Racking your brain, preparing for your personal interview? Don't stress anymore. Here are ten tips that will help you make the interview process your favorite part of the competition.
1. Do your research: Read one major newspaper and one news magazine i.e. Newsweek. This is number one on the list, because this is one thing you can control. You can make sure you are aware of world news and the current political climate. Don't allow yourself to be stumped in the interview room by current events questions. Read a little every day and you will be informed and well versed in the subjects at hand. Be sure to bone up on prominent local, state, national and international leaders. No one want to be made to play the name game, but better safe than sorry. Also, know where your particular platform issue fits into national and world news, and know what public figures support your cause and what contributions they have made.
2. Utilize your driving time. Tune into NPR, political talk shows and news broadcasts in the car to bone up on your current events. You are balancing so many different things including work, school, your social life and pageant prep. When I was competing I hardly ever listened to anything but talk radio and NPR when I was driving.
3. Keep a journal. Journal about interview questions and current events that come up in your coachings or personal preparation. This will help you discover where you stand on the topic. Write as much as you can, and then evaluate your thoughts. How can you take everything you wrote, and condense it into one short 3 to 4 sentence answer? This will help you start to think in terms of formulating answers that are direct and to the point. Another exercise is to take your pageant fact sheet and resume and write a short paragraph for each item on the sheet. How much do you really know about yourself? Try to think of every possible question a judge could ask about your interesting facts and mission statement. You must know your pageant paperwork inside and out!
4. Discuss current events with family and friends. This will help you hear varying points of view. Try to look at issues from both sides. Don't simply adopt the opinions of others, but seek to develop your own educated stance on the issues of the day.
5. Remain conversational. So often, pageant contestants feel they need to memorize answers. This is nerve racking and next to impossible. Just when you think you've thought of every possible question, you will be asked something you've never considered. The point of interview prep should be to train your brain to draw from the research you've done along with your own life experience to formulate original and spontaneous answers. When in doubt, relate tough questions back to something you know like a personal experience.
6. Set up mock interviews and round table discussions. Try to determine what your learning style is. Some girls like both mock interviews and round table discussions, while some prefer one to the other. Round tables are a very affective tool for discussing issues and garnering different points of view. Once again, this promotes conversational answers. If you don't have someone helping you in this area, you can set up your own panel. Ask college professors, community leaders, local entrepreneurs and friends to be a part of your mock interview panel. I'm sure they will be happy to help and flattered that you thought of them.
7. Speak in terms of "I AM, not I WILL." When you are interviewing for the job of Miss Local, State, or National titleholder, make sure you have taken on an active role in your platform issue. Launch your own project, fundraiser, or Internet marketing campaign. Find a way to make a difference in your chosen arena. You will be a much stronger candidate for the job if you can tell the judges what you are already doing. Sure, the crown would help you expand. But, show them that you don't need a crown to give you the go ahead to start leading and making a difference.
8. Expand your horizons. It takes a lot of effort to be interesting. That may sound silly, but it's true. In order to have fun things to talk about, you have to get out there in the world and garner some life experiences. Run a marathon, climb a mountain, take that under water basket weaving class you've been wanting to take...WHATEVER! There is no wrong answer. Just make sure you continue to get out there and have a little fun. There is a great deal of hard work that goes into pageant prep. This tip is an easy one. After all, most pageants are looking for youthful, vibrant women who represent their demographic in a modern and classy way.
9. Take college courses that will help you with interview. You are in school anyway and need to fulfill certain academic requirements. Why not take classes that will help you prepare for those tough interview questions. How about "women's studies," "political science," or "communications" courses. The sky is the limit!
10. Know your platform. When judges ask you questions about your platform they are giving you an opportunity to showcase your leadership qualities and initiative as a titleholder. Personal stories and examples of how you've made a difference are key. We want to hear about how you have helped others, how their lives were changed for the better and how it affected your life. Judges will also ask questions that determine whether or not you understand how to market your platform at the local, state and national level. You should know what political and public figures support your cause and whether your organization or issue has been featured in the news within the past year. You should also understand funding and legislative challenges, and the logistics of facilitating your platform as Miss Local, State or National titleholder.
Above all, be yourself. These tips are meant to help you expand your horizons and look at the interview process in a new way. The idea is to present the best version of yourself that you can. You have to work hard at being fabulous. Challenge yourself in as many ways as possible and you will see great personal growth through out this invaluable self-improvement process we call pageantry!