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My Interview with a Beauty Pageant Judge

My Interview with a Beauty Pageant Judge

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes in a beauty pageant? In today’s post, we share tips from a former beauty queen – now a pageant judge and coach. 

Interview with a Beauty Pageant Judge (2)

 I sat down with my step-daughter Sarah and asked her a few questions about her experience with beauty pageants. 

How did you become interested in pageants?

Years ago, while I was living overseas, my younger sister entered the Miss Illinois pageant and was the second runner-up. After I came back to the states, my Dad entered me in my first pageant.  He signed me up on a Monday and I competed that Friday. I only had a few days to edit a song I was going to sing for my talent, find an evening gown, a swimsuit, and other necessities.   


Sarah and her Father

Did you ever win a beauty pageant?

Yes.  I won Miss Audrain, which was the first pageant I had ever entered.  A few months after winning that title I competed in Miss Missouri.  I didn’t win that competition, however, I was selected from a group of contestants to be in an elite singing/dance troupe.  During the following pageant year, we traveled throughout the state and performed for various pageants. Through both competing in, and traveling with pageant members, I feel that I gained valuable experience an insight as to what a beauty contest entails.  I went on to win the Miss Springfield, Missouri title in 2004 and competed in Miss Missouri in 2005, where I won the, (non-finalist), talent contest.


Sarah with her parents.


Sarah Wiseman – Miss Springfield, MO 2004

How did you become a judge?

Since I enjoyed being in, and around, pageants I decided that I wanted to give back by helping other girls. I felt that competing had helped me to personally develop my self-confidence and self-awareness. I really wanted to help other girls to grow in these areas too.  The local board members of the Miss Springfield / Miss Branson pageants encouraged me to become a state certified judge in the Miss America organization, (MAO).  I fulfilled all of the requirements to be a judge at that level and have since judged numerous local pageants.


Sarah Wiseman


As a judge, what are some of the key qualities and characteristics you look for?

  1. Know the System – Before entering any pageant a contestant should know the ‘system’ – which simply means that she knows what is appropriate attire, shoes, makeup, etc… I always advise girls to ask advice from “Sister Queens” and be willing to learn from others who have been there. Be aware of others and look for ways to self-improve along the way.
  2. Confidence – It doesn’t matter what you are wearing, or how great you look, if you do not have this quality it will show in every area of the competition. I do not want a girl to be ‘arrogant’ or ‘showy’ but I definitely want her to be relaxed and comfortable in her own skin.
  3. Personality – As a judge, I want to get to know each individual contestant. When we conduct the interviews, the judges do not want what we call, “Patty Pageant Answers.” We want each contestant’s personality to shine; from their interview questions to their wardrobe selections, to their hairstyles, to their talent choices, etc… Let your individuality sparkle and come to life before our eyes! Be real and down-to-earth; plus it’s always good to make the judges laugh a little.
  4. Consistency – As a judge, I look for consistency throughout the competition. If a contestant is comfortable and relaxed during her interview but is obviously uncomfortable walking across the stage in high heels and a swimsuit, then the scoring on her consistency drops. The most beautiful girl doesn’t always win because she may be the most inconsistent throughout the pageant.
  5. Interviews – Since the interview is one of the most weighted portions of the pageant we start with that. A judge asks each contestant questions and she must answer in an allotted amount of time. (Think of it as a press conference). The questions can range from a simple question to current world events. In order to score well, a contestant should have a quick, concise, and complete thought; all without taking too much time. I also want a contestant to know all about her ‘platform’ and be able to talk about it comfortably. Interview questions generally become much harder and more diverse when you go from a local pageant to a state pageant to the national level. The higher you go, the more diverse the judges and questions will be.
  6. Talent – Talent is also a large part of the pageant score card. As a judge, I look for how well they performed their talent. Did they make any mistakes? What was their overall attire/appearance? How entertaining was it? Was the overall experience good? Would I want to see it again?
  7. Swimsuit – For this portion, I do not look for the most muscular contestant, but someone who portrays overall health and wellness. Does she take care of herself? Does she work out? Does she appear healthy? Does she smile and look like she is comfortable and enjoying life? As a judge I also want the contestant to be tastefully covered, well groomed and tucked in in all the right places. Judges do not like seeing tan lines so use quality self-tanning products /spray tans.
  8. Evening Gown – A contestant doesn’t have to spend a fortune on an expensive dress. Rather, it should reflect her personality. The color and style should look good on her; emphasizing her good qualities. If a contestant reaches the state and/or national level there are sponsors that will help with the cost of a more expensive dress. For the local levels check out on-line consignment professional dress shops for bargains or wear a nice prom dress.

Sarah singing during the talent portion.

What are some of the “must haves” of being a contestant?

  1. Fake Eyelashes – Buy several sets of these and practice putting them on and wearing them. A contestant will want to wear fake eyelashes through much of the on-stage portions of the contest. She will have only a few minutes to change outfits and her overall ‘look’ so she needs to be able to place fake eyelashes quickly.
  2. Butt Glue – This is otherwise known as sports adhesive spray and can be found it in a sporting goods store. A contestant sprays this on her butt cheeks; let it dry for a few seconds then pulls her swimsuit down over it. The ‘glue’ will keep her swimsuit in place. Also, she needs to have baby wipes to remove the ‘glue’ after the competition or she will have trouble getting her regular clothes on.
  3. Buy Quality Makeup – Overall, you do not want to scrimp here. I recommend going to Mac or Sophia store and asking them to help her find the right makeup that suits her skin type. They will also provide a tutorial on how to apply stage makeup. A contestant’s makeup will be different for their interview then the make up the wear when on stage. There are certain techniques for contouring/highlighting that will help a contestant look their best under bright stage lights. Look for high pigment eye shadows, a good bronzer, a good quality foundation, etc…
  4. Be Organized – Whenever I competed in a pageant I would use totes for each outfit change. In the totes, I included the accessories, shoes, etc… that I would need for that particular portion of the pageant. Being organized helps to keep the stress level down because you have what you will need right at your fingertips.
  5. Have a Steamer – Since a contestant should always look “put together” a steamer will come in handy. No wrinkles, please.
  6. Panty lines are always, and forever a big “No, No!”
  7. Wearing eye glasses are also a “No, No.”
  8. Jewelry – Wear jewelry that will enhance your beauty, not distract from it. Less is more.
  9. Practice, Practice, Practice! A contestant needs to be comfortable navigating through every aspect of a pageant. Practice everything. Practice wearing your heels. If you can’t wear sky high heels then find a lower heel and practice wearing them. Practice wearing your swimsuit, (with heels). Practice a variety of hair styles and get proficient at quickly creating them. (Judges like variety in hairstyles). Practice your interview questions by having your friends/family ask you a variety of random questions. Have a trial pageant run-through and ask for feedback from others; especially feedback from former/current beauty pageant winners.
  10. Enjoy! – Wear a smile, relax and enjoy the ride. If you look bored, pained, scared, etc… it will show. Have a balance of seriousness/playfulness and be sure to let you personality shine!

Let your personality shine!!!

Find more information regarding the Miss. Springfield Website here.

Sarah’s email address: sarah@missspringfield.org.

You’ll probably think a little differently the next time you watch a beauty pageant. Have fun judging the contestants yourself. 

Finally, a great big thank you, Sarah, for helping me with this post, My Interview With A Beauty Pageant Judge!


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