1. If you had to eat only one food for the rest of your life, what would it be and why? This is one of my favorites because many girls will be tempted to just answer their favorite food, but the why causes something like pizza, or macaroni and cheese to sound frivolous. Though they may never hear this question in an actual interview it is great for teaching a young girl how to think through her answers before speaking.
Under 12: What is your favorite food? Why? Please note that the why part of the question is omitted from most interview questions for the very young (4-6 or 7). However, it is important to try to coach the child not to just answer with one word. Ex. Instead of answering, "Pizza" she could answer "I like Pizza because it's gooey and cheesey."
2. What is the name of the contestant in front of or behind you and why do you think she should win the pageant? Obviously this can't be answered in a practice setting, but I am told it is a popular question, so use it to teach the interviewee to pay attention to the girls around them, get to know the other girls, and start thinking now about what qualities make a good "queen".
Under 12: Tell me the name of one of the other girls you like, and why you like her.
3. Which family member do you have the most in common with?
Under 12: What is something you like about your mom/dad/sister/brother?
4. Compare yourself to your favorite fictional character? Again this question teaches think before you speak.
Under 12: What is your favorite book? Why?
5. Name the three most important qualities of a friend?
Under 12: What is your best friends name? Why do you like him/her?
6. What is more important - beauty, wisdom, or wealth? Why?
7. Which TV program do you have the most in common with?
Under 12: What is your favorite TV show? Why?
8. If you know another contestant broke the rules, what would you do?
9. Where do you see yourself in five years? This could be asked with any time increment and is a favorite of judges.
Under 12: What do you want to be when you grow up?
10. Why are you competing in this pageant?
Under 12: Do you like competing in pageants? Why? This is usually asked in the natural pageant system to keep a lookout for girls that are being pushed by "pageant moms."
Now for a few quick tips. First of all, preparation is key. All girls should spend some amount of time going over questions in front of family and friends so that they can practice sitting with poise, making eye contact, not saying "um" or "like", etc. However, especially with the under 12 set, too much practice can be detrimental because a young girl that seems programmed or coached will not be able to let her personality shine through.
So here is the biggest NO, NO for under 12. Do not coach them to answer the question with the question. For example, "What is your favorite food?" "My favorite food is pizza.", or "What is something you like about your mother?" "Something I like about my mother is..." Answering this way is a dead ringer for coaching if the child can pull it off. Another thing that could happen is she gets stressed trying to remember how to answer the question. For the 7 and under age, many judges expect that they will need to pry a little to get the child to talk. So if she just answers "pizza" when asked the favorite food question, judges may follow up with "Does your mom let you eat pizza a lot?" and try to get some kind of dialogue going. For 7 to 12 just try to get them to understand that even if the question doesn't contain a "why" to try to add one in to the answer.
Another tip for young girls is to teach them how to stand up from a chair and how to sit in a chair without turning around. I know it is hard to picture, but most children start out climbing into and out of chairs. In a pageant interview setting, the judges get a view of the young ladies backside each time she sits or stands. So... try and teach them to slide into the chair by facing the front and pushing up with their hands and to slide out of the chair when standing. Also, sit on the edge of the chair and not all the way back in it so that the judges don't get a view of the bottom of their shoes. All young ladies, regardless of age should remember to cross their legs at the ankles (not the knees) and to fold hands gently in the lap.
Many times younger age girls will be brought in as a group to make them feel more at ease. Have your little one practice looking at the person that is speaking whether contestant or judge and smiling politely. No fidgeting, and no looking bored. Also, never ever speak when it is another person's question no matter how much you have to say.
The last tip I have is probably the most important, especially for older girls. Keep a copy of all of your pageant forms (entry forms, essays written, biographies, MC forms) the judges have these and they will ask you questions from them. Nothing could be worse than not remembering the things you wrote you were passionate about (charities, hobbies) when the judges want to know more. If you said your favorite organization is Green Peace, be prepared to talk about what Green Peace stands for and recent things they have done. If you said you want to be a doctor, be prepared to say what kind or recognize where that will put you in five years (college or med school). This is somewhat important for younger children as well and my best advice for little ones is don't make up the answers on the forms for them. You may think it is cute to say your 5 year old aspires to be a princess, but the judges will know you made it up when she answers that she wants to be a nurse like her mom. Yes, that is personal experience speaking. While judges know that little girls change their minds daily about favorite foods, colors, etc., they can spot a mom's cutsie answer from a mile away.
So that's it. Make eye contact, no fidgeting, act interested, think before you speak and don't overprepare. Sounds simple right. Well, let's hope so, but if you find yourself freaking out for your daughter just remind her to have fun, and while your at it you could try to have a little fun yourself.
Till next time,