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Preparing for UPSC Civil Services Interview – Pesonality Test – Part 1

A mock interview is in progress: The question that I had asked the aspirant was; “You are an Engineer... Why did you choose Public Administration and Telugu literature as your optionals? The aspirant replied “My brother told me he would teach me Public Administration and since I come from town only books on Telugu Literature were available and hence I chose that subject. I told the aspirant that such answers would not be accepted by the board. The reply “If they don’t accept it it is there problem not mine…. Need less to say, the candidate got 0nly 30 % of the marks and never made it to the service. The moral of the story: in an interview it is not what you say it but how you say it is what is important.

In the 20 years I have seen many deserving candidates not making it; AND THEN COMING OUT WITH REASONS LIKE THE BOARD DID NOT LIKE ME….. OR THISCHAIRMAN DOES NOT GIVE MARKS. Most of the time, the candidate deserves the marks that he has got. The purpose of this article is to clarify many of the misgivings that people may have.

The results of the Civil Services Main examination were announced on the 1st of March.. About 2400 candidates have qualified at the All India level for the Interview. This is the one of highest in the last decade. Out of the 500+ candidates who appeared at the Mains examination from Andhra Pradesh about 125 candidates have successfully qualified for the Interview. THIS IS ALSO THE HIGHEST NUMBER IN THE LAST 10 YEARS.

The successful candidates now have to appear at the Personality Test to be conducted by the UPSC in New Delhi from March 19th, 2012. How important is the Personality Test or the Interview in the scheme of examination? Based on an analysis of the results of the previous years we can arrive at the following conclusions:

1. High marks in the Mains and high marks in the Interview are a common feature of all toppers.
2. A few marks extra in the Interview can make a difference of more than 10 ranks.
3. Some times 2 to 3 marks less in the Interview can lead to 3 to 4 ranks which are lower and can make the difference between getting into the IAS or the IPS or the IRS. In short, it will determine the service, the cadre and the status of the aspirant for a life time.

What are the areas that are asked in the Interview ? An Interview is a view between two people i.e., 1. The Interviewer or the Interview Board, 2. The Interviewee. This view has to be in ‘areas’ which are known both to the Interviewer and the Interviewee. If any one of them does not know the area there can be no view about it.

This leads us to the question - What are the areas known to the Interviewers or the Interview Board? The Interview board comprises a member of the Public Service Commission as Chairman and 6 to 8 members. They come from diverse backgrounds with experiences in different fields. Most of them would be in the age group 55 years+. Thus as a ‘group’ they have knowledge in almost all the possible areas. This could lead us to the conclusion that questions can be asked from almost any area.. How does one prepare for it ?

Next, let us come to the question “What does the Interviewee know ? This is based on the background of the Interviewee i.e., the ‘state’ which he belongs to, his educational qualification, his ‘work experience’, his hobbies and his extra curricular activities. Added to this is his interest in the affairs that affect his ‘State’, the ‘Country’ and the ‘World’ i.e., Current Affairs. He is also expected to know more about the current issues which relate to his background.

Thus, the view that is exchanged between the Interviewer and the Interviewee is based on primarily a background of the individual and his understanding of the Current Affairs. Thus, most of the questions would be from his background and his appreciation of the Current Affairs. You need appropriate strategy to deal with various questions, which is described in Part - 2 of the Article.

Fine. Now comes the real situation. That is Board Room. What happens inside the Interview Board room. Let us know this from Part - 3 of the article. Here we discuss on the expectations of the Interview Board from the candidates and dos and dont's from candidates perspective.

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