Breathe. It's interview time

"Hello, My name is Erin Husbands, a LSU Tiger Fan from Baton Rouge, LA. But that's not as interesting as knowing I survived an earthquake, have four legal names, and made medical history at age 1."

Interview day is probably the most stressful day for any pageant girl. If they tell you it isn't, they are lying. I was a pro at interview but I always got nervous and anxious before each one. Always. Up until my very last one, ever. This is the single most important phase of competition because it is your first impression. (Now there are a few pageant systems that hold interview after stage work and I don't particularly care for that order but it is what it is.) Pageants can be lost or won in interview. You cannot recover from a bad interview. The judges see and hear all about you in either round robin or private panel style. Some systems require a resume, while other systems do not. No matter the format, TCM girls are ready for anything. We practice, we come up with game plans, we consider backups, and more. Yes - this is all for only interview.

International Jr Miss has round robin interview style for all contestants. Jr Princess through Teens get only 60 seconds per judge (5 at nationals, 3 at state). Miss contestants get 2 minutes with each of the 5 judges. This is NOT enough time to get to know someone so you must make yourself memorable. You get an appearance score as well as a content score. When you leave the interview room, 50% of your score for the preliminary part of the pageant is done.

I as start warming each girl up for their interview, we go over the usual questions. I give them reminders, encouragement, calm their nerves and just be there in that moment with them. I remind them that they are awesome, that they are exactly what the judges are looking for, and most importantly - that they already know all the answers to the questions.

I know what they are feeling. I know that sinking-pit feeling. I know that uneasiness and nervousness but I also know what it feels like to walk in and ace an interview. That's what I hope to be able to give to each of my girls - the confidence to charm the judges and leave the room feeling like a rock star.

I give them last minute reminders. Each girl goes in one by one. I say a prayer. Count down the five minutes and wait for them to exit. I wait to see the expression on their face to tell the tale. Each one comes out looking like they are going to burst with excitement. One by one each of my TCM girls come out so excited to tell me about this and that and their answer and how they felt and how they nailed it ---- they feel like rock stars.

No one knows what went on in the interview room until we see the videos and of course the scores after the pageant. I have no idea what they actually said, or if they actually answered the question or not, but at this moment none of that matters. I cannot change it and I will not harp on it because that will bring them down. It's a mind game to keep them positive and excited, and pumped to move onto the next phase of competition. If they feel like a rockstar, then that energy will carry over. That's all that matters - to give them a positive experience.

When they are done competing in pageants, they won't carry around their crowns, but instead they will always carry with them the skills they learned through pageantry. Interview skills is just one of many. She will use that skill when she interviews for college, for scholarships, jobs, or interviews on TV, radio, and so on. She will know how to network and connect with people all over the world just because she knows how to handle herself in "unknown" situations. She will be cool, calm, collected. She will be a rockstar.