremendous value.

Table of Contents

What is pageant interview?

Why is pageant interview important? 

What am I being judged on in pageant interview? 

What are the different styles of pageant interview?

How long is pageant interview?

What type of space is pageant interview held in?

Who judges pageant interview?

What to expect from judges in pageant interview

What paperwork do I need for pageant interview?

When is my paperwork due for pageant interview?

When do judges get my paperwork for pageant interview?

How should I walk into the room for pageant interview?

How should I stand/sit during pageant interview?

What to wear for pageant interview

What do I need to consider when picking my outfit for pageant interview?

What colors work best for pageant interview?

Can I wear a pattern for pageant interview?

How important is my pageant interview outfit to my score?

Where do I find outfits for pageant interview?

What type of accessories are best for pageant interview?

Where can I find accessories for pageant interview?

What shoes work best for pageant interview?

What hairstyles work best for pageant interview?

How should I style my makeup for pageant interview?

What type of eyelashes should I wear for pageant interview?

How do I prepare for pageant interview?

Where do I find resources to prepare for pageant interview?

What is a mock pageant interview?

How do I stand out in pageant interview?

Do I need a coach for pageant interview?

How can I find a coach?

What is pageant interview?

Pageant interview is truly your opportunity to shine. The judges will likely learn more about who you are during this one interview than they will in any other part of the competition. During pageant interview, you have the opportunity to interact with your judges face-to-face and tell them who you are and why you are the right choice for the job. Despite the incredible opportunity pageant interview is, many contestants are terrified of this competition.

It is a common misconception that pageant interview is about you telling the judges what they want to hear and trying to get them to like you. Many girls walk into the interview room already disadvantaged because of a negative mental state and the feeling that they need to impress the judges. Some contestants even feel that the judges are trying to find their weakness and are waiting for them to make a mistake. This is a self-defeating mindset and is not what pageant interview is all about.

Always remember, the judges are really on your side! They want you to do well and sincerely want to get to know you. Believe it or not, judges can get just as nervous as contestants. Pageant judges are people just like you. Keep that in mind and you will do yourself a big favor. The best way to make sure that you are not nervous when it comes time to interview is to practice and properly prepare. Did you know that your pageant interview actually begins long before your interview time slot and sometimes before you even arrive at the pageant hotel? You read that correctly. No, it’s not because the judges are spying on you. Your pageant interview begins the moment that the judges receive your paperwork which is often called, “The Judges Bio” or “The Contestant or Pageant Bio,” depending on what system you are in.

Marianny Egurrola Miss Georgia USA 2018 after the Miss USA 2018 interview. Photo: Miss Georgia USA Instagram

Your paperwork is just like a resume that you would create for a job. In this case, the job you are interviewing for is your dream title so make sure your paperwork tells your judges why you are the best fit. It can list your personal information, your education and employment history, as well as your platform information, volunteer work and community involvement. Your paperwork should give the judges a clear picture of who you are before you walk into the interview room.

The paperwork allows the judges to not only begin formulating an idea about you as far as a potential titleholder, but also begin to create questions based on the information in your paperwork. Craft your paperwork to be a roadmap for your judges. Use your space to guide them through the information you want them to know. Doing this will take a huge amount of pressure off of the talking portion of your interview.

Why is pageant interview important?

The pageant interview is so important because it is likely the first opportunity that the judges have to meet you in person. It is also important because it is the only time that you get to speak directly to each of them in a controlled environment, where the focus is all on you. As mentioned previously, in most pageants, your interview will count for a majority of your score. So, it is your responsibility to understand what the interview is all about and how to prepare for it.

When you are in the interview room, you will have each judge’s entire attention, whereas, when you are on stage, you will be sharing that stage with all of the other contestants. This is your chance to grab the spotlight and shine! By using the information on your pageant paperwork, your overall look and your ability to converse.

The interview is a crucial part of the decision making process for the judges, because if they like you in interview, they will seek you out when you are on stage for you to continue to prove to them why you should be the winner. You will not lose the pageant in interview, but you have a powerful opportunity to start the process out as a winner in the judges’ eyes.

The bottom line is that the pageant interview is your first chance to demonstrate to the judges why you want to win the title and why you are the best choice for the title. You have just a few minutes to show the judges that you are qualified for this job and why. But, do not let the fact that you only have a few minutes to talk freak you out. You have plenty of time to show the judges that you are the right girl for the job if you have done your homework and if you understand how to lead the interview.

What am I being judged on in pageant interview?

The main thing that you are being judged on in a pageant interview is if you can be trusted with the title. Did that surprise you? Let me see if I can explain.

You have to look at the big picture when you are trying to win a title. A lot of people wrongfully think that the pageant is there to serve the needs and desires of the queen. When in reality, the queen is there to serve the needs and desires of the pageant itself and the overall pageant system.

The job of a queen, regardless of the pageant, is to serve the needs of the pageant that crowned her, as well as the needs of the pageants above and below her in the pageant system A pageant queen is a very powerful part of a pageant organization. The best queens are those that understand what their job is and have a sincere passion to serve others. She must understand and embody the values and qualities of the pageant brand, as well as be able to encourage the pageant’s current contestants, engage prospective future pageant contestants and attract potential pageant sponsors. She has to market the pageant to the public, create successful fundraising campaigns and perform a tremendous amount of public speaking and service work in the community.

That is a whole lot more than riding in a parade and waving at the crowd, isn’t it?

2018 Miss America pageant interview dress worn by Miss Washington 2017, Nicole Renard. Photo: missamericawa Instagram

Because a queen’s job entails so much personal effort and sacrifice, and because the pageant is a real and thriving business, you are being judged on whether or not you can be trusted with all of that.

Your job during the interview process is to demonstrate to the judges that not only are you capable of taking on that responsibility, but you are already invested in that process based on your personal qualifications and what you have accomplished prior to the pageant. The judges are looking for a queen who is ready and willing to roll up her sleeves when the pageant is over and the real work begins. Think about creative new ways to raise funds for the pageant and how you are going to find new contestants. Think about how you are going to do the job in your own way, not just why you want the job.

By far the best way to prove to the judges that you will do what you say you are going to do is to have already done it to a certain extent. All the things that you have done in the time before your pageant is the proof that you will be the go-to-girl after the pageant. In other words, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.

When you are volunteering your time, promoting your platform and serving in your community prior to the pageant, you want to be thinking in terms of how this experience will serve you as the titleholder. You want to ask yourself how this is helping you, what you are learning from it and how it will make you a better queen. All of these activities then go into your pageant paperwork, and these experiences become your personal stories that you tell to the judges. Do you now see how this works? It is a circle of success!

Interview does not have to be a terrifying experience at all. If you do your homework and know who you are and what you have to offer, you may find that it becomes something that you are actually looking forward to. When you come into the interview room with paperwork full of great experience that can be applied directly to your reign as the queen and you can eloquently describe how those experiences shaped your perspective, you will not be nervous because you will have an educated point of view and something great to talk about.

When you have a plan in place, as to how you are going to attract new contestants and sponsors and create successful fundraisers, you will make the judges trust you because they will know that you understand the job. When you take the time to prepare and show up with a game plan like this, you will come across as a leader who is ready to leave a legacy! The judges will absolutely fall in love with you right then and there. Then, you can spend the rest of the pageant further convincing them that you are the right woman for the job!

What are the different styles of pageant interview?

Typically, there are two different styles of pageant interview in most major pageant systems today, although from time to time, you may encounter an exception to that rule. The two main styles of pageant interview are called “round robin” and “panel style.”

Miss American Coed contestants in Interview. Photo: MAC

The “round robin” is a one-on-one style of interview where the contestant is speaking with one judge at a time, usually seated at a table. The title, “Round Robin” refers to the fact that each contestant will go from judge to judge until they have completed the entire circuit. Each judge will have a copy of the contestant’s paperwork and they will ask the contestant any questions that they like.

The “panel style” of interview is when the contestant is either seated in a chair or standing at a podium in front of the judges. The judges will be seated at a long table directly in front of the contestant. The way the questions are asked are a bit different from Round Robin. Either one judge will handle the duties of asking all of the questions for the judges or each judge will ask their own question.

Each style of interview has its own advantages and challenges, so it is crucial that you know what style your particular pageant will be utilizing at your competition. The main areas where you will see a difference in these two types of interview styles are in the way that you use eye contact, the way that you manage your energy, the pace of the interview and the way that you control your body and mannerisms.

Eye contact

Round robin, or one-on-one interview, is a very intimate style of communicating in that you are sitting down at a table directly across from a judge. There is only a few feet separating you both, so the judge will see every emotion on your face and every expression you make. When you are this close to someone it can feel a bit uncomfortable and you may be tempted to break eye contact with the judge because it feels awkward. Yes, it will feel wrong to keep your eyes fixed on the judge, but you have to get used to it. You have to keep the judges attention on you, so you have to practice looking at them when you speak.

In a panel interview, you will have to master another type of eye contact. This one is a bit trickier, but with practice, you will be a pro. When you get asked a question by a judge, keep your eyes on that judge during the beginning part of your answer. As you elaborate, look at each judge as you continue to speak. Finish your response with the judge who asked you the question. This will ensure you make all your judges feel included in your interview.

This is the same type of eye contact you want to make for onstage portions of competition. If you are answering an on stage question, you begin your answer looking directly at the person who read you the question, then you look at each judge in the audience as you continue, and end your answer with the person who asked you the question initially. Got it? This will set you apart from all of the other contestants, and you come across as an articulate speaker.

Energy management

The way that you manage your energy and the pace with which you speak is a bit different in these two types of interview also. In a one-on-one interview, you want to make sure that you are not speaking too loudly because you are right across from the judge and there are also other interviews going on around you at the same time. You can speak a little bit faster than normal because the judge’s full attention is on you and they will be able to keep up with what you are saying.

In a one-on-one interview, you will be able to read the judge much more effectively than you will be able to read an entire panel. What I mean by that is that your intuition will pick up when you may need to speed up your answer and when you may need to slow down, just based on what you are seeing on the judge's face and body language.

In a panel interview, you will need to speak a bit louder so that each judge can hear you and you may need to slow down your speech so that everyone can understand you. You can be a bit more energetic in a panel interview without worrying that you will disturb other people because you will be the only contestant in the room. Remember, you are trying to capture and hold the attention of a group of people in this situation, so you can infuse your answers with more expression.

National All-American Miss Teen 2014 Phoebe Yankowski. Photo: The Pageant Planet

Controlling your mannerisms

Finally, controlling your body and your mannerisms is slightly different for each type of interview that you will encounter in a pageant situation. When you are sitting a few feet away from a person, you want to control your gestures so that they do not distract from the words that you are saying.

Some people are very animated when they talk and they use their hands as much as they use their mouths. This is totally normal and it is a part of their unique personalities. In a pageant situation, you want to take that energy and put it into your voice and your facial expressions. Practice soft, natural gestures and hand movements if you are the kind of person who gets all excited and gestures a lot.

When you are in a panel interview, you will either be sitting in a chair or more likely standing at a podium. While some people like the comfort and safety of standing behind a podium, do not allow that arrangement to cause you to lose control. When you are speaking at a podium it is normal to want to grab the podium and hold on tight. It is not bad to hold onto the podium, but I have seen people actually lean on the podium or cause it to move around and that is distracting. If you are standing, do not rock your body back and forth, or side to side. That happens too, when you are nervous and it is also distracting.

Instead, stand with your knees slightly bent and try to be relaxed. It is totally ok to lean in or out as you are speaking. Do not pace, walk around or leave the area from behind the podium. Pay attention to your posture, and stand straight and tall so that you give off an air of confidence and assurance. It may seem odd to have to cover these kinds of details, but believe me, if you have never been in an interview with a podium, you will find yourself doing all kinds of strange things.

Each style of interview has its own advantages and challenges and it is worth your time to be educated on all of the details that you might encounter. If you are new to pageantry, all of this might seem overwhelming to you. But if you just practice, practice, practice, you will become highly skilled at this in no time.

How long is pageant interview?

The length of every pageant interview will vary widely from pageant to pageant. Always find out before you even sign up for your pageant, what kind of interview you will have and how long it will be. If interview is where the majority of the points will be awarded, it is imperative that you invest a lot of time preparing.

The Miss America Organization has a very intense 10-minute panel interview at a podium. One great thing that not everyone knows, is that the Miss America Organization sells videos on their website of interviews from their previous competitions. Watching those videos is a fantastic way to see how the top contestants handled their individual interviews, as well as pick up on tips that you can learn from.

Most pageant systems have significantly shorter interviews. The Miss California USA contestants undergo a panel interview that lasts only two minutes. International Pageants contestants use the round robin style of interview and they are allowed four minutes with each judge. Incidentally, this is the same format for the Mrs. America system. National American Miss contestants have also use the round robin interview and they only get one minute per judge!

One of the best tips that I have ever learned is to teach yourself how to answer a question in a specific amount of time. If your interview is 4 minutes, for example, you can practice answering a certain amount of questions within that time frame.

Let’s imagine that if you get 4 questions in that time, it will take approximately 30 seconds or less for each of those question to be asked. That will leave you approximately 30 seconds to answer each of those questions. If you can practice answering each of those questions in 20 to 25 seconds, you will give yourself plenty of time and not run out in the middle of your answer. Answering a question in 20-25 seconds is about 4 - 5 sentences, roughly, depending on how fast you speak. Now, this is just an estimate. You may discover that you can answer more questions than this.

2018 Miss America pageant interview dress worn by Miss Alabama 2017, Jessica Procter. Photo: missamericaal Instagram

Of course, the most important thing is what you say, not how quickly you say it. If you can learn to give an answer is a specific amount of time, you will control the pace of the interview much more effectively and you will be able to guide the interview in the direction that you want it to go. The more you practice, the better you will get at mastering your interview.

Contestants with different temperaments may have different challenges when they are preparing for their interview. If you are an extrovert, you probably can talk up a storm quite easily and you may find that conversing is very natural for you. That does not mean that you do not have to practice. You may have to work on formulating your answers in a more structured and succinct way to get the most out of your time. If you find that you tend to get off track or try to include too many details, then you might have to practice just sticking to key points and not elaborating too much.

If you are an introvert, you may have difficulty elaborating on your answers sufficiently or you might be a bit intimidated by the prospect of talking to a stranger in the first place. The worst thing that you can do is to give short or one word answers.

Using “storytelling” as an interview technique is a very powerful way to get my thoughts and feelings across in a detailed and meaningful way that the judges can connect with. It is important try to make sure that my stories hit the main points of what I want to get across and they stay within whatever time limit you have put on yourself.

Obviously, these are generalizations and not all extroverts are overly chatty, and not all introverts are quiet or shy. Every contestant has their own challenges when it comes to interviewing within a given time frame so find the techniques that are going to make the most of your interview time and make you shine like the star you are!

What type of space is pageant interview held in?

Pageant interviews are most commonly held in hotel conference or banquet rooms that are set up for pageant interview with either individuals tables or a podium and long table, depending on the type of interview.

Round robin interview

If you experience a round robin or one-on-one type of interview, you will most likely find yourself in a large room. Most of the time, contestants are put into groups with other contestants and you are given a time to show up for your interview. You are then led into the interview room and told what to do.

Frequently, there will be five to six judges each seated at their own table and there will be an open chair at each table for the contestant to sit in. You will either be directed to go stand in front of that open chair or there may be a circle of chairs in middle of the room where all the contestants will sit facing each other. When it is time for the interview process to begin, you will be told which judge you will go to and when your interview is over, you will return to the circle of chairs in the middle of the room.

In some systems, when you do a round robin interview, you will be told to go stand in front of the empty chair at the judge’s table and turn your back to the judge, facing the middle of the room. You will be told that the interview has begun and you will turn around, greet the judge and sit down. When the interview is over, you will get up from your chair and stand again with your back to the judge.

Panel style interview

If you are doing a panel interview, you will most likely be led to a hallway outside of a room with a closed door. You will be asked to sit or stand outside of the room until it is your turn. When your name or number is called, you will go into the room and either sit down in a chair or you will stand behind a podium.

If you are going to sit, make sure that you greet the judges before you sit down and then sit slightly sideways in the chair, with your feet crossed at the ankles, and your hands gently resting in your lap. If you are going to stand behind the podium, greet the judges warmly and wait for your first question. Do not go up to each judge and shake their hand. Doing so takes up a considerable amount of time and may be against the protocol of the pageant.

One key point to ask your pageant director or contestant coordinator is if you are allowed to give an introduction at the beginning of your interview or a closing statement at the end. If you ever have the opportunity to give an introduction or closing statement, you absolutely should do it!

An introduction is usually a 20 to 30 second period of time where you can say anything that you want about yourself, your qualifications and why you would be an ideal choice for the queen. If the judges ever ask you if you have any closing remarks to add, do not ever say “no.” Always be prepared to remind the judges how remarkable you are, what you have accomplished already as a contestant or titleholder and how much you want the job you are interviewing for.

It is very important that you listen to all of the instructions that you are given about the interview process and follow them exactly. If you have any questions, whatsoever, make sure to ask your pageant director or contestant coordinator.

Knowing all of details of how your particular interview will unfold, will help you feel so much more confident and in control of your experience. There might be a change of some kind, but do not let that rattle you. You want to demonstrate that you are a mature person who can go with the flow and that you are not easily upset. A queen just readjusts her crown, takes a deep breath and puts a big, bright smile on her face!

Who judges pageant interview?

This is one of the most important reasons to research your pageant! Depending on the pageant, you may be scored by the same judges for every category, have a different panel for interview and onstage competition or even a different panel for every round of competition!

USA National Miss Pennsylvania Pageant Judges. Photo: @beautyredefinedbycheryl

Same judges

For many locals, glitz or smaller one-time pageants, it is most common to have the same panel of judges for every round of competition. This keeps things simple and allows the pageant director to focus more on the contestants, instead of keeping track of multiple panels of judges.

In these instances, it is most common to have the same three to five judges for the entire competition. With interview being the first part of the competition, it is critical to prepare as the impression you leave on the judges in interview will carry over to the rest of the competition.

Different Panel

Some systems use a different panel of judges for interview and onstage competition.

The biggest difference you will find here is in the qualifications of the judges. In the judging panel, you are more likely to have former coaches, titleholders and directors. These are the people who have first-hand experience about what is needed for a titleholder.

Often, this style of judging can make for one of the toughest interviews. The judging panel does not get to judge the stage competition, but they have can have some of the best insight as to who will make the best titleholder. This means they will be asking tougher questions with tougher scoring.

While the prospect of a difficult interview may be intimidating, there are some advantages for contestants competing in a pageant that uses this style of judging. After interview, you do not have to worry about seeing that panel of judges ever again. While this panel is more likely to score tougher, you have the rest of the competition to rebound with new judges if your interview was not your personal best.

What to expect from judges in pageant interview

As you walk to the interview podium, you can scan every judge and see a variety of personalities. Some judges smile and engage with you in a friendly conversation while others may just sit there staring at you. Because so many people love pageants, you are bound to run into a ton of personalities on the judging panel on your journey to the crown.

Savvy Shields, Miss America 2016, before the preliminary competition at the 2018 USA National Miss Pageant where she served as the head judge. Photo: Savvy Shields Instagram

Tough

This is the judge that can shake even a veteran contestant. These are the types of judges, normally former titleholders or coaches, that will find that one question or current event you may have missed and ask you about it. When you see images of a girl crying after coming out of interview, this is the type of judge they probably encountered.

The mistake many people make is to label a tough judge as “mean.” There are no real “mean” judges, just tough and it is because they understand that being a true titleholder is a job you cannot “pageant patty” your way through.

Oftentimes, if you are at a pageant and here someone describe a judge as “mean” after their interview, the contestant probably was not prepared. If you are not prepared for your interview, a tough judge will pick up on this immediately and ask harder questions. This is because judges do take time to prepare for the pageant and they expect a contestant to do the same. If you are not prepared, a tough judge is going to send a message and the easiest way to do that is with a really hard question.

Now, if you spend hours and hours on preparation and happen to get that one question you do not know the answer to from the tough judge, do not let it shake you up.

As a tough judge, a well prepared contestant is always impressive, but something that speaks more is when a contestant holds her composure and posture throughout the interview, even when they may not know the answer to the question.

Never says a word

We all have encountered this judge at least one time. They simply sit and listen, jotting down notes on their scores. This judge never says a word.This can be a tricky situation. While at first it may be intimidating to have a judge that never speaks, as you get into the flow of interview it is easy to almost forget they are there. Do not do this.

If you encounter a judge that never speaks during interview, do not mistake them for being disinterested. They are certainly paying attention to you and your interview. Make sure you are speaking to them. Make eye contact with them as you would the other judges asking questions. Keep your body open so they feel you are communicating to them as well.

Acknowledging this type of judge shows the entire panel you have the ability to speak to a crowd or at large press conference. A large part of being a titleholder is public speaking and engagement. That means you need to be able to communicate your point to everyone, not just the person asking the question.

Talks a lot

These are some of the best judges to have on a panel. A talkative judge often leads the interview and asks a lot of questions. This gives you the ability to really engage and have an in-depth conversation.

The key with a talkative judge is to listen very carefully. These types of judges are also more likely to ask you a question without actually asking. For example, a talkative judge may ask you, “Tell me something about yourself no other contestant can say.” This is technically not a question, however this inquiry lets the judge know what makes you stand out among other contestants. You are able to let them know what makes you unique and why there is nobody else like you who can be their ideal titleholder.

Novice

The novice judge may or may not even be familiar with the pageant world. This is someone who may have volunteered or assisted with pageants in the past, but who does not have any experience judging on the level at which they are selected as a novice judge.

Some novice pageant judges may not even have attended any pageants before being selected as a judge. They may have a variety of jobs or positions in the community, but they all have an understanding of the needs of the community and a desire to find help the queen that is the best fit for those needs.

These judges have generally less experience in the pageant world and thus they are most likely less concerned with your pageant appearance. Be presentable, but focus more on what you are presenting.

A novice judge is looking for character and charity. They want someone genuine and relatable. More than anything else, this judge is looking for the right fit for the community your title serves. They are going to look for someone who demonstrates confidence and a strong ability to face the challenges that come their way.

Ultimately, be true to yourself. The last thing that a pageant judge wants to see is a lack of authenticity.

Miss Minnesota 2018 and her panel of judges. Photo: @roshinirajkumar Instagram

What paperwork do I need for pageant interview?

Paperwork is one of the first ways you can win or lose a pageant. Your paperwork is the first clue to the judges if you have indeed done your research and understand the mission of the pageant.

"It's necessary for you to know the business that you are walking into," said Raquel Riley Thomas, director of the Mrs. District of Columbia, Pennsylvania and Delaware America Pageants as well as the first runner-up to Mrs. America 2011.

The first place you can showcase this knowledge is in your paperwork.

Contestant paperwork is of vital importance in creating your overall pageant package. You must present well written and grammatically correct paperwork. It should be informative and concise, giving judges a wealth of information to draw from when formulating interview questions for your private interview. This is your opportunity to present a clear representation of who you are and what you have to offer.

Contestant Fact Sheet and Resume

Only include information you want to talk about. The information you share should inspire a question when the judges read it. Your facts should be things that will allow you to tell a story, showcasing a facet of your personality and life experience.

Sometimes less is more. Don't feel like you need to list every possible fact about yourself just to fill the page. Show that you are well-rounded. Include information about academics, family, leadership, creativity, talent, career aspirations, awards, physical fitness, hobbies and travel. Create a clear, yet layered picture of who you are.

Be creative with your interesting facts. Not all facts have to be serious. Tell me something funny about yourself. Tell me something unique about your childhood or your siblings. Maybe a unique job experience or hidden talent. Think outside the box.

For example, one competitor always puts under her interesting facts that she is allergic to fish. Normally, this would not really stand out. However, she has a Master’s in marine ecosystems and policy.

This always inspires a lot of questions from judges. Usually, “How do you work with fish if you are allergic?”

Her response is golden.

“I can handle and touch the fish, I just cannot kiss them.”

This witty response can make even the toughest judge crack a smile. It is also charming and simple.

A contestant being interviewed during Mrs. Washington America. Photo: Mrs.Washington America website.

Community Service Platform Essay

If your system is one that requires a platform, you may have to write a platform essay. Choose an issue that has personally touched your life. Your platform should be a cause you are passionate about that can make a difference in your community while developing your vision for expansion as you progress through the local, state and national levels of competition. Tell your story through your platform essay. Follow this suggested outline.

First, personalize. Share a personal experience or memory to show why you picked your platform. This should spark interest and capture the judge’s attention. Your opening story or anecdote should be the hook that leaves the judges wanting to read more.

Second, define your platform issue. Tell us what your platform is and the purpose it serves. A few lines of history are fine here, but do not write an essay on the history of your organization. You should be prepared to comment on the history of your platform issue, but judges want to know what you are doing, why your platform is relevant and how you will promote your platform at the local, state and/or national level.

Third, state what you have done to develop and promote your platform. In this paragraph, you should be able to talk about projects you have been involved in and organizations you have partnered with. Be proactive. Do not speak in terms of “I will,” speak in terms of “I am.”

Finally, summarize your plan to further promote your platform. How will being Miss ___ help you promote your cause? Tell the judges why it is important. Leave this paragraph to answer questions like what organizations will you partner with to further promote your cause, how will you fund your project and what is your marketing plan.

I recommend limiting your platform essay to no more than five paragraphs. Make sure your paragraphs are complete and comprised of at least five sentences. Thoroughly proofread your paperwork and have a few people read your paperwork to get a fresh perspective and possible suggestions for improvement.

When is my paperwork due for pageant interview?

Each pageant has its own process when it comes to deadlines for your pageant bio, application, headshot and other paperwork. If this is not clearly stated in your contestant booklet, on the pageant website or within any other information the pageant has given you, definitely ask the director and they will tell you.

You should not have to seek out the deadline for any required paperwork if you are participating in a professionally produced pageant. Most directors are very upfront about any deadlines they have, particularly for interview paperwork. The reason is that for every deadline that the director gives you, there is another deadline driving that one that affects the director.

For instance, if your director tells you that your ad page is due on a specific date, it is because the director has a deadline to she needs to honor in order to send the program book in to be printed. Do you see how that works? If your director tells you that you must have your application, headshot or any other interview related materials to her by a specific date, you must submit your paperwork to her by that date because she likely needs to send all of the contestants items to the judges by another deadline.

Pay very close attention to any details regarding your interview materials. If your director says that your bio must be one page only, do not write two pages! If there is a precise format or template that you must use, do it exactly the way it is described. There are so many internal reasons why paperwork is requested in a specific way, that only the staff understands. If you just do it the way that you want and do not respect the requirements, you may be the one who ends up getting burned in the end.

Baylee Ogle, Miss Oklahoma Teen USA 2017. Photo: @getpageantsavvy Instagram

Here is a story to illustrate my point. A director ran a very prestigious state pageant. She was extremely organized and had terrific staff. She was great about communicating all the pageant requirements to the contestants and could not have been clearer about the details of their interview paperwork.

She stated that the pageant paperwork was to be one page only and had to have very specific margins, with the left side margin being wider than the right side margin. The contestant photo was to be on the right side of the page and not the left.

Some contestants did not like to follow rules and did what they wanted, not paying attention to the margin or photo guidelines. The director always created these great interview booklets for the judges, and they had a very particular way that they were bound. The hole punches for the booklets were on the left side of the page and extended about an inch and half into the document.

All of the contestants who did not want to follow the margin guidelines ended up with big holes through the entire left side of their bio, which made their information almost impossible to read. Those contestants who decided that they liked their photo on the left side of the page had giant holes in the faces of their headshots, making them completely unrecognizable.

Do yourself a favor and follow directions! If you have any questions, ask them. The most important thing to remember is that your director has very good reasons for the dates they select as deadlines and why they might establish specific requirements for the way that your paperwork should be submitted.

When do judges get my paperwork for pageant interview?

Every pageant has a different timeline of when the judges receive your pageant bio, application, headshot and other paperwork. If this is not clearly stated in your contestant booklet, on the pageant website or within any other paperwork the pageant has given you, you should ask the director.

The majority of pageant directors prefer to send the contestant paperwork to the judges ahead of time so that the judges can have time to get to know each contestant better and formulate appropriate questions. Sometimes however, the judges may receive your paperwork at the same time that you sit down for your interview.

Of course, the ideal situation would be for each judge to get your paperwork at least two weeks before the pageant. This way the judges can get to know you and research any social media information that you have created about yourself, your platform and all that you have done so far. If you know that the judges received your paperwork early, you can have a better idea of what they might already know about you just from the questions that they begin with. This is always a nice situation because you will already have some rapport with the judges.

Even if the judges have not had the opportunity to explore everything that there is to know about you before the interview, you can still have a very positive and successful interview. The key is for you to be in control of the interview and know what you want to cover before you even walk into the room. In fact, this is the best way to approach any interview situation.

How should I walk into the room for pageant interview?

Typically, there are two different styles of pageant interview in most major pageant systems today, although from time to time, you may encounter an exception to that rule. The two main styles of pageant interview are called “round robin” and “panel style.” Learn more about pageant interview styles here.

Round robin interview

If you experience a round robin type of interview, you will most likely find yourself in a large room. Contestants are put into groups and you are given a time to show up for your interview. You are then led into the interview room and told what to do.

Frequently, there will be five to six judges seated at their own table and there will be an open chair for the contestant to sit in. You will either be directed to go stand in front of that open chair or there may be a circle of chairs in the middle of the room where all the contestants will sit facing each other. When it is time for the interview process to begin, you will be told which judge you will go to and when your interview is over, you will return to the circle of chairs in the middle of the room.

In some systems, when you do a round robin interview, you will be told to go stand in front of the empty chair at the judge’s table and turn your back to the judge. You will then be facing the middle of the room. You will then be told that the interview has begun, and you will turn around, greet the judge and sit down. When the interview is over, you will get up from your chair and stand again with your back to the judge.

Many contestants wonder if they should shake a judge’s hand when they first meet them, or wait until after the interview is over or both. The best thing to do is just wait to see what the judge decides to do. If they extend their hand to you, take it and greet them warmly! If they do not extend their hand to you, do without the handshake.

International Junior Miss International Miss 2017 Haley Pontius. Photo: @ijminternationalmiss Instagram

Panel style interview

If you are doing a panel interview, you will most likely be led to a hallway outside of a room with a closed door. You will be asked to sit or stand outside of the room until it is your turn. When your name or number is called, you will go into the room and either sit down in a chair or you will go to stand behind a podium.

Get yourself into an upbeat emotional state before you enter the room. Stand up tall, hold your shoulders back and put a happy, confident smile on your face. Do not wait until you are already in the room to do that. You want the judges’ first glimpse and impression of you to be a positive one.

If you are going to sit, make sure that you greet the judges before you sit down, then sit slightly sideways in the chair with your feet crossed at the ankles and your hands gently resting in your lap. If you are going to stand behind the podium, greet the judges warmly, stand up tall, smile and wait for your first question. Do not shake each judge’s hand. Doing so takes up a considerable amount of time and it may be against the protocol of the pageant.

How should I stand/sit during pageant interview?

If you are going to sit, in either round robin or panel style interview, make sure that you greet the judge or judges before you sit down, and then sit slightly sideways in the chair with your feet crossed at the ankles, and your hands gently resting in your lap.

Stefanie Williams Miss Galaxy England 2017. Photo: @stefwilliams1

Do not cross your legs. Crossing your legs in the traditional way is a habit for most females, but when sitting in a chair it is best to sit with your ankles crossed and your legs tilted to the side. It can be uncomfortable at first to get into the habit of sitting this way, so it’s best to start practicing long before your interview. It may seem odd to sit in this fashion, but it is very flattering for the body from the judges’ perspective.

Mister Panama Supranational 2016, Michael Piggott. Photo: Leonardo Rodrigues

For a male pageant interview, your body language should be different. If sitting in a male pageant interview, you should not focus on crossing your legs as much as you should focus on sitting up straight and even leaning in slightly. This position conveys confidence and interest in the conversation.

If you are going to stand behind or beside the podium in a panel style interview, greet the judges warmly, stand up tall and smile and wait for your first question. If you stand behind the podium, make sure not to grip or lean on the podium as this conveys nervousness and sometimes, disinterest in the conversation. Do not shuffle around at the podium or rock back and forth. This can be distracting to your judges and take away from your fabulous interview.

What to wear for pageant interview

One thing that you need to understand is that you are not being scored on your actual interview outfit, you are being scored on your ability to communicate and connect and the actual information that you communicate. Along with those things, the judges are paying attention to your charm, intelligence, personality, warmth and approachability.

What you actually wear on your body is not being judged per se. Having said that, you still must pay close attention to what you choose to wear for your interview because your clothing is communicating something as well. When you are competing you really want to strive to compete with excellence and this concept should be carried throughout all of the details of your competition wardrobe as well.

The three biggest mistakes that contestants make when it comes to their wardrobe is “the settle,” “the splurge” or “the sale.”

The settle

The settle is when you wear something just because it fits, you like it and it will serve the purpose. A girl has a nice outfit that she has worn many times that she likes and thinks, “it will do.” A lot of times, contestants do this because they do not want to spend money on a new outfit because they have something perfectly good already hanging in their closet.

Do not blow all your savings and not stick to your pageant budget, but if that outfit hanging in your closet does not fit the bill perfectly and it does not make you feel like a million bucks, then do not wear it! Just because you already own it and wore it for interview in another pageant, does not mean that you should wear it for interview in your current pageant.

The splurge and sale

The splurge and the sale are when you love shopping so much that you go out and buy a new outfit just to have something new or worst of all because you got it on sale. How many times has this happened? Too many!

All pageant girls love to shop, but buy something new just for the sake of shopping. If it is not the ideal outfit for you in this particular pageant then, it does not matter how much money you spent, nor how much money you saved.

Mister Sri Lanka Supranational 2016, Shan Fernando. Photo: Leonardo Rodrigues

For male contestants, your outfit should be both impressive and expressive. The judges want to see your style in the interview portion of the competition. This outfit should not be too tight or revealing but should fit you just right. The colors and style should complement your skin tone and body type. Most guys will dress business-casual, in slacks and a button-up shirt. Adding a tie or jacket is completely up to you and what you want the judges to see you as, but stick to either a tie or a jacket. Wearing both makes your outfit too similar to formal wear.

You should make sure that every single item you wear during competition is perfect for this pageant at this time and is something that makes you look and feel like a winner.

What do I need to consider when picking my outfit for pageant interview?

There are many very important points to consider when selecting your outfit for pageant interview, but the two most crucial points are the importance of the first impression and the power of the pageant brand.

First impression

The first point, as we’ve said before, is that this is likely the very first time that the judges are going to meet you. They will have seen your headshot, but this will be the first time they get to see you live and in person.

The reason that this is such a big deal is that the judges are attempting to come to a decision rather quickly about who they believe is the best contestant to fill the role of titleholder. In your regular everyday life, a first impression does not hold the same degree of importance. If you do not make a great first impression on someone, you usually have an opportunity at a later date to change their opinion or give them a better idea of what you are really like. In a pageant, the judges are consciously trying to come to a decision that they have to make in a short time period. If the judges like you in the interview room, you have an even better chance to wow them when it comes time for the rest of the pageant.

Pageant brand

In addition to making a positive first impression, the second point to consider when picking out your outfit for interview is the pageant’s specific brand.

This is where you need to be able to step back and be objective about yourself and the pageant that you are competing in. Do not neglect these details because if you do, you will totally miss the mark and the judges will not take you seriously as a contender for the title.

Each pageant system has a brand and you have to pay attention to that brand if you want to do well in the pageant. A pageant brand just means whatever someone thinks about when they think of a given pageant.

For example, when people think about the Miss America brand, they think about the idea of the “girl next door.” She is pretty, sweet, down to earth and likable, not to mention very smart, articulate and talented. When people think about the Miss USA brand, they think about a tall, fashion forward, “model type” of woman who is also a good spokesperson and has a bit of glamour and style.

Miss District of Columbia USA 2018 Bryce Armstrong after her Miss USA interview. Photo: @thepageantaddict Instagram

When choosing an interview outfit, as well as all of the pieces of your competition wardrobe, you need to keep the pageant brand at the forefront of your mind. Remember that you are visually communicating to the judges and everyone you meet about whether you have what it takes to be the next titleholder. If your pageant’s brand is very conservative, then do not wear low cut tops, short skirts or sky-high heels, no matter how great you look in those styles. If your pageant’s brand is known for embracing modern, cutting edge fashion, you might want to enlist the help of a stylist if you are not sure what kind of clothing you should be wearing.

You have to get this point right or it can cost you in the interview room.

Find photos from last year’s pageant, especially the behind-the-scenes images, like what the contestants wore for interview. Check out the pageant’s social media pages like Facebook and Instagram for pictures like that. You can even check out the current titleholder’s social media pages to see if she posted what she wore for interview last year. Look for what the top five or ten contestants wore for their interview and pick your style accordingly.

Common sense

In addition to the importance of the first impression and the power of the pageant’s brand that you are competing in, you just want to have common sense when selecting clothing for interview.

Everything that you choose for interview and for the rest of the pageant competition must be age appropriate, flattering to your body and it must make you feel confident and beautiful. Never compromise or settle when choosing your competition wardrobe. Compete with excellence and make certain that everything that you wear really represents who you are and what you stand for. When in doubt about what to wear, find a professional. We can recommend some here.

What colors work best for pageant interview?

Color should be another huge factor in choosing your interview outfit. After all, your style can be impeccable, but the wrong color choice can make the entire outfit fall flat.

"Depending on the system that you were in, you want a color that looks well on you since you were being judged on facial beauty in interview," Wendi Russo, CEO and Founder of Crowning Success said. "Most newbies gravitate towards navy or black. In my opinion, that is a pageant no-no."

Russo is correct. While you are interviewing for a job, you are not interviewing for the traditional corporate America job. You have a limited amount of one-on-one time with the judges and you want to communicate as much about yourself as possible. Your color choice is an ample opportunity.

Bold Colors

"You're not interviewing for a banking position," Russo said. "You still need to stand out and to me, a color does that very nicely. If you were interviewing for a traditional corporate job then you would be in black or navy."

Kylah Johnson, Mrs. Corporate America 2016. Photo: misscorporateamerica.com

Russo advised her client, Kylah Johnson, pictured above, to dress in yellow for her interview at Mrs. Corporate America 2016. "She looked professional and divine," Wendi said. "You want a color that looks well on you since you are being judged on facial beauty in interview."

Savvy Shields, Miss America 2017's state interview outfit. Photo: Miss Heart of the Ozarks Scholarship Organization Facebook

Another great bold color choice comes from America 2017 Savvy Shields when she won her state title of Miss Arkansas 2016. The royal blue jewel tone is ultra-flattering with her tan skin and blonde hair.

Pastels

While bold colors are always a great option, Aguirre is a huge fan of pastels for interview.

"I'm into jumpsuits and lately I have been a huge fan of high-waisted, flared-out white pants with a very light pale blue or light pale pink color," Aguirre said. "These blouses are the ones with the attached bows. Obsessed!"

Miss Massachusetts USA 2016, Whitney Sharpe, after her interview for Miss USA 2016. Photo: Michelle Aguirre

One of Aguirre's favorite examples of all time comes from Miss Massachusetts USA 2016, Whitney Sharpe. She nails every aspect of the trend. The white pants are perfectly tailored to fit her body. The pants are also lined so it is not see through, an important note in pulling off this trend.

Prints

Prints are another way you can show your personality while standing out in a sea of solid colors. The keys are balancing the outfit and picking the right print.

Miss Uptown OKC USA 2017, Jeanette Sealey. Photo: Lynne Crowe

A great example of a print is Miss Uptown OKC USA 2017, Jeanette Sealey. This print is fun and flattering but also professional. The pinks and purple are great with her golden skin. The busy top of the dress is balanced out by the darker skirt. This keeps the entire dress balanced.

Can I wear a pattern for pageant interview?

When it comes to finding an outfit with patterns there are a couple of things to consider.

First, you want to make sure the pattern on the outfit is not too much. It the pattern overshadows you and the focus turns to your outfit, you have already lost. If a judge is focusing their time analyzing your outfit of choice, they are not giving you their undivided attention.

Second, consider the distance from your judges. When it comes to patterns, certain distances can make the patterns “dance” across you in a negative or distracting way. To test whether this is the case, try on your patterned outfit for your coach and stand or sit the same distance away from him or her as you would your judges.

Lastly, consider the size and design of the pattern. Some patterns are too busy and become overwhelming. Small prints with a lot of detail tend to have this effect so try to stay away from intricate patterns in interview. It is best to pick a simple or abstract pattern for interview to keep the attention on your words, not your outfit.

How important is my pageant interview outfit to my score?

Nailing your interview is critical to winning your dream title. One of the ways you can win over the judges before delivering your perfect opening line is picking the right interview outfit. After all, you never get a second chance at a first impression.

According to Wendi Russo, CEO and Founder of Crowning Success, the first step in picking the perfect interview outfit is to research the system you are entering.

"Every system has its nuances," Russo said. "United States is slightly sexier. America is more conservative and jumpsuits are okay as well. Galaxy is a little more fashion forward. Mrs. America could be conservative to more fitted."

After researching your system, the key when shopping for your pageant outfit is to find something that you feel confident in that still falls within the guidelines of your system.

"I would tell them to choose something they feel professional, sexy and classy in," said Michelle Aguirre, a consultant for PR Pageant Coaches and former Miss Florida USA 2013.” At the end of the day, they are interviewing for a job where we can get away with wearing a knee length dress with an open back, like mine back in the day."

There are also many trends quickly rising in interview. You can wear anything from a traditional suit to a super trendy jumpsuit! However, according to Aguirre, the most important aspect of your interview outfit is the fit!

"I honestly think that a contestant should choose what fits them best based on their bodies," Aguirre said. "Everyone is different. Does it matter whether to choose one of those three (jumpsuit, dress, or traditional suit)? NO! As long as the girl in the interview outfit feels beautiful, she will feel comfortable and confident and kill that interview!"

Where do I find outfits for pageant interview?

There are no limitations as to where you can find your perfect interview outfit! Everywhere from high-end boutiques to resale sites could potentially have the outfit of your dreams!

Boutiques/Pageant Dress Shops

Pageant dress stores and other high end boutiques are a great one-stop shop to get all your pageant outfits. In addition, stores like these tend to employee former titleholders or coaches with some offering their own coaching services. These types of stores can offer expert advice while making your pageant preparation that much smoother.

For example, Dazzle Boutique, located in Oxford and Waterbury, Connecticut, carries dresses, shoes, swimwear and other pageant necessities. Named one of Pageant Planet’s Top 10 Dress Stores of 2017, it carries designers Alyce Paris, Ellie Wilde, MacDuggal, Sherri Hill, Rachel Allan and more.

The downside to stores like these is there is often a bigger price tag. However, according to Russo, quality is important and that can mean spending a little extra.

"I notice the girls do not want to spend a lot of money on their interview outfit," Russo said. "However if you spend $40 on something, the fabric is so thin you probably will see through it. Remember, you will still wear this in the future after you win, so invest wisely because this is the message you are sending while you are communicating to the judges about why you should be chosen. So even if you spend slightly more than $100 on your interview dress, just know you will wear that throughout your year and it will have been a good investment."

Department Stores

You may live in an area where pageant dress stores are not as common or require a long distance to travel. Not to worry, department stores like Macy’s and Nordstrom carry a wide variety of brands that are perfect for interview!

Russo has dressed her clients in a variety of designers including Fernando Wong suits and dresses, Black Halo, BCBG, Mark Bouwer and occasionally Calvin Klein. Most of these brands you can find at department stores!

Victoria Etheridge poses for a photo following interview competition. Photo: Facebook

Discount Stores

Now, you may find yourself on a tight budget for your pageant. Discount stores like Ross or TJMaxx do carry designer brands at discount prices.

If you are not afraid of a little clothing hunt, second-hand and other thrift stores like Goodwill could have golden ticket items at unbelievable prices.

Pageant Resale Sites

Pageant resale sites can be a great resource in finding quality pageant attire at an affordable price. However, there are some pros and cons to the websites.

Crown Formals offers a wide variety of pageant items like gowns, swimwear, interview attire and jewelry. You can buy or sell straight through the website. They offer a wide variety of items, options for a large range of ages, easy to sell options and they offer "new item" alerts. However, there is a listing fee, no "buyer/seller insurance" through the site and contacting for purchase may be difficult.

The Glass Slipper is another good option. You can list any pageant item for free. You have the opportunity to buy or sell via the website, but all items listed on the website are also automatically transferred to the Facebook page to gain a wider audience for your sales.

Pageant Resale offers the widest variety of pageant items that can be found on an official website. It has a very easy sale system and offers detailed information on each item. They also offer limited buyer/seller protection and have a large following on both the website and social media. However, there is a six dollar listing fee and a six month post limit before removal.

What type of accessories are best for pageant interview?

Your outfit for pageant interview will determine what kind of accessories you should wear. For example, if you have a knock-out dress, you will want to go with simple jewelry. If you have a basic outfit, you can spice it up with some fun accessories.

When you choose your accessories, put an emphasis on one piece you want to highlight. Are you going to wear big chandelier earrings? Then keep the necklace simple or go without it. Wearing studs? Choose a bigger necklace. Does your outfit have sleeves? Chose to not wear a bracelet. No sleeves? How about adding a simple watch or bracelet or even a bigger sized ring?

If you think you have on too much, chances are you do. Never wear something that will fall off easily or jewelry which makes an entrance before you do i.e. loud bangles. Remember the emphasis is on you, during pageant week.

The key to accessories is to look balanced and pull the outfit together. Do not go crazy with accessories that clash or distract from your outfit.

Where can I find accessories for pageant interview?

You can find some of the best accessories for pageant interview by visiting the Pageant Planet shop. You will find an assortment of subtle jewelry pieces to complement any pageant interview outfit you choose.

Pageant resale sites and Facebook groups frequently have pageant jewelry for sale. This is a great way to be cost effective while getting the jewelry you need for pageant interview. If you are getting your jewelry from a resale site, make sure to clean it before you wear it.

Check out your local pageant boutique to see if they sell accessories. Most pageant boutiques have a wide range of jewelry pieces. From rhinestone and pearl earrings to huge statement necklaces, you are bound to find something incredible for your pageant interview look.

If you are on a super tight budget and just need something for pageant weekend, do not sleep on some of the gorgeous necklaces and earrings you can find a pawn shops or other retail stores and beauty supplies. A word of caution, many of these are made with cubic zirconia or nickel and can cause an allergic reaction or turn green with too much use. These are a great alternative if you are planning to wear the jewelry one or twice and need a way to save money.

What shoes work best for pageant interview?

Your attire should match that of the attire you would wear for a job interview. So, would you wear eight-inch stilettos to a job interview? I would hope your answer is “no!” In this phase of competition you are going for a professional look. Rhinestones, sequins and anything sparkly should be left for the on-stage portions of the pageant.

Style

Ideally, a closed-toe style with a high-but-not-vertiginous heel works best for this round because it allows you to stride confidently and works well with most interview outfits. The shoes can have a pointed-toe or be rounded, as long as they look classy. A peep-toe can also be acceptable, but you want most of your feet to be covered. Make sure that your shoes are comfortable and that you can walk and stand gracefully in them.

Avoid ankle straps that cut off the line of your leg. If you are tall, you can pull them off, but shorter contestants should be aware that ankle straps cut off your leg lines. Typically, any shoes that are very “strappy” would not be acceptable in this portion of competition.

Color

The most typical color for interview shoes is nude, but you could also pull off any neutral tone. If the rest of your interview outfit is pretty plain and you need something to make a statement with, you could consider a print!

When done well, print shoes can complement an outfit perfect and project your sense of style directly to the judges. If you are worried that your print or shoe style is too out there, pair it with white!

Height

The height of your heel is be determined by your age division. For example, Princess contestants need not be in four-inch heels and Miss contestants should not wear flats. A good rule to follow for Princess and younger contestants is to pick a shoe that would be appropriate for a church service or a semi-formal brunch. Preteens, Jr. teens and Teens should go with heel heights that are age-appropriate. Miss, Ms. and Mrs. contestants should go with a heel height around four inches.

Male contestants

Male pageant contestants should also follow the same idea when picking a shoe for interview. This competition is your chance to look professional and present yourself how you would for an interview. A standard dress shoe that complements your suit color is the ideal choice for interview. Make sure the shoes are clean and free from scuffs.

You just need to make sure that your shoes do not overpower your outfit. If the judges are so focused on your shoes when you are interviewing that they do not pay attention to what you’re saying, that’s not the kind of impression you want to make to the judges! You need to wear the shoes; not let your shoes wear you!

What hairstyles work best for pageant interview?

In most pageant systems, this is the first time that the judges are seeing you, so you want to make a killer first impression. You want your hair to look clean, healthy and beautiful. The judges should focus on your interviewing abilities and confidence, not on your hair. Styling your hair is very important for pageant interview because the judges will be very close to you. There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a style.

Style

It doesn’t matter whether your hair is up or down as long as it is out of your face. If you have hair that falls in your face and gets distracting, it is a good idea to sweep it off your face. You can use barrettes, pins or other clips to create and fresh and appealing look that brings the judges’ focus to your face, not your hair.

Straight or curly hair could work in this phase of competition. If you decide to curl your hair, you will want to curl your hair away from your face. B be sure to avoid crunchy looking hair by using heat protectant spray and not too much hairspray. Because the judges are very close to you, they will be able to see all of the details. Bigger, looser curls are also more common in interview. Try to avoid super tight, ringlet-like curls. You do not want to show up looking like Shirley Temple!

If you want to rock straight hair, be aware that this look only works with those who have the right facial structure. If you have a naturally long face and your hair is longer, going with this style can actually make your face look too long. You will also need to be sure you get some lift at the crown of your head in the form of teasing, but a straighter look can be really refreshing when so many girls tend to go after big curls these days.

Volume

Make sure that you get some tease in your hair so that it looks like a natural lift on the crown of your head. This is a great way to nail your interview look. Even if you do not tease your hair in everyday life, you will need to add some extra volume while competing.

How should I style my makeup for pageant interview?

Pageant interview makeup can be just as important as pageant interview wardrobe. Your makeup will vary widely between each portion of competition and each pageant system you are in. While there is a considerable amount of variation, there are some universal truths to pageant interview makeup.

Ashley Vollrath Miss Virginia USA 2018. Photo: @blushtones

Check the rules

First, make sure you are allowed to wear makeup during competition. More natural pageant system do not allow contestants under a certain age to wear makeup during the pageant interview competition. Make sure you check with the official pageant rules and regulations before applying any makeup.

Solid foundation

Second, foundation is incredibly important. Foundation serves as the base for your entire makeup look. When picking out your color, your foundation must match your skin tone for pageant weekend. That means you need to account for the spray tan you might be getting and what time of the year the pageant is in.

Set your makeup

Third, make sure you foundation is solid by setting it. Using a setting spray seals your makeup look and prevents makeup meltdowns. You never know if the interview room is going to be hot or if you are going to be sweating from nerves, so it is important to be prepared. With setting spray, the weightless formula allows for a clear sealant to hold your makeup in place.

Go natural

Fourth, put yourself in the shoes of the judge for a second. When you see the queen to be for the first time, do you want to see an airbrushed, contoured, elaborately designed face of makeup or do you want to see the natural beauty the potential queen to be possesses with nice, light, and refreshing makeup?

Most judges state that they do not want to see a total “glamour girl” walk into the room. They want to see how you carry yourself in your everyday life. Interview makeup ought to be light and refreshing. Use minimal blush and keep your eye shadow very simple. Try not to be overdone.

Interview makeup is different than stage makeup. You can still wear a full face of makeup, but avoid preparing for the interview as if you are going on stage. By being simple in the interview, the judges have something to look forward to when they see you grace the stage.

Dark eye makeup should not be worn during the interview process at all. Your lips should have a more natural color that complements your skin tone and the color of your interview dress. Excessive highlight should be avoided. Your goal should be a light, dewy look.

If your budget permits and your pageant allows it, we encourage you to hire a pageant makeup consultant who can teach you how to apply your own makeup or come to your pageant to do your makeup. This will reduce your stress and allow you to have a polished look when you walk into the interview room. Click here to see a list of our recommended pageant makeup consultants.

What type of eyelashes should I wear for pageant interview?

False eyelashes can be a pageant girl’s best friend during every phase of competition! They accentuate your eyes to help them look bigger. However, the interview portion of the competition is much different from the stage competition from an eyelash perspective.

Onstage, you may opt for a thick and long lash that can been seen from a distance. In the interview room, you want something more subtle that makes your eyes pop. There are tons of brands of false eyelashes. With so many choices, knowing which one is appropriate for interview can be tricky.

Drama Lash Goody

This brand is a must for every pageant girl. There are four different options that will match different parts of competition as well as your personal style.

“Two Shoes” is a great option for interview. An eyelash with a thinner style and varying lengths gives a natural look. It also helps fill out the lash line for those with thinner lashes. A couple coats of mascara once the eyelash glue dries and you will be set!

In addition, the other three style are thick and daring, perfect for the onstage competition!

Andrea Lash

This brand is fantastic because it is cheap yet effective. This pack comes with five sets of thin lashes, perfect for you if you are prone to having to redo them. This set is thin and natural, but super long. For girls with shorter lashes, these are ideal.

Ardell

Ardell is another go-to brand for pageant girls. They offer a variety of styles and lengths for all your pageant needs.

Instead of a full strip of lashes, individual lashes can be another great choice for interview. You can choose to only fill out the thinner parts of your lash line or place them at the corners of your eyes to make them appear bigger.

While the possibility of looks you can achieve with lashes like this is great, applying them is no easy task. If you have never worked with individual lashes before, take the time to practice before the day of your pageant.

Additionally, if your pageant allows it, you may be able to hire your own makeup artist. If so, the chances are they will have experience with these lashes and can show you how to properly apply them. To find a makeup artist for your next pageant, check out Pageant Planet’s Directory.

How do I prepare for pageant interview?

Preparing for every part of competition is important, but interview is arguably the most important. When included in a pageant, this part of the competition often holds the most weight in a contestant’s final score. Preparing for your interview is the key to capturing your dream title.

Princess

First, understand the etiquette. You cannot teach something you do not know. In order to prepare your Princess for the interview room, you have to understand it yourself.

"She needs to introduce herself, her title and have a seat and make eye contact during interview," said Wendi Russo, founder and owner of Crowing Success. "Small children sometimes have a difficult time making eye contact and sitting still, so those are crucial in the interview process as well as a pleasant smile on her face and a positive energy and personality. The judges are looking for personality, poise and an ability to speak with strangers and be polite,” Russo continued. “She should thank each judge after she interviews with them."

Once you understand the interview, explain it to your Princess. Once she understands what she is being judged on, she will be more natural. The more natural she is in the interview room the better!

Second, use practice questions. These questions make everything easier for all ages of competition! A clear list will help you stay on track during practices. Check out this list and use it to help your Princess prepare!

Third, keep practice sessions short and sweet. Children have short attention spans. This can make long practice sessions difficult. Practicing in small blocks keeps pageant prep enjoyable and positive. Russo's daughter, Chloe, is a longtime competitor of National American Miss and started in the Princess division. Russo used this technique when preparing her own daughter.

"The biggest challenge was teaching her how to sit still during the interview," Russo said. "I suggest you work with your daughter only a few minutes at a time. Short spurts of practice are all you need."

Fourth, learn to be sociable. When your daughter walks into the interview room, she will be talking to a panel of judges she has never met. This can be nerve-wracking as an adult. For a child that may not be very outgoing, this can be more than overwhelming. Practicing with others, like a coach or pageant friend, will teach your child how to interact with the judges she is meeting for the first time.

"Every child develops at a different rate, so the main issue is to get her comfortable speaking with strangers," Russo said. "So if she is only coaching with her mother, she may have a more difficult time when it comes to actually meeting strangers in the interview room. If your daughter is not very talkative, it’s time to get her to open up and share a story or two. If your daughter loves to talk, make sure that she stays on topic and answers the question without rambling on."

Lastly, let your princess have a say, but be firm. One of the most valuable skills pageants can teach contestants of any age is independence. During your many etiquette lessons, let your Princess contestant have a say in how she will present herself in the interview, but do not be afraid to draw a line when her imagination runs wild. Since a huge part of etiquette is understanding how to dress, one of the best ways you can do this is through the interview outfit.

"What you like and what you should wear sometimes are two different things," Russo said. "I always made sure that my daughter was able to tell me if she’d like something or not. My advice is you need to show her only appropriate outfits and then she can say if she likes it or not."

Preteen

First, be confident in who you are. Having a positive attitude and excitement going into the interview room makes it really easy and fun for the judges to talk to you. Confidence is the key to a successful pageant interview. With confidence in who you are, you will be able to present yourself in the best light possible and the judges will really get to know you and why you are best for the crown!

Second, know the judges want a conversation. The judges are not out to get you, but rather there to talk to you and carry on a conversation. Do not assume that anyone is trying to trip you up, so just stay natural and relaxed. Remember that the point of pageant interview is for the judges to get to know you. To do that, they have to be able to have a conversation with you.

Lydia Jaime poses for interview during her pageant. Photo: Lydia Jaime Facebook.

Third, share your community service. Many systems have an interview that tends to focus on your paperwork, especially community service. You need to be confident in sharing details about any community service you have been involved in. Remember that this is your time to shine, so do not be shy in sharing all the great volunteer work you have done.

Before you head to your state or national pageant, do a quick review of all the goals you have achieved with your community service. This great exercise helps you review and get excited. Even if you are feeling stressed out, going through this process will help you get reenergized and thrilled to share your amazing accomplishments!

Fourth, be passionate about your pageant. You need to passionate about a system and be ready to talk about why you want to represent this program. Know the history of the pageant and what it would mean for you to hold the title. If you have never competed in this program before, do your research to learn as much as possible about other winners and past royalty. The more you know about the system, the more likely you are to be excited about representing the program.

Lastly, show off your fun personality. One of the most important qualities you can bring to the table in a Preteen interview is your personality. Remember that if you can make the judges laugh, there is a great chance you will have a wonderful interview score and shoot right to the top of the competition.

Teen

First, be conversational. Judges can see right through rehearsed lines and memorized catch phrases. It is a good idea to gather your thoughts on crucial messages you want to leave the judges with, but rehearsing them always (and I mean always) comes out sounding memorized. Do not formulate exact sentences in your head. That way, the words flow naturally when you talk. The goal is to have a natural flowing conversation, not give a planned-out, over-rehearsed speech.

Second, know when to stop. You will want to identify the middle ground between being conversational and rambling on about a topic you have been asked about. Do not be too short with your interaction after a question, but learn to pick up on cues in the judges' body language that shows they are losing interest, such as looking down at your paperwork a lot or not being fully engaged in a conversation with you.

A good marker for the length of your answer should be about 30 seconds. This should give you enough time to answer the question, explain your answer and tell a short story. When practicing your questions, time your answers. This allows you to get a good sense of time in interview.

Krischell Lewis Miss Teen Maryland United States 2018. Photo: @_krisspykremee

Third, be relaxed, but energized. Knowing your body language is important, too. You can give off cues that you are comfortable without making it seem like you’re a snooze fest. The judges will feed off your excitement and energy, so don’t forego keeping the energy up while being relaxed and comfortable in their presence. As with most things in life, this is a balancing act.

Lastly, know your paperwork. One of the deadly sins in interview is putting things on your paperwork sheet that you are not familiar with. It is the quickest road to the untimely death of your quest to the crown. It may make you seem more interesting to bulk up your bio sheet with half-truths, but nothing is worse to a judge than a contestant who fibs, stretches the truth or is unprepared. Know everything on your paperwork. Know it in your sleep. Know it frontwards and backwards.

Miss

First, don't stress. The best way you can bring yourself to that interview room and stage is to be living authentically without stressing out over what others think. In the weeks leading up to the pageant, make sure you take some time to breathe. Do something that relaxes you and takes your mind off of the stress of preparation. Whether it is a bubble bath with your favorite scent or a friendly game of tennis with a family member, do something that is fun and that you enjoy. This will help you to relax and remember who you are and what you enjoy so you can go into interview confident in that. You want to enjoy the interview and show the judges the best version of you and stressing out about the pageant could jeopardize that presentation.

Second, have a strategy and stick to it. When it comes to preparation, the last thing that you want to do is change everything up when it is working. Stick to what you've been rehearsing and don't second-guess yourself.

"The work is done! Don't change your strategy. Be you. Walk in like the crown is already on your head," said pageant coach Robin Jones Gifford.

Third, read the news. Make sure that you take time to read the news each day in the week leading up to your pageant. A lot can happen and you want to know the latest details on issues that may come up in the judges' questions. Again, you do not want this to be something that stresses you out leading up to your pageant, but taking just 20 to 30 minutes each morning to catch up on the news will definitely give you some peace of mind, and will pay off in the interview room. Pageant Daily is a great way to get the news and pageant tips delivered to your inbox every day. Sign up here.

Fourth, review your paperwork. When you go into interview, you want everything on your paperwork to be fresh in your mind as it is full of potential interview questions. Take some time to think about all that you put down and why those things are important to you. Make sure that you review this multiple times leading up to your pageant and think about how it all fits together to form your unique image and platform.

Fifth, think about your goals. Following your resume review, you want to be thinking about how who you are fits with what the titleholder responsibilities are and how you plan to use your reign should you win.

During interview, you're going to want to present those aspirations as if you are the judges’ first choice for the title so you want them to be well thought out. You also want to be sure of what your goals and aims are going into the interview so that you do not second guess yourself before or during the interview.

"My favorite things to do for interview are read the newspaper, review my resume, and most importantly, do some soul searching to really think about who you are as a person, why you want to achieve this goal, and what you can give back to the system or pageant you are competing in," said Kate Peacock, Miss North Carolina 2015.

Know who you are and why you have chosen to compete. Then, make sure that you are ready to share your platform with the judges and how you will use your unique experiences and title to give back to others.

Cheyenne Gallego International United Miss 2017-2018. Photo: @iummiss Instagram

Lastly, be selfless. The worst thing that you about a pageant is to make it all about you. Recognize all of the hard work that you put into your pageant preparation, but acknowledge that you are a part of something bigger. Part of acing the interview is an appreciation for others and the recognition that even as a titleholder, you are not working alone, but rather using all that you have to contribute to a greater cause.

Humility goes a long way pageant weekend and will definitely help you to stand out and give you peace of mind. Seeing opportunities to help out the other girls during pageant preparation will help you to stress less and enjoy the moment more. Focusing on giving back during the pageant will also prepare you for your interview as you will already have a mindset of helping others going into interview so you can show the judges how you could make an even bigger difference as a titleholder.

Mrs./Ms.

First, have a marketing plan. What is the difference you are going to make with a national title? Although some of the interview will focus on your current accomplishments and community service, you need to have an action plan for what you will do if you win the crown. You should be ready to talk about what you'll accomplish over your year of reign.

Your marketing plan should include concrete goals, like the number of schools you plan to visit, the number of girls you hope to recruit or other unique milestones you hope to achieve during your year of reign. When you leave the interview, the judges should be excited about all the amazing things you could accomplish during your year of reign!

Second, remain fun yet poised. Even though you might want to let your guard down a little bit to show off that fun personality, you also want to come across as poised and professional. The judges will love learning about who you are, but they should also be able to picture you with the crown on. Make sure you celebrate all the hard work from your interview practice with polish.

Lastly, serve as a role model. As an older contestant, remember that you are going to be a role model not just for all contestants, but for your sister queens. Sister queens tend to stick together and attend events in this system, so you want to show off your ability to get along well with others.

Know how you are a role model now and how you could be a role model once you have the title as well. This shows judges that you do not just have all these big plans to make a difference once you have won, but that you are already making a positive change.

For all divisions

When you approach your interview, you want to have a plan. It is not enough to just practice answering 100 different questions and watching the news. We’ve already discussed that the judges will use your pageant bio to draw questions from, so it would be a very good idea for you to read your bio as if you were a judge. Leading the interview is all about having a roadmap for where you want the interview to go. You have to allow for detours of course, but you can still chart a course based on your paperwork.

To do this, see if you can create several potential questions for every point that you have listed on your paperwork. Take the time to understand your answers based on your personal beliefs and values. Think of personal stories that are tied to your experiences. This exercise will help you immensely in understanding the judge’s point of view and develop meaningful answers.

You also want to go into the interview room with a plan for your potential reign as the new titleholder. This is an often overlooked strategy that will set you apart from the other contestants if you are willing to take the time to put together a game plan.

Where do I find resources to prepare for pageant interview?

Finding resources to help you prepare for pageant interview is extremely easy. If you are looking for pageant preparation resources, you have come to the right site. Pageant Planet has a ton of resources available for you.

VIP Coaching

Pageant Planet’s VIP Membership Program is the most comprehensive, cost effective and efficient way to train for your next pageant. Is your pageant in a few days and you want to a one-on-one coaching session with a real life coach who can help? You can do that. Is your next pageant a year away and you want to book daily coaching sessions for one low monthly fee? You can do that too!

Regardless of what membership option you choose you will receive proven pageant coaching strategies that will help you win the crown. All of our coaching strategies are personalized based on the system, age division and country in which you’re competing.

This insider edge has helped more than 1,000 girls win national, state and local titles in dozens of different systems across all age divisions in over a dozen countries. Pageant Planet’s VIP coaching is affordable and tailored to you! You will work with a skilled and proven team that will give you results!

Bonus, VIP coaching comes with unlimited mock interviews. This means unlimited opportunities to ask questions and practice nailing your pageant interview!

Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters Miss Universe 2017. Photo: @demileighnp

Directory

This tool is a listing of all pageant systems, pageant contestants, coaches and much more. Pageant Planet’s Directory is full of amazing coaches with proven results. The Directory allows you to use the filtering options to discover pageant coaches who are located near you and who specialize in your area of need.

According to Pageant Planet's Queen of Technology, Samantha Sewell, the directory is a great option for streamlining your pageant search process as well.

"Pageant listings can include all the items pageant girls look for when researching for a system to compete in," Sewell said. "This includes prizes, past state, national or international winners, and judging criteria. Streamlining the search process for contestants in a way that not only makes information clear but easy to locate helps your pageant appear more professional and organized. This is a huge factor contestants look for in finding the perfect pageant.”

What is a mock pageant interview?

At least two to three months before your pageant, you should start practicing for pageant interview using mock interviews. During mock interviews, you simulate the conditions you will be under during the real interview. The purpose of mock interviews is to practice the pressure you will feel during the interview so when the big day rolls around you feel relaxed and prepared.

To have a mock interview, gave a few friends and pageant experts to be your judges. You want to set up the mock interview in the same manner you real interview would take place. If it is a round robin interview, set up a round robin interview room. If it is a panel interview, set up a panel interview. Provide your judges with pens and paper to write down their feedback.

You should wear what you are planning to wear into your interview for the mock interview. Your mock interview should be the same length of time as your pageant interview. The goal is to be as close to the real deal as possible.

Setting up a mock interview can seem daunting. Some pageant coaches will set up mock interviews for their clients. If you do not have a coach and do not know where to start, Pageant Planet offers mock interview sessions and one-on-one coaching sessions that you can check out here.

How do I stand out in pageant interview?

Standing out among the crowd is essential to success in pageantry, but it can be difficult in a sea of accomplished, driven and well-rounded contestants like yourself. There are few obvious ways to stand out during your pageant interview.

Personal brand

First, focus on who you are and what your personal brand is. Think back to Miss USA 2016 Deshauna Barber. What is the one thing she left the audience with? All of Barber’s messaging throughout the competition, from her meet the contestant video to her mic drop-worthy onstage answer, was focused on how she was a woman fighting for our country in the Army.

During pageant interview the key is to make sure you leave your judges with everything YOU want them to know about you: think your message, platform, ambition, community service and personal goals. Brainstorm and write these down in the weeks you are preparing for competition. Plan your wardrobe, interview answers and paperwork around the personal brand you want your judges to remember.

Body language

Second, body language says more about you than you know. Did you know that it takes between seven and 30 seconds to make a first impression? So much of what goes into a first impression is your nonverbal signals or your body language. Pageant interview is likely your opportunity to make a first impression so your body language becomes even more important during this phase of competition.

Before you walk into the interview room, check your posture. Stand up straight, shoulders back, take a deep breath and let your shoulders fall naturally. A good tip is to pretend there is a string attached to your head that pulls your body upward and then let your shoulders fall to a relaxed position.

When answering a question, be cognizant of how much you are moving your hands. Sometimes having too much movement can overpower your message and may even block your face from the judges. The goal is to impress them with your answers, not distract them with your arms.

Eye contact

Third, maintain eye contact with the judges. While eye contact is super important, do not stare your judges down. The preferred length of time for eye contact is between three and five seconds at one time. If you are in a panel style interview always address the judge who asked the initial question and slowly make eye contact with the other judges as you answer. In you are in a round-robin interview, do not let outside distractions deter your natural eye contact.

Be present with the one judge you are talking to and have a conversation. Talk to your judges how you would talk to your parent’s friend, conversational and friendly, but not too informal. Take a deep breath, relax and wow them with your charm and intelligence.

The right outfit

Finally, to really stand out, make sure your outfit of choice complements your figure and brand. Try it on for your friends, family and coach in advance of the competition. Make sure your outfit is not so bold that it detracts from your message. The goal is to look polished, professional and ready to take over the crown.

Miss USA 2018 Sarah Rose Summers and Miss North Carolina USA 2018 Caelynn Miller-Keyes after their Miss USA interveiws. Photo: Miss Nebraska USA Instagram

Do your research on what looks are popular in pageant interview for that system. For example, Miss USA 2018 Sarah Rose Summers wore a shorts-blazer combination into interview. While that outfit went over well at Miss USA, it would not go over well for a Miss America contestant. Now what your system is looking for and plan your wardrobe accordingly.

Do I need a coach for pageant interview?

Every successful person on the planet has hired a coach to help them excel. Athletes, businessmen and pageant girls alike hire coaches to put themselves above the competition. Pageant coaches are absolutely integral to creating the best version of yourself before competition.

In other words, it is highly encouraged you seek out a coach for this round of competition to hone in on who you are and how you want to best present your message. There are pageant coaches who focus on the actual interviewing portion of conversation while other coaches focus on the styling for competition. These coaches are there to make sure you stick to your brand.

How can I find a coach?

If you decide to go with a coach, it is highly recommended that you find an interview coach in your area who can help you succeed in pageant interview. Look for your most successful pageant friends and ask who they use for interview coaching. You can search for pageant interview coaches in our full directory of trusted pageant coaches. Our directory even allows you to sort coaches by specialty based on your needs.

When selecting a pageant coach, there are a few things you should consider. First, look to the coach’s experience. You want to pick a pageant coach that has experience and knowledge around the system you want participate in. Each pageant system has its nuances so it is important that you find a coach who knows exactly what your dream pageant system is looking for. A pageant coach with a proven track record of success in your pageant system is ideal.

Second, your potential coach will likely have specialties. Whether they specialize in personal branding, social media strategy or just plain interview room preparation, you want to find a coach with strengths that match your weaknesses. Look for a coach who wants to make you a better competitor and has the skills to do just that.

Third, price should be a consideration. Let’s face it, pageantry is an expensive sport and finding the right coach for you can be pricey. When exploring different coaches, make sure you get an understanding of what each coach charges and what services they offer. Consider which coach’s price best fits in your budget or spring for a more expensive coach and adjust your budget accordingly.

Lastly, you need to work well with your coach. If you and your coach totally clash, you are not going to listen to what they have to say and they won’t be able to help you. Find someone whose opinion you value and whom you get along with. A good relationship is key to a successful coach-client relationship.

In the event that you cannot find the right pageant coach near you, we also offer one-on-one coaching through our VIP membership program and mock pageant interviews! You can check that out here.

Pageant interview is an incredibly important part of the pageant competition. While most girls are tripped up or nervous, you will be ready to go with this all-inclusive guide!

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Titleholder of the Day

Title Holder Of the Day

Tracy Lightner

Ms. All World Beauties Elite U.S. 2018

Inspires and transforms through S.T.E.P.S. Parental Engagement Program & ThickHealth.org

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