UPSC civil services: what it takes to ace the interview round
The UPSC gives an interview call to about 3,000 candidates
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.