UPSC civil ser­vices: what it takes to ace the in­ter­view round

The UPSC gives an in­ter­view call to about 3,000 can­di­dates

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - HT Education - - Front Page - Mad­hukar Ku­mar Bha­gat

The civil ser­vices ex­am­i­na­tion, con­ducted by the Union Pub­lic Ser­vice Com­mis­sion, is one of the most ar­du­ous and keen­est com­pe­ti­tions in In­dia, in­volv­ing over five lakh as­pi­rants vy­ing for a mere 800-1000 seats. Spread over a pe­riod of nearly a year, the pre­lim­i­nary, main ex­am­i­na­tions and the in­ter­view (per­son­al­ity test) rep­re­sent the three phases of this marathon se­lec­tion process.

The per­son­al­ity test, which is the fi­nal gate­way to the for­eign, civil, po­lice and other ser­vices, is per­ceived as the prover­bial X-fac­tor in the suc­cess story of a can­di­date. The 275 marks of the per­son­al­ity test (out of a to­tal of 2025 marks) are sig­nif­i­cant as the UPSC can award as high as 80% or as low as 30% of the bud­geted marks. This im­plies a range of 140 marks, which can cat­a­pult an as­pi­rant to the top 100 or sim­ply chuck him or her out of reck­on­ing.

So, what’s the test of per­son­al­ity all about and how is it con­ducted? This test is usu­ally held from March to May. (This year, per­son­al­ity tests/in­ter­views of the se­lected can­di­dates are likely to com­mence from March 20, 2017). The UPSC gives an in­ter­view call to nearly 2,500-3,000 can­di­dates. It or­gan­ises sev­eral boards ev­ery day, each headed by a UPSC mem­ber and com­pris­ing four to five other mem­bers, usu­ally ex­perts from dif­fer­ent fields. The board con­ducts the in­ter­view by pos­ing ques­tions, seek­ing views and as­sess­ing the ob­jec­tive ap­pre­ci­a­tion of a can­di­date re­gard­ing dif­fer­ent is­sues of na­tional and in­ter­na­tional sig­nif­i­cance. It also tests the can­di­dates in ar­eas re­lated to their per­sonal profile as dis­closed in their ‘de­tailed ap­pli­ca­tion form’ (DAF) sub­mit­ted to the UPSC.

The tenor of the in­ter­view is that of a pur­pose­ful con­ver­sa­tion. What the board usu­ally en­deav­ours to as­sess in the as­pi­rants, is her/his sin­cer­ity of pur­pose, clar­ity of thought and ex­pres­sion, bal­ance of judge­ment, abil­ity to rea­son, to think crit­i­cally, an­a­lyt­i­cally in a holis­tic way, pos­i­tive­ness of ap­proach, aware­ness and con­cern for so­cioe­co­nomic is­sues and prob­lems, among other at­tributes. But what is most im­por­tant is the abil­ity to think with an hon­est ap­proach, sin­cer­ity of pur­pose and will­ing­ness to work hard.

So how should can­di­dates pre­pare? Be­gin your prepa­ra­tion early, prefer­ably within a fort­night or a month of com­ple­tion of the main ex­am­i­na­tion. Do not wait for the re­sults of the exam. The first phase of prepa­ra­tion can start with a more pur­po­sive read­ing of news­pa­pers and mag­a­zines. Is­sues of na­tional and in­ter­na­tional im­por­tance and even those of re­gional or lo­cal sig­nif­i­cance form the nu­cleus around which the in­ter­views re­volve. Get­ting a good grasp of such is­sues is of essence. How­ever, the fo­cus in in­ter­views is not on mere facts and fig­ures, but more on is­sues, their ap­pre­ci­a­tion and anal­y­sis.


The per­son­al­ity test is per­ceived as the prover­bial X-fac­tor in the suc­cess story of a can­di­date.

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