Sometimes, learning about oneself is the hardest thing one can do. Whether this process is through life experiences or just self-reflection, it can be exciting but daunting to dig into deep questions about yourself. I’ve had to ask myself these tough questions multiple times through pageant interviews, and the thing about these interviews is that you truly have to be authentic. Most judges can smell a fake answer from miles away. Some questions they ask are super random and abstract such as “If you could be any piece of jewelry what would you be and why?” However, many of their questions make you sit back and think “huh, what is my answer to this?” After years of training and going through hundreds, if not thousands, of interview questions in both coaching and actual competitions, I know how to answer these questions in 45 seconds or less. However, I always like to look at these questions and create long-drawn out answers because it is good for self reflection. You don’t have to compete in pageants for these questions to apply to you, and if you are in the mood for some soul analysis, here are 14 common pageant interview questions for non-pageant people:
- Tell Me About Yourself
This question is a given in almost any pageant or non-pageant interview. In a quick, professional answer, you can give an elevator pitch about yourself. However, when answering this question in short or long-form, you get to think about multiple aspects such as your roots, your passions, your goals, your extracurriculars, etc. Personally, I talk about UCLA, the opportunities this school has given me, and what it means to be here since I was hospitalized multiple times in high school for health issues. No matter your story, what do you love about yourself and what do you want to share with others so they know something specific about you?
- What Are Three Goals You Want To Accomplish In 5 Years?
These goals can be anything! Professional, personal, mental, social, anything you can put your mind to. The best way to approach this question is knowing that all types of goals are important, and you shouldn’t be worried about what sounds best or what sounds most important. While two of my three goals include my career as they are graduating with honors and finding a job where I get to pursue passions of creativity and representation, my third goal is more light-hearted. I want to rescue a pit bull from a Los Angeles shelter. Not only do I love thinking about this goal, but it is usually what people ask about when I share my three dreams because it’s something fun. Therefore, don’t overthink these or feel you have to create an elaborate five-year plan, just think about where you want to be!
- What Do You Want Your Legacy To Be?
Legacies are important no matter how big or small. What do you want people to remember you by? Personally, I like to say I want to be known as the girl who was proud of her seven surgery scars since you do not see many medical stories in the media, and I want to change that. What’s important about your legacy is that it is unique to you and there is love and passion behind it.
- If You Could Speak On National Television For 30 Minutes, What Would You Talk About?
You have the chance to impact so many people, what are you going to say? Think of something that you want more people to know about. You can even bring in a personal story. I always talk about medical representation and how my journey of five collapsed lungs and spinal fusion impacted my perspective of the media, and more people should consider this aspect when thinking about diversity. For you, is there an organization you love? What about a charitable cause or even just a social issue? Overall, think about what you want your audience to take away from your speech.
- How Do You Try To Make A Difference In Your Community?
The answer to this question does not have to be an elaborate volunteer project or charitable work (even though it is very important to do those). The answer to this can be something simple like doing random acts of kindness. I also encourage you to think about what you consider as your community? Is it a hometown? People who share a characteristic? A group of friends? Outside of UCLA, I consider myself to be a part of the medical/former hospital patient community, so I have a special place in my heart for working with them. You can also have multiple communities, and think about your role in each one. If you aren’t actively making changes, what would you like to see, and can you be a part of it?
- What Is Something That Sets You Apart/Makes You Unique?
What makes you the person you are? This trait can be physical or mental. Physically, my surgery scars set me apart, but they also set me apart mentally because of the journey they represent. Do not be afraid to claim any experiences you’ve had that have shaped you, positive or negative.
- How Do You Define Failure?
Everyone defines failure differently. What does it mean to you? Is it giving up? Getting a bad grade? Receiving rejection? To me, failure is not standing back up after you fall down, even if you’ve fallen multiple times. I encourage that after you define what it means “to fail,” reflect on how you can avoid it happening or change your mindset if you feel your definition is toxic.
- What Does It Mean To Be Successful?
After defining failure, think about what it means to be successful. Is it coming in first or being the best? Or is success something that you can measure mentally based on how happy or satisfied you are? After thinking about this, ask if you consider yourself successful? If not, I encourage you to change your mindset to celebrate the things you have accomplished or even change your outlook on small victories.
- How Would You Describe Yourself In One Word?
This can be challenging because there are so many ways to describe oneself. Think about one word that can apply to everything you do. Are you determined? Outgoing? Open-minded? There are so many adjectives out there to choose from, and make sure you pick a positive one!
- What Is The Most Important Sense?
This is a more abstract question, but it still has value! This question makes you think about what you value the most? For me, I’ve always been a touch-sensitive person, and nothing calms me down more than holding onto something soft like a blanket. What experiences matter to you? Is it smelling fresh baked goods? Watching a sunset? Hearing the birds chirp in the morning? I want you to really think about the experiences that ground you and what makes it so important.
- Why do you want to be X?
Why are you pursuing your ambition? This question helps you think about what really matters to you. It’s okay to be driven by passion or economic reasons. No matter what keeps you going, don’t deny it.
- What is one thing in your life you would go back and change?
Do you have any big regrets? If so, what do you want to change about the outcome? Another way to look at this question is do you want to change anything that’s happened? Many people, including myself, hold the mindset that everything happens for a reason. Even negative experiences are opportunities for us to grow. Sometimes, the answer to this question can be uncomfortable, but these headspaces are what contribute to a meaningful reflection.
- What is your favorite quote?
This quote does not have to be long. It can be short, and it doesn’t have to be serious. It can be something a friend said that made you laugh. One of my favorite quotes is from my Mom who always says “prayers and pixie dust” when we are hoping for something good. The quote makes me smile, and that is what makes it special.
- If you could wish for anything, what would it be?
What is something you want, but feels unrealistic or unattainable? This can be a wish that is personal or for the good of all humanity. Think about where this wish comes from and why it is so important. The answer often comes from a story, a passion, or something that has shaped who you are.
It is always good to dig deep into ourselves every once in a while. Answering these questions can help you remember how amazing you are and can also help you learn certain things about who you are. Whether you are journaling or just talking to yourself, have a self-reflection. Also, remember to not overthink it and remain calm! When you are doing this by yourself, you don’t have to worry about the 45-second pageant time limit, so sit back, relax, and reflect!