How important is the final interview of the IAS exam? Are the marks of “4 papers of GS, 2 papers of optional and an essay” combined with the interview marks?

Personality Test, also known as ‘Interview’ in Civil Services, is the final step for success in Civil Services Examination. The Interview done as the Personality Test is conducted to have a qualitative analysis of candidate and to check the suitability of the candidate for a career in Civil Services. The ‘Interview’ comprises of 275 marks out 2025 marks scheme of the UPSC Civil Services Examination.

The Personality Test is independent of the Mains Examination, where the Mains Examination doesn’t play any role in deciding the course of Interview. Of course, its marks are added in the final round. The Personality Test is the most important facet of the Civil Services Examination, because once the UPSC becomes certain that the candidate concerned possesses good administrative qualities, then the Board gives them enough marks so that they qualify irrespective of their Mains Examination marks, and that they do not require the aid of the Mains Examination.

The Importance of Interview in UPSC examination is because:

1. It is aimed at assessing candidate’s personality, whether he/she is suitable to be a competent administrator or not.

2. The interview (Personality Test) evaluates not only the intellectual qualities of candidate but also awareness in contemporary events happening globally and nationally by judging the presence of mind, mental awareness, balance of perception, leadership qualities, moral and intellectual traits, simplicity and honesty.

3. To understand the administrative, and problem solving qualities of the candidate by conversation, and not through examination.

4. The interview is intended to know about candidate’s knowledge and interest not only in his specialized subject of academics study but also in the events happening across him and whether he/she has comprehended the nature of problem through someone or through his/her own observation.

5. It is done for the evaluation of traits that are essential for being a civil servant, i.e., positive attitude, alertness of mind, quick decision-making power, free from any prejudice, ability to act in stressed situations and to handle difficult situations.

6. It searches for the most suitable candidate who has:-

(a) Willingness to acquire and learn new things

(b) Open to new ideas especially in administrative arena.

(c) Flexibility of approach to any situation.

(d) Positive attitude on national, societal, environmental and developmental issue.

(e) Willingness to look for out of box solution.

Why Interview is more important than any Stage of Preparation?

Consider this- An athlete trains for 10 years in life, trains for ten hours a day, trains for six days a week, sacrifices his/her taste for tasty food, focuses so much that the entire world is oblivious of it. The aim is to win one race, a race that lasts for only 10 seconds, a race that lasts for only 100 metres, and a race to win within 10 seconds. The entire preparation is for that those 10 seconds of glory. It is this final 10 seconds that tests the preparation of the candidate, it is this final 10 seconds that tests whether he/she has put his/her efforts behind and with how much sincerity one has prepared for those 10 seconds. In reality, it is these 10 seconds that makes or mars the dream. In Civil services it is the Personality Test of 30 minutes for which the candidate has prepared himself for all those years. It is the final 30 minutes that makes or mars the candidate’s future and his dreams.

This is the same situation that a student faces in his/her 30 minutes of Interview where his entire of life’s learning, everything that he has learnt in his last 20-25 years is subject to test. Where anyone is appearing for Prelims Exams, or Mains Examination, it is only towards this end that finishing matters the most.

For the past few years, scoring in Mains exam has dropped very low and due to this the importance of it has increased manifold. It is not only deciding whether you get into the services or not but also the type of services allocated.

To be casual for the interview means one is anything but wise, to be careless means one is anything but sincere, to be arrogantly dismissive of its importance and preparation means that he/she is a fool of the highest category.

Imagine, the Personality Test is for only 30 minutes not of three hours as the normal examination papers are of that duration. This Personality test effectively requires a slight moulding, a slight refinement in one’s approach. To be able to deal with Personality test, to get marks in the test actually requires, much less effort than preparing for any paper in the Civil Services and the dividend it gives is the same and in real value sense much more than any other paper. Despite that, students ignoring the test and/or taking it casually can be called anything but cannot be called as wisdom, rationality or foresightedness.

There is no other test in the entire country that is as crucial as the 30 minutes of Interview and there is no other test towards which the approach of the aspirants is as casual as it is.

Personality Test of UPSC is the most predictable test, as one knows the value of doing well and the results that are commensurate to it. The same does not hold correct for Mains. The entire combination of Mains & Interview must be dealt with equal sincerity. The entire effort of qualifying Prelims and Mains comes to naught if the Personality Test is not up to the mark; and then there is no second chance that the candidates get in the same combination i.e.. PT, Mains and Interview. Anything goes wrong and the stage goes back to zero i.e., once again to the starting point.

The interview may carry on for 20 minutes, 30 minutes or an hour but generally it takes 35 minutes to finish and it passes by the blink of an eye. Most of the aspirants are of the view that there is no need to prepare for the interview as they are already ready and they would be successful. They take it for granted.

Indeed the marks of “4 papers of GS, 2 papers of optional and an essay” combined with the interview marks to prepare the merit list and the final selection list.


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