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Special Content

volume-39,29 December 2018 - 4 January





Civil Services interview session is a truly interesting session with the UPSC board during which you are going to be engaged by the board for half an hour or so on a variety of topics to elicit your views, your reactions, responses or solutions as the case may be. Though there is no defined boundary  which confines the interview board to raise issues, there does exist an element of certainty about likely areas from where questions will be asked. These areas are:

  1. Governance and administrative issues
  2. Issues relating to recent national, international affairs
  3. Environmental issues
  4. Economic issues
  5. Issues relating to health, social justice etc.         

Apart from the above mentioned issues, a major area  on which  questions will be raised is the DAF (Detailed Application Form), submitted by the candidate in advance. Thus, preparing for questions raised on the basis of information furnished by you in your DAF is an essential part of your interview preparation. In a way, DAF is like your horoscope to predict your personality because it contains vital information about you, which helps the board in assessing the kind of person you are, based on your hobbies, interests, academic achievements, job profiles given in your DAF by you.

Why DAF is important  in Civil Services Interview?  Your DAF contains vital information about you which has been furnished about you only. The  interview board gets  an inside view into your background through DAF. It lets the board know about your personal details like your name, place of birth, district and state you belong to, your parental profession and their income, your educational back-ground, your interests in life, recent jobs undertaken by you, your employers' details , your choice and preferences for services, your preferences for state cadres for IAS, IPS and many more things. This vast information provided in your DAF becomes an important source of raising questions by the board. In fact, while the interview process is on, most of the members keep reading your DAF all the time so that they can ask questions on your DAF when they get their chance.

One must, however, note here that in order to make the assessment process unbiased, details relating to a candidate's caste, religion is not furnished to  the  four members of the board. Only the chairman of the board will know  these details. This is to ensure  that  there is no  caste bias  against the candidate.

You and your DAF: A number of questions are going to be raised on diverse topics during the interview session. Generally the questions raised will be from areas of your own competence. The board members  will not confront you  with questions you are not expected to know, mostly they will frame questions which you should know either because of your personal background, or because any well read, alert candidate, who is aspiring for a job in civil services,  must know. However, DAF presents a different challenge, viz;  the expectations of the board will be very high from you to defend the information you have furnished in its various columns. You have to take responsibility for what you have written in the DAF. If you contradict yourself on your DAF related information, or you display ignorance  about it, it is most certainly going to create a negative opinion about you. This opinion is based on two things. One, you have given a false information ,or, two, you have not really pursued what you have furnished in your DAF. Always remember, if you are unable to answer a non-DAF related question, the board may not punish you, but , if you are unable to  answer a question relating to your DAF in a proper way, the attitude of the board will be unforgiving.  The board expects you, as a future civil servant, to be honest about furnishing information.

Categorisation of DAF details: Put together, there are 27 columns in the DAF to be filled out by the candidate. They can be put under the following categories.

(1).         Personal details like name, age and native place, parents' name, profession and income, choice of centre for main examination, optional subject offered. (column 1 to 13)

(2).         Educational qualifications (column14)

(3).         Employment details (column 15)

(4).         Details of extra curricular activities, distinctions, hobbies (column 18)

(5).         Preference for IAS/IPS in state cadres (column 20)

(6).         Order of preference for different services like IAS, IPS, IFS and allied services(column 21)

(7).         Previous details of appearing in UPSC exam. and their results (column 22, 23, 24, 25 and 26)

(8).         Documents required to be submitted (column 27 )

Analysis of  DAF related issues

  1. Personal detail related column: There is a great likelihood of your interview starting with questions relating to your name, importance of your date of birth, etc. Suppose you were born on 3rd March, they will ask you: Can you tell us about another public figure born on this day (because Ratan Tata was born on 3rd March). Besides, the place you were born in, areas around it, and the state to which you belong, will be closely read by the board and questions may be raised on them. A few questions on your parental profession, your experiences from their  occupations can also be asked. If you have chosen a centre for your main exam away from your city or place of employment, curious questions can be raised on the reasons for the same. Suppose, you belong to Delhi and also work in  Delhi, but , you wrote the main exam from Jammu centre, you will have to give a justification for it. Finally, your optional paper may come in for scrutiny. Apart from questions relating to your optional subject, they may also ask you about its relevance in the civil services. For example, suppose, you had Botany as your paper, they will ask you as to how your knowledge of Botany will be of help in your career as a civil servant.
  2. Educational qualification related questions: The board will be very keen to know about your educational background and achievements in school, college. They will watch for educational institutions you have attended, and check your awareness levels about these institutions. Secondly, they will see if you have any discontinuity in your educational career or any bad educational perfor-mance, and if yes then they will look for reasons for the same. If your academic career is very bright, they may ask you as to why you want to join civil services despite such a brilliant academic record. Also, if you are a professional, say, a doctor, engineer or lawyer, they will ask you why you want a change in your core domain. These questions must be answered in a realistic manner. The board is more interested in knowing your real reasons for it and not your idealism about civil services. Therefore, give honest answers to such questions. If you fabricate an answer about these questions, you will be in a difficult spot.
  3. Employment related columns: If you have been employed earlier, or, you continue to be employed at the time of interview, there is no way you can escape being asked many questions on your job profile, your responsibilities in the organization, your company or the govt department you are working with. The difficult part  of the question on this area will be as to why you seek to change your present job. Most candidates answer this question in the same way. Let us consider this question and  its common answer:

Member: You are already employed in a high position with good future prospects. Why then you want to join civil services?

Common answer to this question: Yes sir, I do agree that I am already placed in a good job, but the status, prestige and challenges  offered by civil services attract me. Or,

Yes sir, true. But I want to serve the country and society which has given me so much.

This is a routine question and this type of answer is also a routine answer. The same question can be answered in a more impressive, convincing manner. Consider this kind of answer: Yes sir, I do enjoy  a cozy job at present, but working in the private sector, I find  that my job is socially irrelevant. I only work for the benefit of the organization and not of society. But in civil services, I can take up socially relevant tasks. This is my reason to be in civil services.

You can also relate your answer to inspiration derived from your parents, or your role model in civil services whose work has inspired you. This will make your answer both interesting and convincing.

Hobby related columns: If you have  furnished information on your hobbies, be ready to be probed on your hobbies deeply by the board. In the first place, you should  never mention a hobby in your DAF which you have not pursued passionately.  Secondly, don't attempt to give theoretical answers on hobby related questions. Just demonstrate basic knowledge of your hobby and explain why you love to pursue it. Remember, hobby is your pastime, not your profession. Therefore, you are not expected to  possess a specialized knowledge on your hobby. But at the same time, you must have clarity about what you pursue as your hobby. Concocted answers about your hobbies must be avoided at all costs.

IAS/IPS  preference related questions: You will have to furnish information regarding this only after  you have qualified in the main exam. One must be careful about choosing the job preferences. If you have chosen IFS over IAS, they will ask you as to what attracts you to IFS and what are its present challenges. You must evince interest in international issues, current challenges in Indian  foreign policy etc. If you have given IAS or IPS as your options, they may raise some situational questions as well. For instance, they may ask you: suppose you are posted as SP of a district and the students have blocked the railway tracks to press for their demands, how will you  restore law and order  in this situation. You need to  display the qualities of a practical  administrator in such situations. So, you should answer this question by suggesting many options in your mind , both of persuasive and coercive nature.

Some guidelines for defending your DAF:

  1. Start preparing early: One should not wait for the mains result. Start preparing on DAF related issues quite early.
  2. Prepare under expert guidance: Apart from self preparation, inter-acting with knowledge-able people will sharpen your DAF related answers.

III.           Always defend yourself with honesty: Honesty is the best policy at the interview as elsewhere. Be honest about what you have to say about your DAF. Only this can make your interview safe and scoring.

(S.B. Singh is an academician and Civil Services mentor. He can be reached at his email: