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How to Make a Lasting Impression in a 3-Minute Interview


While the Miss America Organization is known for its rigorous 10-minute interview, other systems have opted to adopt significantly shorter interviews.

For example, Miss California USA contestants have two minutes in a panel interview. International Pageants contestant have four minutes per judge, round robin. National American Miss contestants have just one minute per judge, round robin.

It’s essentially pageant speed dating. So, how do you ensure the judges get to know you in under five minutes when the interview portion is often a large percentage of the score? (Read: 10 Things You Should NEVER Do in a Pageant Interview)

How to Make a Lasting Impression in a 3-Minute Interview

1. Have passion for what you are doing.

If you are passionate about something it will come across no matter how limited your time may be.

“During your interview, the judges want to know about you and this is the perfect time to tell everything about you,” said Nicole Buscher, Missouri USA Ambassador Director. “Know yourself inside and out, what drives you and motivates you.”

Judges can often smell a fraud a mile away, so being genuine and authentic is key.

“Remember to be authentic,” Buscher said.” Don’t say what you think the judges want to hear. Don’t over rehearse. Let the answers flow naturally as this is going to show more passion and ability to be put on the spot if you win the crown.”

Be sure that everything on your resume and bio sheet is true and not over exaggerated. You don’t want a judge to really want to know about a topic or activity on your paperwork and you not to have much to talk about regarding it. (Read: Pageant Question About Extracurricular Activities)

“These are the things that will set you apart from the competition,” Buscher said. “Knowing your paperwork to a tee is something that is key, because when you know the basis for your questions you can elaborate on them during the interview.”


2. Make eye contact!

This is my one of my biggest pet peeves when conducting mock interviews. Yes, I may be looking down making a note, just as your judges would be, but if they look up you’re looking off into space, they’re going to wonder if you are paying attention and engaged or if you’re staring at a fly somewhere behind them. (Read: 6 Eye Contact Tips for Pageant Interview)

“If you are in a one-on-one interview, focus on that judge and give them your full attention,” Buscher said. “Don’t let anything else distract you.”

Of course, in panel interview, you don’t have to stare down the judge that questioned you; be sure to make eye contact with each judge on the panel.

“If in a panel interview, address the judge who asked the question then pan the judges and end with the judge who asked the original question,” Buscher said. “This is good practice to get into making each judge feel like you are talking to them and not just the one who asked the question.”

3. Don’t over gesture.

Some people talk with their hands and are very animated when doing so. But this can be distracting and can seem as though you are trying to take flight. (Read: Should You Shake Hands in Pageant Interview?)

Also, if you have any jewelry on, too much movement can be even more distracting by the jewelry. (Shop: Pageant Jewelry)

Additionally, you may accidentally cover your face and inadvertently block a judge’s view of you – not something you want to do. (Read: What To Do With Your Hands During Onstage Interview )

“When talking, sometimes we are so passionate about what we are talking about that we forget to focus on the rest of our body,” Buscher said. “It is okay to talk with your hands, but remember to keep it in check.”

It can also be difficult to stand or sit still when nervous. I’ll be honest, I used to lean back on my heels behind the podium in my MAO interviews to keep the nerves steady. As a teacher, I’m used to moving while talking, so having to stand or sit still can be difficult, especially if I am trying to explain something.

But you don’t want to give a judge motion sickness because you’re wiggling.

“Also, when talking to the judges, remember not to fidget or sway,” Buscher said. “Focus on your posture and stand tall to show the judges you are confident and can handle whatever may come your way.”


Missouri USA Ambassador

Interview is 35 percent of the score at USA Ambassador. The remaining points are made up of 25 percent USA Fashion Wear (which can be replaced by highest optional score), 15 percent Onstage Conversation/Chat, and 25 percent Evening Wear.

Age divisions include:
Ms. (26 and up)
Mrs. (19 and up/ married)
Miss (19-25)
Teen (16-18)
Jr. Teen (13-15)
Preteen (10-12)
Jr. Preteen (7-9)

The Missouri USA Ambassador pageant will take place in March 2018 at Union High School in Union, Missouri.
Registration will open in August 2017, so stay tuned. For more information, contact Missouri USA Ambassador Directors Nicole and Susan Buscher at mo@usaambassador.com.

Going Forward

Remember, you are interviewing for a job when you interview at a pageant, so treat it with the same respect and regard.

Be true to yourself and show the judges exactly why you would be the best titleholder of the bunch. But above all else, have fun.

Three minutes may seem like a short amount of time, but hold a plank that long and tell me if you still think it is a short amount of time. Now, imagine how much the judges can get to know about you in three minutes.

Good luck!

Which dress do you like better?

One thought on “How to Make a Lasting Impression in a 3-Minute Interview

  1. This would be for my daughter Madison who will be competing in a National competition in three weeks.

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