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In-Depth Jobs

Voume-45, 3-9 January, 2018



How to Face UPSC Civil Services Interview

Sanjay Kumar

And the countdown begins!!! On the basis of the results of the Civil Services (Main) Examination, 2017 held by the Union Public Service Commission from 28th October, 2017 to 3rd November, 2017, 2568 candidates against the tentative vacancies of 980 officers have been selected for Personality Test for selection to the IAS, IPS and other allied services.

Personality Test of these candidates is likely to commence from 19th Feb, 2018. Personality Tests will be held in the Office of the Union Public Service Commission at Dholpur House, Shahjahan Road, New Delhi-110069.

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) Civil Services examination is considered to be one of the toughest competitions in India.

With more than 5 lakh candidates struggling for merely 980 seats, the whole process of selection in UPSC involves the preliminary, main examinations and the interview (personality test).

The personality test or the interview in civil services examination is the final hurdle to cross and then there is smile for rest of the lives. The personality test carries 275 marks out of the total 2025 mark of the Civil Services Examination based on which the final selection list is prepared.

 The success and rank of an aspirant is determined significantly by this small but important segment. It has a great scoring potential. Process of just 25 to 35 minutes and marks scored has a wide range from low 2 digit figure to as high as 220.

But candidates do not consider the importance of interview and even if they consider, they are not able to give right direction to their preparation in absence of appropriate viewpoint. In fact they take it in light spirit. But when rightly handled prepared, it is surely the easiest and the most rewarding experience. Let us make its preparation most interesting one:

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 will be asked questions on matters of general interest, related to national and international importance.

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:

*Honesty and integrity,

*Logical argument,

*Balance of opinion,

*Leadership skills,

*Mental alertness and responsiveness

*Variety and depth of interest


*Acumen, your views on varied  topics.

Quite obviously candidates should prepare themselves in a best possible manner. This preparation will help them in two ways. First-- They will never feel surprised or awkward even if they face any unexpected question from the interviewers. Second, when they have prepared themselves fully, they develop confidence within them. And with this confidence, they can ensure much better rank defining interview score than they could have without any guidance. Therefore it is very important not to lose time.

Here are some preparation tips to be followed:

Know yourself

Try to know the different aspects of your personality, even hidden or unknown. If any of your personality traits does not suit an IAS officer, try to overcome that weakness.

Read and revise your bio-data many times

Most of the questions in UPSC interview will be based on the bio-data of the candidates. Their Detailed Application Form ( DAF) includes the following points with probable questions given therein:

*Home State and places etc.

*Schools, Colleges, Places of Schooling.

*Mother's and Father's profession.

*Their own previous professions/jobs and organisation, if any.

*Date of Birth, Meaning of Name, any specific District and Place of birth : Special features, peculiarities, typical problems, famous persons special occasion that coincides with the Date and Year.

*Hobbies : Be honest. No manufactured or cooked up hobby.

*Awards and any extra-curricular activities : Be honest. Do not cook up.

*Reasons for a long time gap after graduation without employment, if any.

*Optional Subjects, Subject of graduation : general questions of applied nature like how the subject or a concept helps in administration or in real life  etc.

*Preferences for services : justification for the same, especially when it is unusual. E.g. why IPS and not IAS or IFS?

*Revised Order of preferences for services : justification for the same.

Thus prepare well for questions from areas like hobbies, education, work experience, service-preference etc.

Beginning of the interview

When your turn for the interview comes, you will be called by the interviewers. A person who has been given the responsibility of calling the candidates will inform you. On this call, collect all your materials  and proceed towards the interview room. If the door of the room is open, ask the permission from the interviewers by asking gently, "May I come in sir?" enter the room only after the permission is granted. This permission may be either verbal (through words) or gesture(through indication). Walk confidently to the seat meant for the interviewee and wish the interviewers by saying "Good morning madam/sir", or "Good afternoon" as the case may be. In most of the cases, one of the interviewers says the candidate to occupy the seat. In some cases, the interviewers wish to test the etiquette and manner of an interviewee and delay deliberately in saying her/him to occupy the seat. If this happens with you, ask gently to occupy the seat. After you occupy the seat the interview will begin.

First Impression

There is a famous saying--"First impression is the last impression". Therefore it is essential to create a good impression in the mind of the interviewers. It's not so tough. You just have to walk very confidently from the door to the chair in proper manner. Sit on the chair only after taking due permission and maintain proper eye contact with the interviewer who is asking question.

Body language

Body language is part and parcel of oral communication. In fact, our body language speaks much earlier than our words.  Therefore, understanding of how you can reinforce your spoken words through your body language is very important. Body language consists of gestures, postures, and facial expressions by which a person manifests various physical, mental, and emotional states and communicates non-verbally (without using any word) with others. So it is essential to maintain an appropriate body language through the interview process.

Communication skill

Communication skill is one's ability to express one's views and listen to other's views effectively. The first rule is to be a good listener. It is not found frequently in practice. You should be very careful in choosing the words in whatever language you happen to speak on, as couple of words here              and there and the meanings change. So always speak your minimal, try to be as precise as you can but at the same time be clear in your thought and exposition.

Don't lie

Don't cook up and never create fake facts in your bio-data. Very often they will catch you as member of the UPSC boards are well read and experienced people.

Problem solving skill

Problem-solving skills are relevant for evolving solutions to a problem or set of problems. A problem is a gap between desired result 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. For example, if you are talking about status of women in India, classify this issue in to rural women and urban women and then think in terms of their socio-political and economic status. This is how you can develop your problem solving skills.

Be precise and to-the-point

Master the art of giving precise and to-the-point answers. You can make your answers crispy and interesting. Your views should be balanced and impartial. You may take a stand rather than giving a sweeping generalization. This is how you can make answer precise and to the point.

Discuss but do not argue and admit your mistake

It is always better to treat an interview as a discussion forum. Discussion involves deliberating on issues that may emerge from a question. In order to sort out the issues, it is possible that there may be questions over questions, particularly in an in-depth interview. You gently say about your reservation on the issue being discussed. If the interviewer does not agree with your view and still persists on her earlier stand, it is better not to drag this discussion to prove the interviewer wrong.

Moreover, being a human being you may make mistakes. If you do so and the interviewer points out it, feel free to accept your mistake. You may offer an apology and be polite throughout the interview process.

Try to rehearse probable/ standard questions

Frame maximum possible questions on your bio-data as well as on issues of current affairs. Give copies of your DAF to selected friends to prepare questions for you. Think and prepare your own answers. Practice regularly: listening, thinking, summarizing and speaking. After reading/listening, think and connect with other topics. Next, internalize, summarize and form your own opinion.

For current events read, discuss, listen to Audio Visuals. T.V. discussions and Audio Visuals are very helpful and interesting.  Some useful sources include RSTV, LSTV, BBC news, CNN, The Hindu newspaper and IDSA.

Now you can rehearse probable/standard questions (related to your bio-data and current affair issues) 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.

Avoid common mistakes during interview

Some common mistakes may reduce your chances of being successful. You can follow the following guidelines to avoid such mistakes:

*Do not take your cell phone inside the interview room.

*Don't be nervous during the interview process.

*Avoid checking time by looking at your wrist watch during the interview process.

*Criticism of any type is taken as a negative approach and is not appreciated.

*Just keep the patience. They may check your mindfulness and patience during unfavorable and tough times. So take it in that spirit.

*Do not show that you are very much disparate for this career.

*If you happen to be not clear about any issue/question asked to you, confess it humbly with a smile saying 'I do not know sir'.

Interview attire

There is no need to wear expensive dresses. Be comfortable with whatever you wear. For male, a light-coloured shirt and dark trouser is always appreciated as it gives decent appearance. For women, a simple sari is always admired             in Indian culture. Above all,         your dress should be neat and clean.

Mock interviews

A mock interview is an emulation of a job interview. It is conducted for training purposes. It provides you with an opportunity to practice for an interview and receive feedback. Therefore it is always desirable that you go through some sessions of mock interviews before stepping into the real interview. It will help you learn how to answer difficult questions, develop interview strategies, improve your communication skills and reduce your stress before an actual job interview.

Last minutes preceding the actual interview

Waiting outside the interview room to receive a final call may make you nervous. You may feel stressed. But never mind. You can manage it well. Just do what pleases you most. Creative visualization may be a good option. You may take deep breathings. It will make you feel relaxed and ready for the task ahead.


(The Author is faculty of History and General Studies  at 'The Success for IAS', Patna.

Email id:  sanjaykbatroul@gmail.com)