|Q1 - शर्मा एकेडमी के UPSC mock interview कहा होते हैं?|
|Ans. शर्मा एकेडमी के UPSC mock interview INDORE और DELHI में होते हैं, INDORE में शर्मा एकेडमी के मुख्यालय में ,ओर DELHI का स्थान आप को UPSC mock interview के पहले बता दिया जाता हैं, 2023 में Delhi में Jaypee Siddharth Hotel में होंगे, इस साल का स्थान आप को कॉल कर के बता दिया जायेगा।|
|Q2 - अगर में शर्मा एकेडमी में UPSC mock interview देता हु तो क्या शर्मा एकेडमी TA & DA provide करवाता हे।|
|Ans. हा अगर आप शर्मा एकेडमी में UPSC mock interview देते है तो आप को 4000. to 5000. तक का कुल TA & DA provied किया जाता है|
|Q3 - UPSC interview की preparation के लिए New Batch कब से शुरू हो रहें हैं?|
|Ans. शर्मा एकेडमी में January-2023 से UPSC interview की preparation के लिए New Batch शुरू हो गए हे। जहाँ पर आप निःशुल्क UPSC interview की preparation कर सकते हैं।|
|Q4 - शर्मा एकेडमी के UPSC mock interview panel board में कौन कौन होते हैं?|
Ans. शर्मा एकेडमी के UPSC mock interview panel board में अनुभवी शिक्षक,ex-UPSC board member, UPSC interview panelist, ex-serviceman और UPSC toppers होते हैं जिनके द्वारा UPSC mock interview conduct करवाया जाता
Expert list for Mock Interviews - Sharma Academy
|Q5 - मैं UPSC Interview की preparation कैसे कर सकता हूँ?|
|Ans. आप शर्मा एकेडमी के center पर आकर अपने UPSC interview की preparation कर सकते हैं।|
|Q6 - UPSC interview में पूछे गए previous year के questions मुझे कैसे मिलेंगे?|
|Ans. UPSC interview की preparation के लिए जब आप शर्मा एकेडमी आएंगे तब आपको previous year के questions बताए जाएंगे।|
|Q7 - शर्मा एकेडमी में UPSC interview की preparation कैसे करवाई जाती है?|
|Ans. शर्मा एकेडमी विद्यार्थियों के biodata, education background, family background और hobbies का गहन अध्ययन करती है व उस पर पूछे जा सकने वाले संबंधित प्रश्न विद्यार्थियों को बताती है। Current affairs से बनने वाले प्रश्न भी बताए जाते हैं।|
|Q8 - शर्मा एकेडमी का UPSC mock interview helpline number क्या है?|
|Ans. शर्मा एकेडमी का UPSC mock interview helpline number: 9669925960 है।|
Nature and Style of Civil Services Examinationis unique in itself. A wide range testing Preliminary, an exhaustive mains aimed at testing in-depth knowledge as well as skills of writing, and then a Personality Test for which UPSC itself says- that the objective of this test is not to test the knowledge of the candidate, which has already been tested in the written examination. Well, it is nowhere laid down as to what exactly is expected of a candidate and what are the parameters/ yardstick of a good personality. To make it more complicated, there are no guidelines to suggest as to how precisely they are going to test it. And yet, years of experience has shown us the trend/s and a more or less standardized recipe for success.
In Civil Services Exam., with 275 marks dedicated to Personality Test, surelyyou cannot afford to leave it to chance.It is often said that your performance in the mains determines your selection and that in the Personality Test decides the service. The good news is that Interviews of Competitive exams are not for selection or rejection but only for deciding the overall merit and in the process you select yourself. As such, 'do your best' is more applicable here than anywhere else. And with all those tags of 'unpredictability'/luck factor attached to it, it only goes to make you ponder and resolve that I must take up all that I can do to ensure that it will be 'my day'.
Before we start discussing the nuances of a good personality, process of a typical Personality Test and the strategy for handling it to your advantage, let me compare it with an example from the world of sports - to lay down the 'mantra for success'.
Let us compare it to a Tennis match where the secret of success would be from-
And all through, the importance of 'temperament' cannot surely be over emphasized. Just as the difference in skills amongst top players today is negligible, the difference in personality amongst UPSC
qualifiers is also very little.
And that goes to define 'mantra' for success as – adhere strictly to the basics
Extensive research on the subject tells us that result of most Interviews is decided in first few minutes - and people rarely change their first opinion. Does it mean that it all depends on difficulty level and your replies to first set of questions?
No, certainly not. The people sitting in the Board are not there to test your knowledge and make it an exercise of chance or luck. They are there to judge your attributes, listed below, and in the process consciously observe your non-verbal communication, pleasantness, enthusiasm, warmth, positive energy etc.
Now let us make an effort to understand what personality means in this context.
It is nothing but an expression of:
In addition to this any Interview Board would like to test a candidate for:
Quite understandably, this is too much to remember and grasp and, of course, put into action on the hot seat in a 20-30 minute personality test.
And for any individual is it possible to change all these attributes in a short preparation of a few weeks time?
And yet, committed training and coaching/counselling helps very significantly in moderating extremes of behavior and styles. It surely helps in gradually developing many of these attributes, and that is going to help you all your life whether you take up a career in Govt. or anywhere in the world.
And take it from me, and the experience of countless other successful candidates, that in any case it is worthwhile getting into this training even at this stage of life.
Not that the personality changes on 'that day' or by little preparation. Not even that it can always be tested correctly/scientifically in about 30 minutes, and yet it's like batting skills of ViratKohli - form is temporary but class is permanent.Sachin's score in any one particular inning depends on various factors like quality of bowling, nature of pitch, luck on catchesetc but it is his skill that defines the class and his practice/preparation that helps in repeating success more often than others. Similarly, each one of you needs to develop these elements of skill/attributes which will surely go to enhance your chances of success.
And it is training, with commitment, that will certainly be useful for this purpose in the pursuit of your goals.
Take this opportunity before your next interview and think which of the following words might describe your working style. These will help you construct some of your answers:
Receptive, Observing, Reflecting, Careful, Practical, Cooperative, Analytical, Supportive, Decisive, Creative, Dynamic, Efficient, Independent, Committed, Imaginative, Thorough, Responsible, Team person, Result oriented... along with loyalty and utmost honesty.
Remember, using some of these words in your answers will have far greater effect when you back up your claims with situations, problems or challenges you have dealt with.
Success at Interview is like success in a game and every game has its rules. Sometimes, some of the rules are unspoken and Interviewer is not going to tell you that rules are being broken - so get to know the rules and follow them.
The objective/s of the Board of Interview is to test the above mentioned attributes - as enumerated in 1.2 above - in a candidate through a skilfully designed/ random set of questions. It is through this process that 5 highly experienced women and men will try to Know you, and assess you as an individual rather than rely on your CV. You must remember that people sitting in the Board are reservoirs of knowledge and experience - their cumulative age is over 300 years & their experience about 200 years. They have the eye to catch 'your bright spark' as well as 'tight moments'.
They have the ability to ask questions to get best out of you. Believe it, they are not interested in testing you in the negative sense or leg pulling or putting you in an embarrassing position. And if at all that ever happens, it happens only because of 'improper attitudes' of the candidate himself. The bottom line is – if a candidate tries to be smart with them, it is extremely likely that he will perform poorly in the Test.
So what do I do to impress them and succeed?
The short 'mantra' for success here is – Be open & be positive. Be honest & be courteous.
And then there is very little chance that you will not do well and get a score ahead of your existing personality.
You would have often heard in a new class in school 'You don't get a second chance to make a first good impression'. Same here, be prepared for being judged right from the beginning. In a Personality Test everything matters - the way you enter, the way you wish them, the way you dress and sit, your body language, the tone of speaking, the courtesies, a positive approach and your smile....all this will help you make an impression that gets good marks even on a day when you do not answer many of the knowledge based questions.
In a nutshell, what the Interviewers look for is 4Cs - Competence, Commitment, Confidence and Chemistry - they do not want Robots, so build up a rapport with the Board.
What do they like & look for?
"People are not judged from appearances or how they look like, but judged by what they are and what they are capable of doing."
To ensure you make a great impression, be prepared to answer questions that focus on your performance at work (or in studies), your instances of success, failures, satisfaction, difficulties, relations with colleagues and attitudes towards clients.
The significance is well known to most of the candidates and yet very often they get into the trap of making that crucial mistake - that I can raise my personality to top level and get high marks by turning the Interview in my direction and then use my smartness to impress them.
Well, experience says that nothing can be more fallacious than this attitude. Even if you have heard such 'true' stories from your seniors, my sincere advice to you is that you must ignore them and move ahead with your own preparation – chances are that for one such 'fluke' success there would be failures too that you never got to hear.
Basically, it is one of the tests/exams, with 275 marks and you are entitled to try your best to score the maximum you can just like any written exam, and yet there is a crucial difference - qualities like honesty, adaptability, positive body language, quick reaction and decision making are too different and too difficult to be tested in a written exam. And hence, need for preparation with a different approach. Every mark you score is going to help you in your overall rank in UPSC merit. To reiterate, you performance in mains exam decides selection but Personality Test decides your rank and service and thereby, the direction of your life. Obviously, it is surely worthwhile taking this test in the right perspective.
Back to the analogy from Tennis, avoiding unforced errors is the first thing that ought to be on your mind - who knows you may beat the top of the merit list in mains and need just average marks to get a decent rank. For those of you who are new to mains exam, marks in the written is an area of greater uncertainty and your own judgment often goes wrong.
Experience tells us that this approach to Personality Test automatically leads to a greater confidence level and that would certainly help you give your best. Almost always, winners are frequently hit by a Tennis player only while enjoying such a phase of confidence.
As it often happens in most situations, the alarm bell rings when result of the mains exam is announced and you heave a sigh of relief - Great! And now I am close to it & I have a real chance. Yes, you surely have a real chance but there is no scope for complacency nor for taking it lightly, even if you happened to score decent marks in Interview last time. Every year it is an independent test, by a fresh set-of people, and it is not that assessment of personality is like a science experiment. Experience has shown that fluctuations in marks from year to year is quite common. Be it due to subjectivity inherent in this type of test or variation in your own performance or for that matter the element of luck, the reality of life is that it is an altogether new ball game for you and you must start thinking and acting all over again right from the basics. No doubt, your earlier experience will surely stand in good stead for you but the best policy is to forget about the past results - whether pleasant or otherwise. After the result is out you have something like 15 days to 2 months for your D - day.
The processfollowed by UPSC on that day is standardized and time tested. 5 to 6 candidates are called in each session - forenoon and afternoon. 6 to 10 Boards are there on any given day and you get to know of your Board only when seated inside the hall. Anxiety about 'my Board' is not really worth it and the stories that you might have heard like a 'kind and good Board' or a 'bad and harsh Board' are baseless and generally misleading. You must not get into any such discussion in the days and weeks before your Interview and consciously ignore all such talk. Aii Boards are known for giving high and low marks. UPSC is known to be an extremely fair organisation Every year it is a fresh opportunity - if you didn't do well last time forget it as a bad dream and .correct on your mistakes/shortcomings and if you really performed well last time it still doesn't necessarily help you as you normally tend to get over confident which can easily become the reason for your downfall this time. .
Now a days every Board has a positive style i.e. to make the candidate comfortable and to get the best out of him. Pulling up the candidate is not the intention of the Board and if at all it happens, it is only in a situation when they begin to feel that the candidate is not honest in his approach and he is trying to act smart.
A word of caution here - whatever you may feel and whether you agree or not
Experience of life has taught us thateven honesty can be tested by skilled peoplein half an hour of conversation on unrelated and diverse topics, through cleverly designed questions. You must believe in this statement, more than anything else, before you appear for your Personality Test.
Personality Test is started by Chairman who generally (but not as a rule) starts with your DAF and asks questions on your background - academic and otherwise. Then, each of the remaining 4 Members ask you questions by turn, generally each one on a new subject or field.
They are all people of eminence and huge experience and can read your mind most of the time - and thus the best policy isBe Open Be Positive.
Normal duration of PT is 25-30 minutes but at times it may vary from 15 to 40 minutes. The usual style is of 'conversation' and yet it is a very formal occasion and you have no business to take it lightly or casually. After all, so much is at stake for you.
Having passed tricky Prelims and having gone through a gruelling mains exam, and after having enjoyed a few weeks of a well deserved break, it is time to start thinking and planning for the PT. Presuming here that you stand a reasonable chance of getting an interview call, its surely worthwhile starting early and not actually wait for the result of the mains. I am sure you know it well that this is a test for which preparation cannot be done in a short span of time.
First of all, I would suggest to you to start with developing the mindset so essential for a test of this type. This involves understanding the broad objectives of the interview Board - discussed in chapter 1.3 above.
Second, there is just no concept of taking chances in a PT - a safe approach with an open mind is desirable with no gamble, no guesswork and no conscious effort to direct interview in your direction. After all it is a test of your personality and not your ability to 'manage' and project yourself as a person which you are not.
Third, I Know what I know, Showing off more than you know is often suicidal. Also, this is not an occasion to show all your knowledge but only that much which has been asked.
Fourth, I am here to be tested for what I honestly am, I cannot change myself overnight but yes my commitment to continue to learn and work hard is genuine. This approach is extremely important for good performance as well as for overcoming the 'pressure' and nervousness that is bound to be there on such an important occasion. Lastly, I have great faith in this exam and the Board of UPSC. If I get selected wonderful, otherwise I will try again and be a little wiser next time.
Your approachhas to be in tune with the expectations from you viz. what goes into the art and science of doing well in the Interview. Let me reiterate, in brief, the 5'Secrets for excelling in an Interview
1. Ability and suitability - ability comes from your 'core knowledge' and would reflect from your answers to factual questions. Suitability is a more complex thing and is a function of many attributes - given below.
2. Motivation and passion for the job, along with the commitment and hard work put in.
3. Managerial aptitude including Leadership, Initiative and Team work.
4. Professional behaviour would include Honesty and dedication, Confidence and commitment, Communication skills, Humility and courtesies.
5. To be a problem solver with clarity on Goal Orientation.
Confident candidates often ask whether there is any real need to prepare for PersonalityTest?
Yes, you certainly need to prepare. Not you only, everyone needs to prepare, even if performance was extremely good last time. You need to be well prepared and ready like a lawyer in the Court or a ViratKohli on the Cricket pitch. In every case good preparation is a combination of say,
Technique, fitness and mental strength for a Batsman
Knowledge, presence of mind and attitudes for the Interviewee.
First of all, start living with a 'happy' happy and positive frame of mind as now you have got the interview call. We all know that interviews can be nerve wrecking and wish it gets over as early as possible. And yet, this is one interview that can change the course of your life. Not that you need to put pressure on yourself, but surely you need to understand the importance of preparation. The idea is to help the Interviewer by being well prepared and make it easy for him to judge your good qualities, and at the same time to help yourself give a really compelling performance.
As stated earlier, do not wait for interview call for starting the preparation. Also, do not waste time wondering about other candidates - your interview is your interview and you must be fully prepared and confident to take thecentre stage.
In many job interviews main focus is on your knowledge - of the core subject/s as well as General awareness. That apart, knowledge always gives the required confidence so vital for any and every interview. For Civil Services we know it too well that UPSC calls it Personality Test and their main objective is not to test knowledge. And the attributes of Personality are as enumerated in para 1.2 above.
So now the question is whether it is possible to change and improve personality of an individual in a short span of time?
Well, there is no doubt that personality cannot be changed by preparation in a short period of time and yet it can't be denied that familiarity with questions and answers can do a world of difference to your level of confidence - and that is often the crucial thing which affects your performance on a given day, reflecting your personality to the Board in those 25-30 minutes.
Yes, over preparation on commonly asked questions should be avoided as it goes to show a closed mindset - say, a stereotyped prepared response to a common question but tilted/modified deliberately, would surely go to show a tutored and crammed up answer rather than a thoughtful one.
So what approach one should ideally adopt?
It is suggested that one should prepare some thoughts on 'model answers' to expected questions - particularly those related to your DAF (Detailed Admission Form) featuring your academic background, prior job experience, hobbies, choice/s of service, current social issues, debatable issues etc. This preparation gives you immense confidence and initial ready material for a smooth conversation in the beginning - almost always your Interview begins with questions from DAF - this confidence is so essential for giving balanced answers subsequently when questions are likely to get tougher. It is expected by Board that you would have surely prepared for this big day - and why not - and so they wouldn't like to see you struggling for thoughts/ideas on expected questions and, of course, on things like integrity, ethics and values. We will discuss this aspect in detail in a later chapter.
The process of PT often aims at testing your patience too. This half an hour you cannot afford to get restless or impatient even if there are good reasons for the same. For instance, it often happens that Board member speaks too softly and you could not hear or that his question did not have the required clarity...and so on. Quite obviously, in a situation like this you need to maintain your composure and at the same time retain your pleasant disposition.
Then, there is a definite trend these days for trying to test your 'flexibility approach' to solving of problems and also, in general, as a personality trait - rigidity of thoughts/opinions on any issue even when circumstances now put before you are different, and sticking to an obviously wrong answer given in haste even when better or even contradictory answers are suggested - is a huge negative quality and will surely go a long way in affecting your performance negatively.
The process of 25-30 minutes is not too long at all and you are expected to be fully involved in everything happening around. Time passes like a whisker so long as you do not consider it to be an ordeal - instead you would do well to show a body language that suggests curiosity and hunger for more questions and a high degree of attentiveness when anyone from Board is speaking. The Board also makes preparation and put in lot of efforts with a view to judge you correctly and, therefore, it is expected that you give utmost regard to their position as well as their questions.
At times some questions might appear to be superfluous or even irrelevant to you and yet your sincerity should not get affected at all. It is very much possible that these questions were asked just to test your reaction/response to the question only, rather than get a correct answer. Thus, any impatience on your part - even in your expression/body language – would prove to be very costly.
At times Board may give you options to choose from - even as to your choice of subject or topic on which they may ask next question. Be ready to show your preference/s as well as decisiveness - prompt and natural reaction/s here is all that which matters. Of course, since questions that follow are from your favourite topic, you would surely be expected to have in depth knowledge. And finally, to get used to the process of Interview/Personality Test, Mocks from a balanced and positive group are surely of great help. No doubt, it is extremely worthwhile to share ideas with people who have a prior experience of attending such tests with UPSC.
· Go and see the world it's often said that - and rightly so - that preparation for personality test begins even before you fill up the UPSC form. Sometimes the most unexpected questions, and your unprepared answers, can take you to the top of the world. So go to new places and meet new people. Catch up with old friends, old hobbies and yet have at the back of your mind that an important event is coming up.
· Long hours of reading should be avoided. Instead, what you need is less of reading and more of thinking - how can I use my little knowledge when asked a question in PT? The best way is to keep in mind key learning points which can be quickly reproduced orally.
· Do appear in Interviews where you may not have any interest also just to get into the habit of speaking spontaneously, accurately and yet responsibly.
· Do not see Personality Test as 'final hurdle' - it isn't one. It is like you have baked a cake and only icing remains to be done. The test is - how nicely you do it in a pattern told to you in Interview room. Preparation for PT is all about knowledge, technique and finesse required in doing good icing under pressure of performance.
In this Chapter we have learnt that:
(a) PT of CS exam is unique in itself - go by the trend.
(b) It is advisable to believe that 'preparation is required' - not good to leave 275 marks to chance.
(c) 'Personality' for UPSC is a function of attributes like clarity of thought, simplicity of expression, balanced mind with objectivity, general awareness, ability to use/apply knowledge and absolute honesty & integrity.
(d) Train yourself to develop confidence and reduce anxiety/stress.
(e) As a matter of habit it's good to inculcate qualities of a good Bureaucrat viz. analytical & open mind, decision making ability, willingness to learn, team approach, adaptability...etc.
The Beginning: Preparation for the PT started in school days, even without knowing it, when your parents and teachers asked you to take up Debates, Quizzes,Moot courts etc and wanted you to be an all rounder.
Prelims and Mains have tested your knowledge and ability to write effectively. Prospectus of UPSC itself says that objective of PT is not to test knowledgeetc which has already been tested. So, apparently this is going to be a totally different game. And yet, there are similarities - present system of Prelims teaches you precision in decision making in quick time and that skill is going to be very useful here too.
So, first of all, go back to some of those ticklish questions with varied choices and once again get into the habit of accurate and quick decision making. The habit to answer accurately includes - when not to answer.You are likely to occasionally get into this situation in PT too. Again, using the sports analogy, this time from Cricket, it's like a quick decision whether to play the ball outside the off stump or leave it gracefully.
Important question here is how often can we do that in PT?
Hopefully not very often. And yet, if you have to do it, particularly on factual questions, you have got to do it and not make any guesses. Sometimes they deliberately ask questions in your subject or on your favourite topic which are too difficult/tangential for you to answer accurately - may be they are doing nothing but only testing if you are tempted to do guesswork, and in the process trying to test 'honesty'. Undoubtedly, answers to such questions do not carry any significant weight age for evaluation but your 'attitude' of being honest or otherwise can make a world of difference.
Preparation for PT presupposes a question that we need to consider again – what precisely do we mean by 'personality' and is it really possible to change and improve the same within a couple of months?
Answering second part of the question first, at a macro level it isn't really possible to change the basic aspects/attributes of personality and yet it is very much possible to improve your style, your approach/attitudes, your confidence level, expressions and overall your ability to present yourself as a much better organised person for the purpose.
Take it from me - training of your mind, and the psyche too, is very much possible with focused efforts and determination. Countless persons have done it successfully in the past and there is every reason that you too will be able to do it. As such it is surely worthwhile getting into this exercise for improving some/all of these attributes in 2-3 months' time.
I must add it here that it is definitely worthwhile whether you are going to get through this exam finally or not. If you pass nothing succeeds like Success. If you don't, you have many other chances in life - next year in this exam or some other good exam or else wherein your career. The improvement in your personality, which is surely going to happen, is lifelong asset and is going to help you in every walk of life. It's often said appropriately,
"Your thoughts become your words Your words become your actions Your actions become your habits Your habits become your character and Your character determines your destiny."
The first phaseof preparation ought to begin rather early, say on the 1stof December following the Mains in Sept./October. Hope you are not complaining for an early start after those gruelling mains - after all what | expect you to begin with is nothing but-
· De-stressing little (please read 1.8 above)
· Continue keeping in touch with current affairs
· Analytical reading of debatable issues - current & general and
A bit of general reading on optional – beyond the syllabus of mains.
The phase IIis the period from the day of Mains' result to the day ending 3-4 days before the date of your Interview. This period could be anything between 3 weeks to 10 weeks.
Phase IIIor the last phase comprises of only last 3-4 days and add to that those few hours prior to Interview on the D-day.
Planning of your preparationvis-a-vis time lines will obviously depend on time available and the crucial thing here is whether you are in a full time job or have all the time at your disposal. People in latter categoryoften make the mistake of getting over confident and sometimes, the other way round, even get into the trap of over preparation. That might just divert the focus from honing your interview skills to overdose of knowledge and over prepared stereotyped answers - something which may not get very good marks.
People in the first category viz. those engaged in a full time jobwill surely find it hard to get adequate time for the desired preparation and therefore it's more important for them to appreciate and quickly learn the nuances of 'Time Management'. Pick up any standard book onTime Managementfor practical tips and give it a good, serious reading just after the Mains' results are out and draw up an action plan for yourself for long term goals as well as short term targets - believe me, the importance of this aspect is tremendous though it can neither be measured nor proved. After all, a large number of successful candidates come from this category viz. in a full time job, and they can surely vouch for effectiveness of practical methods suggested here. Simple things like reading new & difficult things in small chunks of time, using travel time for light reading, revising notes on important topics, Parkinson's Law, ABC analysis, tape thoughts, multi-tasking etc.
Basically, you need to organise yourself quickly, with reference to other life priorities and strike a balance.
One, a presumption that you will get an interview call.
Two, your name figures at middle of the merit list of written Mainsexam., which is actually never disclosed.
If first presumption goes wrong do not lose heart - knowledge and experience never goes waste in life.
Second presumption helps you prepare systematically with an objective mindset, keeping away the possibility of getting over/under confident. You would do well to consider the Interview as equally important, if not more, for the purpose of taking you to the ultimate goal. Quite obviously, importance of marks in PT cannot be over emphasized and more so when experience tells us that fluctuations in marks here is often very wide.
Where do focus in phase-I
Obviously, the basics as well as the advanced. In optional also, you need to see basics in those areas which were not in syllabus of mains or which you had selectively left out from preparation. For the rest of it, it has to be advanced study.
Few things are important here:
· Things related to optional which have been in recent news
· Your favourite branch/topics and those studied in detail in college.
· Areas of study on which one or more projects were done in college.
· Areas that might relate to your job experience, if any .
· And, of course, relevance of your college education to job in civil services.
The last one is particularly important for technically qualified candidates like Engineers and Doctors and it is one area where enthusiastic youngsters often get trumped when they get into the habit of overdoing with their background viz. IT Engineers trying to suggest that all human problems can be solved with their knowledge of technology and thereby justifying relevance of their educational background. .
Similarly, Doctors answering the question on switch of profession by saying that it will help the society greatly when he/she is the health secretary as an IAS officer. While taking a strong one sided stand candidates often do not realize that better/right answer would perhaps come from HR or Sociological side and what Board is looking for is a realistic and balanced answer in the context of the question.
Again, when question relates to problems like population, child education, tribal areas, primary health , natural calamities in remote areasetc, the candidate is perhaps being tested for depth of understanding, empathy and EQ (emotional quotient) rather than knowledge of subject and IQ. Thus, you would do well to restrict the relevance of your education or experience to a realistic level and it is absolutely fine even if you have to straight away admit that your degree may not be of direct use to an officer in a chosen service like IPS.
Of course, you are expected to be well conversant with your college subject/s too -no excuses for not knowing even the basics even though it was notyour optional. This is so particularly when question is on application of fundamentals of the subject and may be on something that has been in the news recently.
Spending more time on your subject/s is generally an advantage and so it's worthwhile to be prepared for expected situations like - say, for Sociology students to be ready for topics like corruption and reservation, growth & development of children for psychology students, green revolution 'again' for agriculturists and so on.
Political Science students will do well to be well prepared for popular topics like Elections, type of Constitution, significance of state subjects and role of Judiciary. Similarly for other subjects, it is to your advantage to - have a good functional knowledge and if asked in early part of interview it goes a long way in boosting confidence and help you to get the flow.
That apart, some parts of General Studies will have to be done again for PT, now with a different perspective. Here the focus will mainly be on debatable topical issues where your definite opinion can be asked and you are likely to be called upon to take a stand rather than stating pros and cons only. This part of PT is extremely important as it generally does not get tested in the written tests – at least not as a quick reaction while holding to test your nerves also.
Sources for studyare too well known to you and yet I will emphasise that an intelligent study of 'balanced newspapers' is a must in addition to Competition Magazines and Coaching Institute material. The latter sources are okay for reference when some topics are otherwise not covered and time is a constraint.
Reading of newspapers regularlyshould easily be the most important part of your daily routine in this phase. It would be good to read at least 2 newspapers, one of which must include local news. While reading papers do try to visualize possible questions coming out of that topic which you are reading - note it down, read it elsewhere too, discuss it with friends and immediately formulate what could be a balanced answer to a direct as well as a connected question.
Reading good editorials and articles/speeches by eminent personsshould not be missed - quite often questions on current affairs start from here only. It will surely be worthwhile keeping cuttings from papers in a scrap file meant for this purpose. Internet as a source of information is 'invaluable' these days but take care to visit authentic sites only - it is a very good idea to take material from relevant Govt./Ministry web sites,whenever possible. And having completed 'effective reading' on a debatable issue, at the end of the day you must formulate your own point of view with convincing reasoning.
Having done that youmust also do sufficient practice of speaking out your answersloudly, preferably in front of a mirror and/or with the help of a guide or friend. There is no substitute to such practice in phase-I.I repeat, in phase-I so that in phase-II & phase-III of preparation it comes to you naturally.
Technique of mentalvisualisationinvolves facing an imaginary Interview Board and rehearsing the entire expected process in front of a mirror or in company of similarly placed friends. This is something very common amongst top performers including sportspersons - remember the example of Boxer Mohammed Ali given earlier and our own Sachin Tendulkar doing batting practice in front of a mirror. Keep a list of questions in front of you - better to have a balanced set of questions for a 30 minute interview - and speak out the answers in a formal setting as close to a real interview as possible.
Take care in your practice session also that answers are spontaneous and not remembered word by word - even for expected questions for which you have prepared model answers. In model answers, theme and main points should be in your mind, may be even some key words or phrases, but sentences should be created there and then - otherwise it appears to be a crammed up answer and spontaneity gets lost.
Phase-I preparationis slow and gradual & therefore should go deep into your personality. As such, do something every day even if you have a busy schedule in your present job. No need to take long leave & sit at home it will unnecessarily put extra pressure on you. Good answers to day to day questions can be better thought of while travelling, while relaxing, while walking and of course, discussing with your 'study circle'. Suitable study groups are extremely helpful in preparation in more ways than one -
(a) Divide topics for collecting material
(b) Many brains and varied experience working for formulating model answers
(c) Your objectivity is frankly judged by peers
(d) Helping one another in manner of expression, speed of speaking etc.
Collective study for personality test also brings an opportunity to develop various other important qualities too - say,
· Working in teams
· Developing patience and listening skills
· Co-operative and collaborativebehaviour
· Positive attitude and so on.....
And believe it or not all these qualities are being tested in every PT without the candidate even realizing it. Taken seriously and followed in the right spirit, this preparation will do you a lot good not only towards result of this exam but on many social and other attributes in life.
Take a deep breath and say to yourself - that now I have enough knowledge for the Personality Test, all I need is practice of answering randomly directed diverse questions in quick time. Yes, that's true as'quick time'is important but it is easier said than done UNLESS you are 'honest and open' while reacting naturally to their questions. Practice is certainly important and it helps a lot if you are mentally prepared for expected things - say by good anticipation, thorough preparation and of course, a bit of luck.
A word of caution here - chance, luck or a good day is all a part of events in life and it's good to accept that. Take it from me, if you can, a sincere advice is - do not try to be one who likes to say with confidence (many people say so with over confidence) that I can and I will change my destiny with hard work and strong determination. Yes, you Can surely improve your chances but beyond that, at least at this stage it's good to be polite, humble and realistic.
The preparation properdepends on time available and since that varies from as little as 2 weeks to as much as 10 weeks, your strategy will have to be drawn up accordingly - you must prepare a POA (plan of action) with sensible time management for days and weeks ahead. Primarily, you would do well to prepare yourself for speaking out good formal answers to:
(a)'Most expected' questions- mainly from DAF and optional subject
(b) General questions on debatable issues, opinion questions on current affairs
(c) Open ended questions on self / others
(d) Situation based questions
(e) Other miscellaneous questions - say, asking you to give a short speech, talk or advice etc.
In recent years most successful candidates have done well on the strength of
(a) above for a good beginning and much of the interview thereafter.
(c) and (e)are not so common in UPSC as in job interviews of private sector but it's surely worthwhile doing some preparation for these - inability to give satisfactory answers to these can be very embarrassing and spoil much of the good impression that you would have created so far.
(d) is extremely importantwhenever such questions come up. You might be hearing from seniors that such questions are not very common these days but then this is one area where you cannot afford to take a chance – when actually asked, these, questions invariably have avery high weightagein the marks for PT and often your answers to such questions decide your fate in the Personality Test. It is particularly so because there can be no reason or excuse for being uncomfortable with such questions. Moreover, these questions are more likely to come up when your interview is going on well and they feel like testing you further with thought provoking questions and expect you to give balanced & imaginative answers. I would go on to add here that situational questions actually present an opportunity of excelling in the Personality Test.
And finally, questions in the category (b) above- is something almost everyone is asked and after a good or average performance in (a), this area is the most important one for getting above average marks. For candidates who are not asked 'situational questions' these questions are easily the most important ones and your answers would weigh heavily in their minds while giving marks.
No doubt, the relative importance of these 5 categories would vary from candidate to candidate and from Board to Board. Objectively, if weight ages were to be given to these categories for most candidates, I would say
· 35% to (a)
· 50% to (b) and (d) combined and
· 15% to (c) and (e) together.
When I say so it's like I am playing a percentage game of Tennis and want to be consistent rather than relying on flashes of brilliance with all favourable factors.
You may be very good at comprehension, you might have been an excellent debater, you might be known for public speaking ....and yet....believe me you need to be serious in Phase II for specific preparation. The idea here is to minimize unexpected/surprise questions/situations and maximize the feeling of playing the game on your home ground. Are you not always more comfortable batting on your home pitch and in familiar conditions, facing known bowlers ... so is it with a Personality Test. This preparation will surely give you a high degree of comfort level & necessary confidence which is a huge asset in your pursuit for excellence. This will also take away your over confidence, if you had any before starting the preparation.
And yes, on the methodology of preparation, when you sit down to prepare your 'model answers' I do not recommend writing it word by word and then trying to memorize it. Instead, it is good enough - and actually better - to jot down the key points of your answer like 'bullet points' and of course, to write them down in the correct sequence. In a PT, sequence is extremely important – much more important than in written tests because you may be stopped from speaking at any point of time and thus be deprived of giving your best answer.
As such, you must start your answer with the 'key' point in the question and the most important part of your answer coming first....and so on with decreasing importance till you continue to speak.
So much about preparation.
And now some rehearsal too.
(a) Attending mock interviews is a good way to do practice but chose the ones which are known to be not only positive but also realistic.
(b) Main preparation will have to be done on your own - of course after having learnt the basics if you are inexperienced in attending interviews.
Most important,Be Happy with whatever you have prepared and feel comfortable in the process of being ready to deliver. Certainly, you must not think about what has not been prepared it is a test with unlimited scope for questions and no one expects you to be a walking encyclopedia.
You are only expected to bean alert, well informed, analytical, willing to learn, pleasant and positive individual who is appearing before the Board with utmost sincerity and yet absolute honesty. That half an hour before the Board you are there for being tested on your personality - certainly not the knowledge, and believe me, not even your intelligence. And precisely for this reason, it is your comfort level that matters more than any specific preparation. So think of all that which makes you comfortable in front of others and the 'goodness' in your personality will emerge and shine itself.
This last phase before the Personality Test is not really a phase of preparation. Obviously, it ends with the actual Interview taking place on the given day but when does it begin?
Well, it can't be defined and it only depends on how you feel about it. For some people this phase just doesn't exist but | suggest strongly that you should make every effort for it to be 'rather defined'. Ideally, this period begins when you have satisfactorily finished your phase II and say to yourself - well, I have done enough of preparation for PT and now it's time to relax and consolidate my strengths/plus points in my mind and thereby enhance my confidence level.
This is the periodin which you do not feel the need to open your books etc often and yet you may, once in a while, refer to your notes on certain aspects which are likely to be amongst the 'expected questions'. Yes, the concept of expected questions is very much there even in a personality test of UPSC. Quite often successful candidates have come across this situation and that has surely helped them greatly. More often than not, high scorers in PT are those candidates who got more and more questions from expected/familiar areas and didn't happen to get the unexpected 'nasty' questions.
This period is the time when you rehearsein your mind - generally without looking at your notes - how would you go about answering such questions in a real life situation. And then go on extending this practice a little to include more and more of consequential and side questions. The connected or follow up questions may also be related to your CV. For instance, if you have opted for IFS above IAS you have got to be ready for questions - and your thoughtful answers - to show your inclination towards a global way of looking at challenges and problems and the manner in which you can contribute for enhancement of image of your country. Similarly, if you have opted for IPS above all central services, you must be prepared with answer/s showing your inclination/passion and suitability for solving people's day to day problems at grass root level, and well at the cost of your own personal conveniences. The point I am trying to emphasize here is - do tune up your mind towards your best answers coming to you naturally when such questions are actually asked.
Beyond this mental training, you need to keep on telling yourself that this half an hour on the D-day is not really an exam, for you but a time when your existing personality is going to be tested. Well, it is undeniable that personality of an individual cannot be changed drastically in a few weeks or even months- and yet a trained mind for positive thinking will surely do much better than being totally unprepared and leaving everything to chance. You need to keep on telling yourself that while answering their questions and talking to them, you have got to show that you are a person with:
An alert mind
· Eagerto take up challengesinlife
· Willing to learn new things
· Willingness to adapt/change
· Adaptability to given set of circumstances
And above all, to work for people of your country with utmost commitment and honesty.
Very often candidates make the mistake of thinking that honesty is a concept in theory or an academic idealism to talk about and there is no way it can be tested in an interview scenario. Believe me, my dear friends, there is no greater myth than this and you can't make a bigger mistake if you believe in such statement of these people. Take it from me - that honesty of thought, belief, expression, action.... can certainly be judged and assessed by intelligently designed questions and it is being done every day by experts in the art of taking interviews.
Most candidates do not even get to understand when and how it was tested by the UPSC Board and then end up on the losing side with a grudge that the assessment of PT was unfair. Not with standing what others may say in this regard, I reiterate that you must train your mind with conviction that'honesty is the best policy'.
And finally, when all this is going through your mind in the last 3-4 days – and it ought to be so - with an objective of strengthening your mind and belief in the system on a positive side, you suddenly reach the stage of that fine morning when your Interview is scheduled.
On that day of Interviewnothing much and nothing different needs to be done. Just start the day with giving a talk to yourself - in any case you just can't avoid that - saying,
· That it's an important day in my career. And if the Interview Board also happens to ask you on this - they sometimes do it - you must admit it candidly and emphasise the importance of the occasion.
· Then thank God that it is not an exam. Like Prelims or mains where my knowledge or memory or even speed will be tested. So I do not really have to be nervous as to what questions will come in the paper - it is extremely important that you must not try to visualise/imagine some particular questions about to be asked in the Interview, say by way of your wish list.
· That it is a test of my personality 'only' which I have and which is a part of me and let me not bother about which I don't have - believe it they do not mind your ignorance or lack of exposure etc. so long as you show your willingness to learn in a positive spirit and with utmost sincerity.
· That whatever it be, I will be honest about what I know and what I do not know, I will not make any false claims or pretentions and not resort to guess work or bluff or show of smartness etc.
· That I will maintain my calm and composure with immense patience and neither get provoked nor get unnerved.
· That I will extend utmost courtesies to the Board and always show willingness to learn from their wisdom and experience, while maintaining all through the attitude ofBeopen Be positive.
Beyond this I do not have to think today, I do not have to bother. After all I will be there to do my best and leave the rest to wisdom of the Board and leave the final result to the will of the God.
We would do well to remember that:
(a) For the right approach it's important to appreciate that preparation for PT primarily involves 'training of mind and psyche' in the required positive direction - and that it does help improve your personality even in a short span of time.
(b) First phase of preparation is basically broad based reading to suitably equip yourself with a variety of subjects and topics - it goes a long way in giving you the necessary confidence.
(c) In II phase, you should focus heavily on practice/rehearsing for speaking out/delivery of your natural responses, as also on preparing some well balanced answers to common/expected questions.
(d) III phase is all about reiterating some good balanced answers - helping to gather confidence & reduce anxiety and repeatedly saying 'be natural' to yourself.
(e) Good Time Management and Prioritization is the essence of all preparation in each of the 3 phases.
In the preceding chapters, I believe, I have answered the question from the best of candidates on the need for preparation viz. "Do I really need to do specific preparation for personality test?"
Yes, everyone needs to do specific preparation though the style, nature and extent of preparation would surely vary depending on the background and experience of the candidate.
Whether you are first timer or a veteran with UPSC and whether your performance earlier was good or even outstanding with 80% marks, every year it is a new challenge on a new day and with a new set of people sitting there to assess you afresh. Remember, they do not have your past results to influence theirjudgement. I have seen people getting 70% plus in the earlier year and going down to 40% next year & so on.
You have got tostart with your DAF,copies of which have been seen by the Members of the Board before you enter the interview room. Almost always PT starts with 'something' from your DAF and Chairman is the person to initiate the process.
One objective of such a start is to make you feel comfortable so as to get best out of you - believe it whole heartedly, and you must have this positive point of view in your mind right from the beginning when you started preparing viz. the objective of this test is not to grill you but to get best out of you while carrying out the exercise of testing your personality.
Another objective is to test how honestly you filled up your forms – whether someone prompted you infilling it up or it's your own doing. In either case, you must be fully prepared to answer any and every possible question that may come out of your profile details - not only the straight forward and factual aspects but also tricky, tweaked or connected questions which can possibly be co-related to information available.
For instance, it is common to start with your name and place/s you have lived at and ask you the meaning or historical / mythological significance of these. Similarly, educational qualifications may be linked to your family background and goals in life. Then, it is quite common to move on to your job experience, change of service, choices of services/cadre and of course, extra-curricular activities.
Now, here thefirst 'Golden Rule'is - stick to what you wrote there unless there is a change of facts or a factual inadvertent error which needs to be corrected. As such, it is worthwhile that you keep a copy of DAF for your record and refer to it a few times before the day of interview. Questions are often asked for change in service from one Group A service to another and this, at times, can be rather inconvenient and difficult to handle unless there is absolute clarity in your mind.
It is suggested that you discuss your proposed answer with an experienced and objective person well before this day. Similarly, be prepared for commonly asked question when your choice for IPS or IFS is ahead of IAS.
On hobbies and extra-curricular activities,it will surely be worthwhile to do a quick revision of fundamentals as well as recent happenings in that field. If you have written a hobby, you must prepare for it thoroughly. Technical hobbies demand preparation of a higher level viz. if it is something like Astrology, Astronomy or even Bird Watching, do prepare it as if an expert of that hobby would be sitting in the Board. Common hobbies like Music, Films or Cricket should be prepared with an eye on unexpected questions - and be prepared to give a specific answer if asked asto in which area/type of this activity do you specialise.
If you wrote 'Reading' as a hobby you should not be saying that it was just mentioned casually as nothing specific and better came to mind and that I read anything and everything. In fact, that way you are inviting trouble by widening the scope of their questions.
The Second thingto remember is - your experience as well as your attitudes should correspond to what you write. For example, if you wrote social service, NSS etc. as co-curricular activities, you must co-relate it with your past experience and exposure to it along with a positive and genuine interest in pursuing the same in future. Further, it will be good to prepare yourself for telling them as to how you would like to translate this attitude into social serviceetc in real life situation as an officer in Civil Service. Of course, for hobbies of purely recreational type this may not be necessary.
Thirdly,questions on profile etc would normally be simple and straight forward and to put you at ease, and therefore, you are expected to answer them quickly and without unnecessary thinking viz. spontaneously, so as not to give an impression of a made-up answer. All they expect from you is - to be prompt, to be precise, and of course, to be honest and to be positive.
Your preparation on DAF must include
(a) A thorough study of various features of place/s where you have livedand/ or studied - including history, geography, economy, cultural importance etc., along with particular focus on political significance/ impact. Special in-depth preparation on all of these is required if that place happened to be in national or regional news in recent times.
(b) Brief knowledge about your school, college and Universityis essential while specially focusing on its high points, its mission and alumni as public figures etc. Questions on this may not be direct and simple and may extend to related areas. For example, you may be asked about type of funding in school/college, political philosophy of Group running the institution, emphasis on nationalism etc.
(c) Profession of parentsis another area in which you are expected to be reasonably well aware -more so if they happen to be professionals or bureaucrats or politicians. Impact of that profession on you, highs and lows of their profession/s and the reason for not pursuing their profession are some of the more common questions in PT of UPSC.
(d) Your background of educationincluding choice of subjects in high school/ college is anotherfavourite topic of Interview Boards and you are expected to answer such questions spontaneously as well as unambiguously so much so that no impression of an 'artificial' answer is conveyed. Say, if you chose MA course in a particular subject because it is a scoring subject in UPSC then well, it is good to admit it straight away rather than giving a 'diplomatic' answer or showing artificial/ inborn love for such subject. Similarly, if you changed from Engineering to an Arts subject in post graduation, the best thing is to speak it out honestly. Also, if you did graduation in Engineering or Medicine mainly due to family pressure, again it is best to admit it quickly rather than getting into a long drawn discussion which might reveal to them or give an impression that you were trying to cover up the real answer - experience shows that a lot of candidates get into a trap in this area and spoil the PT. And since these questions are asked generally in the beginning, and usually by the Chairman of the Board, it isn't a good idea to take chance of making an unfavourable start.
(e) Your work experience is extremely importantin almost all interviews. As such, you must give it heavy weight age in your preparation schedule. Even if you were doing highly technical work, do not make the mistake of getting into zone of over confidence - you never know there may be a member in the Board with good knowledge of the subject.
Then, it is important to give balanced answers if asked to comment on your previous/current job - extreme views or criticism must be avoided. Reasons for seeking a change of job must be clear in your mind - and the thumb rule is 'be honest' about it. Questions in this regard may be put directly or in a twisted/tangential way with a view to go behind your mind and since such questions are expected to be answered promptly i.e., without much thinking, there is a risk of getting caught on contradictions if candidate is not honest in his responses. Also, never exaggerate on your achievements and take care to have a balanced point of view.
In real life, very often it is seen that candidates spoil their interviews in a set of questions concerning their past or current job.
On this topic let me suggest to you some general questions/guidelines which will not only help you for safe play but also, at times, give you an opportunity to excel:
· What difference did you make in the functioning of that organisation?
· What lessons did you learn in that job?
· What will be utility of your experience there, in the job you are trying for?
· Do you have a culture of Team working in that job? Illustrate with an example. If not, what was your contribution in developing such a culture there?
· What did you learn in regard to 'handling a difficult boss'?
· Be prepared to narrate some instances from your job which would highlight your good qualities.
· And all other similar questions on technical skills as well as soft skills.
Few words of cautionin this regard, particularly for Engineers and Doctors - when asked about relevance of that technical education in IAS/IPS/IFS and other services, they often make the crucial mistake of trying to justify that knowledge ofEngg./Medicine will be very helpful to them as bureaucrats too - mainly by way of application of technology. Technology, is one new area which, in opinion of some young people, can solve all current human problems and computer Engineers often try to over emphasise this, much to their disadvantage in the Interview. On this topic candidates generally fail to convince the Board and in the process expose that they are not really good at qualities like holistic and lateral thinking, adaptability and recognising true value of education.
Also, candidates must not always insist - a large number of them do so & quite unsuccessfully - that I was always interested in IAS/IPS or public service, as it was my childhood dream, and Engineering or Medicine degree will only help me do better in these services.
It is suggestedthat in a situation like this the best policy is of utmost honesty. Ideally you should say what you have always thought or even what you are currently thinking when aspiring to be an IAS officer - even if it amounts to admitting that my degree may not help me here and in retrospect selecting that was a mistake I couldn't envisage at that young age of 17.
Another convincing reply is to state that admission to a professional degree course was not really a conscious choice of mine but it just happened as a career preference of parents or under family pressure or as per social norm - something which we all know to be very common in our country. And here you may add in your answer to the Board that now you have been able to convince them otherwise viz. that you will certainly be doing better as a civil servant.
Believe it or not, my dear friends,more Interviews are spoiled in UPSC on this set of questions than anything else and we have seen best of candidates suffering on this count if answers are not balanced, spontaneous and honest.
Another area where questions are commonin the beginning of Interview and often lead to a long drawn out conversation, much to your discomfort, is in regard to your being unemployed for quite some time while appearing in this exam. Surely, you would have prepared some justification - in practice, most candidates stick to the answer emphasizing on their ambition/dream/goal etc. - but that is something which generally does not go well with the Board.
As a practical guide,it would be much better to refer to one or more of the following things while answering such a question:
(a) Worked as a volunteer in a social project
(b) Teaching kids or mentoring, with or without charging money
(c) Acquiring a new skill which may be useful later in career viz. Computers, Foreign language etc.
(d) Helping in family business or profession, including agriculture
(e) Privately studying a subject which is likely to be useful in career
(f) Part of a Group activity with some NGO etc.
When your answer is supported by such an occupation or activity, along with an example or two, you will be conveying a very positive message to the Board, and now instead of being defensive you will come out of a difficult situation with a good impression.
In a nutshell, be well prepared to handle this common debate on Generalist vs. Specialist vis-a-vis your own case. It is absolutely acceptable to give an answer that I am changing my career plans after an IIT degree to suit my career goals in my present set of circumstances - say, which is a combination of my priorities in life and way of thinking as a more matured and experienced person now. Depending on the situation you may also add here that your current goals will surely give you greater happiness in life – at the professional level civil services today offers
· Good career prospects with reasonably good compensation
· Diversity of work and challenges
· Contributing directly to welfare of people of my country
· And job satisfaction coupled with better quality of life.
Board will often ask you what difference can you or will you make to theorganisation, if selected. You must try your best to convince them of
· Your ability and your experience to handle the challenges involved
· What range of skills and/or ideas you can contribute
· How well you will get along with your colleagues
· How will you convince seniors and motivate juniors
· How good a team member you are and...much more.
Preparation for optional and college subjectshas already been discussed in Chapter II. To reiterate, ignorance of basics is not acceptable here whether your college subject was chosen as optional or not. Yes, if you have not been in touch with college subject for many years, finer details can be omitted.
On optional,whether it is a college subject or a new subject for you, strong fundamentals and 'thing in news' are the two important things you cannot do without. Even for your college subject, do not be over confident and it is surely worthwhile to prepare well those areas which have been in news directly or indirectly viz. If you happen to be a medical doctor you must remain in touch with recent researches, path breaking treatments, Noble prize in medicineetc which have been in news in recent months - it helps you create a good impression by showing your alertness and continuity of interest.
If you left out your college subject and not chosen it here because of being voluminous or low scoring, do admit that promptly. You should then go on to explain that in a competitive exam like this, with time being always a constraint, one has to be practical and evaluate that results should be commensurate with efforts.
Another favourite areaof Interview Board is in relation to your previous job, if any, and particularly for those planning a switch from a high paid private sector job to civil services. Again, this is an area where a series of questions - sometimes more nagging than you can possibly expect - have often created difficult situation for candidates and thus it is advised to be mentally prepared for the same as well as keeping your mind open to 'handle with care'. Your answer would have to be linked with your priorities in life as you understand them now and not rigidly trying to go ahead with how your career started – whether thought fully or accidentally. You must clearly spell out what you are looking for in career and its consequential impact on life as a whole. There is absolutely nothing wrong in showing a reorientation of priorities in life, if so required viz. shift due to family reasons.This answer gives you an opportunity to show that you are not a rigid personality - an important attribute for IAS and a great favourite of UPSC. At the same time, you must give convincing reasons for change of priorities or direction of career so as not to give an impression of being 'fickle minded'. The bottom line here is - be truthful and do not go overboard. This is not the time for trying to impress the Board.
I have personally known a number of candidates who have become civil servants on the strength of good answers given by them in this category. And more of them have lost out on selection due to below par performance in PT as they couldn't convince the Board on the 'genuineness' with which they have pursued the hobby written in DAF.
Questions on this important aspect are very frequent and gone are the days when only direct or simplistic questions were asked and you could hold the perception of Knowing more about your hobby than anyone else present in the Board room.
The first question from a beginner is often - whether to write something in the hobby column or not - and it is a fact that more and more people have started leaving it almost blank now a days. Is that the best policy if you do not happen to be a champion or master of a popular and specific hobby? My answer is – far from it.
It is sincerely suggested that column should not be left blank as it will only lead them to ask you more inconvenient questions or for that matter, take you into an unknown territory of questions while you could surely be better off if asked about a definite aspect of life mentioned as your hobby.
Just like a theoretical written examination it is always an advantage to be asked about a limited field/domain, known to you as well as prepared for this occasion, rather than face questions from anywhere in the world. And yet, it is certainly not desirable to 'plant' a hobby and invite questions simply on the strength of reading a few things about it from the internet or otherwise, when you have not genuinely pursued a hobby like that in real life. Needless to reiterate,the policy recommended here is again the policy of 'Honesty'.
The questions are generally raised by the Board from your DAF for this extremely important objective viz. to test genuineness of the candidate while filling up the form as well as now while answering the questions.Certainly, they would not be interested in testing your knowledge in your own chosen activity and that too when it is only a 'hobby'.
So be true to yourself when you write a hobby and then be prepared to speak on it from the core of your heart - I say,here heart is more important than mind,here your involvement will be more appreciated than your intelligence and your practice, beliefetc would be more relevant while giving convincing replies than your theoretical knowledge of the subject.
Some successful candidates have often advised beginners for choosing an uncommon hobby, mastering the various theoretical facets of it and when asked in PT, rise to the occasion - may be, even making an attempt to direct Interview in your direction of strength - and get through with high marks.
Well, this might have worked once in a while for the extremely lucky few candidates in last many years BUT following this advice when stakes are high for you, can easily be a big mistake of your life.
UPSC is not averse to selecting people for IAS etc if they haven't had a good hobby or they happened to have just simple and common interests in life in their struggling years of making a career BUT they are surely not in favour of people who try to act smart with the Board.
In a situation when such a candidate is identified by the Board to be dishonest, the candidate is bound to suffer heavily notwithstanding that he might have given correct answers to many other questions. After all, the whole exercise is for selecting responsible officers for running the administration of the country and is quite unlike evaluation and ranking system in the Universities – purpose is very different here and stakes are very high.
Preparation for your hobbies/interestsobviously depends on the range and nature of hobbies mentioned in the DAF. A person pursuing a number of hobbies and interests, so to say an all rounder, is not expected to know finer points of each activity in great depth e.g. a sportsman who has mentioned a number of games he played in school and college. On the other hand if someone writes 'bird watching' or 'astronomy' as the only hobby, you are certainly expected to be having an in depth knowledge of theory as well as the practical aspects.
What you need to do is -think of all those questions that you would have asked on this hobby if you were to be taking interview of a junior or younger person and supplement this with the questions asked on this subject in various type of interviews - this is what you need to list down with the help of friends of Group study and through experience of Mock interviews, sample interviews and question banks etc.
Like in any other field, questions are easy to get and the real thing is your own original answers in the backdrop of your own life experiences.
For instance, if your hobby is bird watching, the expected questions would be something like...
(a) How did you happen to get interested in this field
(b) The opportunities you got to pursue this hobby
(c) The suitability and/or advantages of this hobby to your personality, circumstances of life etc
(d) Whether you can continue with this hobby later in life
(e) Social impact, if any, or other satisfaction you derive.... and finally, whether the hobby also has the potential of becoming a profession at some later stage in life.
Quite often, the Board will like to take the discussion on hobbies to a different level -say, beyond you as a person and expect you to talk about it in its social or some other perspective. To take a couple of examples, if your hobby being talked about happens to be Cricket, the discussion is likely to move in the direction of-
· Commercialisation of Cricket
· Unfair practices like match fixing, betting etc.
· Too much importance at cost of other games
· Indo-Pak cricket & correlation with politics etc.
Similarly, if your hobby is watching TV, the discussion may go towards
· Social responsibility and freedom of reporting by media
· Censorship issues
· Malpractices like paid news and
· Media trial etc.
And finally, here too like rest of your PT, do remember that there is no substitute to 'absolute honesty' whether on the point of lack of knowledge on yourfavourite hobby or admitting the fact that you have not been able to follow your hobbies in recent times. Well, it could be due to pressure of academic load or busy in job or any other social/family reason. This approach will surely take away the pressure of facing the Interview Board and will do a lot good to your overall confidence.
(a) Some specific preparation for PT is necessary for everyone and more so if you are first timer. Even if you happen to be experienced in PT of UPSC, it is advisable to be well prepared as every year it's a fresh challenge – and with all its unpredictability.
(b) To begin with, DAF is very important - you can't afford to have forgotten what you wrote there. And the Golden Rule is - stick to what you wrote and be prepared for all connected questions.
(c) You must avoid the possibility of any inconsistency in your answers with reference to profile related questions or otherwise.
(d) On questions of change of career, relevance of technical education etc, it is best to be your natural self and give your genuine answers.
(e) If you have prior work experience, prepare well for your job related questions. On hobbies and other profile/personal questions, do not over prepare and be candid & honest in your replies.
Instead of making an attempt to define 'Communication' let me straight away say in simple terms that communication is the process of conveying effectively, and pleasantly, what you intend to say, or for that matter what you intend to communicate.
We all know that communication is not entirely by means of words. Non- verbal communication is often equally important and in some situations even more important. We also know that the significance of communication in a Personality Test cannot be over emphasized. It is that aspect of your personality without which personality cannot be tested effectively.
We have earlier discussed various aspects of personality of an individual that Interview Board is likely to test and yet the bottom line is - none of those aspects of personality can really be tested without 'communication' coming into play.
And therefore, the importance of this aspect is more pronounced than anything else in the world. So let us see what are the key aspects of this dynamic facet of your personality and what can you do to enhance the effectiveness of your communication in a short span of time.
The starting point on this subjectcannot be anything but a proper understanding of the 'expectations' of the Interview Board. You are in the process of being selected for the job of a civil servant as an officer in civil services.
You have already been tested for your knowledge in specific areas/subjects in the written exam. Also, you are not expected to be having skills of a debater or a TV/Radio anchor/news reader nor those of a public speaker or a powerful orator. At the same time your job requirement may include serious and meaningful face to face interaction with people at various levels ranging from Ministers of the Govt. to public at large, including the most high profile Industrialists on one hand and the most backward villagers on the other.
I am sure you would appreciate that in this context testing the personality of a candidate like you, merely through a brief conversation, is in itself a challenge for the Interview Board. It is this challenge for which 5 experienced women and men are there in the Interview Board talking to you for about half an hour and trying their best to get the best out of you. Undoubtedly, their only objective is to test your 'real personality' -- as you are – and also try to gauge in the process, the scope for making improvements in such personality with a view to inculcate all those attributes which are desirable in a first class officer of Civil Services.
Moral of the story is - Verbal Communication is absolutely essential.
(i) Listening attentively and carefully
(ii) Speaking clearly with appropriate pace/speed
(iii) The tone of speech delivery & the pitch/loudness
(iv) The choice of words, phrases and sentences
(v) The pause and the poise
(vi) The expressions and the emotions
(vii) How much to speak & what not to speak
(i) First thing first,listening is sometimes said to be more important than speaking in an Interview selection.
The art of attentive listening -and with a positive frame of mind - is considered to be an important attribute for an administrator, for a good manager and certainly for a good leader. And today while we are living in an era when HR skills are considered to be crucial for any good management/administration, the significance of good listening skills becomes all the more important.
Here in the context of facing the Interview Board, sharpening of listening skills and making it more of a habit, would surely help you greatly to
· Concentrate on what is being asked, active listening showing eagerness and greater eye contact Grasp the key point/s raised in the question
· Focus on what is going to be the understanding why scope and extent of your answer. the question was
· Keep on nodding with humming noises like Sir, yes.
· Remember courtesies like leaning forward and positive reactions.
In addition, take it as an opportunity to show your sincerity andpleasant mannerismto the Board by showing yourself as a patient and attentive listener. Further, it gives you time and space to think about the beginning of your answer - something that is going to be extremely crucial in the process of testing of personality. A hurriedly given response or an answer which doesn't initially touch the key point of the question, is certainly not appreciated by the Board.
(ii)I am sure you do not have to be told about the importance of'speaking clearly'.
Enough to remember that it includes The speed or pace of speech delivery - particularly important if you are used to speaking fast, as moderation is a must here too, not forgetting that you are talking to 5 persons simultaneously and all of them generally happen to be relatively old in age. It is extremely important that they catch your words in quick time and with utmost clarity.
(iii) The pitch, the loudness -easy for you to appreciate except for candidates who have a habit of speaking too softly or too loudly. They are strongly advised to do practice for moderation - say, by recording or in front of a mirror and then try it out in company of friends and during mock interviews. Mocks are absolutely necessary if you happen to be in this category as you need guidance from experienced people on how to do moderation without really inhibiting your natural style.
The tonehas to be positive, polite and yet 'definite' - this is so even if you feel that person asking question happens to be tough and impolite. After all it is you who is being tested and his aggression etc, if at all adopted by the Interviewer, may be just a way to test your balance and poise.
The pronunciationshould be your natural and certainly with a tone of utmost respect and courtesy - due respect and courtesies must be shown notwithstanding their non-cooperation, if any, in listening to you and in agreeing with you.
In a nutshell, you are expected to make all possible sincere efforts to convey your point of view in simple, unambiguous and courteous manner.
The Golden rule is - be simple
· use short sentences
· no unnecessary phrases, idioms etc.
· language to be formal.
Abbreviations, colloquial terms and informal expressions are a 'strict no' on this occasion as it has to be considered to be a serious business. Language of e-mail,w.app etc must be avoided. Similarly, comments in lighter vein or trying to be humorous, casual or friendly is something that must be strictly avoided - this is so even when they might have earlier stated that the interview would be just a chit chat sort of conversation.
Further, examples may be given to substantiate an answer, when it is really required, but not to over do the same for otherwise you might be taking risk of annoying someone important and inviting an uncomfortable remark from their side viz. you are telling us something we haven't asked.
Any good speaker, and listener too, knows the significance of appropriate pauses and those rules are very much applicable here too. Listening to good news readers on TV or radio is always a good idea and some practice on expected questions will surely help, even if you are known to be good debater. Recording and listening to your own answers to common questions is a standard way of doing practice, more so when done in front of an objective friend.
Most importantly, this aspect comes into play particularly when you have been asked to respond to 'situational questions' where you are expected to fully understand the question, analyse it and think of an original answer viz. such questions favourite with UPSC include situations when they ask you to become an officer - say District Magistrate - and suggest your line of action for solving an imaginary problem raised in the question.
Both pause and poise would be absolutely necessary before you start giving your answer in such situations. An answer that begins hurriedly, and if you need to explain and justify it later by saying 'I didn't mean this' or ' I meant that..' that is something that does not go well with any Interview Board.
Therefore, the best way is to take a pause, do your thinking quickly with poise and then go ahead to answer confidently. This is advisable even if you were familiar and prepared with that question - as there could be a catch in the question - but of course, without sacrificing your natural spontaneity in an artificial manner.
Expressions have got to be commensurate with the seriousness befitting theformal nature of the occasion.Excessive voice modulation, extremes of crests and lows in the voice, the excitement etc which are often characteristics of a debate and public speaking, are all out of place for this interview and must be avoided.
The best approachwould be to treat your audience - the Interview Board here - as a group of elderly, serious minded, wise women and men of public life who have immense knowledge and experience of dealing with youngsters like you.
Do remember that their average age would generally be about twice of your age and their collective experience in bureaucracy/public service would be about 200 years - and therefore, utmost respect and patience is the minimum that they deserve.
The concepts of EQ (emotional quotient) and SQ (social quotient)have a very significant relevance here and these concepts are becoming more and more popular/favourite with the present day Interview Boards.
With the notion that intelligence and related attributes having been already tested, the Board now a days makes a conscious effort to test EQ through intelligently designed questions. The definition of EQ in this context would be too debatable - let us not get into that academic exercise and instead straight away lay down that in an interview with UPSC or other similar bodies, you are expected to respond in the most natural way - as you normally do in your day to day life, or at best | may add, as you would like yourself to be in good social andbehavioural sense in front of 'such people' and on an occasion like this.
Another debatable issuein the minds of most candidates is as to what is more important while giving answers -the content of the answer or the manner in which it is conveyed?
Obviously, manner here includes things like language and expression. Well, the relative importance of these two things would normally vary from Board to Board and admittedly, subjectivity in this regard cannot just be eliminated. Now, since you do not have a control over this subjective variation, it is best to go by 'standardised' concept viz. what is generally happening more often than not. Going by that, take it from me, content is more important - I would say, much more important so long as your language, style, mannerismetc is not obnoxious or negative so much so that it takes away the credit you deserve for a good balanced answer. That is, even when your language, style etc is of an average standard, it is the content of your answer - of course along with the conviction & confidence you put in it - which is going to be really crucial in getting you high marks.
The bottom lineof this entire discussion, for a realistic practical approach, would be - while quality of content can be dramatically improved by you in the available span of time while preparing for PT, the same would be almost impossiblevis-a-vis style and other personality attributes of an individual.
Yes, you must prepare and try to improve your communication and other personality attributes as outlined above in this chapter - say, by cutting down on common mistakes - and yet take care that you do not get too carried away with it. At this stage, it is certainly more important to focus on quality of content in your answers and in preserving your own style and personality.
It is often said that themost important thing in communicationis hearing what is not said and in conveying what cannot be said or what need not be said.
Your PT actually begins before you have uttered a single word. It starts from the time when you knock at the door and seek permission to enter - yes, these two things are absolutely essential before any communication from the other side. And then the usual sequence of events follows - you move closer to the big table occupied by the Board and wait for them to offer you a seat.
Let's first complete the sequence and then talk about essentials of communication and do's and don'ts of non-verbal communication at each stage.
· Knock at the door
· Seek permission to enter
· Moving towards the table, wishing them and to stand & wait near the chair meant for you
· Keeping your confidence and composure
· Taking seat when asked to.
Important Do's and Don'ts for the time spent up to this stage are:
· walking with body upright with a gentle pace and soft steps
· wishing them with a gentle smile, obviously with focus on the Chairperson of the Board. If a lady member is there, it is necessary to wish her separately. Trying to have a quick eye contact with all of them while wishing Good morning/Good afternoon. Looking down or elsewhere while speaking is considered as bad manners.
· Not to be in a hurry to grab the chair. To sit only when asked to sit, doing the same with poise & after pulling the chair outwards, if so required. Remember to thank them for the same.
· Avoid involving yourself with your dress etc at this point of time, they would all be looking at you closely and any diversions can only make you more nervous.
· Make sure you do not start thinking about the sitting posture at that point of time - should have thought about it earlier and here it should appear to be coming naturally to you.
Any formal and decent posture is fine but be sure you are comfortable with it. Must avoid certain postures of body /hands/legs which are generally considered to be casual and/or showing nervousness or over confidence. Showing nervousness, if done inadvertently, is still acceptable but not over confidence. Nervousness is only natural for most candidates at this stage and so do not bother much about it - in fact admit it also if a member happens to make a comment or even ask you whether you are nervous. After all it is an extremely important event for you and it is only natural to have anxiety.
The Body Languageis a big and complex subject but understanding it can make life a lot easier. Appropriate body language would add greatly to the image you present to the Board, for a good first impression as well as for the entire duration of Interview. The importance of body language lies in the fact that - when you are positive and upbeat, your body will largely follow. Your body follows the wave of thinking in your mind. So, it is worthwhile to know basic do's and don'ts about it and yet not allow it to hang in your head all the time.
Our body movements and gestures are taking place unconsciously, almost at all times, and they provide strong messages to people interacting with us. Most of the times we are unaware of what is happening but other people can notice them if they pay attention to and know what they generally mean - and quite naturally interviewers are the persons who are good at interpreting them right.
A good knowledge of the subject will surely help you in understanding what is going on, and thereby give you an opportunity for corrections when required.
It's all about developing good habitsand to get rid of the wrong ones. It is widely accepted that Interviewers make up their mind rather early and do not easily change it later, more so in regard to ' how you say' viz. your body language, your positive energy, your pleasant style etc.
Given the awful choice between getting blind or deaf what would you chose - obviously deaf - not surprising because visual signals are far more significant and start early after birth of a child. Words come to get importance much later and at a sub conscious level, this goes on all our life. If your mouth says I am confident but your body language says you are nervous, Interviewer is bound to go by your body language - and you lose marks more than you would lose by sheer nervousness.
As a general rule, match your verbal communication with non-verbal i.e. when you Say ' yes ' nod for yes when you Say 'no' shake your head for no. Research has shown that if the two contradict or there is lack of clarity, your non-verbal action will prevail and words might get ignored.
· In general, it is important to learn to use and send positive body language signals and control the negative ones – and that is going to help you all your life.
All you need to know about Body Language:
Body language is an essential part of inter personal communication the scope of which is well beyond an interview and people good at it get rewarded in diverse spheres of life. Words are often inadequate in conveying the complete meaning to your audience and it's here that body language steps in to effectively fill in those crucial gaps. Timely appropriate gestures and expressions on your face are a great help in not only reinforcing your intended message but go a step further by enhancing its impact.
Silence often speaks more clearly and loudly than spoken words. And for the listener too it generally registers more quickly, deeply and effectively...through the expressions that you wear on your face and feelings you convey with the warmth of your eyes, and may be wrinkles on the forehead, curves of the lips and movements of your head as well as hands. Needless to say, all this is Body Language and it complements as well as supplements the spoken words in conveying the right message. Body language works marvelously in making an impact on people you are interacting with and positive body language is sure to win you many friends and admirers.
As we all know the importance of body language in an Interview cannot be over emphasized, it has a huge potential for improving dramatically your performance over a period of time and give you an edge in your forthcoming interviews. Believe me, my dear friends, each one of you can surely improve your performance significantly...all you need to do is to believe in it and get ready for regular practice.
The essentials of Body Language for a first class Interview are discussed here under:
(a) Conveying the precise messageto interview Board is easily the most important thing and for the purpose words have to be supported by matching non-verbal communication by way of gestures and expressions - this is of great relevance in all interviews as choice of most appropriate words would be extremely difficult all the time because you have no option but to react quickly, giving you very little time to look for suitable words, and that too while sitting on the hot seat under high pressure. Therefore, good body language helps in something like delivering a double message which goes to make a greater and more definite impact on people in front of you.
(b) The power of first impressionplays a significant role and as they say, you do not get a second chance to make a first good impression. Researchers across the world widely agree that first impression is the most lasting impression. If you happen to rub someone the wrong way in very first meeting, it may take a long time to correct the initial impression, if at all you are able to succeed in the same. If you want people to support you, and select you, you have got to get them on your side right from the beginning.
Interviewers, almost always, judge a person in the first few minutes and they rarely change their opinion, more so in regard to non-verbal communication or body language. A positive body language from the time of entrance and up to first few minutes is going to last in their minds right through and will surely be a big advantage unless you contradict it later with specific damaging verbal replies/comments or make the mistake of showing negative non-verbal gestures etc. In the scenario of first few minutes we depend heavily on body language because the opening stage of an interview or any conversation tends to revolve around trivia, small talk, courtesies and formal behaviour from both sides.
Quite understandably, the most important features are going to be Eye Contact and Smile. I will be focusing about eye contact separately in a subsequent para.
(c) The beauty of the smileis not limited to its physical manifestation, it speaks volumes for the non-verbal communication. Researchers have found that movements of over 75 muscles are involved in a smile and so quite obviously it conveys a lot to experienced people. You do not have to go into details of that, all I want you to pick up here is that your smile should be 'genuine'. A fake smile is not only useless but can, at times, be damaging in an official interview.
(d) Hand Movements convey a lotright from the time you walk into the interview room. Hands in pocket/s or hands on hip while walking or standing shows a very casual approach and sometimes may be even taken as aggressive behaviour. Touching the nose repeatedly and rubbing the eyes are generally seen as a sign of a weak and 'full of doubt' personality. Folding of arms is a sign of a defensive personality. Playing with your pen or any other thing shows lack of confidence or insecurity while biting nails is a sure indication of nervousness. Open palms are most welcome and show an alert and open minded person.
(e) Facial Expressions:We all know that expressions of the face say a lot about the mind and thought process of an individual, and yet it is something which cannot always be used as a reliable indicator. What interviewers try to do in practice is to use facial expressions for better understanding of other indicators viz. the expressions of the eyes, the smile, the head movement and other aspects of body language. At the same time, facial expressions showing anger, sadness, displeasure, fear etc are generally reliable to infer. To give some examples, anger is characterised by frowning, red face, gritting of teeth together and a steady unpleasant gaze. Fear can be inferred from open mouth, wide open eyes and trembling. Sadness is clear from narrowing of eyes, looking down, sagging face and, of course, tears in extreme 'cases.
(f) Head Movements:Body language includes movement of the head. This is something extent of which varies significantly from person to person. Some individuals keep their head straight and rather still while others have the habit of moving it quite often, not only while speaking but also during the course of listening.
And yes, head movements while listening to people can often be very crucial, if not used properly it can easily lead to misunderstanding and possible adverse rapport/relationship. A nod is the most frequently used head movement, it signifies affirmation, agreement and often serves as an important gesture in corroborating verbal communication.
Similarly, shaking the head sideways is common for disagreement while a gentle bow & head held erect convey their respective meanings i.e. being humble and being somewhat aggressive respectively. As we know head movements, or for that matter most body language signals, are crucial for others to interpret our response. I may add here that we should not try to interpret, and similarly convey, the meaning of head movements in isolation - overall effect is the key thing, obviously in combination with verbal message and other aspects of body language including expressions in the eyes.
Some of the universally accepted interpretations of head movements are:
(a) Head held high and tilted backwards shows aggressive attitude, more so when it is accompanied with a steady stare/gaze at the person opposite you - must avoid it in any Interview.
(b) A lowered head with sober expression shows humility or submissiveness, particularly when voice is also low.
(c) While listening in an interview it is a good practice to do mirroring with the person speaking to you viz. copying his head movements shows commonality of interest with a positive approach.
(d) While others are speaking to you, all you need to do is to use the head nods frequently with right timing, and proper tilting of head to make the listener get a feeling of good rapport and warmth with you - strongly recommended for all interviews and group discussions.
|Some Common Examples of Non-verbal Behaviour and their Interpretation|
|Sitting with legs apart||Relaxed, Casual|
|Sitting with legs crossed||Informal, Confidence|
|Sitting in relaxed posture||Lack of respect for authority|
|Sitting with forward leaning||Positive attitude, showing interest|
|Standing with hands on hips||Aggressive attitude|
|Walking erect looking straight||Confidence|
|Touching and rubbing nose||Full of doubt, guessing|
|Hands showing open palms||Sincerity, innocence, openness|
|Tilting the head||Listening with interest|
Some Do's and Don'ts for Interview:
· Listen with full attention - a good listener is liked by everyone and it's essential for being a good communicator
· Never intercept an Interviewer - let him complete even if a factual correction may be required or you need a clarification
· Show right degree of confidence - say, by standing upright with hands joined behind your back. By sitting with a straight back and chin up, though a little forward leaning is fine occasionally when listening or when making a point. For hands, tips of fingers of both hands touching one another is a good practice.
· Show the openness of your personality by open lipped smile and open hands, with palms visible.
· Avoid gestures or postures which show defensive or untrustworthy personality viz. tight lipped grin, touching face/nose, looking down when speaking, squinting eyes, clinched fists etc.
Make a good impression with:
· Taking interest in good points made by other persons, showing a positive approach towards learning from it.
· Starting your answer in an objective manner, on a positive note, even if ultimately you have to disagree with proposition in the question. It is important to keep the listener interested in what you are going to say.
· Show of humility at all times...undermining your strengths, achievements and virtues that might have been stated by him, and never try to begin your response with your own praise.
· Not getting disturbed at all when Interviewer disagrees with you and wants you to agree with him...this happens quite often in good interviews...actually he would be testing you for your composure as well as belief.
Almost all of us feel nervous before an important event and your Interview is surely one of them. So take it as something natural but there is a world of difference between a little rush of adrenalin that keeps you on your toes, and on the other hand a numbness that dries out your mouth, makes you sweat and comes in way of your behaving and answering naturally. Most of us fall between these two extremes.
So if you have ever faced things like drying mouth, racing pulse or sweating of palms, do not worry - you are not alone and the good news is that there are ways to manage your nerves to your advantage. Even better, a bit of tension actually helps you perform better - as you are on your toes and you begin to think quickly which is easily the most important quality for an interview. All it needs is systematic preparation for gradual confidence building.
Believe me, my dear friends, Interviewers do not consider it as a serious problem/handicapand often they will help you get out of it provided you stick to the basic 'mantra' of being an honest, sincere and positive individual.
And if at all it still happensviz. you do something (say, spill water) or otherwise appear to be very nervous, then what do you do?
The answer is - laugh at yourself (actually smile) and say something like this "Sorry Sir, that's what nerves can do to anyone like me, may be because this interview is So important to me." And if you are able to say so in a natural tone/ style, in all probability, this presence of mind on your part will impress the Board and more than condone for your slippage.
Nervousness is nothing but an over run of emotions, and emotions emerge, from your thought process. So the best strategy is to disrupt the thought process - by positive diversions like talking to someone, reading or a small talk with yourself focusing on your strengths viz. expected initial questions you have prepared. An optimistic internal dialogue is very helpful and it would be better to extend it to your desirable response to difficult questions viz. "If I do not know the answer I will be quick to admit it in a natural way and be ready to learn."
Mental Visualisation Techniqueis very common amongst sportspersons and stage performers - remember the example of Muhammed Ali, given earlier, when very often he successfully visualised his upcoming fights in great detail. You would do well to do practice of answering questions in a quick sequence, record it and then watch it later with a view to improve. Same can also be done in form of 'mirroring exercise'viz. answering questions while sitting in front of a mirror.
Mock interviewsgo a step further as they are usually conducted by simulating real life interview situation by experienced persons who also give you an honest and valuable feedback, as also tell you the practical ways to avoid mistakes and perform better.
Relaxation exercises are always helpfulin controlling nerves and help you in rational thinking at the spur of the moment. Different people do it in different ways as their own calming rituals - say, take a walk, having water or coffee, reading or talking to someone. And for keeping relaxed during the course of interview, some tips are
(a) Develop a habit of deep breathing in the gaps of time when you are not speaking. Do not concentrate on it as you may otherwise miss a point in the question.
(b) Smiling has always been a natural way to relax but obviously you can't do it without a reason - so do it when an opportunity arises. Believe me, such opportunities come very often with most of the Boards as they consciously try to make you feel comfortable. Smile also helps in showing that you are a warm and friendly person.
(c) Relax your muscles by opening up your body parts viz. crossed legs, open palms etc.
Remember,your body largely follows the pattern of thinking going on in your mind - if you are positive and upbeat, your body will largely follow that and vice versa. Experience tells us that nerves are at their worst on an empty stomach - so do eat a little before the interview.
A standard relaxation exercise fordestressing
(a) Sit down, relax your arms and hands. Put down your hands in your lap.
(b) Close your eyes and concentrate.
(c) Slowly breathe through your nose to count of 5 as deep as you can comfortably.
(d) Breathe out through your mouth to a count of 7 and do not bend forward as you breathe out.
(e) Allow your breath to return to normal and open your eyes. Closing eyes is optional.
The Eye Contact: is easily the most important part of non-verbal communication. This is for the simple reason that eyes are the most powerful means of non- verbal communication and they certainly convey more accurately than any other part of our body. Right from school days we have been told "Look a person in the eyes when you talk to him" and the eyes reveal the true feelings in no time. What is going on in your mind often gets reflected on your face and experienced people in front of you can generally read it through your eyes.
So what do! do?
Should I be conscious of eye contact all the time?
Yes, you certainly need to ensure you make no mistake on this count right through the Interview. And yet, being conscious all the time will definitely affect your natural style and spontaneity in answering, which is not good. Therefore, this is one area where you need to practice seriously, more so if you have not been used to it in an earlier profession or school/college activities. Mock interviews are best for doing such practice but before that you may take the help of your friends. Doing practice alone in front of a mirror will also be of great help as doing it repeatedly is important so much so that it becomes a habit.
Then, while listening to a question being posed to you, it is obviously necessary for you to have good eye contact with the person talking to you - and with full concentration on that person only. It is only while answering that you need to occasionally look into the eyes of other members too, taking care that you do not give anyone any opportunity of pointing out later that she/he was feeling ignored. It also helps you understand as to how is your answer being taken by the Board, Very often, you will find some other member nodding in acceptance when you are giving reply to another member - surely, something good for your confidence building which is so necessary right through the course of interview.
And if other Member is nodding negatively, it may also be useful to alert you on what you are speaking - you may possibly take a pause here to reconsider your flow of thoughts and, may be, control yourself from going further in the wrong direction. Correcting yourself in the midst of your own answer may seem to be a little awkward but it is surely desirable to do so rather than continue with the incorrect answer. Sometimes, Board may view it as a good quality and reward you for the honesty and spontaneity shown.
A suggestion here on eye contact with the Interviewer- rather than looking straight at him/her all the time, make a mental imaginary upward triangle of 2 eyes and the forehead, extending up to hairline, and follow the path along 3 points. Break it once in a while and look at his hands. This is considered as a gaze for formal occasions while for informal talk the triangle would generally be a downward one with 2 eyes and the mouth.
In fact there is a great co-relation between non-verbal communication and confidence building which is more important than what most people take it to be - after all, in the beginning everyone is nervous and the difference only lies in your ability to get over it as the interview progresses.
At the same time, a word of caution here if your PT is not going on well in the first few minutes and your anxiety to do well is increasing - well, be sure you do not allow your belief of eye contact to be affected by it. Even in the most difficult of situations, you must maintain it with your 'inner effort' -- and surely you can - then someone in the interview Board will definitely come to your rescue and make an attempt to lift you up by encouraging remarks and/or a question that suits you.
Objectively speaking, the general rule in this regard is:
· Too much eye contact - dominance, lack of respect, threat, wish to insult.
· Too little eye contact - Not paying attention, impolite, insincere, shy, lacking in confidence.
· Withdrawing eyes – signal of submission.
Success in an Interview like this is all about maintaining your nerves in difficult situations - when going is good and you are answering all the questions satisfactorily, anyone can keep the confidence high.
Just to reiterate, let's not forget that:
(a) For doing well in any interview, importance of communication is got to be very high it is the 'key' thing.
(b) Understand the expectations of the Board and overall purpose of the PT – your 'real personality' is to be tested. Do not go overboard to show your debating skills to cover up/replace your simple and genuine answers.
(c) Follow the basics of good verbal communication as given above in para 4.2.1 Actual practice is a must for developing attentive listening and choice of words in your responses.
(d) You would do well to do some practice - through Mocks etc - for the Do's and Don'ts of non-verbal communication as given in para 4.3.1.
(e) Dynamics of 'eye contact' ought to become a habit with you – practice makes a man perfect.
In this chapter we will be facing real life - like scenario before an Interview Board and make an attempt to acquire that level of preparedness with which you can confidently walk into the Board room, and then come out triumphantly half an hour later, having performed to your maximum potential in the given set of circumstances.
My guarded statement in the previous sentence 'includes' what is normally accepted/opined by all experts of this field - that elements of surprise, chance and subjectivity cannot be eliminated from any interview, and to that extent, no one can take for granted that he will surely get top level marks on a given day. A lot of things and a lot many factors contribute, in an unpredictable way, to determine whether it's your day or not.
And yet, the intelligent, the realistic and the hard working candidate knows how to swing the scales in his favour most of the time or so to say, how to enhance odds in his favour while leaving very little to chance, by following all the established principles & practices so much so that they become a part of his habits, and thereby a facet of his personality. In this chapter | will be discussing some more 'established principles & practices' while also reiterating do's and don'ts in a question answer scenario.
First of all,giving answers in an interview is not like solving problems of Mathematics - it is not that there is only one right answer, except for the factual questions. Very often, your profile or circumstances will determine your good answer- say, on choice of career, choice of service and all HR type questions viz. your strengths & weaknesses etc.
As such, here there are no model answers for most of the questions which are based on your profile or your personal circumstances. Even for those questions where model answers are possible, it is suggested that you should not memorize them but keep in mind the theme or the gist or the key points of answer and speak out in your own words. This is so because memorizing will create stress and then you may not be able to distinguish question asked from the one that you prepared - and thus making it obvious to Board that it was a memorized answer, without application of mind.
Also, one good quality for doing well here is to develop a rapport with the Board which happens when there is a personal touch in your answers. After all, they are there to evaluate you as a person and do not get impressed with good memory.
Projecting the right imageshould be the prime objective before you. Apart from what you say,'how you say' will have a big impacton the minds of the interviewers. This does not mean that you should do practice of speaking style or mannerism - just be yourself and yet project an image of a positive, pleasant and enthusiastic individual who is willing to learn as much as he is keen to deliver.
Ultimately, preparation for an Interview is all about imbibing good practices so as to become a part of your personality and then the success is surely yours.
Personality Test: A Test of Honesty
·It's important to rememberhere that what is being tested is - your general way of thinking, belief, philosophy and absolute honesty. As such, you must avoid wearing a cloak and trying to give artificial/ idealistic/diplomatic answers which do not co-relate to your actual way of thinking and personality.
·Most importantly,you have got to believe during this half an hour or so, that Members of the Board sitting in front can possibly read through your mind and any attempt to speak lies or half truths or misleading impressions are likely to be detected/understood by them. And if it happens to be the case, you are likely to be at a huge disadvantage.
Before reaching the hot seat, keep fresh in your mind:
· Absolute Honesty
· Positive attitude and Pleasant body language
· Humility and willingness to learn
· Adaptability and Team Player
· Etiquettes and Courtesies
· Motivation and Passion for the desired job.
Before actually facing the interview Board, you would do well to take due care of some general things which will surely go a long way in lifting up your confidence and keeping you in a balanced and pleasant state of mind. This may appear to you to be something very ordinary and thus often taken for granted, and yet let me reiterate here that very often such simple things make a world of difference in your approach to the challenge that lies ahead. Some such aspects are:
(a) Avoiding time pressureis a must for all important activities in life and so is it here. It is particularly relevant at two stages viz. first for reaching Delhi (if coming from some other city) ahead of the scheduled day so as to be comfortably settled by previous evening and second, on the day of interview while making plans for travelling to UPSC.
(b) The dress codeis one aspect for which lot of new candidates have always enquired anxiously. All that needs to be remembered in this regard is that it is a formal occasion and your dress should accordingly be an appropriate one for that, as also comfortable to you so that you are not unnecessarily conscious of your dress when your attention is actually required to be focused on more important things.
Generally it is advised that men should wear a light coloured plain shirt with dark coloured trousers and a sober dark tie. Wearing a suit/coat is an option which is certainly an individual's choice – wear it for sure if it is winter, as jacket or sweater would be considered as casual dress. For spring/summer, take your own decision and may wear it if you are used to it and it adds to your confidence. At the same time it should not come in your way of being comfortable so much so that it distracts your attention during the Interview. In that situation a sober shirt with tie would serve the purpose. And, of course, be prepared to handle a possible question/remark for having worn a coat and/or tie in the heat of Delhi.
Similarly, ladies are advised to wear a sober sari that suits the season, but if you are not used to it and thus not very comfortable, there is nothing wrong in wearing a formal looking salwar suit. Rest of the attire should be a sit normally goes with any formal/official occasion.
(c) Physical fitness, mental alertnessare both important for you to be able to give your best performance. As such, it is necessary that you take due care of your health in the days preceding your interview, more so from the point of view of ensuring good sleep and a relaxed mind. Take it from me, answers coming from a person in a relaxed and happy state of mind would always be more positive, balanced and well received by your esteemed audience.
(d) The day of the interviewis obviously a very important day for you. A light but healthy breakfast after a good sleep is a must - helps in keeping away restlessness or impatience. A little meditation in the morning - and of course a prayer - followed by an intelligent reading of the morning newspaper will be just in order. Experience tells us that failure to respond well to questions, usually in the beginning of your interview, related to morning newspaper often spoils the tempo and then it becomes very difficult to get over the setback.
(e) In the interview hallmany things are not in your control - you may be the first one to be interviewed in that session or may have to wait for half a day and be the last candidate. No point in blaming your luck either way - believe me, there is a positive side of any of, these situations and getting good marks does not depend at all on the timing of the interview. You have got to believe that Interview Board is mature and sensible enough to carry out well balanced and fair evaluation.
Also, getting a particular Board in UPSCis a matter of chance and it is absolutely futile to think of the 'reputation' of that Board before you have actually been interviewed. In fact, it is best to avoid getting into any discussion on this subject with fellow candidates and you would do well to have a firm belief in your mind that all Boards are equally good and generous - that's what they really are and notions amongst the candidates are always distorted or biased due to personal prejudices and exaggerated irresponsible gossip etc. All Boards are known to be giving highest of marks and similarly all of them do have occasions when poor marks are awarded.
And finally,utilise the waiting time in the interview hall for brushing up your thoughts on the'most likely questions'that may be asked in the first few minutes of the interview. This mental rehearsal is generally very useful in handling well the opening questions most of the time - and always useful in lifting your confidence level. Remember, as it happens in the game of chess, a game well - begun is half won.
(a) The Listening Skills, The Patience:While facing the Interview Board you need to be really good at 'The art of listening' which has already been covered in the preceding chapter. Any one testing your personality through the course of a conversation is bound to give a 'huge' importance to this quality. You must, therefore, go into the PT Board hall with a conscious thought of showing exemplary patience and of course, a pleasant disposition – everybody in the 'crowd' is fond of people who come out as individuals with a courteous smile, positive energy and pleasant mannerism.
(b) The 'Core' of the Question:Listening carefully/attentively and with a positive open mind has its own advantages from the point of view of giving an appropriate answer - it helps you in understanding the 'core' of the question and thereby alerts you to begin your answer with that core part of the question - you must follow the rule of 'most important first' all through your PT conversation. This is to say - you must start your answer with the most important aspect of question and then go on to cover various points of your reply in a logical sequence.
(c) Answering to the Point:Very often candidates have been seen to begin their answer in around about way, taking substantial time in coming to the real point (bhumika banana) and before they really reach the stage of most important part of question, the interviewer might lose patience, intervene and shift to the next question. And thus, knowing the correct answer and yet not being able to communicate it effectively, is surely very unfortunate as well as demoralising. It may also have the effect of unnerving the candidate for the remaining part of the interview, plus giving a possible impression to the Board that candidate is vague and unsure even when knowing the answer reasonably well
Further, it is also not a good strategyto start your answer with what you know best rather than what has actually been asked and is expected as the first response - this is often taken by the Board as an attempt to act smart and that is one attribute which is strongly disliked by every Interview panel.
Another Word of Cautionhere. The worst thing one can do is to interrupt the speaker in front of you, no matter how correct you may be in doing so – and notwithstanding the degree of relevance, or the lack of it, in the question or comment of the Member of Interview panel. Well, it could be nothing but a ploy for them to test your patience and composure.
(a) The golden ruleis - take your time to understand the question in its right perspective viz. what is that he really wants to ask and expects to get by way of a fine answer. Reacting hurriedly and jumping to reply is not at all advisable, no matter how well you know the answer. If it was an easy question and you knew the answer too well, quite often you do not get much credit for your answer. May be, it was just to bring you in flow or to boost your confidence. And if unfortunately you happen to answer such easy question hurriedly but somewhat incorrectly or in a tangential direction, this is surely a negative with the Board and loss is only yours. The maturity that you show in listening and understanding the question, and the way you initially react to it verbally/non-verbally, is much more important from their point of view - and it is their point of view that matters.
Needless to reiterate, it is extremely important that you understand the question correctly - and that includes hearing the person correctly. For otherwise, it will be a very childish reason/excuse to make later that you did not hear the question properly or you didn't understand it in that sense. Take it from me, my dear young friends, this is one area where a good number of bright candidates end up spoiling their PT. And one such instance in an interview can have a spiral effect leading to deterioration in your performance subsequently also. This may appear to you to be something very minor or trivia but stakes are very high for you to take these things lightly.
(b) On not hearing the question properly:In the same context, situation sometimes arises when you really could not hear or understand the question despite your best efforts.
It could be due to low voice or different accent of the Board Member or some other reason.
What do I do now?
Am I allowed to ask him to repeat the question? And if so will they not get annoyed?
Well, being in a genuine difficult situation like this, you are definitely justified - and permitted - to request for a repeat of such question. You may make a very polite and gentle request to the concerned Member- and certainly with a few words of apology - for repeating the question.
Having heard the question well, take little time to understand it properly, if the question so requires i.e., when it is not a factual type of question but involves giving of your opinion/suggestion/solution etc. on a debatable issue. Taking that little time here is acceptable and interview Board will surely bear with you.
Frequently made mistakes - avoid them
· Not listening to the question carefully / not understanding it
· Answering something which is not the main question or the first thing that should be answered.
· Giving superfluous answer or furnishing irrelevant information - Attempting to answer when you know almostnothing .
· Showing sincere 'thinking' when you never knew the answer
· Being aggressive / over confident when knowing more than Board.
(c) On not understanding the question properly:Going a step further, sometimes the question may be rather lengthy and covering a number of facts, So much, so that you are not sure what exactly is expected from you by way of an answer - obviously, you want to hear the question again but feel awkward in asking Member to repeat it. And yet, you cannot take the risk of answering it in the wrong direction. To handle such a situation, you may use technique of paraphrasing viz. speaking out a few words of the question and then asking him politely whether that is to be answered. Member will surely not mind this approach and will help you by repeating the question.
This is the real thing for which you are there before the PT Board. In addition to the discussion in foregoing pages, some essential do's and don'ts are being discussed in this section of the book.
Admittedly, some of these are a repetition of what you have already read above and yet it is felt necessary to reiterate the important points and supplement them with other related concepts with a view to focus on 'what you cannot afford to ignore'These are:
(a) It is strongly advised that you have agentle pausebefore answering a question. Let the Member finish the question - be sure of it – quickly compose your thoughts and then only begin to answer.
(b)Avoid Excitementand sudden or sharp reactions on hearing the question, whether you are sure of the answer or not. Knowing an answer correctly and even giving that reply confidently is not a great personality trait. Similarly, ignorance or doubt on a particular question does not necessarily go against you. So why give a reaction which may lead them to draw an inference of an immature or childish personality.
(c) As already stated earlier the Golden Rule is -first thing first- your answer should begin with the most important thing or the core of the question. In this regard expectation of the Member asking question is very much relevant - which maybe related to prior discussion, e.g. if you are a computer engineer and discussion has been on some technical aspects then you are not expected to start with the basics but straight away reply to the precise 'advanced' part of the question.
Coming straight to the point without beating about the bush, is one quality they are looking for. Also, please do not drag your answer simply because you know a lot on the subject and never say what has not been asked - this is not a time to show your knowledge. Often candidates are put in an awkward position by a Member by making a comment that, "I never asked you this...". Such a situation can often become difficult to handle and it is certainly not good for your confidence.
(d)Maintain a Positive Approach:Whether it is a question asking your views/ opinion on a major problem/debatable issue or a question concerning your own life and career etc, you have got to be positive and hopeful in your response. It is a good habit to think of possible solutions even to the most difficult of problems and trying to show your optimism in no uncertain terms. PT Board would always grade a candidate high when he is perceived to be positive and optimistic despite difficulties/ constraints in any situation, or say, even in the context of life of an individual.
(e)Openness to New Ideasand methods along with adjustability /flexibility of personality are two great qualities that top class bureaucrats are expected to have. Whenever the situation demands or an opportunity arises during your interview, do make an effort to structure your answers so as to show these qualities in your personality - this is highly valued by all interviewers and HR experts all over the world and in diverse professions. Also, you must take care not to show an attitude considered quite negative in this regard viz. a tendency to dismiss/immediately disagree with other people's point of view without due analysis /consideration. .
"Be stubborn about your goals, and flexible about your methods."
(f)Willing to Learn and Preparedness to Change Yourselfin tune with requirements of new challenges, is considered even more important as different services in bureaucracy would take you to new without change, and walks of life and unforeseen situations, those who cannot PT Boards are always on look out for change their minds candidates showing least of inertia for change - and readiness for modificationsetc in their way of thinking/styles/habits.
Quite obviously, this will never be asked directly but the Board would try to test these qualities through intelligently designed questions. Important here to remember is – keep it strongly in your mind and make it a habit to react in ways which clearly bring out these qualities in you, as you will generally not get to understand when and how these qualities are being tested.
(g)Giving Balanced Answers:Success in bureaucracy is all about having balanced, moderate views and a balanced approach to life. Bureaucrats are, therefore, expected toavoid extreme viewson either side of the situation. This attribute goes well with what I stated in the preceding para as an essential quality for working in Govt. - the flexibility in approach.
It is obvious that PT Board looks for candidates having such views as part of their nature. Interviewers also try to gauge in a candidate the level of stubbornness/rigidity and correspondingly the capacity to change views and adjust according to circumstances -while at the same time upholding basic values of life and ideologies.
In the Govt. there is absolutelyno place for extreme viewsand so the candidates must consciously avoid the same while replying to questions which can be answered in a wide range of opinions. It doesn't in any way mean that you must go with the 'majority view' or public perception at all times and sacrifice your own belief & conviction - as and when you have a point of view different from popular perception or Member's own view in the matter, you are surely justified in coming out with it BUT only when you have sound reasoning to substantiate the same. Also, you are allowed to be innovative in Govt. working but certainly not by violating established rules and regulations.
As such, you will do well to compose your thoughts while answering a question on debatable issues - questions with such issues may come up in any sphere of life viz. politics or social on one hand and philosophy or science on the other. Common examples are issues like Capital Punishment, stronger Censorship of media, need and extent of Reservation, taxing of Agricultural income etc.
While giving your views on such topical issues,you will do well to explain the subject matter, point out pros and cons and then, if so required by the Board, give your own personal opinion on the same.
In any case,an argument with the Member must be avoided.Very often, he will give you a strong point of view and expect you to agree with that. If you are in agreement it is fine but otherwise it is absolutely okay to disagree with him - most respectfully, while explaining your reasons very clearly and.... carry on with a dissent, and of course with a smile. Quite obviously, the Member did so only with a view to test your style, maturity and temperament in handling his reaction.
(h)Handling a Long or Complex Question:Sometimes you may be heading for a very long or complex answer and you are not sure when to stop. In such a case it is a good idea to take a deep breath and check with the Board whether they would like you to continue and say more. If they say no to your offer, do not feel bad and avoid giving an expression of disappointment. May be, you have already said enough or they may like to ask another question emerging from your answer. When you pause and ask them as said above, this gives a good impression showing that you are confident and in control of yourself.
(a) Simple open ended questions or probing questions on yourself:Such questions usually mark the beginning of the interview. Objective is not to test you seriously but to get you to talk to them. These questions generally cover your educational background, hobbies, past job experience etc. For example, they may ask you on your short term ambition and long term goals, expectations of your family from you or say, reasons for leaving a better paying professional job...and so on. Here you have got to give specific answers, you Cannot say you don't know. Many candidates have been seen to be uncomfortable in talking about themselves and keep quiet or give an evasive response, which is interpreted as a sign of a weak or secretive or complicated personality.
What are the best answers to such questions?
Well, there are no model answers to these questions and the 'honest answers' are the best answers. As these questions are asked almost always in the beginning, they are extremely important for two reasons the first impression on the Board and secondly, for your confidence for the rest of the interview. Here you also get an opportunity to get into the flow of speaking - often so crucial for many of us - and get ready for the challenge ahead.
Though simple, these questions test personality of an individual much more than the factual or knowledge based questions and therefore they carry more weightage in terms of marks. When questions are touching your personality/life, you should not have a feeling of being exposed if it seems so, let it be and continue to respond with a positive approach.
(b) Forced Choice Questionsare those where you have no choice but to answer in a predictable manner in yes or no viz."Are you an organised person?" or "Do you get more satisfaction from team work or alone?"Now, answers to such questionscan be given in one or two or few words but you are advised to speak out full sentences, rather than saying yes or no, and add something from your side to illustrate your answer - say, "Yes Sir, I get more satisfaction while working in teams as it adds to objectivity in our approach and gives us a feeling of bonding together while achievingorganisational goals."
(c) Tackling Leading questionscan be a little more tricky. Leading questions are those which suggest what he or she wants you to reply e.g."So you agree with us and like this approach..." or "I always thought this way...don't you agree?"Such questions are considered to be 'not good' as it allows weak candidates to get through and it is also bad for good candidates as they make it hard for them to disagree. .
One good way to handle them is something like –"Yes Sir, that may be one point of view but my opinion on this issue is somewhat different....."
(d) Multiple Questionsare those where interviewer asks several questions at once in quick succession. For example "Would you like working in a corrupt Dept. like Police? They are very inefficient and inhuman. Aren't they? How will you handle that and what will you do to improve the system?"
Now, here we have one statement and 3 questions for you, to handle simultaneously.
The key to answer is - Deal with all questions one by one and, if possible, in the same sequence. Structure your answer after organising your thoughts in a serial manner viz. Firstly, ....Secondly,......and if you have missed out any part of the question or have a genuine doubt, ask politely for the same. Technique of paraphrasing - explained in another chapter - may also be used rather than taking risk of going in a wrong direction.
(e) Responding to questions on ethics, honesty, integrity etc.There has been a strong trend in direction of such questions in recent years and handling these is easily one of the most difficult areas in a personality test, more so when you are competing for a Government job. The 'simplistic' approach that I have been advocating in the preceding paras is very much applicable here too – follow a direct approach of allowing your personality to be revealed as it isinstead of trying to be what you are actually not.
Here too an ideological approach is the best approach - when required to answer a question or asked to take a stand on issues of ethics etc, it would bebest to behave like a school kidwho believes in Righteousness as his school teacher had taught him and goes on strongly to advocate it/defend it while passionately nurturing the hope that in times to come things will turn out to be like that only viz. the good will prevail over bad, the truth ultimately wins, the rule of law must be followed, that non-violence must be tried as a tool to solve disputes, that Honesty is still the best policy and so on.
Your positive faith and optimism should stand out in your reply and not get side tracked or undermined in the garb of a statement that it is impractical in the present day scenario.
(f) Handling 'situational' or hypothetical questionsis easily one of the biggest challenges in most Interviews. Such questions have always been a favourite with experienced HR personnel and proven to be an extremely reliable tool for judging attitudes of people. No surprise, UPSC also has been using them for testing the best of the young people i.e., these questions are used more often when a candidate is really doing well and needs to be tested further for 'attitudes'. And quite obviously, candidates doing well in such questions end up scoring very high marks.
To take an example for Civil Services Interview,it's quite often that Board puts you in the seat of an IAS/IPS officer - say, collector/SP of a district and asks you to take a decision or draw up a course of action in the midst of a crisis (could be situation of a flood or famine or riots.) - your approach should be that of first following the law, the rules, the welfare of the people, confidence in the integrity of people, a non-violent & conciliatory approach and, in general, in following the spirit of 'Righteousness' as the term was often explained by Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.
Then, try to correlate your answer with some life experience, of yours or of some established personalities. Overall, it has to be an objective answer and very often you can assume some relevant facts which are not given. At times the 'good' answer will have to be predictable and stereo typed but sometimes it will be a test of your lateral thinking or say, out of box solutions - when detailed facts are given and you are required to chalk out the best possible/acceptable line of action or solution.
(g) Questions on your weak spotsoften come from good Boards. They genuinely want to know it - whether your drawbacks as per DAF reflect a temporary glitch or a more pervasive problem e.g. inability to decide on career path for a substantial period of time. A more important reason for asking such questions is - they want to see how you handle it, whether you get defensive or hostile or you use your skills of common sense and presence of mind to give a convincing answer.
One such common question is"Why didn't you do well in your exams?"
Solution lies in handling such questions with a cool mind, poise and maturity - listen to the question carefully, plan your answer and state it with confidence and utmost honesty. Do not take it as an insult or an intrusion in your personal life. If there was a genuine reason, mention it and draw out what lesson/s you learnt from it. Mention other areas where you had success and thus make it a composite reply. Must avoid lengthy, vague explanations and multiple reasons which can possibly be taken as excuses. Equally important is that you must conclude your answer with humility and a positive approach.
(h) Standard Rules for handling tough questions - and some examples of tough questions:Having anxiety before an interview is quite normal, more so when stakes are high for performing well. And the main reason is that you do not know what questions may be asked or perhaps because you haven't trained yourself for the 'tough questions', so common these days in interviews for jobs where competition is stiff.
What type of questions are tough and how should they be handled?
Questions are considered to be difficult when you are not prepared for that subject or topic and in that case you can do nothing... except admitting it honestly, and in quick time, that you do not know the answer. Take it from me, you do not lose many marks for that...because interview is not a test of knowledge and more certainly, not a test of chance/luck.
Here tough questions for you are thosewhich do not require knowledge, memory or any such skill but simply catch you off guard and seek to test your presence of mind, commonsense, imagination, quick thinking ability and attitudes. At the same time, tough questions give you an opportunity to demonstrate your abilities and maturity in professional behaviour. You would do well to substantiate your answers with examples and real life incidents or anecdotes.
Now let's look at some questions and proposed line of answers:
1. What are the reasons for your success, so far, in life? Speak as much as you like.
Ans.Be brief. Be specific. No self praise. Show humility and help/contribution of others. And Good luck too. Refer to qualities like hard work, passion, discipline, time management etc.
2. If you get this job, what would be most crucial 'things' in it? (Say, you got IPS or IRS I.T.)
Ans.Be quick to identify precise challenges, then decide on most important ones and give realistic suggestions for tackling challenges.
3. What are your greatest strengths and outstanding qualities for being an IAS officer?
Ans.Start your answer with job specific skills, then those related to behavioretc such as team working and Leadership. Best is to balance the two, with an example each. Keep the list short and include willingness to learn and improve.