What makes a pageant answer successful isn’t that it is the “right” answer, but that it is an intelligent answer delivered the right way. Say what you think and back it up.
Although sounding like a winner is absolutely necessary to winning pageant interviews, there are no perfect answers guaranteed to impress the judges. What makes an answer successful isn’t that it is the “right” answer, but that it is an intelligent answer delivered the right way. Say what you think and back it up.
In 2012, after a transgender contestant was initially barred from competing in a Canadian preliminary pageant for Miss Universe, then allowed to compete after Donald Trump changed the pageant’s bylaws, the issue of whether transgender contestants should be allowed to compete in women’s pageants was the controversial question of the hour. During the Miss USA pageant’s high-stakes final question, Miss Rhode Island USA, Olivia Culpo, was asked the question on everyone’s minds: “Would you feel it would be fair that a transgender woman wins the Miss USA title over a natural-born woman?”
Aware that there was no “right” answer to the highly controversial question – but possibly realizing that she was better served by staying with the Miss Universe Organization’s decision to allow transgender contestants to compete – she replied, “”I do think that that would be fair, but I can understand that people would be a little apprehensive to take that road because there is a tradition of natural-born women,” Culpo said. “But today where there are so many surgeries and so many people out there who have a need to change for a happier life, I do accept that because I believe it’s a free country.” While there clearly was no “right” answer, her handling of the difficult question evidently resonated with judges who awarded her the 2012 Miss USA title.
Similarly, Richard Guy, of the famed Guy Rex team that produced five consecutive Miss USAs, describes how radically different answers can be equally successful. When GuyRex staged the 1993 Miss World-America and Miss World-Mexico pageants together, the representatives from both nations were asked, “If the man you are engaged to marry had to move far away and marrying him meant you wouldn’t see your family for twenty years, would you marry him? Why or why not?”
“The American girl said she would marry the guy because there are so many modern technologies today that she could write and call, and soon there would be a TV where you can see each other on the telephone,” recalls Guy.
“When I asked the Mexican girl that question, she said, ‘Forget it. Another fiance will come along. You only have one family and I would never leave my family!’ They were the same questions,” he observes, “but the thinking was so different. Yet both were ‘correct’ answers.”
Guy continues: “Another question was, ‘You’re getting a divorce and you have a son and daughter. By law, you have to give one of them up to the father. Which one would you give up and why?’ The American girl said she would not want to give either one of them up, but she would give up the boy because a boy needs a father, and since they are both men, they can relate to each other better.
The Mexican girl said that she wouldn’t want to give either of them up, but she would give up the daughter because she felt Mexican men were too macho and he would treat the son badly. But women are like little goddesses there and she would give him the daughter because he would treat her wonderfully. They were completely different answers, but both ‘correct.’”
As these very different responses demonstrate, there are no right or wrong answers, per se. A winning answer is one that reveals the ability to think on your feet and express your thoughts well under pressure. Onstage interviews “make the girl really think,” explains Guy. “You can tell the fake ones, the basic beauty queens who have been programmed, because they can’t think.”
Never Call Judges Attention to an Unflattering Quality
Never tarnish your image by calling judges’ attention to an unflattering quality.
- One national semi-finalist thought she was being cute describing her propensity for accidents – including the time she drove her car onto someone’s front porch while they were enjoying breakfast.
- Another girl joked about her five accidents at the pageant, including accidentally hitting three of her fellow contestants and gashing her leg falling down a flight of stairs.
- Still another contestant gave a blow-by-blow account of her medical problems with anemia, including blood counts.
Not exactly the kind of personal tidbits that create a winning image. Your words are your image. Use them to sound like a winner.