Are all the interviews of the same type? If not, what are the types of interviews in UPSC, and what guidelines can be given to candidates to do well?

The Interview is a subjective assessment of the candidate. The things that aspirant must keep in mind is that it totally depends upon the board members to have an assessment of.

The assessment is done through, different combination of questions which determine different type of Interview:

Structured and Unstructured Interview – A structured interview is when all questions are prepared in advance. This is in contrast to an unstructured interview,in which there is no specific set of predetermined questions, and the interviewer is able to change the questions at any time and ask follow-up questions to the interviewee’s responses. The aim of this approach is to ensure that each interview is presented with by and large similar pattern of questions and roughly in the same order.

The Interview can begin with meaning of your name, relevance of birth date for you, significance of the place where you were born, why you have chosen one specific set of subjects, why is your preference for IAS first, how do you pursue your hobby etc.

Structured interviews are mostly based on DAF analysis, which the candidate can always prepare.

Structured interview questions can be open-ended or closed-ended. Closed-ended questions ask candidates for specific pieces of information, and often require the respondent to choose from a list of given alternatives. A closed-ended question might be, Bihar is backward, Do you agree with it or not? The answer can be yes or no. Interviewer does not leave any room for elaboration.

Open-ended questions are those that can be answered in many ways and allow the respondent to give elaborate, thoughtful answers. An open-ended question might be asked is, ‘Do you think reservation policy has done good for the country?’ The respondent could choose saying anything in favour or against, and are not limited to a few responses.

Lead interview – This interview is based on the answers and the lead given by the candidates, who can use their answer to guide the Interviewer towards a question that the candidate himself/herself wants to be asked. For example, in response to a question on himself the candidate can answer question that he believes in wisdom more than knowledge, leaving scope and curiosity for the Interviewer to ask questions on differentiation between knowledge and wisdom. Then the candidate uses a term local and global wisdom, the Interviewer will ask questions differentiating both, and thus the Interview will go on…….

Stress interview – It is to evaluate the stability in psyche of the candidates. Questions are put in such stressed manner in order to evaluate the thinking of the candidate. Since, in a career many stressful events take place, so it is highly suitable to judge student in this regard. Normally, this type of Interview is done on those candidates where there is a slight doubt whether the candidate can withstand such a load of stress or not, or if the candidate is very good, then the interviewer wants to reinforce his viewpoint that the candidate is very good and can withstand any amount of stress.

Guidelines for Interview

To be successful in interview of any type and for any kind of position, one may follow the following guidelines:

1. Frame your Attitude Right Before You Create First Impression.

Interview is the test of your attitude, a test of your personality, a test of how you think, why you think, a test of where you use your heart, where you use your mind, where you have to think of your country, where for yourself, etc. Interview is all about being in an equilibrium state of mind, heart, perception and reality.

The interviewee or the student must realize certain aspects before they think of making their first impression.

i. The interview board members are gods for the student on that day. They are all Gods in one – Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh, Allah, Christ, Guru Nanak and what not.

ii. Students are at the mercy of the board at the whims of the board, if the board wishes to exercise these aspects.

iii. The purpose of the board is to select you, not reject you and their job is to select the best one suited for the job.

iv. The board members are very knowledgeable, experienced and much smarter than you. They know why you are behaving in what manner and what the pattern of your behaviour is. They have seen many kids like you. They have kids like you in their family and they know each and every of your move. Whatever you are doing now, they would have already done that before.

The First Impression

“In an interview, interviewers form their opinions about interviewee in first few minutes; rest of the time is used to reinforce those opinions.” This happens because of the effect of first impression. First impression or subsequent impressions is a matter of perception of the interviewers about you. First impression is the chemistry that you develop with the board when you have your first rendezvous. This perception is formed on the basis of ensemble of your personality that you reflect the moment you enter the interview room and your nature of interaction with the interviewers within first few minutes. The interviewer will first observe you from outside and subsequently probe you inside.

What makes a good first impression?

· Way of entry into the room

· The walk, whether confident or hesitant from the door to the chair,

· Appropriate body language. Etiquettes and manners show a lot about the character, upbringing and ‘sanskar’ or values of the person. What the candidate needs to show is that these traits are a part of his/her character not tact.

· The attire, whether Elegant and sober, and whether one is able to carry it.

· Posture on the chair, upright or relaxed.

· Eye contact with the interviewer who is asking question.

· The tone and tenor of the language. Use sweet and polite tone neither too loud nor too soft while talking to the interviewers or answering their questions.

· How much do you respect the views and differing perspectives?

So keep these points in mind:

i. Never be arrogant in front of the board. No wants to be…but you do not know whether your language is arrogant or not. For example-Can you please repeat it? Yeah… Elaborate on the request….

ii. Do not argue on any matter with them.

iii. Never try to bluff them.

iv. Do not sulk.

v. Do not ever react, always respond to the question.

vi. Never be negative, in front of them, and

vii. Don’t develop an aversion. Constant scolding….

You must always show your seriousness about the job and interview process. If getting an opportunity make them feel that you are a learner, then you will learn whatever be the outcome of the interview.

All this, as you try to make a first impression.

2. Comprehension of the Question

In an interview, one has to comprehend the question very well and that begins by being a very good listener. This will serve two-fold objective, firstly, when you listen attentively, you tend to understand questions correctly. This understanding will help you to answer the questions. Secondly, when you listen attentively, it will impress the interviewers that you are taking genuine interest in whatever they are asking about and that you are a learner. In the listening process, your expression should be such that you are taking active interest in what an interviewer is saying, your expression must be backed up by your body language and your words.

3. Communicate Effectively

An effective communication is one, which sends the subject-matter of the communication in a way that the receiver of the message understands it and in the same way as intended by the sender. Besides sending the subject-matter, effective communication also involves putting higher emphasis on more important matter. In written communication, this is done through underlining the more important matters or putting them into italic or bold form. In the case of oral communication, this is done by changing tone style supported by body language. In order that you make your communication clear and communicate what is intended to be communicated follow the tips:

· After an interviewer has finished his questions, pause for a moment and organize your answer in a correct manner.

· You have a glass of water in your front. At least in the guise of drinking that glass of water, you can take your time to answer your questions, organize your answers, use your words carefully that shows your attitude of becoming an administrator.

· If the question is of a technical nature, technical words may be used, but for answering a non-technical question, it is not necessary to use technical words.

· The questions have to be answered in a very specific way.

· You have to follow question, not allow your answer to be deviated away from the question.

For example, if you have been asked to define a term, limit yourself to its definition only. Similarly, if you have been asked to enumerate the features of an object, just mention the various points, if you have been asked to discuss the feature, follow your answer accordingly and if asked to analyze, do it accordingly, and do not enumerate. If the interviewers ask for detail of any point, explain it in detail.

4. Understand their Question

If you have been asked a question which you could not comprehend properly, for any reason, it is better that you politely ask interviewer to repeat his question again.

Similarly, there may be possibility that an interviewer may ask a question whose comprehension and meaning is not as precise that you can think of answering. In such a case, you simply say, “Sir, this is the way that I have understood your question. Am I right?”

Do not feel shy that the interviewer will feel bad. On the contrary, he will be happy that your approach is precise and this will enhance your image. It is always better that instead of giving wrong answer to a question, ask for repetition and clarification. However, this practice should not be repeated frequently, as it may become annoying.

5. Discuss but do not Argue

At the outset, you must understand the meaning of different words—debate, discussion, conversation, gossip and dialogue.

Debate generally ensues that you prove your point. It is never done with your elders, and when done without any basis, any logic it can be very unpleasant.

Discussion is generally done to know something, strengthen any conclusion, or to come to conclusion, or to solve any problem in a definite direction. It is by and large very constructive.

Conversation is a means of communication to express yourself in a manner that conveys you.

Gossip is a meaningless conversation and has more of entertainment value and that too in a negative manner. You cannot do that with Interviewer.

Dialogue is more about equality of conversation where the two parties share conversation at equal level at equal status and is aimed at knowing the stance of each other.

It is suggested that you treat an interview as a discussion forum and not an argument forum. Discussion involves deliberating on issues that may emerge from a question. In order to sort out the issues, it is possible that there may be questions over questions, particularly in an in-depth interview. If an interviewer expresses an opinion on an issue, which you do not feel agreed, you gently express your perspective in a mode that is very sweet and gentle. You have a right to differ but only when you have a perspective built on variables that are very well known and very-very solid.

If the interviewer does not agree with your view and still persists on their earlier stand, it is best to retreat, rather than take a stand to prove the interviewer wrong.

If you (so called) take a stand, that you can’t prove, this will lead to argument and counter-argument, which may go against you.

Whenever, you have to give your opinion, always ask the interview board for a permission to give your opinion as it is ill mannerism to give your opinion in front of someone very senior or who knows much more than you on that subject.

6. Be Humble, Admit Shortcomings

Always remember, the Interviewers have been chosen by the UPSC, as they are an authority, an authority on the subject, an authority over the issue and have an experience in public domain that is far-far ahead of you. More importantly, they are in a position to determine your future and their job is to choose the best candidate suited for the services.

Apart from anything else, the interview must be a learning experience for you; you must show that you are a learner.

If in answering any question, you make a mistake and the interviewer points it out, accept your mistake. A mistake is a wrong judgment of a situation and acting on that. Therefore, committing a mistake is not very unusual phenomena while, but persisting on that mistake after it has been discovered is a blunder. Therefore, if you commit any mistake during the interview process, admit it and offer an apology.

The best response under such situation and circumstance will be to let the board know that you have learnt from the mistake and thank the board to have made you learnt something. Allowing yourself to be corrected helps you in some ways: (a) It shows that you are amenable to mentoring (b) that you are a learner (c) that you are wise.

Understand certain things logically. You have certain set of variables on the basis of which you make a conclusion, but the number of variables with senior board members will be much more to draw conclusions from as they have seen much more than you, they are better informed, their information quality is better, and they have seen the world much more than you. And also remember no one likes an arrogant person, everyone likes people with humility. Do not bring your ego, which is indicative of your immature mentality

7. Be Sauvé and Polite

It pays to remain polite throughout the interview process. Even if any unpleasant situation is created by an interviewer (this may be done deliberately to test your patience), do not lose your frame of mind.

If you show anger, and express displeasure to protect your ego, you may be treated as a vacillating person, devoid of objectivity. These personality traits are not considered suitable for any job. Being polite in the interview conveys that you have respect for other’s perspective; you are open-minded to accept new ideas and change yourself accordingly, as per the demands of a given situation. Remember, the most important sign of an intellectual mind is to engage an idea without actually agreeing to it.

8. Display Proper Etiquette and Manner

Interview is a formal process though, sometimes, the process may be conducted by the interviewers in such a way that it appears to be an informal process. This is sometimes done deliberately to put a candidate at unease and encourage him/her to force reveal some traits about her/him. If such a situation arises before you, do not forget to display the etiquette and a manner of a formal interview process. Etiquettes and mannerism are signs of your upbringing, ‘sanskar’, values as well as your civilization. Also, when you respect someone, it shows that you are strong. It may also happen that during your interview, some refreshment is brought to the interviewers. Generally, on such an occasion, refreshment is also served to the candidate sitting in the interview room. If such a situation comes before you and the interviewers ask you to take refreshment, do not deny this offer as it is against etiquette. If you do not take any particular item of refreshment served (many persons do not take tea or coffee at all), even then do not say no. Remember if one tea or coffee can help you get extra 10-50 marks, isn’t it worth it?

9. End it on a very Pleasant, Sober and Lasting Note

It is in the last stage that the chairman of the board strengthens his markings on your answer sheet, so do not do anything terrible that the chairperson changes his mind and retreats from giving you the desired marks that he may have thought of. If you have been able to carve a niche for yourself in the interview so far and have not done anything terrible, then do not do anything that goes on to become so.

There are several things that you can think of:

· Submit yourself to the board as if you are a learner and will always remain to be.

· Make them feel that you have been a very good son and/or daughter.

· End it on a light note, with a smile even if you feel defeated. This will make the board feel that you are a learner and you are taking something back with you.

· If you think that you have spoiled your interview, you can make them realize that you have realized it. There’s no harm now and you do not have anything to lose.

· Do not make the board feel that you are boisterous about your interview and that has been very good. Let them feel that they are gods and that you are also not a novice, and someone who is always willing to learn.

Remember, there is a thin line that separates confidence from arrogance, and intelligence from cleverness.


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