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Pageat Interview Queen

Should Pageant Interview Questions Be Easier? No.

I saw it suggested on Twitter last night after the Miss USA pageant that on-stage pageant interview questions should be more “direct” because the girls are under pressure  and can’t “absorb anything” when faced with the big crowds, the excitement, and the lights in their eyes. I couldn’t disagree more.

And this is worrisome because the suggestion came from a group of women who care deeply about pageantry and contestants. In fact, they posted it be supportive but, oddly, it had the side effect of accidentally putting down pageant girls (in my opinion). To be clear, this came up around the Miss Utah USA answer that was, let’s admit it, far from ideal.

Let me say first, then, that I hold the gorgeous Marissa Powell in high regard and we all should. One bad answer doesn’t mean she’s not a smart and capable woman. That answer very likely cost her the crown, yes, but she might have just had a crazy wave of nerves hit her and we can appreciate that. It could happen to any of us.

But I think that’s where our offering reasons, or making excuses, for her should end. And I certainly don’t think it means pageants should ask simpler questions.

Why?  Keep in mind a few things:

  • Get Real. Most pageant contestants already have or want careers that involve excitement, bright lights, and crowds so they’d darn sure better get used to “absorbing” information and thinking on their feet in those situations. The skills we learn and practice in pageants transcend to all areas of life.
  • Compare. All of the contestants at that stage faced the same pressures, they too got some tough questions, and, let’s face it, some did better than others. This is what separates a queen from the princesses. The women are all beautiful, period. It’s what comes out of your mouth and how you handle pressure that makes you a queen.
  • What’s Best for Pageant Perceptions? If questions are dumbed down then that suggests we don’t trust the ability of these women to step up and handle pressure. And it diminishes the perceptions of pageants in general and anyone in the pageant world knows these girls ARE smart.  So what to do?
  • Prepare! Put simply, any contestant benefits from better pageant interview preparation. That preparation can be in terms of content and opinion awareness, or it can be in terms of handling stage fright, or both. And if you’re better prepared with the former it tends to lessen the latter. Is it a guarantee you’ll never mess up again? No, but it sure improves your chances of avoiding problems.

Well-prepared does not mean overly rehearsed. And maybe that’s what happened with Miss Utah USA, maybe (only she knows for sure) she heard a bit of the question and thought “I’ll try to tie in my rehearsed education answer here” and then realized she wasn’t really answering the question and got flustered. Or maybe education really is the key to why she thinks the gender gap is there, but she needed to listen better to more effectively think through how to weave that in.

So let’s rewind and learn from her question how to listen for the CORE of the question.  Please read the post called Answer the Question, Learning from Miss Utah that I’m about to post. It’ll remind us a bit about the difference between components and core, which is discussed much more elsewhere in the Pageant Interviewing Success: The Collected Series.


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