Tips for Interview


The Interview stage has emerged as the most deciding phase of the exam. The range of marks awarded itself is a proof, it varies between 50 to 240. If the UPSC board feels that a candidate is unsuitable for administration, then it awards very low marks. As a result he may not get the desired service inspite of good performance in the mains exam. So it is very important to prepare for the interview right from the beginning.

 The personality is some thing that cannot be developed in few days. It is a continuous process since your childhood. But, you can modify it suitably to get good marks in the interview. You will have to be conscious about this aspect throughout the preparation. The personality cannot be developed after the mains exam. The process should be started from the initial stage.

 The UPSC is looking for some traits which can be summarised below:

- suitability to a public career

- mental calibre

-not only intellectual traits but also social traits

- interest in current affairs

-mental alertness

-critical powers of assimilation

-clear and logical exposition

-balance of judgement

-variety and depth of interest

-ability for social cohesion and leadership

-intellectual and moral integrity

 In the words of former UPSC Chairman Surendra Nath, an ideal civil servant should be:

" Firstly, an officer must be a gentleman. He should possess good character qualities. He should have courage of conviction, intellectual and moral capabilities, leadership qualities and capable of taking the right decisions at the right time. He should have in-depth professional knowledge, self confidence, good communication skills, analytical in his thinking, flexible and not rigid, must be able to inspire and motivate his colleagues and his sub-ordinates. There should be a balance of judgement in decision making".

 So, you will have to improve these qualities as you progress towards the interview stage.
Note the following points:

  1. Start specific full scale preparation for the interview, immediately after the mains exam.
  2. The preparation should be at two levels- the subject matter preparation and the way you present yourself.
  3. Use a handy cam or a mirror to see how you speak, the facial expressions, mannerisms etc.
  4. Keep visualizing the interview scenario and modify yourself accordingly. In interview- you are assessed right from the moment you enter. So the following aspects are important—The way you walk; the way you sit down; the way you are dresses; the enthusiasm and cheerfulness in your face; the way you talk; your mannerisms; facial expressions; politeness; behaviour; the way you tackle the questions; the confidence you display; the way you take leave and walk out of the room;etc. So in all these dimensions you should keep contemplating and put your best performance on that day.
  5. be very careful while filling the mains application form. This form is the basis on which the whole interview depends. So, consult the seniors and fill the information carefully. Through this form, you can direct the board into your strong areas, The interview will go on expected lines and you can give well prepared answers.
  6. -The preparation areas should be —  Biodata ; State issues; National issues; International issues; General issues(e.g. ragging)                             


  1. prepare note again for the interview. Here, keep in mind that you will get only 1-2 minutes to tell the answer. So prepare in this direction for all the expected areas. You should be in a position to counter any other supplementary questions.
  2. the best way of preparation is to just sit and do brain storming intensively. Think what type of questions can be asked and how you can give a simple and logical answer. This will not come from reading many books. It requires lot of introspection.
  3. some areas to be focused are: name; why IAS; why optionals; background of the parents;places where you stayed; academic background and related aspects.optional subjects; graduating subject;service preferences; positions if held;job experience if any; hobbies; sports;
  4. have good knowledge about civil services, general debate, reforms etc,
  5. show a positive body language. You believe that you are suitable for the job. Convey to them the message that you are the person they are looking for.
  6. speak slowly and clearly
  7. do not bluff to the Board. You cannot substantiate if they go into depth. It is not easy to fool such experienced persons.
  8. Do not entertain any rumours regarding the integrity of the board. The UPSC interviews are of the top class and the marks awarded are also proportional to what the candidate deserves. The rumours are mainly spread by people who do not clear the exam. Instead of criticising others, it is better to introspect and make efforts to develop one's personality. So, go to the interview with utmost respect for the board and confidence in their integrity. Put your best performance on that day.
  9. The main aspect is to be calm and cool on the day of the interview. Go with high self-esteem and self confidence. Do only those things which will increase the 'feel good factor'.
  10. Take good number of mocks to get used to interview conditions.
  11. Read the various original interviews given in the magazines to understand what the UPSC expects from you.

 Sample Interview:
Chairman of the Board: Gurubachan Singh Jagat  
The following interview proceedings are as far as could be recollected. It should be having 90% accuracy with respect to the questions asked and the answers given. The interview proceeded in a very cordial and smooth manner. The members were relaxed and smiling all the time. The interview was the first in the afternoon session.
Vineel Krishna: May I come in ,sir.
VK:Thank You ,Sir, and Good Afternoon to you all.
GSJ:Good Afternoon Mr. Vineel Krishna, Please be seated.
GSJ: Mr. Vineel, I see that you are from IIT Madras. Did you not get any campus placement?
VK: Sir, I got placement as Systems Engineer in Wipro Technologies. But, I did not join the job.
GSJ: What is the reason?
VK: Sir, I had already chosen Civil services as my career. I wanted to have a single focus on the exam. If I had joined the job, neither would I have satisfied the job nor the exam. So, I did not join the job ,sir.
GSJ: Why do you want to join the Civil Services?
VK: Sir, I want to be part of the developmental activities. I am also attracted by the challenging and diverse nature of the job. The opportunity provided to make a positive impact on the society, is unparalleled by any other job.
GSJ: But don't you think the scope of bureaucrats has reduced. Your friends must be in good jobs and some must have gone abroad. They must be doing well there. Why do you want to swim against the current?
VK: Sir, I am just listening to my inner voice, which says that this is the area where I must be and doing which I would realize my potential. Regarding the scope of bureaucrats, sir, I agree that there is reduction. But I feel that the govt. is finally concentrating on the core areas.
GSJ: Can you explain it?
VK: Sir, previously, the govt. expanded into unnecessary areas like running hotels, where its presence is not really required. Now, the govt. is focussing on the core areas like social sector – education, health, etc.
GSJ: I see that you played cricket. Are you still involved?
VK: No Sir, I used to play it during school and University days.
GSJ: Why are you not playing it now?
VK: Sir, I don't have the opportunity now. To play cricket we need a team and presently, I don't have one.
GSJ: So, you don't do anything for physical fitness?!
VK: Sir, I go for jogging every day and also I practice yoga and pranayama.
GSJ: Is it Art of Living or…
VK: Yes sir, I practice the Sudarshana Kriya of Art of Living.
GSJ: How much distance do you run every day?
VK: Well sir, I go to the ground and then decide upon the rounds and ensure that I complete it , come what may. Usually it is around 8-9 rounds sir, approx. 3-4 km.
GSJ: Interestingly, you worked as Sub-editor of a magazine. Can you explain this?
VK: Sir, I worked for this telugu youth magazine. It caters to the educational and career requirements of the rural youth sir. I was contributing for their Science and technology section. Since I was following the current affairs part and since it also helps me in exam preparation, I joined the job.
GSJ: What is its circulation?
VK: It is around 12000, sir.
GSJ: Mr.Vineel, you come from Hyderabad, which had been doing well in many areas and been constantly in news…
VK: Yes sir, the previous govt. under Chandrababu Naidu, had special focus on Hyderabad and developed it in many ways. There was expansion of the roads, improving the infrastructure like the MMTS,parks, water supply, sanitation. Also there was development of tourist locations. The IT sector was particularly developed e.g. the Cyber towers. Recently, the construction of international airport has also started.
GSJ: Is there any problem with respect to housing?
VK: Yes sir, there is a problem, especially for the lower income group to find low cost accomodation. There has also been concerns regarding slum growth in recent times.
GSJ: What do you know about "Women empowerment"?
VK: Sir, Women empowerment is about providing the necessary tools to the women so that they can over come the discrimination against them. So that, they can stand on their own and realize their potential. It involves various dimensions like social empowerment, political empowerment and economic empowerment. There are various measures like providing education and job reservations , as done in our state, then providing legal frame work, say against dowry, sexual harassment etc, then providing inheritance right to property etc.
GSJ: You said discrimination, how?
VK: Sir, woman is subjected to discrimination right from the birth. In many families, there are no celebrations when a girl child is born. Then with respect to provision of nutritious food, the male child is given preference. Also, the education of girl is a lesser priority. Then , after puberty, the sole concern of the parents is to marry her off some how. The further education of girl is highly discouraged and she is not allowed to stand on her feet. She is made dependent forever and therefore, the discrimination continues lifelong.
GSJ: In fact the discrimination starts in the womb itself, you must have heard of female foeticide…
VK: Yes sir, unfortunately in many places they conduct pre-natal tests and the female foetus is killed.
GSJ: What do you know about women's reservation?
VK: Sir, there is a bill pending in the Parliament which provides for one-third reservation to the women in the Parliament and the State legislatures. But there is no consensus among the political parties.
GSJ: We have already provided for reservations in the PRIs. But there seems to be some problem…
VK: Yes sir, it has been observed that in many cases her husband or brother or relatives influence the woman member. There is a proxy rule.
1st member: Mr. Vineel, do you have any understanding about rural areas?
VK: Yes sir, I often go to my grand parent's place.
1m: Where is it situated?
VK: Sir, it is a village near Tenali, near Vijayawada.
1m: Which geographical region does it fall under?
VK: Sir, it is in the central part of coastal Andhra.
1m: Can you name the geographical regions in AP and the cropping patterns?
VK: Sir, we have three regions, namely, telengana, coastal andhra and rayalseema. The coastal andhra grows mainly rice. The irrigation facilities are good and therefore, they have 2-3 crops per year. While, the Telengana and the Rayalseema regions are rainfed, depending on the monsoons and are in the rain shadow zone.The irrigation facilities are also less, so mainly there are some dry crops. In rayalseema , they grow groundnuts, and in Telengana, they grow Jowar and cotton.
1m: You said your parents live in Coastal…
VK: Excuse me sir, my father works in BHEL, its actually my grand parents who stay in village.
1m: ok, so coastal area is affected by cyclones. How are they formed?
VK: Sir, the cyclones are weather disturbances formed in tropical seas like the Bay of Bengal. It forms when some conditions are fulfilled like continues availability of warm moist air, some low pressure , the influence of the upper air atmosphere etc.
1m: Which part of the year do they occur?
VK: Sir, during the oct-nov and also during May.
1m: Are you sure they occur in May?
Vk: Sir, I remember that in 1991 they occurred during the month of May.
1m: What measures would you take for cyclone prevention?
VK: Sir, actually my project was in AP cyclone hazard mitigation project (APCHMP). In that we were using the GIS – geographical information system, for cyclone warning and prevention of loss to life. The system is installed at all the coastal district head quarters. The network is integrated with the Indian Meteorological Department(IMD). The IMD gives information about the cyclone, its intensity and possible direction. Then, the district administration can get specific details of the villages that would be affected by storm surges. Immediately, evacuation orders can be given and suitable measures can be taken.
1m: What measures would you take as Head of the district?
VK: Sir, firstly the complete picture should be understood with the available information. The field level officials should be contacted and asked to take steps for evacuation to cyclone shelters. Then, the disciplined forces like police and the army should be alerted. Also, the state road transport buses should be kept ready. The health department should be prepared for any eventuality. In the long term, sir, the constructions along the coast should be regulated and proper standards should be maintained to withstand high wind speeds.
1m: What do you know about the disaster management in India?
VK: Sir, in India we have a  disaster management structure  from the centre right upto the district administration. The Central govt. has the Disaster management division in Home Ministry, the Crisis Management Committee consisting of the various Secretaries and ,also, the Centre for disaster management. Similar structures exist at state level and there are detailed manuals for the District administration.  The finances are provided by National calamity and contingency relief fund and the  PM's relief fund.
1m: Are you aware of any recent developments?
VK: Sir, in the wake of the recent Tsunami disaster, a need was felt for a comprehensive review as to how we should tackle disasters. So, there has been a decision to set up a National disaster management agency with centres at various  strategic locations to tackle both natural and manmade disasters.

2member: Why is transparency in administration being given so much importance?
VK: Sir, there is a quotation that "corruption thrives in secret places". The power of the corrupt people comes from the information that they possess and not available with the citizen. The transparency is about providing the citizen with the information about the services of the department and the processes involved. There are many tools being advocated like the Right to information, citizen's charter, egovernance etc. This will help the citizen to be more clear about the quality of services to expect and how to deal in case of a grievance. The pressure will be there on the officials and the effectiveness of the administration will improve.
2m: what is the difference between Freedom and right to information?
VK: The NDA govt. is actually accused of diluting the original demand and instead giving a Freedom to Information Act. Now, the NCMP promises to introduce Right to information Act. The basic difference is that if it is a right then the citizen will have more power and can initiate legal proceedings also. Otherwise, the official will have discretion in case it is a Freedom.

2m: In S&T, which area do you like the most?
VK: Sir, I like the Space technology.
2m:Can you explain the launch vehicle technology of India?
VK: Sir, India started developing the launch vehicles during 1970s. The first vehicle was the SLV. The initial test was a failure in 1980. Then the SLVs became a success and the programme was upgraded to the next stage, ie, Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV). Later, the commercial vehicles like the PSLV and the GSLVs were developed during the 1990s. Presently, the ISRO has capacity to launch 2 ton satellites into geo-synchronous orbit. It is in the process of developing GSLV mark 3 which will carry the Insat systems.
2m: Can you explain why the SLV 3 was a failure. What exactly went wrong?
VK: Sorry sir, I don't know the technical details.
2m: Who led the team of SLV?
VK: Sir, it was led by the Honourable President APJ Abdul Kalam ji.
2m: What is the latest technology used in GSLV?
VK: Sir, the GSLV uses the cryogenic engine in its last stage. Presently, we are using Russian engines, but in near future our cryogenic engines will be ready.
2m: Why do we use cryogenics?
VK: Sir, with present technology only cryogenic engine can be used to place heavy satellites like Insat in a high geostationary orbit. They use low temperatures and the liquid hydragen and liquid oxygen. It is a complicated technology.
2m: Do you know about Hyderabad Central University?
VK: Yes sir, its quite near to my place.
2m: What special things happen there?
VK: Sir, the university is known for its high standards. They have a very good social sciences department, then the management course is also good and the computer science department also has good reputation…
2m: What about the basic sciences?
VK: Yes sir, the basic science is also quite strong in HCU.
2m: What is the difference between Sudershana Kriya and Kapala Bhatu?
VK: Sorry sir, I don't know.
2m: What technology developments take place in Hyderabad?
VK: Sir, Hyderabad is main centre for many technological developments. Especially, in defence technology, the complete development of missiles takes place here. Also…
2m: Can name the specific labs of DRDO here?
VK: Sorry sir, I don't know the names.
2m: Any other area of defence tech, say, don't you know about electronics and metallurgy…
VK: Yes sir, the metallurgy related developments are done in MIDHANI.
VK: Sir, I am not sure if it is only for production or if there is research lab attached to it.
2m: Can name some CSIR labs in Hyd.?
VK: Sir, we have the CCMB and the IICT, as far as my knowledge goes.
2m: can you name the research that takes place in IICT?
VK: sir, the Chemical related aspects are dealt in this lab. I don't know the specific technologies, but I am aware that IICT is involved in developing alternatives to ozone depleting substances like CFCs, so as to comply with the Montreal Protocol.
2m: But that does not involve India , it is only for the developed nations…
VK: Sir, the IICT is involved in the development of the alternative technology…
2m: Can you name the products developed?
VK: Sorry sir, I don't know the exact technical names.
2m: Mr.Vineel, as a technologist, you must have thought about using creativity and innovation in improving the administration. Can you explain?
VK: Sir, I always believe that the technology can be used to improve administration to be more efficient and citizen friendly. To take a specific example, the biometric systems can be used. They can be applied in ensuring the attendance of the staff. In rural areas, often the staff is absent from there work. The biometric system can be used to ensure compliance. Also, it can be used in identifying the loan beneficiaries. Often, the same group in a village corners all the loans under different schemes. Using biometric systems, this can be avoided. Also…
2m: But these things are already being used. Tell me something more innovative?
VK: (pause for a couple of seconds to think)…
2m: ok ok,
3member: Mr.Vineel, are you proud to be an Indian?
VK: Ofcourse sir, I am proud to be an Indian.
3m: Can you say why, some important factor…
VK: Sir , I particularly like the composite culture of India. If we look at the world, even small nations with hardly one or two communities are not able to exist peacefully. There is so much of conflict. Whereas, in India, every 500 km the language changes, the culture changes. But still we exist as a nation. I believe we have an important message for the world, we are a role model…
3m: What about the achievements in S&T, say in space technology?
VK: Yes sir, we are among handful nations who have the complete technology to manufacture and send satellites into space. Our remote sensing data is of high quality that even the USA is purchasing it from us. It has been a remarkable achievement for India considering the financial and other constraints…
3m: Why do you think India was able to do this?
VK: Sir, I think the visionary leadership of Vikram Sarabhai played a major role. He created leaders at various levels, which ensured the continuity of the programme…
3m: Don't you think Nehru contributed…
VK: Yes sir, Nehru had a great role. He believed that technology can elevate the nation and provided the necessary resources and autonomy to the scientists like Homi Bhabha and Vikram Sarabhai. The foundation was really quite strong.
3m: How will your technological background help you as an administrator?
VK: Sir, firstly I think the problem solving techniques learnt in engineering can as well be applied in administration. The technological background helps in a structured and logical framework of mind, which is useful in any problem-solving situation. Then, the tech orientation will always be at the back of the mind. So whenever any new technology comes, we tend to think how it can be applied in improving the administration. Also, sir, I have the contacts with my college friends who are now working in various technology areas and management. We keep discussing the developments on our e-groups. This gives me awareness in latest developments and how they can be applied in administration.
4m: Mr.Vineel, you are having a background in Telugu. I will ask you a question – " Thinte garele thinali, vinte bharatame vinali" (telugu) who said this?
VK: …(pause) .. Sir, I think it is said by character in Gurajada's play – "Kanyashulkam".. (actually, a wrong answer)
4m: Who wrote Andhra mahabharatam?
VK: Sir, by Nannaya, Tikkana and Yerrapragada.
4m: Do you know about the Civil society- its characteristics and the status in India?
VK: Sir, Civil society is a broad term which includes ngos, pressure groups, tradeunions etc. In fact, it is not properly defined and therefore can include any organisation, which is not related to govt., working on some area of public interest etc. The civil society organisations have developed well in the recent past in India, but there is good potential for improvement. In USA, the civil society is really quite strong.
4m: Can you name some civil society groups?
VK: Sir, we have Sulabh international, Human rights watch, PUCL, CSE, CRY etc.
4m. What do you understand by Third sector?
VK: It is other than the Public and the private sector, sir. In recent times, the Third sector has been given a major role.
4m: Can you specifically tell me the Maoists talks in AP?
VK: Sir, the previous elections had Maoist as the main issue. In fact, there was an assassination of the previous CM…
4m: Assassination or assassination attempt?!…
VK: Sorry sir, I meant assassination attempt. Then the early elections were called out on the issue. The Congress promised in its manifesto that peace talks will be initiated. Therefore after coming to power, the Congress govt initiated the talks and the …
4m: ok ok. Then, can you tell me about the Telengana movement. Not about TRS or recent elections, but specifically about the movement.
VK: Sir, the Telengana was part of the Hyderabad state under Nizam. After independence, when the Andhra state was formed, the Telengana area was merged with the Andhra. At that time promises were made regarding Telengana's interests. But, by late 1960s, there was growing discontentment and a feeling of betrayal among the people of Telengana. There started a "Jai Telengana" movement for the separate statehood, and …
4m: Ok Ok. Do you think small states will lead to development?
Vk: Sir, we have many small states which are backward, at the same time there are big states like Maharashtra which are …
4m: But even in Maharashtra there is demand for Vidharba…
VK: Yes sir, there are some relative differences in development. In fact, we cannot have a general rule that only a small state will lead to development. It really depends on the political and administrative skill as to how they use the resources optimally.
GSJ: You have a hobby of reading books. What kind of books do you read?
VK: Sir, I read all types –both fiction and non-fiction, in general. But I like reading about the life stories of great people.
GSJ: Whose biography did you read recently?
VK: Sir, I was reading about Marie Curie, written by her daughter Eve Curie.
GSJ: Which is your favourite fiction?
VK: Sir, I like reading the novels of R.K.Narayan.
GSJ: Ok Mr.Vineel. Thank You.
VK: Thank You sir.
Finally, 201 marks were awarded for this interview.

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