If you ever find yourself competing at the Scripps National Spelling Bee, or even placing high at your regional spelling bee, there's a good chance you're going to be interviewed. For many kids, it's their first experience being interviewed--that was certainly the case. My first interview was the day I won my first regional spelling bee in March 2015. It was for an article that would later be published in the Denver Post, but since then, I've had dozens of bee-related interviews of all kinds. I'm still far from being a perfect interviewee, but as I have a lot of experience being interviewed about the bee, I hope that some of this advice is helpful to those who are competing at very high levels and are wondering what being interviewed about the bee is like.
There are certain questions you'll be asked multiple times. Be prepared for them. What's your favorite word? What's the hardest word you've ever had to spell? How do you prepare? How do you feel about the word you missed? How do you feel about moving onto the finals? How do you feel about winning this bee? These are questions that nearly every interview asks. If you anticipate being interviewed, have an answer down cold for each of these questions. It's tremendously helpful, as interviews can be stressful--it's best to know what kinds of things you want to say ahead of time.
Be careful about the length of your answers. Don't make your answer too long--keep it concise and say what you need to say, and don't ramble. Dragging out the interview isn't beneficial for anyone. That being said, you want to be interesting--don't give one word answers either. Work on finding a good middle ground between long and short answers.
Think carefully about the impression your answers are giving off. One question I was asked in 2016 was "how do you feel about coming back to the bee for a second time?" I didn't know what to say immediately, and I ended up focusing my entire answer on seeing old friends again. While this was a great part of that week, I worried afterwards that I had given an answer that made me sound like I wasn't very serious about spelling, and only in it for the social aspect, which wasn't true at all. Decide ahead of time what kind of impression you want to make, and tailor your answers to fit that impression.
You don't have to answer questions you're uncomfortable with. I've had my share of questions I didn't want to answer--there were a variety of bee-related situations that I wasn't comfortable commenting on publicly. If you get a question like this, know that it's completely okay to decline to answer the question. Make sure you're polite about it, though--and if you're in a live TV situation, it might be better to give a vague answer than to decline entirely. If you're having a profile filmed by ESPN to be shown on TV during the bee, and they ask you to say something or do something that you aren't comfortable doing, I would give you the same advice--you don't have to do it. Politely declining is always a valid option.
Above all, be yourself. The most important advice to follow in any interview situation is to be comfortable with yourself. Don't try too hard to seem like somebody you're not--audiences will love genuineness and honesty more than a persona that feels fake. This advice is quite generic, but it's really important--just go with what you feel is right for you to say and do, and you'll be(e) great!