UPSC Civil Services Interview/Personality Test schedule kicks off, the spotlight is on the 1,026 candidates set to appear between January 2 and February 16, 2024. The challenge lies in justifying the details provided in the Detailed Application Form (DAF) filled out post the UPSC Mains. Candidates must think on their feet while facing a board of five members, showcasing credibility in their statements. Staying updated on current affairs is crucial for these 30-minute interviews conducted by 6-7 boards simultaneously, each aiming to assess the candidates’ suitability for a career in public services.
How to Crack UPSC Civil Services Interview/Personality
Despite the interview round carrying 275 marks out of a total of 2025, making up a crucial part of the Civil Services exam, recent UPSC reports highlight a decline in the number of qualifiers. In 2022, only 36.89% (933 candidates) out of 2529 successfully cleared the interview, compared to 41.09% (749 candidates) in 2021 from 1823 candidates, and 37.07% (761 candidates) in 2020 from 2053 candidates. The pre-Covid years saw higher numbers, with 45.58% (927 candidates) qualifying in 2019 out of 2034 candidates, and 40.76% (812 candidates) in 2018 out of 1992 candidates. Notably, in 2022, 63.11% of candidates faced disappointment in the Personality Test, marking the highest failure rate since 2020 when 62.93% fell short in the interview round.
Practice Matters: Retired IAS officer JK Dadoo, who dedicated 35 years to the services, suggests that candidates preparing for the Personality Test should engage in mock sessions. These sessions help them practice how to conduct themselves, get familiar with potential questions, and receive advice on areas like diction or overcoming a stammer.
Interviewer’s Focus: Interviewers, often former civil servants or experts, tend to question candidates on three main categories: educational/family background, optional subject, and general knowledge. Dadoo emphasizes that lack of preparation in any of these areas can leave candidates feeling overwhelmed.
Language Flexibility: Candidates can answer in either English or Hindi based on their proficiency. Dadoo stresses that language proficiency should not be a barrier if they’ve qualified in the written exam.
Strategic DAF Filling: It’s crucial to fill the Detailed Application Form (DAF) intelligently. Keeping it vague may lead to trouble. Students must be strategic and thoughtful in presenting their information.
Importance of Reading: Dadoo suggests reading The Economist for international affairs and two national newspapers for economic and national news. Questions during interviews could be on current issues like renaming India or the necessity of one nation, one poll.
Arts vs. Engineering: Contrary to popular belief, arts graduates often have an edge due to better communication skills. Dadoo emphasizes that the overall personality of the candidate matters more than their educational background.
Toppers’ Background: UPSC exam toppers come from various educational backgrounds. Rajesh Kumar Pathak emphasizes honesty, backing opinions with data, and staying updated on home districts and government perspectives.
Preparation Strategy: According to Sriram Srirangam, the key to the Personality Test goes beyond basic knowledge. Candidates should delve into diverse topics, from social issues like honor killings to global events like the Ukraine-Russia war or UFOs.
Handling Pressure: Pranay Aggarwal from IAS Gurukul highlights the intense pressure candidates face during the short span of the Personality Test. Remaining composed and articulate is crucial.
Holistic Evaluation: The interview format has evolved to ensure a holistic assessment of the candidate’s personality. Success is not solely dependent on urban or small-town backgrounds. It depends on a combination of factors like subject understanding, critical thinking, effective communication, and a well-rounded personality.