Friends, IAS interview i.e. officially called as Personality Test is the last hurdle in becoming a Civil Servant that carries 275 marks and is capable of altering your final ranking in civil services examination. As per previous years’ trend, it is learnt that marks awarded in IAS interview may range from 45% to 80% which is a great range of variation and is capable of both shattering or realizing one’s dream to get selected to his/her ‘dream service’. In majority of the cases, Civil service aspirants consider IAS as their first choice because of its higher power, privileges and better career prospects. Thus, it is the most sought service among all civil services which is offered to top ranking IAS candidates. Therefore, performance in the interview plays a decisive role not only in your final selection but to lend you in your preferred service. In the present write-up, we discuss the most frequent questions and their handling to secure good enough marks in IAS interview.
Q-1. Introduce yourself or define yourself?
It is the most common question in IAS the interviewer may ask in an interview. In such a situation, you should emphasize and leave clues for the areas of your interest that you wish to express. You should introduce yourself by your name and be prepared if a question can be asked from your name as well, particularly in case, your name is not very common or it may have some relationship with something famous. Usually you should not give your family details until you are asked to do. You can also name your home state and home district but be prepared for probable questions from your home district and home state. Besides, you should also tell about your hobbies but be prepared for leading questions.
Q-2.Why do you want to be a Civil Servant?
The next most frequent question in an IAS interview is ‘why do you want to be a Civil Servant? It seems to be a quite simple question but it is not. While replying to this question, don’t express that you want to join civil services for social service, power or good salary and the other facilities available to a Civil Servant as it may ruin your answer.
Your ideal reply should come by citing an incident or a story which provoked, ignited and fuelled your desire to become a Civil Servant. The story may be a bit emotional but in no case a dramatic one. It should be a usual and a spontaneous one. You should keep ready with any such incident or experience. Just rewind through to your past memories and filter one of those experiences or incidents that inspired you to be a Civil Servant. Besides, you may complement your reply by highlighting the opportunities and the challenges which civil services offer. Some of these may include the following:
You can express that civil services particularly in IAS there is wide diversity in job profile. It offers tremendous opportunities to learn and gain both experiences and career advancement. More often, civil servants are asked to serve on central deputation which offers good opportunities to work in different services and domain areas. It breaks the monotony of working in the same field throughout one’s career.
Civil services also provide opportunities to work at important decision making positions and contribute for development in a much wider manner than that of in any other capacity. Besides, services offer financial stability and other perquisites which make these services more attractive for young talented persons.
In India, Civil servants are seen with great social respect which may be one of the greatest rewards and motivation for those who want to become Civil Servant not because of money and security of job but for the respect and recognition they may have from society and masses. It makes these services distinct from any other employment.
Q-3. Why should we select you?
More often, the Civil Servant aspirants are encountered with the question ‘why should we select you?’ Many of the aspirants reply that I am very hardworking, honest and sincere. It is the most common reply that is usually given. But you should focus in your reply on some of the most wanted values of an ideal Civil servant. Mere expression of any of the values of Civil Servant will not work but you have to substantiate your stated values with your life incidents and examples that can becited as testimony to your reflections. For instance, if you reply that you have a high level of perseverance then you have to produce instances to support your statement. You can reply that you have better planning skills along with an execution plan. Again be ready with instances which demonstrate your planning skills, integrity objectivity compassion perseverance and decision making skills. You can devise some instances for practice. However, remember one thing that the instances you devise for supporting your attributes and values wanted of a Civil servant must be near to your life experiences and must resemble as natural reflections rather than calculated ones. You can also express your scientific temperament and analytical skills as a reason for being selected. Again you must be ready to support your claim from real life examples the reveal these attributes within your personality. A list of the attributes wanted of a Civil Servant is as under:
• Decision making Skills
• Scientific temperament and Analytical skills
• Compassion- sensitive towards the underprivileged
You can also claim your attributes on the basis of other’s assessments such as family, friends, classmates, relatives, etc. Besides, you can also complement your claim as per self-assessment by expressing that you have talked with some other Civil service aspirants and you know that you have equal skills, however you believe that the best candidates must be selected and if there are better candidates and you are not selected you would have no regret and you will improve yourself and come again for the interview.
Q-4. Tell us about your Five Strengths?
You should assess your personality as per life examples to support your strength & weakness expressed in order to reply to this question. Never claim your greatness and Superhuman abilities while replying to this question. It must be a genuine expression of your strengths and weaknesses, moreover, the intensity of your strength and weaknesses should be a well-controlled ones because when something exceeds beyond a limit though it is a strength it becomes a weakness. Therefore be careful about the degree of emphasis upon your strengths and weaknesses. You should reflect yourself as a balanced personality not as a great or extreme personality. For instance compassion towards underprivileged may be claimed as a strength, however, if an aspirant claims that he cannot control his emotions if he/she comes across that some underprivileged is being harassed or exploited. Such an emotional outburst may reflect ‘compassion’ as your weakness not as your strength.
You can claim patience and perseverance as your core strength but you should substantiate these attributes with examples from your life. You can also express tolerance towards different cultures, ideologies such as capitalism, socialism or any other opposing philosophies as your strength. You may express that you believe in the middle path approach in life and tend to adopt whatever is good even if it comes from opposing ideologies.You can claim empathy as your strength. It is the ability to put yourself at another’s place and feel. It is also a good attribute for a Civil Servant because it helps them in making a decision and visualizing how others will be affected by that decision. You can explore other civil services values mentioned in the Ethics paper to claim as your strengths. Following is the list of some of the values of a civil servant.
• Balance of judgment
• Belief in natural Justice
• Quick decision making
• Good Planning & execution skills
Besides, you can also express the following attributes as your strengths but be prepared to illustrate these if you are asked to do that.
• Quick Learner and curious about new technology
• Habit of doing things with focus
• Health Consciousness
Friends remember one thing that whatever strengths and weaknesses you choose to express before the interview board there should not be any inherent contradictionbetween strengths and weaknesses as your personality attributes. Speak honestly as it impresses and impresses well.
Q-5. Tell us your five Weaknesses?
Firstly while replying to this question, one must remember that any weaknesses involving some illegality, damage to society, insensitivity towards underprivileged, gender, caste, class and race should not to be expressed as one’s personality weaknesses. Further, you should express that you are trying to overcome the weaknesses which you have expressed before the interview board along with the efforts which you are undertaking presently to overcome your weaknesses. You can express some of the weaknesses as from the given list.
• Workaholic and sometime find it difficult to balance family responsibility
• Oversensitivity towards deprived sections or situations
• Poor diet control- I have a loose control over my diet
• Lazy at home
• Introvert-A bit shy and not much socially smart to impress people in functions and gatherings.
• Passionate about playing chess that sometimes disturbs my time management
• Limited artistic expression-I am not good at drawing, singing, etc.
• Not able to mug up facts-I am not a man of facts
There may be many more weaknesses which can be added to the above list but remember one thing, never express any weakness which is inconsistent with the core values of civil services and the attributes and skills required of a Civil Servant. Any of the weaknesses expressed must not hinder the effective discharge of functions and responsibilities that the Civil servants are entrusted with.