The first place your judges see you is in your interview. By being prepared to meet the judges, you set the tone for how they will react to your on-stage performance. Below are some tips to be sure you are able to let them get to know you.
Review your paperwork and think about what stories you can tell about each line on your resume and platform. Understand that your paperwork will often drive the questions. If there are questions you have gotten in many interviews, review what content in your paperwork is driving those questions. Think of ways to vary your content so that you can tell your stories in fresh ways even if you feel the question has been asked many times. Remember, that a public figure will often get the same questions from the public and must answer generously and graciously every time.
Be yourself. Don't try to anticipate who you think they want to see or what they want to hear. You want to win as yourself.
Be well rested the night before. Be energized and vibrant.
Listen to the question so you really know what to answer. If you don't understand the question, don't be afraid to ask for a clarification before you proceed to answer.
Find a balance between short and long answers. If you feel an answer needs more explanation, tell a story from your own experience that explains why you hold a certain perspective. Once you have made your point, wrap up the answer and let the panel ask the next question. Short answers are fine for a question that has “low gain” for you (i.e. it won’t help the panel get to know you well). Questions about your platform should have longer answers as this is where you should have significant content.
Try to frame your answers in positive perspectives. While not all subjects are easy to talk about, an answer that demonstrates emotional balance and intelligence is best. If you have topics that make you cry or angry, work on those by journaling so you can answer them in an interview without losing control. It is ok to show passion in your interview, but you don't want to feel like you are unable to interview because of your emotions.
Remember that the judges want you to do well. Show them the wonderful person that you are and let them get to know the real you. Don't overthink your responses and just enjoy yourself.