It only lasts about 3 minutes and all you have to do is talk about yourself. It should be the easiest part about competing in a pageant, right? NOT!
One the parts of pageants that makes contestants most nervous is the personal interview. Yet, you can easily prepare yourself for it because you talk about a subject you should know everything about.
The interview is the part where the judges evaluate whether you got what it takes to fulfil the duties that come with the title you are vying for. Pageant directors instruct the judges which are the qualities to look for and these can vary per competition. Yet in big lines it is all about being able to carry out a conversation, while being engaging and composed.
When I started in pageants, each contestant would get 3 minutes with each judge. This worked because we had 10 contestants and 5 judges. In most pageants nowadays, because of the large number of contestants, each participant gets 3 minutes with the whole panel of judges.
In some international pageants, a group of delegates gets interviewed at the same time by the whole panel. In my opinion, this is a waste of everyone’s time because it hardly gives a judge the opportunity to say good afternoon to the delegate.
Three minutes does not sound like a long time, yet it can be if the conversation does not flow. This is the key to a great interview and to give a great interview you need to prepare yourself. Preparation is not difficult, but it is time consuming.
The first step is to make a list of:
- your likes and dislikes
- people you admire and those who irk you
- your accomplishments
- things you want to accomplish
Next step is to look at why all those things are on your list, i.e. why do you wish to become an accountant?
Next, think of the event(s) in your life which determined the way you feel about the things on your list, i.e. did winning a math competition make you decide you wanted to work with numbers?
You should also keep abreast of current events and have an opinion about them. Again, look at what led you to form that specific opinion.
It is important to have clear plans for the future. Where do you want to go, how do you plan to get there and do you have the necessary tools to get there. For instance, it is very laudable to want to become a doctor of medicine. However, if you do not have the required secondary education, it is not a very realistic goal. So, be very realistic in your ambitions.
All these steps serve for you to have a clear understanding of who you are and how you got to be that way. Next, we will look at how to present what you know about yourself in the personal interview.
So, get pencil and paper and start making those lists!