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General Introductions for Civil Service Interview with Interview example

Civil Service Interview


General Introduction

Many brilliant candidates prefer the Indian Administrative Service to other services like the IFS and the IPS. It offers a diversity of assignments and challenges with a measure of responsibility. After all, there is no place like home !

Indian Administrative Service attracts the most brilliant and ambitious candidates from all over the country. The interview for this service is thus quite important. The success in this interview opens avenues of a very promising career to a candidate and he, as an administrator, is the arbiter of the fate of the people.

To fare successfully at the interview, the candidate must possess certain qualities. He must have an impressive personality, good manners, cultured speech, originality, initiative, resourcefulness, quickness on the uptake, and thorough command and understanding of the current Indian and World Affairs. The Board attempts to discover these qualities and allot marks accordingly.

Besides General Knowledge, the candidate’s intelligence and capacity to express himself correctly and accurately will weigh considerably. A close study of the chief events of the day is an indispensable part of the preparation for this interview.

The candidates are particularly advised to study a national newspaper on the day they are to be interviewed so as to remain in touch with the last-minute developments in the national and international politics. Up-to-date and authentic information on a topic of current importance will obviously impress the Board considerably.

The following model interviews are based on these considerations. We leave the candidates to apply their own inventive originality to convert these suggestions to their advantage and make the best use of them.

The members of the Interview Board are extremely accomplished people who can always sift the grain from the chaff. Each member may be a specialist in one branch of knowledge or another and specialists are usually perfectionists. It is, therefore, advisable to adopt a safe attitude in answering the questions.

But the candidate should not feel nervous unnecessarily. As mentioned earlier, he must retain his presence of mind and not lose faith in himself.



Candidate: Good morning, Sirs.

Chairman:  Good morning, Mr. Kaul, please take your seat.

Candidate: Thank you, sir (after taking his seat).

Chairman:  What was your position in MA ?

Candidate: I got a first-class first.

Chairman:  How many students got a first class in that year ?

Candidate: Only three.

Chairman:  Did you gain any special distinction in any previous class ?

Candidate: Sir, I won a scholarship for standing third in the Board in my Senior Secondary Examination and got the highest marks in the B.A. examination in my college.

Chairman:  How many marks did you obtain in your Senior Secondary Examination ? Candidate: 325 out of an aggregate of 400.

Chairman:  Did you take part in any extra-curricular activities in school or college ?

Candidate: Yes Sir, I was the Secretary of Debating Society in our school and, during my stay in college, I helped my tutor to arrange lectures of dignitaries visiting our town. Besides, I took an active part in many college functions.

Member:  What sort of functions ?

Candidate: For example, in arranging matches between our college and others.

Member:  Were you always a spectator in the matches or did you ever play in any of them ?

Candidate: I was one of the Hockey Eleven and took part in many matches we played.

Chairman:  You seem to have taken Science subjects in Senior Secondary and Arts in BA. Why this change ?

Candidate: Sir, I wanted to have some knowledge of both the Science and the Arts subjects.

Member:  What is your favourite subject ?

Candidate: Political Science, Sir.

Member:  Can you define Guild Socialism ?

Candidate: It is the British form of Syndicalism. The movement emerged in 1906 and advocated a restoration of the medieval guild system along modern lines. Guild Socialists aim at the abolition of the wage system and the establishment of the workers’ self-government in industry through a democratic system of national guilds, working in conjunction with other democratic functional organisations.

Member:  Who is associated with the Monroe Doctrine ?

Candidate: James Monroe, who was the Fifth President of the United States of America.

Member:  How would you define this doctrine ?

Candidate: According to this doctrine, the American Continents were henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European power and that any attempt to extend European colonies in America was dangerous to USA’s peace and safety.

Chairman:  What is the difference between the civil servants of today and their older counterparts ?

Candidate: In the British times, the Civil Officer was a sort of a demi-god with unlimited powers for good or for evil. The British in India had deliberately created a sort of a halo around the higher services with a view to imposing self-styled dignity for the rulers of the country and to avoid any contact or intimacy with the public. Now we are required not only to perform our duties efficiently but we have also to identify ourselves with the people, and give meaningful direction to the economic life of the masses, eliminate poverty, hunger, unemployment and illiteracy. We have to, in a nutshell, serve the people, not merely control them.

Chairman:  Don’t you think that a Minister under whom you are deputed to work may spoil all the toilsome work of a lifetime by uncalled for innovations, being a layman and an amateur in his office ? How would you be able to get along with such a person ?

Candidate: I believe, Sir, there is a definite advantage if the Minister is a layman. His vision is broad and his attitude promising. The mental attitude of the administrative services often becomes stereotyped through constant routine and they are apt to exaggerate the importance of a technical question. If a Minister is an expert, while supervising the work of his staff of officials, he may often find fault, and there will be friction and disagreements, for it is the habit of experts to disagree. I, therefore, believe that to produce really good results and to avoid friction and unnecessary bickering, it is necessary to have in the administration a proper combination of experts and laymen.

Chairman:  But what training could a Minister have for a particular portfolio he is entrusted with ?

Candidate: Sir, the training of a Minister in human affairs endows him with the qualities of judgement and initiative without which no government can be successfully run. His political expertise, his broad outlook and strong common sense, born out of a long experience of human dealings, brings about a very healthy and constructive outlook on all problems, as compared to the normal departmental vision which is necessarily restricted to the official and narrow perspective of a particular department. Therefore, as for myself, I would very gladly bow to the wishes, advice and direction of the Minister.

Member:  Do you think it is the official with his lifelong handling of intricate problems connected with his department or a political man, say a Minister, who comes constantly in touch with the people, is the better judge of a particular problem or a set of problems ? Shouldn’t the Minister who should seek his guidance in all such matters ?

Candidate: I am, Sir, of a contrary opinion. It is the political head of department who is in a position to tell the officials what the public will not stand. It is he who foresees the reactions of the Cabinet or Parliament and makes it clear to his officers how far they must modify their proposals to meet these considerations.

Chairman:  All right, but ten us, what should be the relationship between a Minister and the officials ?

Candidate: It is that the Minister determines the policy and, once it is determined, it is the unquestioned and unquestionable business of the civil servant to strive for carrying out that policy with goodwill and determination whether he agrees with it or not.

Member:  Should he carry out all of the Minister’s decisions without question ?

Candidate: This is not the spirit of our times and no one expects the officials to behave in this manner. It is the traditional duty of a civil servant to make available to his political chief all the information and experience at his disposal and to do this without fear or favour, irrespective of whether the advice thus tendered may go along or not with the Minister’s personal or political views. The Minister may take any decision thereafter.

Chairman:  Did you play any game other than hockey, Mr. Kaul ?

Candidate: Yes Sir, I play tennis also.

Chairman:  What do you mean by forehand ?

Candidate: It is simply a swing of the racquet on the same side of body as the hand in which the racquet is held, the most important of the stroke being a follow-through after the ball has been struck.

Chairman:  That will do, Mr. Kaul.

Candidate: Thank you, Sir.


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