3 Beauty Pageant Interview Tips from a Judge

These are my best tips and tricks on how you can win a beauty pageant.

You’ll learn how to stand out, how not to make obvious mistakes, and what it takes to win the title.

six women wearing evening gowns at a beauty pageant in Texas
Contestants lined up for the Miss Austin Texas 2022 pageant

Why you should listen to me: I was a judge at the 2022 Miss Austin Texas Pageant.

Nick Gray as a beauty pageant judge in Texas
That’s me being a beauty pageant judge!

To prepare this article, I interviewed two other judges, spoke to an interview coach, and asked the winner of Miss Nevada her advice.

How I Became a Judge

You might be wondering how I became an official judge for a beauty pageant.

I’ll be honest: they needed a single rich dude 😅

blonde man in glasses and a suit holding a binder that says NICK GRAY MISS AUSTIN
Me, holding the official binder of women for the Miss Austin Texas Pageant

I also have my friend Noah Kagan to thank. He’s the CEO and Founder of AppSumo.

Noah introduced me to Shailene Smith, who introduced me to the director, Allison Mack. After a brief interview and preliminary background check, I was invited to be a judge.

The Miss Austin Texas Pageant

The pageant was hosted at the Georgetown Sheraton Hotel & Conference Center on April 10, 2022.

view from judge table of Texas beauty pageant
The view from my judge’s table of beauty pageant contestants in their evening gowns.

Miss Austin Texas and Miss Teen Austin (website, Instagram) is run by Allison Mack. She won Miss Austin USA in 2007 and later placed in the semi-finals of Miss Texas USA.

Interview Tips and Tricks to Win

The first thing that happens on the day of the pageant is the interview. These typically take place inside a boring-looking conference room.

You will be asked a series of questions in front of a panel of judges.

five beauty pageant judges
Me and the other four judges of the Miss Austin Texas USA Beauty Pageant: Jennifer Jarvis, Ryan Coaxum, Cathy Sunu, and Rachel Prochnow.

But you don’t have to be intimidated! And I will tell you why.

Keep reading this article to see the actual list of the sample pageant interview questions that all judges were presented with.

Get Inside the Judge’s Head

Consider this with judges: many of them, myself included, have NEVER judged a pageant before. This is their first time! The judges may be just as intimidated as you are.

Here is the secret: The judges are rooting for you. They want you to succeed! Most will not try to “stump” you on purpose with one of their interview questions (although we will ask you challenging questions).

Winners of the Texas USA beauty pageant 2022
The winners: Paris Beal, Miss Austin Teen USA and Mackenzie Lawrence, Miss Austin USA

Don’t Say Ma’am or Sir

I know that we have been trained to respect our elders. But I have to say that I saw a few of the other judges cringe when the contestants referred to them as Ma’am and Sir!

For example, saying “Yes ma’am” when you answer a question–

Don’t do this. It makes the judges feel old.

Instead, simply state your answer. For some contestants, especially in Texas and other areas of the American south, it might feel counterintuitive not to say ma’am or sir. But trust me.

Do a Pattern Interrupt

This is an advanced interview technique. I will give you an example:

Judge Question: What is a current event that you are focused on?

Contestant Answer: The Russia and Ukraine situation has captured my attention recently. What is happening over there is truly… (answer continues)

The problem here is that almost EVERY SINGLE contestant gave this answer about Russia and Ukraine. It is obviously the center of a lot of news right now.

So how can you stand out from the crowd with a more unique answer?

woman in blue evening gown and red gown
Two contestants considering their fate as well as current events.

If there is a popular or sensational current event, know that all of the other contestants will be including that in their answer.

Instead, try something like this:

Judge: What is a current event that you are focused on?

Contestant: Everyone is probably talking about the Russia and Ukraine situation, and I bet you’ve heard that a dozen times today. But what I think is interesting is how it will affect American foreign policy in the Balkans… (answer continues)

List of Beauty Pageant Questions

Here is the list of questions which the judges had available to ask the contestants. This list of questions was prepared by the Miss Austin Texas Pageant Committee.

Teen Beauty Pageant Interview Questions

  • What is your favorite memory?
  • What is your favorite thing about Austin?
  • Who is someone you consider a role model and why?
  • Complete this sentence: I want to win this pageant because…
  • At what age should someone be allowed to have a social media account?
  • Do you think parents should be punished for crimes committed by their children?
  • How would you describe your pageant experience?
  • If you could develop an app, what would it do?
  • What emotion do you experience most?
  • If you had to speak at an assembly at your school, what topic would you want to address?
  • If you could be on a TV show, which one would it be?
  • What’s the most important thing you could do as Miss Central Texas Teen?
  • Who do you think is the most popular person in the world right now and why?
  • Who is your favorite celebrity and what characteristics do you have in common with him/her?
  • How would you describe Austin to someone who has never been here before?
  • What would be your dream job?
  • Tell me about your favorite meal.

Miss Texas Beauty Pageant Interview Questions

  • Define “feminism”?
  • What current topic in the news has caught your attention and why?
  • What is something you’ve learned about yourself during the Covid 19 pandemic?
  • How would you feel if a transgendered woman wanted to compete in this pageant?
  • How do you relate to people who differ from you?
  • Who is someone you have no respect for?
  • What does the term “defund the police” mean to you?
  • Do you think college athletes should be paid for playing sports?
  • Why do you think race continues to be an issue in our society?
  • What would you want to change about your generation?
  • If you could address the Austin City Council, what topic would you like to address?
  • What is the nicest thing someone could say about you?
  • If you were a judge, who would you choose to win this pageant?
  • Should anyone on a college campus be allowed to carry firearms or should it be limited to just teachers/professors?
  • What is one thing that is not on your Judge’s Form that you would like us to know about you?
  • Where do you want your next passport stamp to come from?
  • If you could sit down with the current president, what topic would you like to discuss?

Advice for Beauty Pageant Judges

Before becoming a judge for this beauty pageant, I asked my friend and former Miss Nevada winner Lisa Long Sutton for her tips. Here’s what she told me:

  • Don’t make your interview questions impossible for the contestants.
  • Your role as a judge should be to find which woman is going to be the best ambassador for the organization and do the most community work.
  • You as a judge want to pick someone who will use the sash and crown as a microphone to bring attention to nonprofit work and her public service platform.
  • Red flags for any contestant are: Doesn’t want to engage in the community, doesn’t have a public service platform, and only wants to do photo shoots and the glamorous elements of being a pageant winner.

Lisa told me to keep in mind that being a good title holder is a tremendous amount of work. Anyone who is competing in a beauty pageant should be grateful for the opportunity to interview for a job that allows her to be a role model and work hard in the community.

Texas Beauty Pageant Photos

Here are some pictures that I took, from the perspective of a judge, showing you what the pageant looked like.

The Top 3 contestants from the Miss Austin USA Beauty Pageant 2022.
Miss Austin USA holding her bouquet of flowers
Mackenzie Laurence wearing her crown as the Miss Austin USA.
Miss Austin contestants lined up in the stage
Contestants of Miss Austin Teen category.
beauty pageant contestants cheering
Contestants are cheering for the runner up winner of the Miss Austin Teen category.

Conclusion

Being a judge for a beauty pageant was extremely difficult.

It is extremely fast-paced and requires focused attention. We only had three minutes to interview each person. During that time, we had to evaluate each contestant’s entire personality.

Nick Gray and beauty pageant winner Mackenzie Lawrence
Me and Mackenzie Lawrence, aka Miss Austin USA 2022

I was very impressed with the entire pageant. I now believe that beauty pageants can be an effective self- and career-building tool to help young people.

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