The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) is conducting interviews for the Civil Services Examination 2023. Candidates who appeared in the personality test have to mandatorily fill out a Detailed Application Form (DAF) which contains information about the personal and professional life of the candidates.
While the marks secured in CSE Mains decide whether a candidate will be on the list or not, the interview greatly impacts their rank and plays a decisive role in service allotment. As per the serving IAS officers, candidates need to smartly prepare their answers written in the DAF so as to not get nervous during the actual interview.
DAF is your identity in the interview room
“Most of your interview time is spent discussing the information you provide in the DAFs. The interview panel assumes that you took a conscious decision to divulge your personal information in the DAF and hence expects you to defend, analyse, and elaborate on every piece of information provided,” Jitin Yadav, a West Bengal cadre IAS officer said.
When a candidate enters the interview room, he is met with a panel of interviewers comprising the chairman and five other people. As a candidate sits across them, his only identity is what he mentioned in his DAF. Therefore, it is important and crucial for aspirants to be honest with their answers.
“The DAF has information regarding your cultural and educational background, professional history, experiences, hobbies, and interests. It is basically a summary of who you are. Your answers need to be authentic and practical as theoretical answers won’t work. The practical answers should be based on your experiences as the board is looking for practical solutions for the problems. Also, you shouldn’t boast about anything,” said Vinayak Narwade, an IAS officer from the Karnataka cadre.
Narwade secured 212 out of 275 in the UPSC CSE interview and recollects that most of the questions in his interview were related to his professional qualification.
Expect questions on your work profile
Civil Servants believe that if a candidate is employed at the time of the interview, or was previously employed but resigned, then should be prepared to face questions on his job role and responsibilities, history of the organisation, and reasons for leaving among others.
IAS Vinayak Narwade, who studied at Columbia University and worked with the US government encountered most questions related to his stay in the US.
“Most questions in my interview were based on my experience in the USA, the culture, their policies and their stand on global issues. One such specific question was related to the USA preaching to other countries to go net zero but itself was exploring oil and gas reserves, pulled out of the Paris Accord and being one of the largest contributors to vehicular emissions,” Narwade shared.
Bihar cadre IAS officer Saurabh Kumar also experienced a similar situation in his interview. “I had experience working with Airtel and a lot of the questions in my interview were regarding the telecom sectors — JIO launch, spectrum, agriculture, etc. Prior to that, I was in Indian information services and they asked me about the role in that service,” Kumar said.
Know your state and its geography
Apart from academics, the panel can also question the historical and geographical facts of one’s hometown and state. “It is important to keep oneself abreast with the current as well as past events of the home state. Further, if you have studied in cities other than your hometown or outside your state, then you may be asked about the reasons for shift and whereabouts of the city,” Yadav said.
Sharing her interview experience, IAS Sweta Mohanty* said, “During my first UPSC interview, I was asked questions about my home state Odisha and its heritage. Facing the interview board for the first time, I was pretty nervous and forgot about many important historical facts. The interview blew out due to a lack of preparation about the home state. It’s advisable that aspirants are thoroughly versed with the History, geography and politics of the state they belong to.”
Be honest about achievements and hobbies
Considered one of the trickiest sections to prepare in the DAF, civil servants believe the key to comfortably answering questions from this section is, to be honest.
Sharing an experience with his encounter with a UPSC aspirant, Yadav said, “One of the aspirants I interacted with had specified gardening as his hobby in the DAF. Coincidently, one of the interview panel members shared the same interest and hence took him out to the garden area to test his knowledge about gardening. Therefore, whatever you mention in the DAF should be well-prepared to be defended in the interview.”
IPS Ashmita Chavan — a Kerala cadre officer who mentioned ‘playing Sudoku’ as a hobby — was asked several questions related to the game. “The panellist was intrigued on playing the game as a hobby as ‘people play it as a Sunday newspaper game’, one board member said. I was asked questions on hidden triple, the 45 rule and if Sudoku can have more than one solution. I knew the answers to most of the questions but was tricked by the use of zero questions. With such questions, the board majorly tests your honesty towards the answers as sometimes aspirants mention fancy hobbies just to sound sophisticated,” Chavan said.
Courtesy : The Indian Express