The Civil Services written exam results have been declared. It is time for the selected candidates to prepare for the final stage, the interview. Pranay Aggarwal tells you that honesty is the best policy when it comes to acing it
Clearing Civil Services exam boosts one’s confidence. However, it is important not to become over-confident and become complacent. After all, less than half of the 2,000-odd candidates called for the interview get selected in the final merit list.
With the results of the written exam having been declared a few days back, the shortlisted candidates are upping the ante preparing for the interview.
Here are some suggestions to prepare for the interview:
The interview stage is not a test of one’s knowledge. It is a test of one's personality. Hence the apt name of personality test. To develop a suitable personality to be a Civil Servant, one needs to develop reasoned opinions and be aware of differing points of view. For that, it is advisable to read voraciously.
Develop clarity of thought & expression
It is important to develop clarity of thought on different issues, especially those that are in news. The Board will test you for clarity of vision. Do not contradict your own opinions in the course of the interview. Try to express yourself without hesitation and with proper articulation in discussions with your friends and mentors.
The interview board members have read your Detailed Application Form (DAF). It is one of the inputs that will help them form an impression of you. It is, thus, important to prepare all the things that you have mentioned in your form or are incidental to it, sufficiently.
Questions on one's academic background, graduation subject and professional journey may be asked. You may be asked the reasons for selection of a particular subject as optional or your service and cadre preferences.
Research your hobbies
You are expected to have more than the average person's knowledge of your stated areas of interest, extracurricular activities and hobbies. Research them well. Also explore any current developments related to your hobbies. For example, if your hobby is sports, you are expected to be aware of the government's efforts for promotion of sports in India through the Khelo India programme.
Civil servants require a fair amount of tact to handle public pressures, politician bosses and illegitimate expectations of their own community members. The Interview board may pose to you a hypothetical situation and seek your response.
For instance, one may be asked as to how you would possibly tackle farmers on a blockade in a district if you were in-charge. You should have the ability to think calmly but reasonably quickly and suggest practical steps to handle the situation.
It is of utmost importance to practice giving interviews before the D-day. The practice interviews should be given in a simulated environment, preferably with senior civil servants on the Board.
It is important to have appropriate body language during the interview. One should be reasonably relaxed, have correct posture and mannerisms. Avoid any unappealing bodily movements like shaking a leg or biting nails due to nervousness. These may distract the Board members from what you have to say and will show you in poor light.
It is important to project a pleasant personality to the interview board. Even if the interview is seemingly not going well, do not lose calm. The members may be evaluating you different than your own assessment. Thus, even a tough interview may fetch you a great score, when you least expect it.
Honesty, the best policy
Some of the qualities that the board members are looking for are intellectual honesty and moral integrity. Give honest answers. Do not try to bluff. If you do and the members sense it, and it's very likely that they will, it may negatively affect your score. In contrast, if you come across as an honest, even if flawed person; it may be all that you need to score well in the interview. Even if you do not know the answer to a couple of questions in a row, convey it honestly to the board members.
Don’t lose focus and prepare well for this last stage.
The author is Convenor of Indian Civil Services Association & mentors UPSC aspirants at IAS Gurukul