The process of UPSC Interview lasts for about 30 minutes and carries 275 marks out of the total 2025. However, a candidate’s score in mains or prelims doesn’t play any part in determining the course of the interview but the marks of both Mains and Personality Test are considered for final UPSC ranking. Interview is not a test of knowledge (they have already tested it in Mains and Prelims) but your innate personality.
Understanding the true nature of the interview
The ultimate objective of conducting an interview is to test whether a candidate is suitable for civil services, in other words, they determine a candidate’s potential in administrative skills. The panel members will not try to test a candidate’s knowledge but would rather try to observe the way a candidate approaches the question; they would try to assess his/her personality to determine his/her suitability in civil services. Never think that board members are meant for eliminating you or to demean you. You should have a positive mindset.
Why candidates generally feel uneasiness for preparing the UPSC interview?
- No defined syllabus unlike prelims and mains exams.
- The nature of the interview panel drawn from diverse academic disciplines, they probe questions from their domain and that becomes challenging..
Preparation for UPSC Interview should be comprehensive, topics such as Optional Subject chosen for mains, educational background, place of residence, a reason to become an IAS/IPS officer, content written in the Detailed Application Form(DAF) and current affairs are most likely to come up in a discussion hence one should cover every aspect of a candidate’s life and his/her preparation of UPSC. Following is some basic information on how to prepare for these topics:
Importance of Mastering DAF in UPSC Interview Preparation
Candidates who have been declared qualified in the written part of the Examinations have to first fill-up the Online Detailed Application Form (DAF). Preparing DAF is equivalent to getting your half work done. UPSC Interview panel generally dwell a candidate on the content written in the DAF, as this form contains the detailed information about a candidate such as his/her Birth Place, Subjects in graduation, optional subject, details of the college, professional experience, the topic of interests, hobbies, etc. Hence, a thoughtful time must be given to prepare for DAF based questions in the Interview. The following are some tips:
- A candidate must have a detailed knowledge of the word mentioned in DAF. For example, in case of candidate Name-Any famous personality with the same name, the meaning of name/surname
- Be aware of the personalities for the sports or hobbies that the candidate wants to pursue. There is no need to do a Ph.D. in sports or hobbies but your interest must reflect your curiosity on the subject.
- It is always advisable to have a hobby that reflects the trait of your personality. For instance, motivating others as a hobby reflect your personality.
Preparing for questions related to your Educational background
- Candidate must prepare about college/University where he had undertaken his graduation or masters. For instance, the name of the college is Sri Ramakrishna Engineering College, a candidate can expect a question on Ramakrishna and his mission.
- Degree pursued by candidate and reason for choosing
- UPSC expects the candidate to have adequate knowledge of his stream since he has devoted 3 to 5 years in mastering a particular stream. Hence refresh the important topics and concept about stream
- Check if any current news on stream. For example, a candidate belonging to mechanical engineering must be aware of the 4D printing that is often discussed in the news
- Application of degree in civil services and this need to be substantiated with the example
Preparing for questions related to your Work Experience
- Sound knowledge of the organization in which a candidate is/was working
- Key responsibility areas in that organization
- Any application of his work experience in civil services
Preparing for questions related to your Reasons for choosing civil service
A candidate must be well prepared with following sets of question
- Why does a candidate want to join civil service?
- If already working why a candidate wants to switch over the job?
- How can the job expertise be useful in the field of civil service?
Preparing for questions related to your Optional Subject
- Reason for choosing optional if the optional differ from the one candidate has studied in graduation
- Concepts and topics of optional need to be brushed up as the question can be asked from the same. For example, a candidate having economics optional can be asked about the present state of the crisis engulfing the economy.
Preparing for questions related to your Preference of services
- Reason for giving preference for the order of services’-IAS>IRS>IPS
- Why a preference is given for a particular state?
- If a particular state is not allotted how a candidate will adjust with the state that is linguistically and culturally different?
Preparing for questions related to your Hobbies
The following points need to be pondered upon
- Reason for pursuing a particular hobby
- Having good knowledge about the chosen hobby
- If part of NGO or club -Role of a candidate in particular NGO/Club
Preparing for questions related to your district and state
- One of the most common expected questions that you may confront is related to your state and district. So, you should prepare questions like the problem of your state and town and some statistics related to it like; gender inequality, sex ratio, and rising corruption and things like that.
- Questions may be asked about the district and state. Collect details about your birthplace. Know the problems in your village or city.
Importance of Preparation of Current Affairs
- It is witnessed that UPSC asks questions and everything under the sun from the current affairs point of view.
- The candidate must be aware of the current important happenings around the world.
- The interview panel comprises subject experts from different fields and the common ground for them would be in current affairs.
Do’s and don’ts of Interview
a. Ideal Etiquettes of Candidate:
- First and foremost, don’t pretend and be oneself in the interview
- Some of the questions might be tricky and it’s better to reply respectfully and politely that you are not aware of the answer.
- Take time before answering as this strategy will not only give some time to frame questions in your mind but it will also provide weight in your answer.
- Take time to answer every question and weigh your opinions.
b. Bluffing Interviewer:
- When you don’t know the answer tell the interviewer clearly that you don’t know the answer at the same time you can ask for permission to guess that answer. By doing these little things it will reflect honesty in your personality.
- Whatever you say, say it confidently. Do not lie. Even if you lie, do it confidently
c. Maintaining Composure:
- It’s important to remain calm throughout the interview as a board member will check on your ability to deal with stressful situation UPSC is more interested in your response to the question rather than the answer Maintain your smile intact as this will reflect your confidence and your positive nature
Things to keep in mind during the interview
- It is to be kept in mind that the candidate is not expected to answer all the questions. IUPSC interview is not going to be a quiz competition where you answer more questions to fetch more marks.
- As they say look before you leap, same applies here don’t answer the question that you are not aware as this will allow the interview panel to probe you with a further question
- The answer by a candidate should reflect his clarity of thought, decision-making approach and it should be thoughtful crisp and clear
- While answering a candidate need to make eye contact with all the member and not only towards the member who had posed a question
- A candidate should take a stand but that stand must not show his non-accommodative approach. He or she must display the willingness to hear the board.
- Do not fidget or throw your hands around, or shake your head. Less amount of movement does not mean you should sit unnaturally stiff. Your posture should be attentive and relaxed at the same time. Do not crouch/bend forward or place your hands on the table
- Use a couple of words from the question while answering any question. It shows you have listened to the question carefully. But at the same time limit the use the technical jargon.
- It is an attitude rather than aptitude will determine success in the interview
- Do not start evaluating your performance while still in the interview. Even if you have committed mistakes in the beginning, do not think that you have already lost the game. They are looking for warm, sensitive respectful and attentive youngsters. They know you are good or you would not have come so far.
- Say less to convey more. Less is more these days as per the minimalist creed. Argue logically and generalize correctly. Do not try to read too much between the lines.
- Candidate must remain alert throughout the interview and must thanks to the board politely after the completion of the interview
- Remember no one is perfect and perform your best with moral integrity