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About Personality Test or Interview

The Interview or the Personality test of the Civil Services exam is conducted in Delhi at the UPSC office. The length of interview is not fixed but the longer the interview lasts, higher is the chances for a good score.

The interview marks are added to the marks obtained in the Mains exam and after that the final merit list is prepared. So the interview marks are not disclosed immediately and can be known only at the declaration of the final results by the UPSC.

The interview is conducted by various boards constituted by the UPSC. The list of board being faced by individual interviewees is given out at the time of declaring the dates of the interviews and it is expected from the candidates to do some research of their board members.

Candidates about double the number of vacancies are selected through the mains exams and called to appear for the personality test. There are 275 marks allocated to the personality test. According to a UPSC report, it is observed that 90 per cent of the candidates who qualify for interview hover around the minimal percentage of 55 per cent prescribed for the test.

Even though you cannot get less than 55 marks in the interview but you must know it's not enough to get into the final merit list. However to be assured of a Class I service, one has to generally obtain about 58 per cent marks. It is observed that only those, securing 60 per cent and above is sure of getting a service of their own choice.

In other words in order to get a good ranking for a better service allotment, one should strive to get at least 200 marks and above in the interview for allotment of the IAS and other Group A services.

These facts and figures clearly reveal that a good score in the personality test can play a determining role in final selection of the candidate through the civil service exams.

Since the interview is so crucial and it is personal and variable, extra preparation is required to tackle this test. Here are some tips that you must go through when you are preparing for your personality test.

How to face Civil Service Interview

Documents to be submitted at the Personality test:

Following Documents has to be submitted at the time of Personality Test Board for Civil Services Examination.

SC/ST Certificate Performa, OBC Certificate Performa, Undertaking, Physically Handicapped Certificate Performa, Performa of Hailing from Certificate Questionnaire, Attestation Form, TA Form. The Questionnaire, Attestation Form and TA Form are available at the UPSC official website. If you have applied under SC or ST or OBC, or Physically Handicapped category then fill in and submit the respective certificate. The certificate is separately available for print out at the UPSC site - www.upsc.gov.in.

The candidates are requested to carry the following documents for the interview.

  1. Filled Questionnaire: The seven page questionnaire is required for the research and analysis section of UPSC and is used for assessing background information of the candidate appearing for the personality test/ interview. This questioner has be duly filled and submitted at the time of the interview. The questionnaire is divided into several sections.

    1. Background of the candidate
    2. Employment status
    3. Previous Civil Services attempts
    4. Competitive exams cleared
    5. Reasons for interest in Civil Services
    6. Education particulars
    7. Background of Parents/Guardian
    8. Source of information for Civil Services
    9. Coaching attended
    10. Optional subject chosen
  2. Attestation Form: The attestation form has to be filled with required details including residence, nationality education and has to be signed by a Gazetted officer before being submitted at the time of the interview.

Types of questions asked at the Interview or Personality test:

The candidate appearing for the interview will be given questioners to be filled up and submitted at the time of your interview. The candidates are advised to formulate their answers carefully because questions can be asked from your form that you have filled and submitted to the UPSC before your interview. You must go through the information you have filled because some questions are surely to be asked from there.

  • Relating to your name, any famous personality who has a similar or same name or surname
  • Your career choice, why do you want to be a civil servant?
  • Choice of services, the order of your choice of services can raise questions too.
  • What are your Hobbies, why you pursue such a hobby or questions related to your hobby etc.
  • Questions about your academic institution and related to them. If you have studied at the IIM or IIT, you may be asked about the brain drain or fat salaries, if from IGNOU then even about Indira Gandhi and so on.
  • Question from your educational qualification. If you are an MBBS or from an economy background, question can be asked how you are going to use your specific knowledge in the civil services. Don't you think you can serve your country better by remaining a doctor and treating poor patients or joining civil services?
  • General Studies that forms the four papers of the Mains examination is the prime area from where questions can be asked. It includes Current Affair topics recent days and policy analysis like "Note ban" Surgical strike etc. So make a list of topics and prepare thoroughly to answer them verbally.
  • You should be prepared to answer question on your optional subjects, especially if that is not the discipline in which you have graduated. If you have changed your optional subject in the next attempt, you may be ready with the questions why you did that.
  • There could be situational questions like, if you were the collector/SP of certain place where terrorist have struck with a Bomb Blast, what would you do in its aftermath?

Qualities to be tested in the Personality test

The Personality Test is aimed at assessing the candidate's personality suitable to be a competent administrator. The candidate is tested for intelligence, attentiveness, balance of judgement and human qualities like honesty, integrity and leadership.

The Kothari Committee constituted by the UPSC has listed the qualities that should be rated in the personality test. They are as follows;

  • Clarity of expression
  • Grasp of narrative and argument
  • Reasoning ability,
  • Appreciation of different points of views
  • Awareness and concern for socio-economic problems
  • Range and depth of interests and personal attributes relevant to interaction with people

How to Prepare for the Interview or Personality Test

The interview marks are very important and the deciding factor to be in the merit list, you must not leave any stone unturned in the preparation for the interview. This is more so because majority of the candidates are able to secure only about 55 percent marks in the interview and are unable to get a job even after reaching the last stage of this exam. This suggests that how tough is the marking done in the last leg of this exam.

Even though overall personality development is a continuous process, a proper planning after qualifying the Mains exam can help you prepare for the Interview or the personality test. This preparation has to be done in THREE parts, ONE summing up the knowledge and storing them in your virtual memory, SECOND to develop conversational skills and THIRD to develop personality traits. The candidate should make a self-analysis of his/ her strengths and weaknesses on these three points and make a conscious effort to work on them.

Summing up the knowledge requires revision of your Mains notes and to be up to date with current affairs topics. You should be prepared to answer questions on your background, hobbies and extracurricular activities. One good idea is to discuss these points with your friends by forming a discussion group. Other possible way could be rehearsing your answers by recording them on the mobile phone and listen it after you are done. You may have forgotten some points and you can add them up and record it again.

Conversational skills: Since interview is all about how you speak before the interview board, you to improve your conversational skills with the right pronunciation. Try to talk softly and intelligently. Stick to the points and keep your answers short. You should avoid subordinate type approach and at the same, you should not sound over friendly. Your answers should crisp clear and to the point and for this you must develop professional like approach in your conversation.

Personal Traits: The candidate should have a positive attitude, an alert mind, quick reflexes, and a good decision making approach, and should be able to handle any difficult question in a cool and comfortable manner. It's difficult to picture what you look like in an interview so practice in front of a mirror or ask a friend to give you observations on what you look like answering in the interview.

In order to hone the three pronged preparation for the Interview one has to do two things very seriously. One; start taking mock test in front of the mirror and record your voice in your mobile phone and asses yourself after hearing it over and over again. Second, once you gain confidence join any leading coaching institutes and make sure to attend at least three to five live interviews and improve on your preparation based on the feedback.

How to face the interview board

There are generally 5 members at the board with the Chairperson seated at the center. Enter the room by knocking the door and confidently greet the Chairperson, who will probably welcome you, and you have to give pleasant nod at other members and wait till you are asked to sit.

You must carry a positive body language and a good personal appearance and the right body posture in the interview room. Listen patiently and maintain eye contact with the board members. You should appear attentive and involved and do not glare at the board members.

While answering do not glance at other members and keep your eyes at the center, sometimes you can move your face to the right and left but it should remain focused at the center. However if some other member asks you anything, look at that member and answer and then turn back to the first.

Do not fidget or throw your hands around or place them on the table. Do not crouch or bend forward and shake your head unnecessarily. Less amount of body movement is all that is required. At the same time it does not mean you should sit stiff. Your body posture should be attentive and relaxed at the same time.

Cut your answer short to the required patience shown by the member talking to you. They usually like to talk more, so listen carefully and think for a few seconds before you start answering. This will show that you are organizing your thoughts in mind before starting to speak.

Leave some room for difference in opinion. Do take a stand, but do not become adamant or unwilling to appreciate the board's opinion.

While answering, use couple of words from the question as this would show you have listened to the question carefully. Try to answering in simple and precise manner and avoid the use of technical jargon unnecessary.

Do not prefix your answer with introductory comments and come to the central issue of the question immediately. If you do not know the answer better be candid to admit that you are unprepared. Do not make wild guesses or indulge in speculation as this may spoil your image.

Do not start evaluating your performance while still sitting in the interview room. Even if you have committed some mistakes, do not think that you have already lost the race. The interview board is looking for warm, sensitive respectful and attentive youngsters. They know very well that you are good otherwise you would not have come so far. So remain positive all through the interview.

You must be prepared for questions on your achievements and hobbies that you mentioned in the form that you have filled before the interview. Talk humbly about them and do not boast about your achievements.

Say less to convey more: Less is more these days as per the minimalist creed. Argue logically and generalize correctly. Do not try to read too much between the lines. Remember, while answering any question, what is easy to see is easy to miss. We often tend to miss the obvious and go for some non-crucial aspect of the subject, so better avoid in semantics.

Final exit: Get up from the chair to leave only when the chairperson asks you to do so. Similarly, even if someone has not asked a question and the chairperson asks you to leave, then please leave the room smilingly. Some members may not ask questions at all, due to various reasons and this should not bother you. Before leaving, politely thank the chairperson and nod at the others members politely. Avoid saying "Have a good day sir". Just "Thank you" is good enough.

Personal Traits to face the Interview

Eye contact: Eye contact is a crucial assessment parameter to gauge your confidence level. You must avoid looking down elsewhere while giving answers as this may suggest you're nervous and insecure.

Fiddling with fingers: A busy hand gesture may give the impression that you are not keen for the interview, you must avoid fiddling with fingers and try to present yourself as a bundle of confidence

Avoid crossing your arms. Try to keep your hands flat on your lap and not on the table. Avoid crossing your arms even subconsciously as it creates a barrier and makes you look defensive. You must look as approachable as possible and avoid such unnecessary gestures.

Slouching in chair: Try to sit straight and on the chair and do not sit on its edge or try to lounge back on the seat. Your sitting position carries a lot of weightage to the interviewer.

Too many hand gestures: While it is alright to make some hand gestures to stress some crucial points but too much of hand gestures are maybe distracting and annoying to the interviewer.

Don't bite your lip: When you bite your lip, you're signaling that you are indecisive. When you lick your lips, it may indicate your lack of confidence.

Stop touching your face or hairs. Avoid scratching your face or twirling your hair, even involuntarily. The interviewer can judge you a lot by watching your face, so try to keeps your face as natural looking as possible.

Nod your head minimum: We subconsciously nod when we agree with someone but you should not look like a bobble-head either. Just nod once or twice to signal you are focused and attentive.

How to answer your question during the interview

You must answer questions clearly and confidently and try to remain calm and composed even faced with awkward question. Try to answer to the point and avoid long winded explanations. You should be logically consistent and analyze the answer rationally. Do not give long introductions and come straight to the point. You are supposed to defend what you say, but with due respect to the board, stop trying to defend if it becomes difficult to do so logically and fairly.

Do not make hasty or sweeping generalizations. Avoid the expression, 'I am sorry.' Avoid conversational cliches, like: 'as you know', 'that's correct', 'of course', 'indeed', 'obviously', etc. Avoid technical jargon. However, if a member continues to probe you in any technical field, you can use technical expressions.

Maintain a cheerful face. You can appear serious, now and then, but most of the time keep smiling and remain composed. If the board laughs, you should only smile. It may give positive reflection on the depth of your personality. Show human concern whenever possible in your answers.

Place of Civil Service Interview

The Civil Service Interview is held in the UPSC Office at Dholpur House, Shahjahan Road, New Delhi. There are multiple boards' headed by a chairman and other members. Here are the contact details of the UPSC office.

Union Public Service Commission (UPSC)
Dholpur House,
Shahjan Road
New Delhi - 110-069

Website : www.upsc.gov.in

In case of any difficulty in filling up of the on-line application form, candidates are advised to contact the Official UPSC facilitation counter or call telephone no. 011-23389366 / Fax No.011-23387310, on working days during working hours. In case of any guidance/information/clarification regarding their applications, candidature etc. candidates can contact UPSC's Facilitation Counter near 'C' Gate of its campus in person or call below Phone Nos. (working days between 1000 hrs and 17000 hrs)

011-23385271,
011-23381125,
011-23098543