Harikrishna Pai (CSE 2013 Rank 218) UPSC Topper’s Interview – Part 5

This is the last part of the detailed interview of Harikrishna Pai (CSE 2013 Rank 218) in ClearIAS.com’s UPSC Topper’s Interview series. Hari has already shared his background, approach, preparations strategies, books referred, UPSC interview etc in the previous parts. In this 5th part, he answers queries about his backup plans, previous attempts, work experience, detailed marks etc. And finally, he winds up the long interview, sharing some important success tips.

Previous Attempts/ Backups/ Others Jobs Qualified (if any)

Harikrishna Pai (CSE 2013 Rank 218) UPSC Topper’s Interview – Part 5

ClearIAS.com: Comment on your previous attempts on UPSC Civil Services Exam, if any? What have you learned from the mistakes/failures?


ClearIAS Prelims Online Test Series

ClearIAS.com: What was your backup plan in case you didn’t qualify? Sorry to ask, a question just for curiosity, in case if you didn’t improve your last year performance this time, what would have been your decision?

I would have definitely given more attempts, as this was my first one. But truly, uncertainty is a rule in this exam, so I had affirmed that, even though I don’t succeed, I need not feel let down. In that case, I would have opted to teach, a job which I always like to do.

ClearIAS.com: Did you write/clear any other exams (Like Bank exams/State PSCs/ Private Jobs) during the preparation period or before:

I wrote Staff Selection Commission Combined Graduate Level Examination. Qualified for mains, but the infamous exam was eventually cancelled (L).

Work Experience (if any)


Marks – Prelims, Mains and Interview

Preliminary Exam (Just for qualification; but please also indicate the approximate number of attempts and correct answers in each paper)

  • General Studies Paper 1: (Out of 200): 115 (68 attempted 9 wrong)
  • General Studies Paper 2: (Out of 200): 157 (74 attempted)

Mains: Please also indicate the approximate number of attempts in each General Studies paper and the optional paper. For how many marks did you attempt in each paper?

  • Essay (Out of 250): 113
  • GS1 (Out of 250) : 68 (attempted for 230 marks)
  • GS2 (Out of 250) : 58 (attempted for 190 marks)
  • GS3 (Out of 250) : 75 (attempted for 230 marks)
  • GS4 (Out of 250) : 90 (attempted for 250 marks)
  • Optional Paper 1 (Out of 250)- History : 119 (attempted for 220 marks)
  • Optional Paper 2 (Out of 250)- History : 129 (attempted for 250 marks)
  • Written Total  (Out of 1750): 652

Interview (Out of 275)

  • Marks for Personality Test: 165
  • Final Marks (Out of 2025): 817



ClearIAS.com: What preference in services have you opted for? Any particular reason for that priority?

My preference was IAS>IPS>IFS>IRS(C&CE). I preferred IAS & IPS as they offer more opportunities, diversity & challenge.

ClearIAS.com: Did your life change after success/attempt in UPSC Civil Services Exam? If yes, how?

After the results came out, I got the opportunity to mingle with lot many people. Further, I too try to realise the responsibility that we are supposed to take. The best part after the result is to see our loving ones happy and proud.

ClearIAS.com: Does the educational or financial status of the family of the aspirant impact the UPSC preparation and result?

UPSC exam is qualified by many people who represent the broader spectrum of the society. Financial and other issues may definitely put additional pressure, but many people who qualify too have overcome the same through some alternatives.

ClearIAS.com: Any tips on Civil Services exam preparation and other priorities in life (Financial security, Higher Studies, Marriage, Family life etc.)

It is better to have a balanced view on our priorities in life. Civil Service Exam preparation definitely needs time investment. But this need not diminish other things in life completely out of the picture. Find time for other things also, without losing focus on preparation. After all, success in any competitive exam need not make you successful in your life. Learn to prioritise things accordingly.

ClearIAS.com: What is your advice to the freshers who are going to appear in this exam?

Those who opt themselves for this career are opting a challenging path – of which, the exam is only a part. So gather the strength to surge ahead. Be accommodative of new ideas. Don’t see this as a test of pure academic excellence, which is only one among many aspects that will carry you forward.

ClearIAS.com: What is your advice to all those candidates who didn’t succeed in this exam yet?

No advice. I think that people who can realise what went wrong and correct it need no advice. Such people will definitely emerge much more superior, even above today’s chart makers. Best is yet to come for them. My prayers and wishes to all dear friends, who are yet to begin, or couldn’t make it this time for some reason or sheer misfortune.

ClearIAS.com: We would like to express our heartiest congratulations once again for this grand success. We feel proud that you choose ClearIAS.com and our readers to share your happiness on this special occasion. ClearIAS.com sincerely thank you, on behalf our readers and ourselves, for the spirit and benevolence to find time to write answers to our detailed questionnaire. Wishing you, all the very best in career and life. 

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