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5 Tips to Succeed in Panel Interview

USA National Miss Titleholders. Photo: USA National Miss
USA National Miss Titleholders. Photo: USA National Miss

Once upon a time, the panel interview format was the most popular in pageantry as it mirrored professional job interviews.

While round robin is making a strong surge to take over, mirroring the often one-on-one interviews with a hiring manager we now experience, many top pageant systems still use the panel interview. (Read: How to Succeed in Pageant Interview)

So, it is important to get as much experience in a panel interview as possible when looking for pageant systems as you grow.

5 Tips to Succeed in Panel Interview

1. Talk like a normal person.

Believe it or not, talk like yourself in an interview – panel or otherwise.

“Don’t sound rehearsed or fake,” said Jackie Watson, Founder and Executive Director for USA National Miss. “Talk like you talk every day – minus the umms, ‘like’ and other filler words.”

The judges are looking for a real girl who is comfortable with who she is, so don’t have your guard up when you go in.

2. Carry the conversation.

The best way to win interview, and the pageant, is to control the interview. How do you do this?

“Always say more than just the basic answer to the question,” Watson said.

When you answer a judge’s question, give a brief explanation and, if possible, tie it back to you, your why and your platform, leading the judges toward a follow-up question on the topic you want to discuss. (Read: Pageant Question About Why Your Platform is Important)

3. Be expressive and engaging.

Nothing is more boring than judging a robot. Don’t be a puppet on a string; be a real girl!

“Always draw the judges into the conversation with you,” Watson said.

Tell stories, get excited, show emotion. You can keep yourself in check and your answers on point and still be expressive and emotional without looking as though you are vying for the Best Actress/Actor Academy Award.

4. Control nervous habits.

Habits are hard to break and we sometimes don’t realize we have them until we are under the microscope that is a pageant interview. (Read: 5 Body Language Mistakes You are Making in Interview)

Nervous habits include things like, “…moving your legs or fidgeting with your hands,” Watson said.

If you have any nervous habits like messing with your hair, tapping your fingers or swaying, record yourself when you practice to see what you are doing and have someone watch for it and point it out as you practice so you can hopefully figure out the nervous trigger and avoid it or learn to cope with it.

5. Say what you want to say.

This interview is your time to tell your story and present to the judges why you are there and why they should pick you. So don’t walk out of there thinking, “I should have said…”

“There’s no right or wrong answer,” Watson said. “You should always be yourself.”

Judges can smell a phony, so be the authentic you.

USA National Miss

USA National Miss has panel interviews that include a brief ice-breaker introduction at the beginning of the interview.

Interested in experiencing this style of interview? USA National Miss has state, territory and regional titles available. Some areas offer preliminaries, but at-large titles are also available. (Read: 10 Things You Do Not Know About USA National Miss)

Titles are available for girls and ladies ages 4-25.

Just visit the website, click on your state and discover how to represent it at USA National Miss.

USA National Miss Nationals take place at Boca Resort and Beach Club in Boca Raton, Florida, on July 10-15, 2017.

Going Forward

Interested in competing for USA National Miss, or any pageant with a panel interview, but want some help preparing? The Pageant Planet’s VIP Coaching Program is available to help you with just that.

USA National Miss seeks to develop well-rounded girls who can succeed in all aspects of life and many interviews we face will be panel style in our professional lives outside of pageantry, so why not get as much practice with the format as possible?

Good luck!

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