fourpoints Magazine

The #1 Resource for Everything Miss America & MAOTeen

As a judge, Valerie Hayes has heard contestants make some really bad gaffes during their interview. The worst interview answer she ever heard was given by a stunningly beautiful and talented contestant who impressed the judges with her winning look as soon as she entered the room. However, when asked what made the Miss America Organization special, she said it was the fact that it was owned by Donald Trump and that the winner got to go on to compete in Miss Universe.

Winning the crown is more than beauty and talent alone. You have to develop your content and demonstrate that you're an intelligent woman who can represent the title, Valerie says.  Contrary to popular belief, no one votes for an airhead.

Without question, the biggest mistake contestants make while preparing for their interview is under-developing their personal platform. What makes the Miss America Organization a leader is its commitment to community service. As the local, state, and national titleholder, you will be making appearances promoting and marketing your platform, but many contestants spend more time selecting their competition wardrobe than they do strategically planning and developing their platform. You won't be able to get appearances, discuss your marketing plan in the interview room, or compete at the state or national level if you don't correctly develop your platform for your local competition.

You need to sit down at the beginning of your pageant season and really plan out and fully develop your platform. Make sure you have a platform that is unique to you and helps you stand out as a contestant. Don't follow trends when selecting and developing your platform. After all, Miss America is about community leadership, not community, "followship." Really think through how you can make a difference through your platform and what type of appearances people will actually book you for. "Education and awareness" on your topic just isn't enough. Everyone is doing that, so why would you want to do that, too?

Subscribe to fourpoints and read more interview and platform tips from Valerie!

Source: Valerie Hayes

Published in Headline News
Friday, 30 December 2011 10:22

Ask the Expert: Interview

Jim Robbins, founder of Image Improvement and interview coach to several former Miss Americas, is our resident expert for this issue of fourpoints. Here are the answers to your burning interview questions!

For teens, how much opinion is too much opinion?

If  a person is starting to put in too many and's then they are probably going on too long. It is best to state your opinion and support that view with an example or statement that shows you feel committed to that stance. Then look at another judge for another question. I am more impressed with someone who is not afraid to take a stand.

What is the most common mistake made during an interview ? Focusing on just the judge who asks the question and not sharing your response with the entire panel. The most common mistake made prior to the interview, is not preparing by knowing your resume, platform, current events, and pop culture. When someone other than the interviewee has prepared their information sheets, they are asking and going to get disaster. It's ok to have someone proofread your information.

What makes the interviewee come across as real and not rehearsed?

It's a cliche; but "Be yourself"! Don't try to be something you are not. Have a natural smile, good eye contact, speak up, don't be afraid to take a stand on controversial issues, look at all of the judges when responding to a question, and don't try to say what you think the judges want to hear because someone has told you something about one or all of them. Don't be afraid to be self-effacing, i.e., laugh or make fun of yourself.

Judges say that girls come across fake or scripted but what makes them say that ?  If a girl has over-rehearsed her answers this often occurs. If she has planned, canned responses that can also be a downer.  How do you avoid that ?  If you have prepared but not over-prepared, answer with the first thing that comes into your mind. If, however, it is a controversial question, you might want to "pause for the cause and you'll get the applause", i.e., pause briefly before responding.

What is the best way to personally connect with a judge and stand out when you are up against so many incredible young women?

Have energy, good eye contact, speak up, slow down and don't talk so fast, be self-effacing, don't be afraid to use gestures, look at all of your judges when responding to a question, and have a genuine smile. Also, "people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. "

Just how important is the outfit versus the interview?

"The outfit will get you to town; but the interview will make you profound." Your interview outfit should compliment you, not distract from you. Too much jewelery can also be a distraction. There are several very good consignment shops and there are also reputable front-line dress and gown shop owners that will work with you if you are upfront with them and tell them what you can spend and are able to spend. Try to avoid getting caught up in the glitz and glamor of it all.


Published in Exclusive Web Content

Miss America's Outstanding Teen Organization is pleased to announce a new sponsor who will be awarding a $500 Non- Finalist Interview Award. This award is made possible through the generosity of Valerie Hayes of The Pageant Coach(TM) and radio host of Pageant Talk Radio. MAOTeen thanks 177Valerie for her continued support of our program and our contestants.

"I'm very excited to be sponsoring the Non-Finalist Interview Award for the Miss America's Outstanding Teen program" said Hayes. "The young women who compete in MAOTeen are the best and the brightest of their generation and it's my honor to promote academic achievement, leadership in community service, and public speaking skills through this award."

Valerie will also be hosting some of our team on Pageant Talk Radio on Friday, March 11 at 3 p.m. CST. Miss America's Outstanding Teen 2011 Lacey Russ, Jennifer McKenna, Princess Camp Coordinator, and Tawni Darby, a new team member that will be introducing our new Teens In Training Camp program will be joining Valerie for a full hour to talk about MAOTeen and the exciting changes that are taking places in our program.

"The MAOTeen program is a clear leader in encouraging positive achievement in our nation's youth," said Hayes, "I'm thrilled to be partnering with them in recognizing the extraordinary achievements of these young women."

Published in Exclusive Web Content