Disclaimer: The interview questions from this article are real, but many are controversial and not appropriate for contestants under the age of 18. If this applies to you, we recommend searching for another interview article to help you prepare.
When it comes to the interview portion of competition, you should know what to expect. The judges will probably ask you about current events, pop culture, and your platform. DUH. If you are competing next month and can’t answer basic questions about the 2016 Republican candidates, you may want to reconsider you hobbies—because pageants with an interview shouldn’t be one of them. You may want to try competitive roller-skating or perhaps scrapbooking.
Every Pageant Girl Has Experienced the Surprise Question
That being said, most women who have competed in two or more pageants have at least one question for which they never could have prepared. It’s that question that leaves you wondering if the judges had one too many mimosas at their champagne breakfast (same), or if they somehow missed Social Aptitude 101. Whatever the case, the question makes for great storytelling at wine night, so we can’t be that mad about it.
My Own Experience
From my experience competing in Miss Virginia and Miss New York, I thought “What are some criticisms you have of the other contestants?” was a pretty bold question. My answer was, “I don’t really have any, because these girls are the cream of the crop. But even if I did, I certainly wouldn’t tell you.” Too much sass? We may have just cracked the code as to why it took Mallory Hagan winning Miss America for me to get a state title…ah, hindsight. Anyway, my surprising question pales in comparison to those of my fellow former pageant queens.
I present to you a compilation of the weirdest questions ever asked in pageant interviews, as answered by my very impressive and pretty friends.
[These don’t only include MAO girls—how ‘bout them apples?]
- Elizabeth Crot, Miss Virginia 2011
Q: What’s your favorite cuss word?
A: Elizabeth said to me: “I wanted to say ‘F u for asking me that’ but I actually said ‘I’m not going to say I’ve never uttered a cuss word, but I try to keep it respectful and use letters like ‘wtf’ when necessary.’”
(I personally think her mental response was absolutely perfect, but this may be yet another sign pointing towards why I never won a state pageant…)
- Leighton Jordan, Miss Georgia 2012
Q: What do you think about fracking?
A: Leighton said to me: “Uhhh. Excuse me?!? Is that important to the job of Miss America?? I forget my exact answer, but thankfully I knew a little bit (and by little, I mean VERY little), so I pulled something out of the air that made sense to me (maybe not to them though…) and admitted I wasn’t a professional on the topic. I knew exactly what fracking was, but I didn’t really know my opinion on the topic. I then got not one, but TWO, follow up questions on FRACKING. Of all the things we could have discussed…”
For those of you about to Google “fracking,” let me save you some time: Fracking is the process of drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is directed at the rock to release the gas inside. Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure which allows the gas to flow out to the head of the well.
(To quote Elizabeth…WTF.)
- Kayla Martell, Miss Delaware 2010
Q: Has your hair loss affected your sex life?
A: “Joy Behar! I am a Miss America! Next question.”
(Joy Behar, making waves at Miss America since 2010…see: Miss CO 2015 nationwide nurse backlash)
- Shannon McAnally, Miss Virginia USA 2013
Q: If you had to send one contestant home, which state would you remove?
A: “Honestly, this has been one of the most genuine groups of girls I’ve ever competed with. We all get along extremely well without the stereotypical cattiness some might expect, and therefore I can’t say anyone truly deserves to be singled out.”
- Anonymous MAO Competitor
Q: What would you do if you found out you significant other had a homosexual relationship in the past?
A: This woman said to me: “I told them I’m homosexual. JUST KIDDING. But I did say that it’s something I have never considered. As long as we love each other and have an understanding, then it is something we can move past. We just have to trust each other.”
(Did this stem from the judge’s deep-seated personal fear? I mean, where in the world did that come from?)
- Jenn Bradford, Miss Louisiana 2007 and 2008 1st RU/Miss Louisiana USA 2009 2nd RU
Q: Boxers or Briefs?
A: Jenn said to me: “This was asked by a male judge in between really serious and heavy questions about my political affiliation, my brother being in Afghanistan, and my stance on Roe vs. Wade. I was stunned. So all I could respond with was ‘I could care less about someone else’s undergarments. For me: Spanx!’ And the judges laughed.”
(Jenn is hysterical and has an amazing Southern accent…I can only imagine how adorable she sounded with her quick-witted response.)
- Allyn Rose, Miss District of Columbia 2012/Miss Maryland USA 2011
Q: Allyn said to me: “My hardest question was ‘Bullying is a hot topic. Have you ever bullied someone?’”
A: Allyn said to me: “I answered, ‘If I’m being honest, there have been times in my life where I’ve said things to others that have hurt their feelings. I think we can all say we’ve experienced that, especially as young children who are still learning how we should treat others. I’m not proud of those moments, but they have happened.’ The judge then laughed and said, ‘So, you’re saying someone who is a bully should be Miss America?’ I replied, ‘I’m saying that it would be disingenuous for me to say that I’ve never said something that hurt someone’s feelings. And, in my opinion, a Miss America is someone who is capable of acknowledging and admitting her mistakes, as well as moving past them.’”
(Confidence at its finest.)
- Ashley Smith, Miss United States 2011
Q: What don’t I need to know about you?
A: “Well, when I was about 12 years old, I was at church and my pastor asked me to stand up in front of a large congregation to recognize me for my accomplishments. But when I got the pulpit, my skirt fell down…and I didn’t notice for a minute or two!! Funny fact, sure, but you didn’t need to know that.”
(We my not have needed to know that, but I’m really happy we can all giggle at that visual now.)
- Acacia Courtney, Miss Connecticut 2013
Q: If you were a breakfast cereal, what would you be?
A: Acacia said to me: “I said, ‘I’d be Rice Krispies because they have snap, crackle, and pop [insert Z formation snap].’ Disclaimer: I did actually win that pageant.”
(Oh, how I love you, Acacia.)
- Claire Buffie, Miss New York 2010
Q: If your younger brother or sister came to you and asked you to buy them condoms, would you? Why or why not?
A: Claire said to me: “This was an onstage question—not even during private judging. So, I saw my sister sitting between my parents in the audience and said something to the effect of, ‘Yes, I would—but only after having a real discussion about what sex means and the decision she is making. I’d first encourage she does not engage in sex, but ultimately I would be proud to know that my sister had that trust in me, and I’d rather her practice safe sex than unprotected.’”
(Claire is no stranger to tough questions…she was the first national contestant with a LGBT Rights platform, after all.)
- Amanda Beagle, Miss Ohio 2004
Q: Judge hands over a pen and says, “Sell me this pen.”
A: “This pen will change your life because it is the key to unlocking your imagination, passion, and creativity! It’s a must-have accessory, as well as a trusted friend. Be bold, be you with this classic [insert brand] pen.”
(I’d buy it, tbh.)
- Arianna Afsar, Miss California 2010
Q: What is your favorite gem stone and why?
A: “Diamond, because I like to sparkle.”
(Lesson from Ari: Charm their pants off and don’t take non-serious questions seriously.)
I hope current contestants are not too scared after reading this list! Godspeed, you brave, brave pageant girls.