In-Depth Jobs

Volume-48, 24 February-2 March, 2018

How to Face Civil Services Interview

Dr. Sasikalapushpa
Dr. B. Ramaswamy & Miss. Divya Sethi

Character is the quality that makes a person or group of persons different from others. It distinguishes the good from the bad. It underscores the funda-mental features of strong and weak men in their bid to make a clear statement in life. Character is the seed of life.
At this time in our national life, it is necessary to cross-examine some of the ideals, which have shaped the very character of the Indian state. Whether there are good or bad, right or wrong, strong or weak, or even desperate or sublime.
The character of its leaders has shaped the Indian state, over the years. From the colonial to post-independence India, those who have ruled or governed the nation have entrenched an innate character in the life and history of the country.
The one thing we must appreciate is that character is the only factor that is constant in leadership, just as change is a permanent feature of any process, be it political, economic, social or industrial development. A leader can pass away but his character remains a mirror to history’s admirers because it is a reference point in succeeding leaders’ actions and inactions.
Another important thing is that character is the beauty of life. To live a good life, one must decorate it with an exemplary character worthy of emulation.
Nation Building:   
India has now been gifted, with a young population. If the youth are taught to develop their cognitive intelligence to become original thinkers; imbibe emotional intelligence to develop team spirit and a rational risk-taking attitude; inculcate moral intelligence to blend their personal ambitions with national goals; cultivate social intelligence to defend civic rights of the weak, defend gender equality, and develop the courage to fight injustice; and develop spiritual intelligence, then India can develop a superior species of human beings — youth who can be relied on to contribute to making the country a global power within the next two decades. For this we have to work on 3 fronts
The first front is ability empowerment — the development of the seven types of intelligence (emotional, social, moral, spiritual, environmental, and innovational).
The second is a collective mindset about the legacy and future of the nation, which means knowing the correct de-falsified history of India.
The third is the commitment to a social contract of rights and obligations such as a fundamental right to quality primary and secondary education, right to work, an obligation to compete for most positions of employment on merit, practice gender equality and place national interests above selfish interests.
A national policy for integrating spiritual values and organisation leadership can be achieved through measures by which we can create a modern mindset among the youth.
This will not only motivate them to acquire technical cognitive competence, but also develop their emotional, moral, social, spiritual, environmental and innovational intelligence.
This will make them patriotic, self-reliant individuals of high character, possessing a social conscience. Governance, business ethics and organisational leadership has to be founded on that pool of talent.
Prime Minister Vision of New India:
"I invoke Team India to run for a New India by 2022. By then the poor shall have concrete houses, the farmer shall double his income, youths and women will get ample opportunities, an India free of casteism, terrorism, corruption,"- the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Prime Minister of India, during his Independence Day address, laid out his vision of a New India where the youth of our nation become key stakeholders in building the India of the 21st century.
He underscored the fact that we are a nation of young people; the children born at the dawn of this century will come of age in 2018. Thus, it is clear that for New India to be a developed nation, it has to be powered by its most valuable resource: the bright, educated youth who are highly skilled and are capable of being job-creators.
How to face UPSC (Civil Services) interview:
IAS interview is a half-an-hour exercise which can change your life, the nation’s and people’s life. A high score in UPSC interview can sometimes create a difference of more than 100 marks with fellow candidates in just under 30 minutes. Being the last round, this would give one, an unassailable lead in the competition –Though the final rank list is prepared by taking the sum of UPSC mains marks and interview marks, very often we see that interview high-scorers top the final selection list too.
 The nature of personality test for the Civil Services Examination is different than those of the other services interviews. The candidates aspiring for Civil Services are going to be interviewed by a Board, already aware of their personal as well professional track record.
They are questioned on matters of general subjects, related to national and international importance.
The motive of the interview is to assess the personality of the candidate for a career in public service by a Board of competent and unbiased observers who themselves having excellent career profile as a bureaucrat under different capacities with years of experience in public services.
The test is intended to judge the mental strenght of a candidate. In broad terms this is really an assessment of not only his intellectual abilities but also social traits and his curiosity in day to day happenings of national and global importance. Some of the qualities to be judged are mental alertness and strength, critical analysis and assimilation, clarity in thoughts and logical exposition, balance of judgments, diversity and depth of interests, ability for social cohesion and leadership qualities, intellectual and moral integrity, patriotism and interest for service of the nation etc.
Candidates should have an in interest not only in their academic subjects but also in the events which are happening around them both within and outside their own state or country as well as in modern currents of thought and in new discoveries.
So here, one is required to be diplomatic in taking up a stand and tackling the issues in a given circumstances. The precision of language, discipline of thought and lot of patience in placing the views are the prerequisites. Remember, your entire personality is going to be judged on every single word to be spoken there. Thus, one needs to be extra careful about selection of words while being interviewed.
Develop Character of Nation Building:
Character of youth is very important for the nation building, develop your character in the path of National Leaders like Gandhi and Nehru. Imbibe characters like Truth, Ahimsa or love, control of the palate, non-stealing, non-fearlessness, removal of untouchability, bread labour, tolerance, equality, communal unity, respect of religions, swadeshi.
Be an Early Bird:
Don’t waste time in waiting for Mains Exam results which only leads to stress and frustration instead Start early preparation. Start polishing your personality as early as possible.
Knowing Ourselves:
The most crucial problem with us is that we don’t know ourselves fully. A human being has so many shades, covering the depths of the hearts. We know so many things, but we don’t know ourselves. Try to know the different aspects of your personality, open, hidden or unknown. If any of your personality traits does not suit an Character of Nation Building, try to overcome them.
Work on your body posture, personal appearance, and body language, as you are going to be judged on the basis of this in the interview. During the interview, keep yourself calm, maintain eye contact, listen to the panel members very patiently, greet them well and appear very attentive yet with a composed body posture.
Be an Optimist:
There are many myths and rumors about UPSC interview. You might have bad experiences from previous interviews as well. But don’t let negative thoughts to ruin your confidence. Don’t waste energy and time on matters – interview board, position, questions etc. – which are beyond your control. Hope for the best.
Everyone loves people with self-confidence so appear confident in front of the panel members. If you are unsure about an answer, don't get nervous, just say that you don't know. You cannot have the knowledge about everything under the sun, so it's very normal. Just feel relaxed. If you are sure about your beliefs, answers or solutions, express them confidently. But remember the line between confidence and over confidence; just be confident but don't cross the line.
Improve your communication skills:
Improve your communication skills for UPSC interview. If you search for words in the 25-30 minutes UPSC personality test, you may run short of time to express your ideas completely. Listening to debates and news on television channels is one practical way to improve communication skills. Also, start talking with your friends in the medium for UPSC interview.
Most of the questions in the UPSC interview will be based on your Detailed Application Form. Read your DAF thoroughly several times and prepare well for the questions from the areas like; education, hobbies, past work experience, services preference, etc.
Develop Problem Solving Skills:
Problem-solving skills are relevant for evolving solutions to a problem or set of problems. A problem is a gap between desired state of affair and actual state of affair at a particular point of time.
In order to overcome this gap, relevant action is required. For identifying this action, problem-solving skills are required. Problem-solving skills are relevant for solving the daily problems of people as public servants.
Straight to the point:
Master the art of giving to-the-point answers. Very often, long answers can be condensed into crisp, but interesting statements. Don,t beat around the bush.
Be up to date with current affairs and read the newspaper thoroughly:
Keep yourself aware of the important current news, elections, government policies, etc. Read Economic surveys, Yojana, Kurukshetra and the Indian yearbook thoroughly and take notes from them. The panel may ask you about the news that appeared last week and also previous day in the newspaper, so keep yourself updated. Make sure you revise the current affairs of the past one month.
Strengthen your optional subject:
It is seen that many candidates tend to neglect their optional subject after UPSC CSE Mains. But UPSC interview panel may ask questions from your optional subject on the interview day. Brush up recent happenings related to your optional subject, focus on current affairs related to your optional.
Prepare well on your hobbies:
Very often this is the first question UPSC interview board ask, many times in a light mood. Make sure you start well. Don’t give cliche answers. Hobbies help the interviewer to understand the personalities of candidates. Keep practicing your hobbies till the last week before UPSC interview and also gather some knowledge on your hobbies.
Go through your graduation text books:
UPSC expects candidates to take their graduation seriously. As this is one area where the interview panel  perceives the candidates to have expertise with. So, more in-depth questions can come from this area.
Learn to give balanced judgements:
Your views should be balanced and impartial. This does not mean that you should not take a stand. Ideally, you should have stand – without any political or social biases. Once you take a stand on controversial topics, be prepared with your justification for the same. Don’t give sweeping generalizations or particularizations without a proper base.
Know your district and state:
Questions may be asked about the district, region and state. Collect details about your birth place. Know the problems in your village or city and state. Be prepared with solutions as well.
Understand the real ‘IAS interview questions’:
Most of the questions forwarded as ‘UPSC interview questions’ on the internet are not questions asked in UPSC interview. UPSC says ‘The interview test is not intended to be a test either of the specialised or general knowledge of the candidates which has been already tested through their written papers’. Read UPSC toppers interview section to know about real UPSC interview experience.
Apply common sense:
Many people who are good at knowledge sometimes miss the common sense so common sense is also a important part of interview. Sometimes UPSC members ask questions which can be answered just by using common sense. But the stress on the interview day may hamper your thinking process. Realise that common sense is not common. Expect some puzzles which require on-the-spot critical or lateral thinking.
Neat and clean attire:
The first impression matters. But it is not necessary to wear expensive blazers or suits for UPSC interview. Be comfortable with what you wear. For gents, a light colored shirt and dark trousers should give a professional appearance. A simple churidar or saree is recommended for ladies. Whatever you wear, in that dress you should look confident and neat. Avoid going with stylish haircuts and beards because after all we are not going for modeling but for public service.
Be Polite:
It is better that you remain polite throughout the interview process. Even if any unpleasant situation is created by an interviewer (this may be done deliberately to test your patience), do not loose your temper. If you loose your temper to protect your ego, you may be treated as a highly emotional person. Remember, these personality traits are not considered suitable for any job. If you are polite in the interview, it conveys that you have respect for other's perspective; you are open-minded to accept new ideas and change yourself accordingly, as per the demands of a given situation. All these will go in your favor.
Re-check your documents:
We advice to carefully verify the documents before going to interview to avoid last minute panic. Ensure that you have all necessary documents ready.
Practice standard Questions:
While preparing for examination, some students adopt the practice of writing answers of standard questions to whether they can complete required number of questions within the stipulated time. In the light of this practice, they try to overcome their deficiency if there is any. In the same way, you can practice standard questions likely to be asked in the interview. This process will give you confidence as you will be able to eliminate any deficiency that you experience during this process.
Reflect PM idea of NEW INDIA in your answers and thoughts:
It is always important for the interview candidate to have a strong knowledge on the present governments aspirations and policies so it is advised to read about the prime ministers aspiration of New India by 2022.
Be yourself:
Don’t try to present before UPSC board a fake personality. Don’t mug up ready-made answers for UPSC interview. Be yourself and express your opinion.
Make sure to attend at least 3 to 4 mock interviews and improve your preparation based on the feedback by panel experts before appearing for the final UPSC interview. The basic objective of a mock interview is give an interviewee feeling of an actual interview. This feeling emerges because the mock interview is conducted on similar conditions or creating the similar environment to that of the UPSC.
Evaluating mock interviews:
After the mock interview is over, it is essential that its result is evaluated so that deficiency, if any, is overcome. While evaluating the result of mock interview, treat it as real interview. The result should be evaluated by yourself as well as by the interviewers. It is better that first you evaluate your own performance in the mock interview and subsequently ask feedbacks from the interviewers.
Don’t take UPSC interview in a lighter way:
Be serious about the process and questions. Give respect to the board members who take your personality test. Never underestimate the persons in the board. They have vast experience and knowledge. Don’t be too casual on serious questions.
Don’t lie or fake:
Don’t say lies to impress UPSC interview board. Never create fake facts in your bio-data. Very often they will catch you.
Don’t stop reading newspapers:
Candidates often stop reading newspapers once the UPSC main exam is over. But, information about current happenings is very important for IAS interview, just like the UPSC main exam.
Don’t compromise your moral integrity:
UPSC not only measures one’s intellectual qualities but also social traits and values. Ensure that your moral integrity is sound.
Don’t be swayed by rumours:
Many UPSC candidates are seen to be carried about by the rumours about the personality test. Certain boards are seen are tight in awarding marks while others are perceived as liberal. Though slight variations may come, in reality, all boards award high and low marks depending on the performance of the candidate on the date of UPSC interview.
Don’t Repeat Certain Words Too Frequently:
Some interviewees repeat certain words like ‘it is nothing but….., ‘I mean that…, ‘I feel that……, ‘according to me……., etc. repeating such words quite frequently by an interviewee during the interview process creates bad impre-ssions in the mind of the interviewers. Therefore, try to avoid uttering such words beyond the required proposition.
Don’t hesitate:
Many interviewees show hesitation during the interview process. In the interview process, an interviewer may ask a question which has not been understood by the interviewee correctly or not understood at all. In such a case, the interviewee should request the interviewer to repeat the question but the interviewee fails to do so out of hesitation. Result, either he gives wrong answer or shows his ignorance about the answer. Both these options go against the interviewee.
Do not take your cell phone inside the interview room:
If you have to carry it inside the interview room, keep it in off position. Ringing of a cell phone distracts attention which is not liked by anyone and may be considered in all probability, as offensive by those aged person.
Do not speak about your qualities too much:
Let your qualities speak about you themselves. If you happen to speak about your qualities too much, it will raise expectations of the interviewers and they would evaluate you against those raised expectations which can prove disastrous for you at the end, and it is not fair also.
Some other Do not’s
Do not show nervousness during the interview process. Do some exercise/ yoga/ meditation to overcome your nervousness before the interview.
Do not make any adverse comment on the facilities provided or about the mode of communication to the UPSC etc. during any point in the interview process, remember all these are secondary stuff.
Do not check time by looking at your wrist watch during the interview process. This is a sign of low confidence.
Do not show any type of fidgetiness even if your interview is not proceeding on the line of your expectation. Try to bring the situation back according to your expectation by overcoming those obstacles which has caused this phenomenon/ situation and if you cannot, they themselves would do; just keep the patience. They sometimes check your mindfulness and patience during unfavourable and tough times. So take it in that spirit.
Do not show any clue, either verbal or non-verbal, that you are very much disparate for this career. Desperation of any kind is not liked. If you do well in the interview, you will be offered the position.
“If I was given six hours to chop a tree, I would spend the first four sharpening the axe.”-Abraham Lincoln
This saying suggests how good interview preparation for exams like IAS can bring changes in one’s life. Your interview session may last for twenty minutes, thirty minutes, or an hour, but you have to prepare yourself for much longer period.
The personality test assesses one’s demeanour and not what a candidate says but how they say it. Moreover, the final assessment or marks given to candidates is based on what they have answered and not for the questions that have been unanswered.
UPSC interview in most cases is a friendly exercise. There is not much to fear about, except that your chances of selection depend on it. Be truthful to yourself and answer confidently.
“ All the best to all- for your UPSC interview.”
Dr. Sasikalapushpa is Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha).   
Dr. B. Ramaswamy is Former Pro Vice Chancellor APG Shimla University Himachal Pradesh.
Miss. Divya Sethi is an Academic Researcher (Management). Email: