The interview stage is the final hurdle for an aspirant to get selected for the Union Public Service Commission Civil Services Exam (UPSC CSE). A total of 275 marks are allotted to the interview. This is about 14 per cent of the total 2025 marks. The interview is an important deciding factor to find a place on the UPSC merit list.
Wajahat Habibullah, the former Chief Information Commissioner of India and member of the UPSC’s CSE interview board, suggests honest communication is the key to acing the personality interview. To polish candidates’ interview preparation, he insists that if a candidate is not sincere while answering questions, the interview board members can usually detect it quite easily. Here are the things you need to know while preparing for the test of personality:
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The interview board members want to test the candidate’s suitability for civil services. Knowledge of the aspirant has already been tested in the preceding stages. Hence, an aspirant should try to improve their personality for this stage of the examination. The board tests the candidate for qualities like mental alertness, decision-making ability, and integrity. Candidates should try to exhibit these qualities to leave a positive impact on the interviewers.
Opinions more than facts
Candidates are expected to have well-formed opinions on various issues. The board is looking for people who are capable of sound application of mind. It is advised that the candidates read multiple newspapers.
Research about the Interview Board Members
The chairman of every interview board is a member of the commission. It is good to research about them. This way, you can form a certain understanding of the kind of questions that may be asked. One may also study the interview transcripts of previous years’ candidates (available online) for boards chaired by the different UPSC members.
Prepare your DAF Well
It is important to prepare one’s DAF in detail. Sometimes, up to 80 per cent of one’s interview is centered on the DAF alone. Candidates need to be ready to answer questions about their past academic background, their graduation subject, professional life, etc. The candidates are expected to display general awareness about their home state and detailed knowledge of their hobbies and extracurricular activities.
Reasons for aiming for civil services
The candidates need to be ready with reasons for their decision to aim for a career in civil services. They may be asked to explain their decision to switch careers. It is advised that candidates come up with personalized answers to such questions.
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Practice makes one perfect
It is important to practice giving interviews before your date with UPSC. This helps to gain confidence. It will also help you identify your shortcomings. It is best to practice interviews with experienced persons, preferably former UPSC interview board members and other senior civil servants. Their feedback will help you give relevant and succinct answers.
UPSC CSE interviews usually last for almost half an hour. The board members do not intend to make a candidate uncomfortable. In fact, they usually put the candidates at ease. They aim at having a conversation to know you better. It is thus, important to face them with confidence and a smiling face. A calm personality and an intelligent conversation will surely make this one of the most memorable experiences of your life.
-Authored by Pranay Aggarwal, Convenor of Indian Civil Services Association
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