IAS interview is a half-an-hour exercise which can change your life. A high score in a UPSC interview can sometimes create a difference of more than 100 marks with fellow candidates in just under 30 minutes. Being the last round, this would give one, an unassailable lead in India’s toughest competition – UPSC Civil Services Exam (CSE).
Though the final rank list is prepared by taking the sum of UPSC mains marks and interview marks, very often we see that interview high-scorers top the final selection list too.
In this post, we present 25 golden tips for success in an IAS interview.
1. Start early!
It is very important not to lose time. Start early. Don’t wait for the results of the UPSC Civil Services Main Exam. Start polishing your personality as early as possible.
2. Know yourself
The most crucial problem with us is that we don’t know ourselves fully. A human being has so many skins inside, covering the depths of the heart. We know so many things, but we don’t know ourselves. Try to know the different aspects of your personality, even hidden or unknown. If any of your personality traits do not suit an IAS officer, try to overcome that weakness.
3. Read your bio-data multiple times
Most of the questions in the UPSC interview will be based on the biodata of the candidate. Copies of the Detailed Application Form (DAF) will be shared with each of the board members. It is extremely important not to fumble on personal questions. Revise your bio-data many times and prepare well for questions from areas like hobbies, education, work experience, service preference etc.
4. Develop a positive attitude
There are many myths and rumours about the IAS interview. You might have had bad experiences from previous interviews as well. But don’t let negative thoughts to ruin your chances. Don’t worry about matters – interview board, position, questions etc. – which are beyond your control. Hope for the best.
5. Don’t take the UPSC interview in a light spirit
Be serious about the process and questions. Give respect to the board members who take your personality test. Never underestimate the people on the board. They have vast experience and knowledge. Don’t be too casual on serious questions.
6. Develop self-confidence
Everyone loves people with self-confidence. If you are sure about your beliefs, answers or solutions, express them confidently. But at the same time ensure that you don’t go overboard. Remember that the line between self-confidence and arrogance is very narrow.
7. Don’t lie
Don’t tell lies to impress the UPSC interview board. Never create fake facts in your bio-data. Very often they will catch you.
8. Improve your communication skills
Improve your command of the language for the UPSC interview. If you search for words in the 25-30-minute UPSC personality test, you may run short of time to express your ideas completely. Listening to debates and news on television channels is one practical way to improve communication skills. Also, start talking with your friends in the medium for the UPSC interview.
9. Get straight to the point
Master the art of giving to-the-point answers. Very often, long answers can be condensed into crisp, but interesting statements. If you need more guidance on do’s and don’ts for an IAS interview, read our article on civil services interviews where we have mentioned the books which help in UPSC interview preparation.
10. Don’t stop reading newspapers
Candidates often stop reading newspapers once the UPSC main exam is over. But, information about current happenings is very important for the IAS interview, just like the UPSC main exam. Have a general idea about the major happenings for last one year. Also, be familiar with the headlines and stories of the newspapers on the interview day.
11. Prepare well on your hobbies
Very often this is the first question UPSC interview board ask, many times in a light mood. Make sure you start well. Don’t give cliche answers. Hobbies help the interviewer to understand the personalities of candidates. Keep practising your hobbies till the last week before the UPSC interview.
12. Revise your optional subject
It is seen that many candidates tend to neglect their optional subject after UPSC CSE Mains. But UPSC interview panel may ask questions from your optional subject on the interview day. Brush up recent happenings related to your optional subject.
13. Go through your graduation textbooks
UPSC expects candidates to take their graduation seriously. As this is one area where the interview panel perceives the candidates to have expertise with. So, more in-depth questions can come from this area.
14. Learn to give balanced answers
Your views should be balanced and impartial. This does not mean that you should not take a stand. Ideally, you should be without any political or social biases. Once you take a stand on controversial topics, be prepared with your justification for the same. Don’t give sweeping generalizations without a proper base.
15. Know your district and state
Questions may be asked about the district and state. Collect details about your birthplace. Know the problems in your village or city. Be prepared with solutions as well.
16. Keep calm
The questions may be from a wide area of topics/subjects. You sometimes may not know the answers of many. If you do not know anything about a topic you are asked, then admit that you do not have any idea. Don’t panic. Keep calm. Your emotional intelligence matters. Nobody knows about everything under the Sun. UPSC board obviously knows that.
17. Don’t compromise your moral integrity
UPSC not only measures one’s intellectual qualities but also social traits. Ensure that your moral integrity is sound.
18. Maintain a positive body language
Reinforce your spoken words through your body language. Avoid gestures which do not suit the occasion.
19. Understand the real ‘IAS interview questions’
Most of the questions forwarded as ‘IAS interview questions’ on the internet are not questions asked in UPSC interview.
UPSC says ‘The interview test is not intended to be a test either of the specialised or general knowledge of the candidates which has been already tested through their written papers’.
Read ClearIAS UPSC toppers interview section to know about real UPSC interview experience.
20. Don’t be swayed by rumours
Many UPSC candidates are seen to be carried about by the rumours about the personality test. Certain boards are seen are tight in awarding marks while others are perceived as liberal. Though slight variations may come, in reality, all boards award high and low marks depending on the performance of the candidate on the date of UPSC interview.
21. Use common sense
Sometimes UPSC members ask questions which can be answered just by using common sense. But the stress on the interview day may hamper your thinking process. Realise that common sense is not common. Expect some puzzles which require on-the-spot critical or lateral thinking.
22. Dress neat
The first impression matters. But it is not necessary to wear expensive blazers or suits for a UPSC interview. Be comfortable with what you wear. For gents, a light-coloured shirt and dark trousers should give a professional appearance. A simple churidar or saree is recommended for ladies. Whatever you wear, in that dress you should look confident and neat.
23. Re-check your documents
We advise to carefully verify the documents beforehand to avoid last-minute panic. Ensure that you have all the necessary documents ready. Read our article – checklist for UPSC interview – to know about the documents that should be brought in for the IAS Interview.
24. Take mock IAS interviews
Rehearsals help to avoid common mistakes. Good mentors and friends can find your strengths and weaknesses and suggest necessary suggestions. IAS toppers like Gaurav Agarwal (2013 All-India Rank 1) has said that mock interviews help. They also help to improve your consistency. At the same time, care should be taken not to lose your genuine personality, because of the confusion created by different opinions from different people.
25. Be yourself
Don’t try to present before the UPSC board a fake personality. Don’t mug up ready-made answers for the UPSC interview. Be yourself and express your opinion.
As repeatedly asserted by toppers, UPSC interview in most cases is a friendly exercise. There is not much to fear about, except that your chances of selection depend on it. Be truthful to yourself and answer confidently. All the best to all for your IAS interview ! Clear IAS!