Eliminate filler words, including "like, um, you know, such as." Usually, we add these kinds of filler words because we are trying to organize our thoughts. Rather than fill those few seconds before answering with a filler word, just take a breath and pause before speaking. I suggest eliminating these words from your speaking habits all together. If you can get through the day without using these words, you will be able to get through an interview with no problem. Think of it as building a muscle memory.
If speaking at a podium, do not rest your body weight on the podium. Keep elbows off the podium. You may rest your hands on the podium or keep them to your sides, but do not lean on the podium. Stand up straight, projecting confidence and professionalism.
If you are allowed to close your interview with a final statement, have two or three prepared and ready to access. If there is something you didn't have the opportunity to address in your interview, make sure you bring it up in your closing remarks. You might want to talk about your platform some more or tell the judges about a community service project you were involved in. Otherwise, tell the judges what the pageant system you are competing in means to you and why you would be the best person for the job. As a judge, I need to know that you really want the job!
Use your smile, facial expressions, and eye contact no matter what the topic. Often contestants speak with great confidence, excitement and animation when addressing topics they are familiar with and passionate about. However, continue to show your energy and personality as you are asked about things that may require you to think on your toes.
Don't ramble. You should be able to answer a question in three or four sentences. If it is a topic you want to elaborate on, its fine to speak a little longer. However, don't waste precious interview seconds by speaking in circles. Once you have made your point, close your answer and move on.
Make sure you listen to the whole question and answer the question you are given. You may have practiced an interview question similar to the one you are being asked, so you immediately give a canned answer on the topic at hand. However, a good interview question will be worded very specifically and may require critical thinking on your part. Take a few seconds and process what is being asked of you before blurting out a canned answer.
It is fine to ask a judge to reword their question if you don't understand. In addition, if you don't know anything about the topic at hand, simply say you aren't familiar with the topic and move on. However, a good interview question will give you some information about the topic. If you can form an opinion based on the information the judge is giving you, I suggest giving it a shot. This is another example of why it is important to listen to the whole question carefully. You're a smart girl, form an opinion and answer the question.
Take your suit or interview dress to a tailor. Spend a little extra money to make sure your clothes fit well. Make sure fabric is not pulling or bunching, especially around the hips, waist and shoulders. The last thing you want is for a judge to notice that your outfit is too tight or too big rather than noticing what a great speaker you are.
Make sure your paper work is active, not passive. What I mean by that is don't simply give me the history of your platform issue, citing things other people have done. After defining the issue and need for your platform, tell me what you have done, what organizations you are partnering with and how you would expand it if awarded the title. Your paperwork should convey your leadership qualities, creativity, and initiative.
One of my biggest pet peeves!
When people say EXSPECIALLY instead of ESPECIALLY! Please watch your grammar and pronunciation.
Scrabble photo credit: Flickr.com: trs125