I never really had any interest in being Miss USA or Miss America. But I loved the whole process. So when I got asked to help judge the Miss Plattsburg Scholarship Pageant a month or so ago, I was so stinking excited. I did not hesitate to say, "YES!"
There are 20 young adults hoping to win the title of 2011 Miss Plattsburg and the opportunity to represent their hometown and obtain the college scholarship that goes with the title.
As I drove home from the interview portion, which is what I helped judge, I could not help but think about all the young women I had just met. Miss Plattsburg will be crowned tonight, I thought I might take a moment to give future pageant contestants a few things to think about, from a judges perspective.
1. The Devil is in the Detail: Often times interviewing questions have multiple parts. It is important to remember to address both parts. For example, if a question ask you for your goals and dreams, it is important to give a response to both: goals and dreams. It is also important to remember the detail. Reaching a goal, especially a long term one, is dependent on several smaller steps. What are those steps? The detail is so important. Most scholarship pageants are going to be rooted in academics. Sharing your academic goals is probably going to be very important. For example: when I was a senior in high school, graduating high school was very important to me as I was the first person on my father's side of the family to graduate high school. I thought I wanted to be a police officer, so I had a goal of going to college and obtaining a 3.0 GPA. I wanted to make it through college in four years. My long term goal was to become a highway patrol officer. My dream when I was in high school was to own a pink convertible car. I had a job so I could save money to buy one.
2. Talk to Me: It takes a strong and confident person to hold their own in a conversation. Before you even start to answering the interview questions, take a deep breath, mentally create a road map of your answer and just talk to me. Tell me your story. Finish your thought. Be aware of communication blunders and avoid them. What is a communication blunder? You know them...um...well....uh....hummm....what was I going to say? Those things that interfere with communication. My absolute best advice: practice. Practice. Practice answering questions out loud. Look at football players, They practice running plays. Key word, running. They do not sit on the sideline and think about running plays. They run them. Therefore, you should practice talking out loud. Try to go for a whole 5 minutes for each question. Start over when you commit a communication blunder. Use a mirror if you do not have anyone else in the family you can force to practice with you.
3. Exude Confidence: How you overall present yourself is important. In every way you want to appear to be the most confident person in the room. You do this by making eye contact. Even if I am busy writing notes, when I look up, I want to catch you being attentive. You also exude confidence by your use of posture. Whether you are asked to stand while addressing the judges or allowed to sit. Practice your posture. And of course, you can exude confidence in the way you communicate.
Example of posture:
5. It is "OK" to toot your horn a bit: When we were little, we were told not to brag or be boastful about ourselves. It is considered rude. I do however, have to disagree with this just a bit. The purpose of athletics, social clubs, position of leadership, and even volunteer work is to learn something about yourself, to learn how to work as a team, to help someone else, or inspire others. Any chance you can, use that knowledge as examples in your interview questions. Communicate to me just how you have prepared yourself for this moment in your life.