Follow these 13 UPSC Interview tips to clear it like a Pro

“One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.” 
- Arthur Ashe

The UPSC interview is a half an hour assignment which can entirely change where you go next in life. Being the last round in India’s toughest competitive exam- UPSC CSE, it could give an unconquerable front to the aspirants. A high score in this interview can sometimes create a difference of more than 100 marks with fellow candidates. Often we see that interview high scorers top the final selection list too. It’s important that you don’t take this interview lightly.

@ Srishti Saxena from Pune

Here are a few tips for you to nail the interview!

1. The earlier you start the better it is.

Don’t take the interview lightly and start as soon as you can. Do not waste your time in waiting for the results of the main exam. This interview is to assess your personality and not your knowledge so try to understand your weaknesses and start making them your strengths as soon as you can.

2. Revise your DAF

Many of the questions in this interview are based on your Detailed Application Form. Copies of this form are shared with each of the board members. You should revise your bio-data several times and prepare well. They could ask you any questions related to your education, work experience, social works, service preference etc. Questions might be asked about your district or state. You should collect details about your birth place and know the problems in your village, city and state. Along with this, you must know the solutions to these problems also. It is extremely important that you don’t fumble on personal questions.

3. Prepare your Hobbies

Usually, the first question UPSC Board asks you is related to your hobby. They do this to procure an understanding of the candidate’s personality. Make sure you start well. Thoroughly prepare for the hobby that you have mentioned in your DAF. Search for the popular terms of that hobby and prepare the recent happenings in that area. Don’t give cliché answers. If reading is your hobby they might ask- Who is your favorite author? There can be some technical questions also about the hobby.

4. Go through your optional and graduation subjects

Interview panel might ask you questions regarding your optional subject or graduation subject. Neglecting these subjects might cost you a lot. Go through the recent happenings related to your subject. As your graduation subject is the area where you have expertise, UPSC expects you to be serious with it. So they can ask you in-depth questions related to the subject.

5. Read Newspapers

You should not stop reading newspapers after your main exam is over because it provides you with everything that is happening around the world. This helps you in answering current affairs. Also read the paper on the interview day and cover the headlines. Don’t waste your time in reading areas like sports section, book reviews, historical reviews, heated arguments etc. and you should focus more on political news, finance economy sector etc.

6. Improve your Communication skills

You need to communicate your ideas properly to have an impact on the interviewers. You need to develop a command over the language because you only have 30-35 minutes in the interview and you can’t waste that on searching for words to speak. Make sure that you don’t slip into the non-professional language. Active listening is very much important. If you are not attentive, you will not be able understand what the interviewer is exactly trying to ask and thus you will not be able to answer the question properly. Avoid cutting off the interviewer at all costs, especially when he or she is asking questions. Listening to debates and news on television channels can help to improve your communication skills. 

7. Dress for Success

The first impression might not be the last impression but it does matter immensely. This does not mean that you should wear expensive blazers or suits for the interview. You should wear something you are comfortable in. You should look confident and neat. Don’t forget the little things. Shine your shoes, make sure your nails are clean and tidy, and check your clothes for holes, stains, pet hair and loose threads.

8. Arrive on time, relaxed and prepared

Arriving on time means you should arrive at least 10-15 minutes early. Map out your route to the location so that there are no hurdles and you can arrive on time. When you arrive early, you can use the extra minutes to observe the workplace and its dynamics. Also verify all your documents and keep them in a single, multi use messenger bag or a portfolio to avoid looking  nervous or disorganized. Be relaxed and calm. If you do not know anything about a topic you are asked, then admit that you do not have any idea. Don’t panic. Nobody can know everything and UPSC knows that. Your emotional intelligence will play a great role here.

9. Be Authentic and Concise

Don’t lie to impress the interview board. Respond truthfully to the questions you are asked. Never create fake facts in your resume as these will be easily caught by the board. You can tie your answers back to your skills and accomplishments.

Keep your answers short and straight to the point because your time is limited. Convert your long answers to interesting statements.


10. Give balanced answers

Your views should be balanced and impartial. UPSC looks for a professional as well as an intellectual candidate. You should take a stand but without any political or social biases. It does not matter you are a left, center or right in your political leanings, what matters is if you display a balanced opinion or not. And if you take a stand, you should also be prepared with the justification for the same. Don’t give sweeping generalizations without a proper base.

11. The Importance of Body Language

Body language refers to the non-verbal signals that you use to communicate your thoughts and feelings. Nothing you wear is more important than your smile. If you don’t smile you may come across as unfriendly, nervous, angry or unhappy. Maintain eye contact as much as possible. When the interviewers  extends  their hand to initiate the handshake, stand, look the person in the eye, smile and give a firm handshake. Practice confident, accessible body language. Sit or stand tall with your shoulders back. Before the interview, take a deep breath and exhale slowly. This will help you manage any feelings of anxiety and will encourage greater self-confidence. Be confident about what you are saying but don’t go overboard. Avoid gestures which do not suit the occasion. It’s your job to stand out from the crowd.

12. Take mock Interview Tests
Practice makes man perfect. They help to avoid common mistakes. Taking mock interview is suggested to be very important by IAS toppers. They help to improve your consistency. You should at least take 4-5 mock interviews to improve your preparation. Take feedback from the panel experts, understand your strengths and weaknesses and make the necessary changes in your approach. However, your genuine personality should not change because of the confusions created by different opinions of different people.

13. Be You

Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is. Don’t try to present a fake personality. Follow your gut and put yourself out there during the interview. Don’t try to mug up ready-made answers. Be yourself and express your opinion. This is the part where you can promote your talents. Developing a positive attitude is a must during this time. You might have bad experiences from previous interviews but you cannot let these negative thoughts ruin your chances. Don’t worry about the things which are out your control like the interview board or the questions they are going to ask. Hope for the best.
We hope these tricks help you in your race. 
All the best!

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