Before I start writing on interview, let me tell you very clearly that it is the stage where 100% luck counts and no preparation works. You are going to face an interview with which board, what’s their subjective view on you, what type of questions do they ask you, what’s your state of mind at that point of time in front of the board, all things are in the hands of THE ALMIGHTY.
Still some coaching institutes claim to guide aspirants for interview. Totally rubbish a claim. They are just doing business, making money and nothing else. I can give you an example of myself. When the result of mains was announced, I was doing a job in ISRO, Ahmedabad. Only 2 weeks time was given for interview. I reached home from Ahmedabad to Ludhiana with in 1 day or two, revised some topics that I have mentioned in mains form. In this process, only 4-5 days were left for the final D-day.
So, do not just go for greedy coaching institutes which are just money making machines. They charge heavily knowing pretty well that this is the last stage and candidate will give them whatever amount they want to charge. Beware of them.
Here I can tell you what I have done during my interview. In CSE-2008 interview, I got 126 in interview and got 180 marks in CSE-2009. So, the difference that has come lies, I think, in the approach that I followed in this attempt. I hope if you will follow my way, you will get at least the same marks that I have got this year, if not more.
Firstly, be very clear regarding what they are testing. Many aspirants come to the interview but they do not know what UPSC members are looking for. The answer is they are only and only checking your confidence, nothing else. Believe you me, no other thing is being checked. Neither your looks counts nor your knowledge. It’s the way you deal with questions.
Secondly, never leave any area untouched from your biodata. You must keep a photo copy of the mains form. Take one paper and write all the questions that come to your mind regarding you birthplace, city, state, school, college, education, parents job, siblings, your present job etc. Be thoroughly prepared on your hobbies. This is an area where you and only you know. The board members can ask you anything. Try to think as broader as you can. Do not think that interviewer will not go that far. They can ask anything under the sun. Needless to say, be thorough with the daily happenings vis a vis your biodata. Lets say your hobby is painting and there is going to be a big event on that day regarding painting in India or abroad. You must know that.
Also try to meet some newly appointed IAS and IPS officers. This is what I did this time. I met one 2005 batch IPS officer (Sh. Harsh Bansal, ADCP Ludhiana) and 2007 batch IAS officer (Sh. Supreet Singh Gulati, AC(OT)). This helped me a lot. They provided me some very valuable tips on my personality. Also, they told me how to answer some tricky questions. We also discussed some important regional issues. Also, they gave me some very important statistics regarding my home state Punjab , as they have an access to it. I was able to answer some questions on NREGA vis a vis Punjab very nicely in the actual interview using those stats.
Thirdly, work on your clothes that you are going to wear on that day religiously. Believe me first impression is of your clothes and shoes only. Do wear very formal clothes like a light sky blue shirt, navy blue pant, blue turban, plain blue tie for man and light sky blue sari for ladies. Your shoes should be very well polished and preferably black. Do wear the shoes before interview twice or thrice, if its new.
Fourthly, do give some mock interviews to some of your friends who are also preparing, family members, some experts of different fields and some senior IAS-IPS officers. Try to remove your –ve points.
Fifthly, try to improve your communication skills. Try to pronounce words clearly. Although its really tough to improve this in such a short period of time, but try your best.
Sixthly, reach New Delhi at least 2 days before your interview. Arrange a good accommodation possibly near UPSC office. Go to UPSC for a survey. Do ask questions to the candidates coming out. Although many people do think this as a futile effort, but I consider it as useful as this will give fair idea of which board asking what type of questions. There are some boards which ask useless questions which will not linked to you. Some ask questions related to foreign issues only, some are really concerned about you, your hobbies etc. So, this effort is worth putting and will not go in vain.
Very important is how you use the time that you get just before interview. When you are inside the waiting hall of UPSC, tea will be served and a clerk will take your certificates and do all the formalities. Do not waste your time talking to other candidates. Instead, some newspapers of that day will be lying on that table. Take one. Read the important national, international headlines and also some discreet data type news like sensex on that day, some news related to cricket or sports, Rupee vs. dollar on that day etc.
And the most important of all, what matters is how you behave in those 30-35 minutes when you are sitting in front of the board. They people are really observing you very very keenly and each and every habit of yours is getting noticed. So, make sure nothing unusual happens. Try to control your physical gestures. Do listen carefully and ask for repetition if you have not heard the question properly. Last time, there was a lady in my board whose communication skills were very poor. She was not able to articulate properly. I did not know whether she asked me about rural schools or rural healthcare, still I answered and in return, she said, “Mr. Singh, Your point is totally illogical”. You are wrong. And I got only 126.
This time also there was one person in the board who has some articulation problems. But this time without any hesitation I asked for a repetition.
As I said at the starting itself that the most important point is your confidence. So, be confident in front of the board. Try to avoid telling a lie, but even if you are lying, speak confidently. Do not let them know.
Also equally important is not to answer all the questions. In fact, you do not know all the answers, so better say directly that Sorry Sir/Madam I am not aware of this or I know this much only. Try not to bluff. Keep a smile on your face. There will be some questions which will be tricky and they will be asked to see your reaction. Be calm and composed. Do not get frightened at such questions.
Also, do not start analyzing your performance during your interview. This is their job and if you do it, you will spoil yours interview.
Never forget to pray to GOD before entering the interview room as I said Its 100% in HIS Hands.
And finally, after coming out of interview room, relax and just note down all the questions.
Believe me, interview is a life time opportunity and face it with confidence.
May Waheguru G make U an IAS officer.