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How should I prepare for the UPSC interview? - Shankar IAS Academy
23 November, 2022 0 2571

How should I prepare for the UPSC interview?

The UPSC IAS Interview is the final step in the journey of the UPSC Civil Services Examination. This stage of IAS interview has the potential to change your life and make your dream of becoming a bureaucrat true.

Out of the 2075 marks, the UPSC IAS Interview stage or the personality test is 275 marks. There are no minimum qualifying marks for the IAS personality test. Statistically, the IAS Interview accounts for 275 marks out of a total of 2025 marks. This means it has a weightage of only 13.5% in the entire scheme of examination. However, the influence of the UPSC Interview in determining the overall merit is more than 30% as the IAS Personality test has the potential to get proportionately more marks than the written marks.

The interview as defined by the UPSC notification is “The candidate will be interviewed by a Board who will have before them a record of his/her career. He/she will be asked questions on matters of general interest. The object of the interview is to assess the personal suitability of the candidate for a career in public service by a Board of competent and unbiased observers. The test is intended to judge the mental caliber of a candidate. In broad terms, this is an assessment of not only his intellectual qualities but also social traits and his interest in current affairs.”

Considering all the other stages of the UPSC preparation like UPSC Prelims or Mains, the UPSC Interview is that part of your preparation wherein if you prepare well, you will more enough marks! The effort – result payoff in UPSC Interview is more than that of the Mains subjects.

The first is to understand what the UPSC wants to know from you in the UPSC Interview. When you understand the purpose of the question, it will be easy for you to project in a way that feeds you more scores. You may have heard many times about ‘being you’ in the UPSC interview. But there can be times when you need to project yourself as a proper candidate for the Civil Services rather than just being YOU to score better.

Ideally, one should start the UPSC interview preparation from the DAF. Prepare a question bank of the most probable questions from your DAF. Your goal must be to pre-empt as many questions as possible. If you prepare well for the expected questions, it will give you the confidence to tackle unexpected questions in the UPSC interview.

UPSC personality test syllabus is not a defined one. Everything under the sky will be falling under the UPSC Personality test syllabus. However, the major aspects which can be said to fall under the USPC Personality test syllabus which is suggested to have a detailed insights are:

Personal details

These may be regarding the hobbies which you have mentioned in your DAF, your decision of career regarding civil services, why you choose this and that, regarding the filling of cadre from your DAF, regarding the priority of your services, and so on.

Educational background

Though it is not possible to refresh each and every subject and topic from the college courses, it is advisable to have some general important information to be known by the candidates. Even if you are not from a good well-known college or even if you have not scored well enough in your college, or any break in your studies, it is always better to have a well-prepared answer framed in advance to tackle these questions if at all they arise. All the above things are not going to reduce any marks in your IAS interview unless you have a satisfactory answer to that.

Present career

If you are working or have worked, it is always mandatory to know about your organization, what they do, their bigger picture like how it works, with whom, how it contributes to the economy, and many such things along with what is your individual role in the organization, what you do and so on. If you have any technical side to your career, learn the basics of that too, and the concepts.

Places you lived

Have a general knowledge of your hometown, where you were born, the places where you studied, had a career, and your present city. If any of these places have been in current affairs for any news learn about that and have a view about the issues. It is good to have geographical-based knowledge of the places too which at a basic level would be appreciated.

Current Affairs

It is important to understand that what was important for Mains very often may become unimportant for UPSC CSE interview and what is important for an UPSC CSE interview may be unimportant for Mains. For example, a question like “Is a Democrat President in USA better for India than a Republican one?” would not be likely to come in Mains but can be asked in the UPSC interview. To answer these questions effectively, the Editorials from the newspaper become more useful. It is always better to have a prepared note of your view on various current affairs issues.


There can be many examples of scenario-based questions like,

  • What steps would you take to improve people’s lives in the district, and what must be done to tackle gender bias
  • Handling a tricky situation like how will you tackle the situation in times of COVID, riots, etc in your district, etc
  • Diplomatic tangles – How would you handle the issues in India-US or Indo-Pak ties etc – particularly if you’ve given IFS as your first preference

Mostly they may be of hypothetical nature which makes you think like a Civil Servant.

Real Issue based

This is somewhat related to current affairs but here they may ask your opinion rather than just to know about the issue. So, in such cases, it is not advisable to answer that you do not have any view or just say that you will follow what the government order says. Have a view that is aligned with the qualities of a Civil Servant.

For example, what do you think of reservations for women in parliament? And also, what is your opinion about working women ending up neglecting the family and their children to have a better option for their career? Should women not focus more on domestic issues.

We, in Shankar IAS Academy conduct our UPSC Mock interviews in the said manner where the above issues are focused. In fact before out UPSC mock interviews, we regularly take special sessions on each of the sub topic mentioned above to aid the candidate in giving their best shot at the UPSC CSE Interview.

The sessions for IAS mock interviews are handled by staff from various fields to give the best idea to our candidates. Such UPSC mock interviews gives the candidates a perfect feel on the board and it was a pleasure hearing from the candidates after the UPSC CSE interview that the questions were exactly the same as the IAS mock interviews conducted by us. The core point is mock interview for IAS should not be mocked upon, but reasonable seriousness should be attached to your mock interview for IAS.

Always start your preparation well in advance. Once your Mains exams are completed, you get to know yourself and how well you have attempted. Even if you feel you have a very small percent of clearing, do not wait for the results of your UPSC interview preparation.

A large proportion of the questions asked by the interview panel in the UPSC IAS Interview can be prepared for in advance. If you do not prepare these answers, it will be obvious to the UPSC interview panel who may think you are not taking the UPSC CSE interview as seriously as you should. Prepare for the tough UPSC CSE interview questions in particular.

You will be getting information about the marks awarded by various boards through various sources. You might form opinions about various boards. Don’t believe this. Trust yourself.

Many other factors affect a person’s IAS interview marks. Whatever may be the board, you can always score your best. You need to develop confidence for the UPSC CSE interview.

Some may feel speaking only high-level English will fetch marks. That is not the case. You need to speak confidently in a way that your points are understood. Because even if you are someone with an extraordinary vocabulary but lacks confidence you are not going to get good scores.

Do not bluff your answers. Try not to make up for things that are unknown to you. It is absolutely fine to say ‘I do not know’ to some questions. But there’s a slight catch, if you say this to some factual questions on data or issues of which you have no understanding, then it will be acceptable. But when you have something in your DAF and you say this answer, then it will project you falsely. Do not do that.

Depending on your time availability, take your mock IAS interviews. It is important to have at least a few mock IAS interviews of good-quality members taken before your UPSC interview. Take time and speak clearly. Clarity of words is so important for the interviewer to understand your thoughts. Avoid sloppy speech. These aspects can be practiced in the IAS mock interviews. Shankar IAS offers one of the best Mock interviews for UPSC wherein a wholesome feedback and blue print for personality development is offered to the candidates who enroll with us for the Mock interviews for UPSC. This will changeover the mental make up of the candidates and helps them in giving their best shot for IAS personality test.

One important aspect to note is that professional throughout the UPSC Interview. Speak in proper professional language rather than using slang words like Umm, whatever, cool, etc. Your statements should always be positive and you must try to avoid negativity in your conversation. A statement can be said in both ways and with the same meaning but a good effect comes when your statement has positive instincts in them. While receiving the feed backs for mock interviews for UPSC, these aspects should be self-worked by the candidates by seeing the videos multiple times.

Do not bring up issues with negative effects and controversial nature unless the question asks you to do so. Stick to neutral statements. Do not interrupt when the UPSC interviewer is speaking or talking amongst themselves. Listen carefully and answer only after the interviewer has finished speaking.

When you are clear with your strategy, you can go with an open mind to the UPSC interview. Be balanced throughout the UPSC IAS Interview. Do not get carried away too much or lose yourself completely in front of the UPSC board panel. Be presentable and let your answers and presentation of answers let the board know what kind of person you are so that they choose you!

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