Preparations for the Interview of the Civil Services Examination is very crucial, as it decides your rank in the final selection. The interview (personality test) carries 275 marks. The fact is that the marks obtained obtains by the aspirants in the interview vary, i.e., one aspirant obtains 225 marks out of 275 marks, while the other gets only 125 marks. This huge gap between the marks obtained impacts your final merit.
With regard to the preparations for the interview, some aspirants do not find the need to prepare for the interview. They think that the knowledge they have is sufficient for appearing in the interview. Remember, the interview is in reality a personality test. Any person’s personality can not be built in few days or months. The knowledge acquired since childhood, the upbringing and experience together build your overall personality. Hence, you should refine and improve your personality by doing practice and hard work. You must devote some of your time for the preparations of interview.
After appearing in the Mains exam, some aspirants waste many months in speculating and calculating the result. If you are thinking that you will prepare for the interview only after seeing the mains exam result, then it is quite possible that you may get only one week or one month time for its preparations. Undoubtedly, you cannot do the complete preparation of interview in such a short span of time, but still, you can try to some of your shortcoming and can refine personality. I will once again reiterate that keep preparing for the interview even before the declaration of the mains exam result, and do not delay it.
The Objective of the Interview (Personality Test)
The Interview of the Civil Services Examination is conducted at the UPSC building situated in Delhi. Your interview will be taken by any of the various Interview Boards, constituted for this purpose. The chairman of every Interview Board is the member of the Union Public Service Commission. Generally, an Interview Board is comprised of one chairman and four other members.
The interview board is entrusted with the responsibility of testing the suitability of the aspirants for a career in the Civil Services examination is meant to know: how is your personality, how desire to learn. The Interview Board wants to test your mental abilities as well as your socio-practical qualities, i.e., mental awareness, clear and logical expression, balanced view, leadership skill, integrity, awareness towards the subjects of common interest and daily events. Besides testing the aspirant’s language, the choice of words and patience are also tested. In May understanding, an aspirant should have a certain level of the developed qualities, like maturity, logical attitude, communication skills, a detailed and broad base of accumulated knowledge, positivity, presence of mind, balanced view etc.
Preparations for Interview
You must not worry about your preparations for the interview before appearing in the Mains examination. After appearing in the examination, if you are optimistic. About clearing it, then start the preparations for interview. Keep in mind that there is no need to hurry, as you will get sufficient time after the mains exam for the preparation of interview.
You are advised to adopt the following ways for the preparations of Interview.
- First of all go through your Detailed Application Form (DAF), which you had filled for the Mains examination. Whatever information the Interview Board has about you, your DAF is the source of that information. Therefore, make an outline of your preparations according to DAF (as far as the filling of the DAF form before the mains exam is concerned, then it has already been discussed in the chapter of this book, ‘How to Perform Well in the Mains Exam’)
- DAF consists of various information about you, i.e., your name, address, home town, educational and technical qualifications, experience, interest, optional subjects and service and cadre preferences. You should start preparing the information mentioned in DAF, after appearing in the Mains exam. Prepare very well on each and every point of your bio-data. Utilize your leisure time by maintaining a diary and writing all the probable questions related to your personal information mentioned in DAF, and prepare its answers too. There may be a wide range of questions, which can be asked from your biodata, i.e., the questions related to the meaning of your name, your qualities, the problems of your home district and home state, your educational qualifications and other relevant issues related to your optional subjects.
- The aspirants remain too much tense about the questions related with their own interests, which they have mentioned in their DAF. Firstly, you should write only those hobbies and interests in the application form, which you are connected with for quite some time, like playing any sports, reading books, listening music, watching movies,doing meditation, writing poetry etc. Prepare the questions very well, related to your one or two hobbies. Do some reading on it. During your interview preparations, you should devote half an hour to your hobbies daily. Only then, you will connect deeply with that hobby and will feel comfortable during the interview.
- Another major aspect of interview preparations is Current Affairs and the issues related to it. The Interview Board may want to know your views and thinking, but for this purpose a topic or a subject is needed on which both the parties can have a discussion. The Current Affairs becomes quite important from this point of view. The events one month before the interview and the issues related to those events become extremely important in this regard. Therefore, for preparing the Interview, I would suggest you to maintain a diary and make a brief notes about the important national and international issues of that period in it.
- During the interview preparations, it is very necessary to be aware of your surroundings. For this, you can take the help of radio, TV, newspapers, magazines and internet. Integrate all the mediums and use them.
- The Interview Board can ask about your views on some controversial issues, e.g., ‘Whether the policy of alcohol ban is right or wrong’, ‘Whether the homosexuality is immoral’, ‘Whether the communalism has increased in India ‘ etc. Note the pros and cons of such issues, and then come to a conclusion. Whatever the conclusion is, in my understanding, it should be progressive and positive. It should not be extreme.
- Try to give some mock interviews before appearing in the final interview, as by doing so you will come to know about your shortcomings which you yourself had no idea about. Although some aspirants who did not give a single mock interview, had scored good marks in the interview, but you should try to face other interviews also, before appearing in the interview of the Civil Services examination.
- For giving the mock interviews, it is suggested to form a group of three or four friends, and those two or three friends should take the interview of the fourth friend. In this manner, the preparations of your interview will not be limited to the closed doors. You should prepare regularly for the interview through the group discussions and mock interviews.
- You must also keep in mind that if the interviewer in the mock interview points out at any big shortcoming of you, then you must not over think or lose your confidence, you should try to improve it instead. It may be the case that your particular shortcoming appears big to the person who is interviewing in the mock interview, but the UPSC interview board may not give much importance to that particular shortcoming.
Preparations Just before the Interview
Keep the following things in mind just before the interview:
- Make ready your formal dress. For the male aspirants, wearing a light colored shirt, black or dark colored trousers, tie and the formal black shoes is a better option. Similarly for the female aspirants, wearing a plain Saree or Salwar-suit is better. The aspirants should dress-up in a simple and formal dress, irrespective of their gender.
- Remain calm just before the interview day. Do not take stress of your studies. If someone gives a suggestion at the last moment, do not get affected by it. Prior to the interview, you will come across such persons who will ask you you have prepared a certain topic or not. If you have prepared that particular topic, then do not take its stress. It is not necessary that the same question will be asked in the interview. Try to avoid the pessimistic persons during this period.
- Sleep well and wake up with a fresh mind. Take care of your health, and eat light and easily digestive food. Do not skip your breakfast.
- Arrange all the documents which the Commission has asked you to bring for the interview, and keep it safely. Otherwise, at the last moment or in the UPSC building, you will start panicking and losing confidence.
How to Face the Interview Board?
The Interview is conducted in two shifts: morning and afternoon shifts. Firstly, all your original documents (which have been demanded) are verified at the UPSC head quarters in Delhi. To avoid the last minute confusion, arrange your documents in a well organized manner at home itself. You will be asked to sit on your table in a hall, where other aspirants are also sitting. Do not go into any detailed discussion with them. Of course, you can introduce yourself or exchange smiles in order to feel comfortable. Never underestimate yourself by thinking that a certain aspirant is more qualified than you, or you have less knowledge than the other one has.
The following are some important tips to face the Interview Board:
- Enter the interview room, and sit comfortably after taking permission of the board. Neither lean too much nor sit too straight.
- While facing the interview, your mind should be open; be at ease; and be that person what actually you are.
- Keep in mind that you should never try to bluff or mislead the members of the Interview Board, as they are very experienced people. By providing them any wrong information, you can get stuck in the forthcoming questions. They have a very long experience in doing this job. Never pretend, remain easy.
- Remember that you should maintain a balanced approach while answering the questions.
- Another of that member of the interview Board very carefully and patiently, who is putting the question, if you fail to understand it, but never try to start answering before listening to the question completely.
- The value of humility is precious and proves to be very useful during the interview; but remember that an excess of it will appear like a meekness.
- If you feel that you do not have any idea or clue about a particular question, humbly accept it; but if you do have some idea on that issue, answer the question by taking a prior permission of the board. I mean to say, you should not give up in this manner.
- During the interview, speak in a clear voice. You should be neither too low. You must not get excited or feel nervous while answering the questions. There are many aspirants who, during the interview, feel that their interview is not going well, but when the result comes, they obtain very good marks. Therefore, try to keep a light smile on your face.