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UPSC civil services exam: How to get high scores in personality test

UPSC Interview, being the most unpredictable level, is the final hurdle on your journey to IAS.

education Updated: Feb 22, 2017 15:37 IST
UPSC Interview, being the most unpredictable level, is the final hurdle on your journey to IAS.
UPSC Interview, being the most unpredictable level, is the final hurdle on your journey to IAS.(Getty Images/File/Representative photo)

Murphy’s Law - “Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.”

UPSC Interview, being the most unpredictable level, is the final hurdle on your journey to IAS. Candidates often make the mistake of overburdening themselves with the mains exam result and do not start preparing for the interview until it is announced.

It’s advised to start preparing for your interview as soon as the mains exam phase is over. First things first—the interview carries 275 marks out of the total 2,025 marks, and if we believe the statistics of 2009’s mains results, not too many candidates managed to score above 100. Contrary to the myth that it’s easy to score in the interview without much preparation, there are an astounding number of double-digit scores in the Interview.

Unlike prelims and mains, the interview not only checks your knowledge, but as the name suggests, it is your personality test in which it is tested whether the candidate has the traits suitable for the top jobs of UPSC, according to Suharsha Bhagat, IAS officer.

Keeping in mind that the preparation revolves around uplifting the confidence level, fixing the body language, besides improving knowledge about current events, the candidates should begin the preparation with the DAF form, followed by working upon the personality and current affairs knowledge. The candidates must have good knowledge about the activities they have stated as their hobbies in the DAF form and should have a proper reasoning behind every word they have mentioned in it.

To discuss hobbies, you should focus on logic around everything you do and everything you have done till date. Your life should not look like a seashore that has no control over the sea. Following are some things you should consider:

*Your past career choices and your current job

*Your educational degrees

*Languages that you can speak

*The places you have lived in and their intricate societal issues

*Recent Headlines that are topping the charts

This is by far generalized preparation tips, covering ‘where’ and ‘what’ might pop up in your interview session. It is highly recommended to go for a mock interview, to get a first-hand experience of what it is like to go for an UPSC interview. From the last 10-minute pressure to a churning night before the interview, everything plays a significant role.

Now, here is the ‘how’ part. Few tips on how to go for an interview.

1. Get used to ‘I am sorry, I have no idea about this topic.’

As a fact, nobody knows everything. You might as well accept it. Most of the candidates create a blunder when asked about topics they do not know. They start by attempting it and working their way around. But, acknowledging that interview panel members are way smarter than you is the key. I personally know a corporate manager who was grilled for corporate policies when she knew nothing about the topic. While she fumbled guesses and attempted with her knowledge of other topics, panel members could see a lady who couldn’t accept what she didn’t know. A firm ‘I have no idea about this topic’ is a far better answer.

2. Only put in stuff that you know well

You might have read few books by Chetan Bhagat but that surely doesn’t make you a reader, neither does it give you a hint about the vast literature. The idea is in your interview and in your DAF, put the stuff in front of you that you’re well aware of. It will help you look more conscious about your life and surroundings and also devoid of the vagueness from your entire test.

3. Do not have extreme views

Controversial issues, negative philosophies, movements with no agenda—all of these are inevitable. Living in a developing country with such a huge population will get you a lot of contentious issues to talk, believe and follow, but coming up-front with extreme views is not advisable. Well, there are rhetorical ways to do that, but until you are well versed in rhetorical techniques, going for such a step is not recommended.

Side note: Avoid sounding racist, sexist or extremist.

4. Always suggest a way out

Foremost, Interview is not the place to show off your idealistic self. On the contrary, Interview demands reasonableness and workable solutions. Through the personality test, UPSC wants to check your decision-making skills, your ability to handle different situations while managing your stress. Panel members might shoot you with hypothetical situations and the key is imagining yourself in the real world with a similar situation, and most importantly, suggest a way out. Consider approaching it with tact and nuance with a way that’s feasible in your work.

Finally, good luck for the interview and don’t forget to practice before appearing for the actual interview!

(AK Mishra is Managing Director, Chanakya IAS Academy. Views expressed here are personal)