Unlock the Winning Formula For Interview Success From a Corporate Pageant Queen!

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Ms./Mrs. Corporate America 2016 Competition in Orlando, Courtesy of iCandy Photography

There is only one thing standing between you and your dream opportunity: The Interview! The pressure is on. Your palms are sweating, legs are shaking, and a million thoughts are running in your mind because you want the job. You REALLY want it. I felt this heart-throbbing feeling when I competed for the title of Ms. Corporate America. You only have 30 seconds to give your best first impression and approximately 30 minutes to make a meaningful connection. Sounds tough, right? Shake off your anxiety. I know exactly what you are going through and want to give you a few tips on how to mesmerize your interviewer in order to win that job.

Through my years of competing in pageants, speaking at conferences, and helping young professionals prepare for interviews, I've learned that your charming personality may get you in the door, but your interview versatility will leave employers wanting more. If you want the job, you have to present yourself as a committed, confident, and competent individual. Once you have the interviewer where you want them, everything you say can be used to your advantage. You become so irresistible that all of your competitors suddenly become invisible. Are you ready to elevate your interview powers? Here are the keys to unlocking the opportunity that you are seeking!

Understand that Company Content is King
If you want to have a royal interview you must do your research. Your knowledge about a company will allow you to appear more interesting and give you a unique chance to connect your stories with information you have learned about the company.

The Internet is your best friend. Use the company's website, annual reports, earnings calls, and blogs to find out about hot topics and industry trends. Understand their mission, vision, and values -- and how those impact the work environment. During your interview, find ways to share what you learned. When you are hired, you will be an ambassador for the company. You want to make sure that you prove that you can already represent the company well.

Learn as must as you can about the company. In pageantry, I had to learn as much as I could about the pageant system before interviewing for the title I was seeking. I read each tab on each pageant's website and read articles and blog posts about it. When it was time for me to interview, I felt that I had enough information at my disposal to write a research paper that discussed the impact and goals of that pageant. Reviewing the website's content and publications allowed me to feel competent before my interview. Competence increases confidence. The more you know about a company, the more confident you will be in answering questions thoughtfully.

Connect with the Experts
What questions do you want to ask that aren't answered on the face of the company's website? Use your contacts! The best source of information comes from someone who currently works for the company. This is your chance to demonstrate your interest in the company by reaching out to individuals who do what you seek to do. Find out what their day-to-day job duties are like. Try to understand the current challenges that the organization or department is facing and what value you can add to them. Before competing for the title of Ms. Corporate America (MCA), I spoke to former MCA Pageant Queen winners about their experience and business insights so that I could speak intelligently about my ability to fit into the organization's mission and values.

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Ms./Mrs. Corporate America Titleholders, Courtesy of Brion Price Photography

Is your list of company contacts limited? LinkedIn is your best tool for identifying individuals who work for a certain company. Make sure your profile is up-to-date and complete so that you can attract other leaders to your page. Build relationships with other professionals on LinkedIn and use this as an opportunity to get to know the company that they work for.

Identify Your "It" Factor
You have to know and believe how amazing you are before you go on an interview date with a potential employer. If you want to be valued, you have to know your value! Start by making a list of the company's needs, and identify what skills that you bring to the table that would make you a rock-star employee. Your words must demonstrate how you are the missing piece to the puzzle that the organization has been looking for. You have to know your unique value proposition in order to stand out during an interview.

It took me a long time to identify my "it" factor. I had to lose my first 4 pageants in order to realize that standard interview responses would not lead me to the crown. I had to be specific. I had to paint a picture of my skills and how they would lead to the success of the organization.

First, write as many things about yourself that you admire and that other people compliment you on. Use stories to bring your skills to life. Next, talk to a coach. So often, people see things in us that we don't see in ourselves. Your coach can help you connect all the dots that you created within your stories. Before you know it, you will realize that nobody can do you like you because you come with a unique set of experiences and skills that cannot be replicated.

Create Your Interview Simulation Now
I understand that you may dread the interview process now, but there is a process that will help you to improve your confidence so that you can be better later: practice! Your first interview should not take place when you meet your potential employer. By the time that you are face-to-face with the decision-maker, you should have simulated this scenario at least 10 times. Mock interviews will give you practice with articulating your value in a clear and succinct way. It will also give you a framework to respond to typical questions asked in interviews.

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Ms./Mrs. Corporate America 2016 Competition in Orlando, Courtesy of iCandy Photography

Find at least 3 people to interview you that you feel comfortable with. This will give you a chance to get comfortable talking about yourself, your accomplishments, and your goals. Make sure you obtain feedback. Evaluation is what will transform your interviews from Good to Great. Ask the mock interviewer to provide you with at least 3 strengths and 3 areas of improvement. Now, find people who may not know you well to lead a mock interview session. Get feedback about your first impression and your ability to connect through your word choices and non-verbal cues.

If you have the chance to record yourself answering interview questions, do it! A recorded interview can help you discover what you didn't realize about your interview style and can help you to refine your interview strategy.

The best tip that you will ever receive for interviewing is to make the best first impression that you can. It's as simple as that. If you mesmerize the interviewer with your performance, you win the job! The best way to share the best of yourself is to be prepared. Learn how to package your unique skills into a nicely wrapped box that will make employers want to unwrap more of your talents in the workplace.

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MCA 2016 Queens, Courtesy of iCandy Photography

Think my know-how is up your alley? Check out my website if you want me to help you dazzle your next interviewer! If you need immediate resources, don't forget to download The Ultimate Interview Success Kit.