I competed in the MAO system for many years, and we always said that the pageant was won in the Interview. Now, all pageant systems are different, and they may weigh certain areas of competition differently, but in my opinion, if a judge likes you in the interview, they most likely will "like" you for the remainder of the pageant.
The interview is more than just the words that are coming out of your mouth, although that is very important. Also of importance... your appearance! Appearance as in the whole package - hair, make-up, attire, etc. A contestant can be eloquent in her responses, but wearing inappropriate attire and/or make-up, and it is a huge loss.
Now, it is hard to provide general tips for attire, but I recommend doing some research on what past contestants have worn. Pageants are not the time to completely re-invent the wheel. Yes, you want to set yourself apart, but if contestants have traditionally worn traditional suits (not really the case nowadays), I would not recommend that a contestant wear a party dress!
In addition to doing research on the appropriate attire for the interview, also research the pageant history. Research the respective pageant system and know it backward and forward. Also, if you are competing in a MAO preliminary, know your platform as well as the national platform (Children's Miracle Network). If competing in MUO then know about the charitable alliances (Ovarian Cancer, Best Buddies, Gilda's Club), perhaps even volunteer with one of the organizations prior to competing.
Most pageants provide a template for the Interview Biography or Interview Form. I recommend getting some assistance with completing that form whether it be your best friend, parent, or some one who has competed prior. You want feedback about the content in the interview form. This form can also serve as a starting point for your mock interview?!?!
What, you should practice interviewing? Yes, every aspect of the pageant should be rehearsed and practiced for some time. I am not saying that you should have responses memorized, no one wants you to sound like a "Pageant Patty," but you do want to be prepared.
A few things to also find out:
- How long is the interview
- Are you standing or sitting for the interview
- Do you meet with the judges individually, small group, or all of them at once
After knowing what to wear, some information about the national/state-level organization, the format, etc., now you need to prepare for the interview from a personal point-of-view. The interview is your opportunity to SELL YOURSELF!?! Why are you unique? Why would you be a good Miss XXX?
More tips about that tomorrow!