UPSC Interview Preparation Strategy

Here we are, with the third and final part of our blog on “Tips for preparing for UPSC IAS Interview”. In this sequel, we are sharing some important DO’s and DON’Ts for the IAS Interview. The DOs and DON’Ts listed here are generic in nature and would apply to all. However, each candidate has individualistic traits, habits, strengths and weakness which can to be identified by a professional Mock Interview Board. This is where the relevance of taking Mock Interviews exists. Experienced members of the Board based on their observations about the candidate will be able to give personalised feedback and advise on DOs and DON’Ts. Hence, we strongly recommend that a candidate must go through a number of Mock Interviews with a professional institute. This is an inescapable requirement for preparing well for the UPSC IAS interview.

In this blog we have also answered some frequently asked questions (FAQs) which confound most of the candidates and there is always an apprehension in their mind about whom to ask. Our mock interview boards face these questions every year during feedback session held with the candidate. Rau’s Mock Interview Board members are all retired Civil Servants with years of service experience behind them and also having been enriched with the experience of conducting mock interviews of thousands of candidates over the years.


a) Speak only the truth and nothing but the truth. This not only is easier to defend but is also more convenient.

b) You must be attentive while listening to the Board members. While responding you may re-use a couple of words or phrases used in the statement by the Board. Be mentally prepared for follow up questions and don’t let your mind wander off.

c) Never make any categorical statement or express strong views on any issue. You should always preface or bring in expressions like: ‘as far as my knowledge goes’, ‘personally I think’, ‘from what I have read’ etc.

d) Make an attempt to break the ‘question/statement’ into its constituent parts and then proceed analytically. If you are not able to tackle all the parts, you can frankly express the same.

e) Be calm, look pleasant and composed in appearance, particularly when you are not able to tackle a question. Poise and grit are the most important requirements of an administrator.


a) Avoid expression, “I am sorry”.

b) Avoid all conversational clichés, like: “as you know”, “that’s correct”, “of course”, “indeed”, “obviously”, etc.

c) Avoid technical jargon while answering one or two ‘questions’ in a sequence. However, if a member continues to probe you in any technical field, you can use technical expressions there onwards.

d) Never put on a glum face during the test. You should keep smiling, look composed and cheerful. One caution here: if the Board laughs, you should only smile; if the Board smiles; look pleasant. It is only when you maintain respectable distance that the Board begins to wonder about the depth of your personality.

e) Do not give long introductions; a prologue to your answer. Straight come to the point and address the question answered.

f) Do not blurt out your ‘answer’ although you already know how to handle the ‘question’. Give yourself three to four seconds to arrange your ideas before you open the mouth.

g) Do not make hasty or sweeping generalizations. As far as possible avoid making generalized statements, unless absolutely essential. Even then, it should be done with due caution.

Queries most have in mind but are apprehensive to ask

  1. Is fluency in spoken English very important for UPSC interview? The answer is “Not at all”. The recruitment is not for a professorial position in English at a University. As long as you are able to convey your point clearly and concisely, that is enough. Moreover, those candidates who do not feel confident in English can opt to take PT in the language of their choice.
  2. What should be the dress code for UPSC interview? Well, consider that you are on the other side of the table and there enters a candidate who is wearing un-ironed clothes, has not shaven and had taken the last hair cut probably before the Mains examination! Surely, this candidate would not give a very pleasing impression. On the flip side you also don’t have to dress up like James Bond wearing a custom-made Tim Ford single breasted suit! Wearing neat, well ironed clothes and clean polished shoes would meet the requirement. If you can wear a neck tie, it will be good. An interview of this nature is regarded a formal occasion, hence the recommendation is of a formal dress. It is also considered as a mark of respect towards the Board and your dress shows how seriously you take the occasion.
  3. Can I laugh or smile while Board shares a lighter moment during the Interview? Always keep a slight smile on your face throughout the interview. But this smile shouldn’t turn into laughter even if the members laugh or crack jokes. Do also realise that they are looking for potential Administrators and not stand-up comedians. Maintain a formal appearance at all times.
  4. Whom should I greet when I enter the interview room? Am I required to greet each member in the panel individually? Well, you are required to exchange pleasantries (Good Morning/ Good afternoon/ Good evening) only with the Chairperson who is heading the panel. You may smile or nod gently to the other if someone makes an eyes contact with you. Similarly, while leaving the room you should thank the Board collectively while addressing the Chairperson.
  5. Should I occupy the Chair on my own or wait for someone to ask me to sit? You must wait for someone to ask you to sit. Occupying the chair without having been asked to, would be discourteous. It may happen that for few seconds no one asks you to sit. But that could be intentional just to see your reaction. Hold your nerves, you will be asked to. Remember, we never took seat in front of our school teacher or Principal unless we were asked to!
  6. Should I lean back in the chair or sit without back support? Sitting with your back completely resting against the chair should be the way. This would help you calm down and give you feeling of confidence which will be seen by the board. A candidate sitting on the edge of the chair would appear to be edgy giving an impression that he/she is ready to make a sprint out of the interview room, if given an option.
  7. How should I keep my hands during the interview? Ideally, the hands should be kept in front on your lap .Do not hold the chair arms as if you are resisting being thrown out of a flying aircraft without a parachute. Body language and gestures reveal the state of our mind. Try to identify the posture in which you feel most comfortable and then practice it till it comes to you naturally. Some people use lots of hand gestures while talking. Well, you may use such gestures occasionally but the formality of the occasion demands that they should be avoided.

Personality being a window to the inner you, it’s extremely important for the UPSC board to understand your personality in and out before assigning you the great responsibility of serving the nation. What UPSC is looking for in a candidate is a person of substance who has the intelligence and courage to take on any job and give her best to it without fear or favour. Briefly, they are looking for a person who will hold his ground and stand by his colleagues in the difficult situations with complete sincerity & commitment.







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