To begin with, the interview panel will have 5 members in total, who will spend approximately 5 minutes each on you, asking around 30-40 questions in total. The questions will be primarily DAF based – on your education, work, hobbies etc. and little bit on Current Affairs and international relations.
The interview is conducted to uncover your true personality and identify whether you have the traits and qualities that can make you a good civil servant. That is, to see if you are honest, trustworthy, analytical and have no regional, religious or caste biases. While it is important to be candid and honest, you should not expose your inherent biases. This is why preparation is needed.
What you you need to keep in mind while preparing for the UPSC interview
- Interview preparation is mainly psychological preparation. That is, preparing yourself to reflect your personality in a manner that the UPSC board members would appreciate.
- Your answers should not be diplomatic. You need to pick a side and give answers with a lot of conviction and clarity. You cannot mince words or mumble under self-doubt.
- Being able to say “I don’t know” with a smile and a lot of conviction, when you don’t know the answer to a question, is perhaps the most important part of psychological preparation.
- You must be able to give very short and precise answers, so that there is limited scope for supplementary questions.
- Whenever you’re in doubt, say I don’t know.
- Remember that you’re not expected to answer all the questions. It is not a question – answer session, where you answer to more questions to get more marks.
- Board is more interested in your responses than the answers. Let’s say you are asked an inconvenient question, for Example, why IAS when the Government has spent lakhs of rupees on your IIT education. Seeing your immediate face reaction and body language is enough for them to evaluate your personality. Doesn’t really matter what answer you give, if your body language says something else.
- Another example, Let’s say there is a question, whether you will vote for BJP or Congress. Your answer will not matter. What they will look for is your response. Whether you are panicking, getting nervous or apologetic will determine your marks
- The board members have 20-30 years of experience in their fields and can easily catch a liar. So be very honest.
- Never feel bad about any aspect of your personality. None of us are perfect. Accept who you are and bring out the best in you.
- Whether the question is easy or difficult, take a little bit of time before you answer. Don’t come across as somebody very hasty. Haste is not a good officer’s quality.
- Take that extra time to structure the answer in your mind better. When the answer is immediate, first two sentences may be fast but the third one will take time and doing so will make it look coherent.
- The length of your interview or the number of questions you have given an answer to, will have nothing to do with your marks. You can say ‘I don’t know’ to even 10 questions and end up with a very high score. So, don’t aim for a six from every ball.
- Questions for which you can’t say I don’t know – Factual questions.
- Whenever there is bouncer, let it go above your head. Don’t risk a hook shot. “Discretion is the better part of valour.”
- Questions for which you can’t say I don’t know – Your opinion about some basic issues of your home state. Example- political situation, economic condition, society etc.
- Expect questions on controversial subjects. For such a question, give the board your opinion and don’t be diplomatic. There are always 2 sides to any issue, the board only wants to check if you have an opinion or not. Whether you have the presence of mind to analyse and come up with an opinion.
- Treat the interview board members with utmost respect.
- Your attitude more than aptitude will determine your success in the interview. Knowledge has already been tested in prelims and mains.
- While preparing for the interview, feel very strongly that you have done very well in the main examination. This will reduce the psychological pressure on you to perform exceedingly well at the interview. When you go to the interview without pressure, you will almost certainly do well.
- Accept your personality the way it is. Be self aware. Take pride in the fact that you have been selected for the interview. This will reduce the pressure on you to act like somebody else.
- Mind-set. In the first 5 minutes, let’s say commit a blunder or you’re not able to answer 3 questions. This should not affect your performance in the rest of the interview. Don’t even waste 1 second on any of the previous questions you have answered. Stay in the present and stay positive at all times.
- Maintain eye-contact with the board members. Even if the question is only from one board member keep the other members also engaged through eye-contact. Especially the board chairperson.
- How to approach a question. Example- what’s the problem with Indian judiciary. First acknowledge that there is a problem. Talk about what you feel is the first main problem. Keep it very brief. Wait for the next question on the same topic, before you go to the second problem. Don’t start displaying your knowledge to impress the board.
- Is English fluency very important ? Not at all. The recruitment is not for a professorial position in English at JNU.
- Your should never feel bad about your background, whether rural or urban, rich or poor, education, job etc. All you need is the conviction that you will be a very good civil servant.
- Always keep a slight smile on your face throughout the interview. But this smile shouldn’t turn into laughter even if the members laugh or crack jokes. Maintain a formal appearance at all times.
- Never guess an answer. Be honest about what you know and don’t know. If you guess and there are supplementary questions based on what you guessed, you may be in trouble.
- Confidence and positivity about your results and in your capacity to be a good civil servant is perhaps the most important part of interview preparation. Remove the uncertainty in your mind about a low score in the Main Exam.
Keeping all this in mind, we at Officers IAS Academy, have designed an interview programme to help you be your best and score high in the UPSC interview. The whole programme will be run by our team of 4 IAS and 2 IRS officers, who will provide individual guidance, help you frame 300-400 questions from your DAF, have one-on-one sessions, group discussions etc. Our mock interview panels in the second tier of preparation will have serving and retired officers on the board, matching UPSC standards.