Pageants are often won, or loss, during the interview phase. This is your first impression upon the judges, and can very well determine if they feel you are a fit for the job without ever needing to see you compete on stage. The weight of the interview competition does vary between pageant systems, so make sure you check the paperwork to know if all categories of competition are equally scored, or not. But regardless of the weight of the interview portion, there is no coming back from a bad interview.
There are also a few different formats used by various systems when holding the interview phase. Some systems have a group interview, which means that a few contestants go in together and interview as a group, with the judges. Usually the same question is asked to each of the contestants, allowing them a chance to individually answer the question. However the first contestant to answer is at a disadvantage, opposed to the other contestants who have time to think about their answer. Another format for interview can be the "on-stage interview." This usually happens during the stage competition, most often for the younger contestants age 6 and under. Typically the pageant emcee will ask different questions to each contestant. Some systems keep time for each contestant, while other systems do not, but use the judgment of the emcee to know when to end. But today we will focus on two interview formats: round robins and panel interviews.
What are Round Robins?
Usually round robin interviews are 1 to 2 minutes per judge. The contestant interviews with only one judge at a time. The judges are usually at their own table, or station, separate from the other judges, and the contestant will move from station to station until they have interviewed with each judge. Depending on the system, round robins may or may not include the contestants' resume.
1. If you make a mistake with one judge, the other judges will never know
2. Round robins are thought of as being easier
3. Contestants who get nervous feel little more confident in this short time-frame with each judge.
1. Extremely difficult for a judge to truly get "TO KNOW" the contestant in such a short time-frame
2. Harder to make yourself memorable
3. Some judges have a harder time asking questions outside of a group, which could make your conversation flow feel uneven
4. Harder to get more questions or topics covered
5. Can only talk within your time-frame with the judge (such as no "closing remarks")
What is a Panel Interview?
A panel interview is where one contestant interviews with the entire panel at the same time. Most often the contestants have submitted a resume and/or platform statement. The judges can ask questions from the paperwork as well as ask questions from just about any other topic. Time frames may vary from 3-20 minutes, depending on the system and age division.
1. Longer interview time
2. The entire judges panel hears everything, both good and bad
3. Usually questions and topics flow better
4. Very advantageous for the contestants who have polished public speaking skills
5. Easier to make yourself memorable
6. Can begin the conversation the moment you walk through the door
7. Can end with "closing remarks" before exiting
1. The entire judges panel hears everything, both good and bad
2. Stronger interviews have an advantage
3. This format can cause anxiety to contestants who are not well prepared
Of course there are different techniques to be used in a round robin versus a panel interview. But there are a few things you should always practice regardless of the interview format. And those are posture, good eye contact, volume, and smile! With a panel style interview it can get more complex such as: Standing vs Sitting; using a podium or not; and engaging the full panel. In a round robin all the contestant has to do is stand by her chair, interview, then wait by her chair before rotating or leaving the room.
Most often I get the question of "what do I talk about in interview?" Each TCM girl has a carefully crafted interview that makes her stand out but because I focus specifically on the unique qualities of that girl instead of trying to mold them into someone they are not. So what you, as a contestant, should be talking about in interview depends on YOU! Some pageant systems require the contestants to submit a resume and/or platform statement that the judges will use to ask questions. Therefore, what you put on this paperwork will direct topics asked in your interview. In the case of no paperwork, the judges can literally ask you anything under the sun just to see how you handle it!
How do I prepare? Well rule number one - know YOURSELF! That's the easy part! Next, study your paperwork. That's another easy part because it's all about YOU! Make sure you have answers to "Why would you make a good queen?", and for the older girls, make sure you stay informed on local, state and national news. Current events are the first topics to trip up your interview and it all could've been prevented if you watched or read the news.
Some girls find interview intimidating but interviews can be super fun! You just have to practice and be confident! Remember, that you are amazing and if you just share that with the judges .... they will love you!