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How to Success in the UPSC Interviews, Some Suggestions, Obvious Qualities

Success in the UPSC Interviews

Every year the interviewers have reported their disappointing experience of the abilities of a majority of the candidates. There are good grounds for this complaint. Most of the candidates appear before the Interview Board without any experience, with little guidance, and lacking in suitable qualifications and qualities.

Most candidates never get an opportunity of meeting before-hand the right people and they somehow fight shy even of making contacts with other candidates, who have qualified in one or other of these examinations lest they should develop an inferiority complex. In fairness to the prospective candidates in this category it should be made perfectly clear that they are not only wasting their own time and money but the time of the interviewing board also. Hence, everyone who is contemplating appearing at one of these interviews should find out how far short he is likely do fall, in any given direction, as judged by the standards set by the interviewers.

Some Suggestions

A candidate should make a copy of the application form which he fills in for the Commission and in which he has put down his qualifications and stated particular interests. He should also keep a note of the weaknesses of which he is aware, in each of his written papers, as soon as possible after the examination, as he can work up the points before the interview. As regards the first part of the suggestions made here, itis necessary that absolutely honest answers should be given to the questions printed in the application form that the candidate submits. Far too many candidates dash off answers which they think are very impressive but which, if not quite accurate in every detail, would adversely affect their chances of success. Some candidates, on the other hand, are too conservative to state their qualifications and qualities as well as weaknesses frankly.

It is futile, for a candidate to tell the Interview Board that he can play tennis if his only acquaintance with a tennis racquet is at a garden party or when he was a boy of eight or nine and bounced a ball against a wall. This misrepresentation of facts will soon be detected at the interview. Again, there is no earthly reason why he should state that he has, say, three relatives in Government service when he is aware of only one and can only tell the Commission about one only at least with any degree of accuracy. Nor should the word “relatives” be deliberately confused with a word of much wider importance, “connections”. The former connotes blood ties; the latter is a remote relationship or acquaintance.

It is hardly useful for a candidate, who is an M.Sc in Chemistry to expect that he can succeed at the interview in competition with an M.Sc in Physics if, for instance, the selection is for the post of University Professor of Astronomy. Likewise, a candidate, who has never read History for his degree course, will be ill-advised either to take this subject for one of these examinations, or if he does, to expect, in rare cases, to hold his own at the interview in this subject with those who have a sound knowledge of History.

Physical qualities are exceedingly important. For the Indian Police Service, for instance, it would be expecting rather too much ‘of the interviewers to hope they will award anything but meager marks to the candidate who is, say, 5’4″ in height, 31″ chest measurements and short vision. No amount of medical or optical evidence to’ prove fitness can override the apparent handicap of such a candidate.

Although it may be unfortunate for the candidate himself to have an impediment in speech, it is surely unreasonable to complain if the interviewing body for the Civil Services or some similar competitive service does not select such a person. This is said with no intention to disparage the  qualities of such a candidate but rather to act as” deterrent to him so that his career may not be blasted by discouragement at the initial stage.

Obvious Qualities

Poise is a quality easily recognizable, even on a warm autumn afternoon by weary interviewers. They can differentiate between the natural and the artificial at a glance. Cultivation of this quality is intended as a helpful suggestion.

Mobility of facial features is a more natural than an acquired art, but care can be taken to mechanize mobility so that in time it will pass for the natural. Interviewers are frankly not prepossessed by an unchanging facial exterior, even when they attempt to humanize the candidate by putting over a jocular remark.

Stability and self-control are qualities which come by constant practice, and they express themselves through an absence of nervous behaviour or tension. Interviewers watch keenly for these indications. If the prospective candidate is conscious of these small defects sometime before he appears for his interview, he should not fail to check these tendencies. Many candidates fidget in their chairs while facing the Interview Board; others have even been known to sing under their breath to themselves in the intervals between questions; and yet others have either scratched themselves, or waggled their knees during the brief span of thirty to forty minutes, which has to be cut short by half to avoid embarrassment on all sides. These observations on personal conduct are made to illustrate some of the pitfalls for the interviewees.

Cleanliness, as a quality, in a candidate is superfluous to mention as it is a sine qua non of success. Yet there are a few possibly otherwise really good interviewees who fare badly because of detection of unhygienic personal qualities.

A very annoying habit, which can only proceed from a quality of mind, of more than short standing is found in many instances, where candidates cluster round the interview chamber and await the return of an examinee who has gone inside. With rather overzealous and excited gestures and unpopulated voices, they conduct a second interview from which they can derive no profit. The effects on the interviewers are quite opposite because there are plenty of people connected in some way or the other with the establishment, who convey this information inside to the detriment of the next batch of interviewees. This is a timely warning not to be ignored.

Keep your cool.

Keep your confidence.

Concentrate on the interview.


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