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How to Prepare for UPSC Civil Services Personality Test/Interview? - Details, Eligibility, Process and Important Tips

Abhinav Chamoli
Abhinav ChamoliUpdated On: July 06, 2022 01:25 pm IST

Did you know that the average aspirant appearing for the UPSC Civil Services Personality Test (Interview) is not able to score more than 50% marks in the test? Read more about how you can beat the average.

UPSC Civil Services Interview Preparation Tips

One of the most prestigious competitive exams in India, the Civil Services Exam (CSE) is conducted by the Union Public Services Commission (UPSC). The exam is the common gateway for recruitment of civil servants in services such as the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), Indian Police Service (IPS) etc.

Also referred to as the IAS exam, the UPSC Civil Services exam is considered to be one of the toughest exams in India. This is not only because high-difficulty level questions are asked from a very wide range of subjects and syllabus but also because the selection ratio is quite low. In 2016, more than 11,00,000 candidates applied for the UPSC Civil Services Exam when the number of vacancies was just over 1,200.

Therefore, it becomes very important to familiarise yourself with each and every section of the UPSC Civil Services examination, to have a good strategy, be smart with your preparation and work for overall growth. In this article, we explore the UPSC Personality Test and how to prepare for it.

UPSC Personality Test

Having an in-depth knowledge of essential subjects is vital for any civil servant. However, for a candidate to become a good civil servant, it is important that they come prepared to function even during stressful and demanding situations. This is why it becomes essential to judge the overall personality of a candidate and Personality Test (Interview) is conducted.

Personality Test is the third and final step in the UPSC Civil Services Examination. UPSC Civil Service personality test will be conducted from February 17, 2020 onwards. It is an essential part of the selection process as it is the only step where a candidate has to answer questions face-to-face with not one but a number of interviewers. Candidates taking the personality test can no longer expect to excel based solely on their book-learned knowledge. They have to rely on their personality and interpersonal skills to do well in the test.

Given below are some key highlights of the UPSC Civil Services Personality Test.

TestUPSC Civil Services Personality Test
VenueUnion Public Service Commission, Dholpur House, Shahjahan Road, Man Singh Road Area, New Delhi - 110069
Interview TimingsInterview Conducted in two sessions.
Morning Sessions (9 AM) and Evening Sessions (2 PM)
Dress CodeCandidates must wear formal clothing and decent, light-coloured clothes are preferable.
Men: Light-Coloured Shirt, Dark-Coloured Pants with Tie (if preferable)
Women: Saree or Salwar
Maximum Marks275

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What is Tested Through UPSC CSE Personality Test?

Through the UPSC CSE Personality Test, the following areas will be used to test the candidates:

  • Mental alertness
  • Clear and logical exposition
  • Critical powers of assimilation
  • Balance of judgement
  • The ability for social cohesion and leadership
  • Variety and depth of interest
  • Intellectual and moral integrity

Types of Questions Asked in UPSC Personality Test

Even though there is no specific syllabus for the personality test of UPSC Civil Services, there are some of sample questions that can help the candidates prepare for the test. The most common topics and questions asked in UPSC Personality Test are given below:

Common Topics

Follow Up Questions

Freedom of Speech and Expression

  • How will you reconcile Freedom of Speech with Civil Service Conduct rules?

  • Isn’t it time to reconsider portions of Penal Code that criminalizes defamation?

  • Don’t you think sedition charges are used unreasonably with the sole intention of curbing free speech?

  • What do you think about the freedom of the press in India?

Uniform Civil Code (UCC)

  • Doesn’t the personal law system violate the principle of equality?

  • Don’t you think that the introduction of UCC will lead to the betterment of the position of women in India?

  • Aren’t laws like special marriage act sufficient to cover people of all faith in India?

Capital Punishment

  • Don’t you think that everyone has an inalienable human right to life?

  • Won’t fear of death act as a deterrent against crimes?

  • Isn’t retribution a wrong tendency to have in the land of Gandhi?

  • Isn’t there a chance that an innocent might get killed?

  • Do you support capital punishment for crimes like rape?

Form of government

  • Didn’t the Union Constitution Committee choose parliamentary system only because its members were more familiar with it more than anything else?

  • Doesn’t it lead to a situation where the executive is not responsible for the directly elected legislature?

  • Isn’t the Presidential form of government more stable and accountable?

  • What if the president belongs to one party and the legislature is controlled by another party? Won’t it lead to conflict?

Elections

  • Doesn’t it create an anomaly when it leads to a situation where the majority of the electorate do not find representation in an elected body?

  • The FPTP system can lead to majoritarianism. For example, the recent elections have resulted in one of the lowest Muslim representation in the Lok Sabha. Don’t you think that this should change?

  • With FPTP, the MLA or MP tend to focus more on people who voted for him/her. Doesn’t it lead to vote-bank politics?

Need for Rajya Sabha

  • Do you approve of a system where an indirectly elected House like Rajya Sabha can hold up proposals approved by the directly elected Lok Sabha which represents the will of the people?

  • Should we continue nomination of members to Rajya Sabha?

  • Eventually, the ruling party will be able to form a majority in Rajya Sabha as well. So how will the system of checks and balances of a bi-cameral Parliament be available then?

  • What are the steps to be taken to increase the relevance of Rajya Sabha?

Population control

  • Most of these measures were attempted from as early as 1951-52 onwards via different committees and Five-Year Plans. Despite these, the population of India grew at a faster pace and is still growing. So, don’t you think that coercive measures are necessary?

  • Many educated girls are getting married early. So, is there a correlation between female literacy and birth control?

  • Do you think families in rural India will accept delayed marriage of their daughters?

Status of women

  • If the status of women has improved, then why haven’t women representation in the labour force and in Parliament/assemblies increased?

  • Why we are witnessing increasing crimes against women?

  • Why India is having poor Gender Inequality Index?

Social Problems in India

  • We were facing poverty and illiteracy at the time of independence and the same continues even now, don’t you think?

Reservation

  • Should it still continue after spending so much of education?

  • Are reservations against the concept of equality?

  • Should the reservation be made time-bound?

  • A related question might be asked by another board member/ at a later stage, like do you think its time we move towards meritocracy in administration?

  • Should poverty be one of the criteria for providing reservation?

UPSC Personality Test Eligibility Criteria

Only the candidates who have cleared the UPSC Civil Services Preliminary Examination and the UPSC Civil Services Mains Examination are considered eligible to appear for the UPSC Civil Services Personality Test.

UPSC Personality Test Interview Process

Roughly, the number of candidates selected for the UPSC Personality Test is two-and-a-half times the number of total vacancies. Selected candidates can refer to the steps given below for the procedure in which a UPSC Civil Services Exam Personality Test.

  • Download e-Summon: Candidates who have cleared the UPSC Civil Services Mains Examination must download their e-Summon letter from the relevant portal. The e-Summons Letter and its attachments. Go through any instructions and carefully note the date and session for your UPSC Personality Test.

  • Reach Venue: Show up at least 30 minutes in advance of the scheduled time. You will be required to go through security and document check before being allowed inside. Showing up early also helps provide you time to calm your nerves and get in the zone. Candidates who live outside Delhi are advised to check the location of the interview centre and make appropriate arrangements for accommodation beforehand to avoid any hiccups on the day of the UPSC Civil Services Interview.

  • Document Verification: Submit documents for verification. The document verification is generally conducted before the interview. Original documents are checked and returned to the candidate on the same day.

  • Panel and Sequence Allocation: You will be required to pick chits based on which you will be assigned the panel number and sequence number for your interview. Interviews are conducted by a number of panels, each containing multiple members who conduct 5-6 interviews in each session.

  • Interview: When your turn arrives, a staff member will lead you to the respective room where your interview will be conducted.The interviews usually are around 30 to 45 minutes long but the duration is not fixed and may last longer or shorter than average, depending on the satisfaction of the interviewing panel. A longer-lasting interview is considered a good indication that a candidate has managed to grab the attention of the interviewing panel.

  • Medical Examination: You will be required to appear on the next working day for a medical checkup. You are also required to carry certain additional medical documents and certificates for this step.

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UPSC Personality Test Required Documents

Candidates called for a UPSC Personality Test (Interview) are required to bring the following documents with them to the interview.

S. No.DocumentDetails
1Matriculation Certificate or equivalent (proof of Date of Birth)Original and Self-Attested Photocopy
2Degree Certificate / Provision Degree Certificate or MarksheetsOriginal and Self-Attested Photocopy
3Passport-Size Photographs2 Copies, 1 Self-Attested Copy
4e-Summon LetterPrint Out
5Filled QuestionnaireA 7-page questionnaire containing questions related to a candidate's background, personal motivations and other interview-related questions.
Additional Documents (If Applicable)
1Caste / Trible Certificate (SC/ST candidates only)Original and Photocopy
2Physical Disabilities Certificate / DWE Certificate for PH-1 (LDCP)Original and Photocopy
Postgraduate Degree / Higher Education Certificates and MarksheetsOriginal and Photocopy
3Certificates in Support of Age RelaxationOriginal and Photocopy
4TA Form (Outstation candidates only)Two Copies and Proof of Journey
5AffidavitRequired for candidates with minor discrepancies in their name

UPSC Personality Test Preparation Tips

The Personality Test is a very important step in the Civil Services Examination since a little over 10% of the total marks of the UPSC Civil Services Exam depend upon the interview. The UPSC Civil Services Personality Test or Interview is considered to be difficult not only because of the immense knowledge and experience of the candidate but also because of the level of competition that a candidate has to face.

While the interview may take any turn and it is better not to have set expectations in your mind, there are some common questions and areas which you can prepare and improve upon to have an answer ready when it is asked. Here are some tips for a candidate preparing for the UPSC Civil Services Interview.

Knowledge-Building

  • Start with yourself. Generally, an interview starts with personal questions. Even though personal questions help in making you feel comfortable and at ease at the start of the interview, they also help show the panel how well you know yourself and the confidence with which you can justify your choices. Some of the topics that personal questions may be related to are:

    • Bio-Data: Questions related to yourself, your family and other personal relations may be asked.

    • Name: Meaning, unusual spellings, famous personalities with similar names etc.

    • City/state of residence: Famous places, points of interests, important facts etc.

    • Hobbies and interests: Favourite subjects, choice of subjects in the UPSC Civil Services exam, choice of services if selected etc. You are expected to have good knowledge of your interests and you should have a good answer prepared.

    • Current and previous employment

  • Stay on top of the current affairs: Questions related to matters of national and international importance may be asked and a Civil Services aspirant is expected to be aware of these events. However, if you express an opinion you may be expected to provide your reasons for having that opinion. Don't just cram, analyse, carefully form your reasons and don't be afraid to share your perspective.

  • Theoretical and subject-related knowledge: A civil services aspirant is expected to have good theoretical knowledge as well and questions may be asked related to your studies in graduation and for UPSC preparation.

Personality Development

Personality development is a long-term process and requires the development of certain habits and traits. However, improving your personality is not an impossible task.

  • Practice in groups: Practice talking in a voice that is clearly audible. Practising for the interview in the company of friends will help you gain the confidence of talking to a person. When practising in groups, you can also provide and receive feedback and notice the mistakes that may not be obvious when you consider only yourself.

  • Work on developing a calm and confident body language: There are many strategies that a person can use to improve their body language. Drop any bad habits such as biting nails or touching face or hair while talking or unnecessary shaking of hands or legs.

  • Appear for/Watch mock interviews: Many IAS coaching centres and study groups conduct mock interviews for the UPSC Civil Services Exam. Mock interviews of previously-selected civil servants can also be found online.

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UPSC Personality Test Interview Tips

The UPSC Civil Servies Interview is as much about confidence and poise as it is about having knowledge and skill. The panel judges the analytical and problem-solving skills of a candidate, how a person handles a difficult question or situation, mental awareness, social conduct and many other factors essential to a person holding a post as a civil servant in India.

It helps if you consider the interview as a conversation than as an assessment of your skills. However, it should always be kept in mind that this is not a casual event. You will be facing an esteemed panel of (mostly retired) professionals with decades of experience in their respective fields and a wealth of knowledge that's hard to beat. Be formal, polite and respectful in your conduct and speech, and take the interview very seriously.

Here are some pointers that you should keep in mind while sitting for the UPSC Civil Services Interview.

Before the Interview

  • Have a good night's rest before the interview. In the morning, have a light breakfast before you come to the venue.

  • Dress appropriately. Good attire goes a long way when it comes to boosting confidence and self-esteem. Remember that it won't matter if your clothes are old but they should be clean and ironed and should not look shabby. Take special care to polish and clean your footwear.

  • Clear your mind on the day of the interview. Obsessing over the questions you are going to be asked can confuse and derail you.

  • Know the panel board. Reading more about understanding the panel can help you formulate better answers during the interview.

During the Interview

  • Be confident. From the moment you walk in, to the way you greet the panel and the way you sit and talk, your body language says a lot about you. Sit straight up in the chair with feet placed firmly on the ground, palms flat on the thighs and arms resting on the armrests.

  • You will be greeted by the Chairperson when you walk in. Return the greeting and greet the other members of the panel as well.

  • Be attentive and mentally alert. Maintain eye contact with the person asking the question and while delivering the answer.

When and What You Speak

  • Your answers and views should be shaped from the perspective of a civil servant and not just a common citizen. A person gains an immense amount of knowledge about the country and the world while preparing for the interview and that helps build a unique perspective.

  • Use polite words and soft language during your conversation with the panel. Avoid being too negative about situations.

  • Give answers that are concise and to-the-point. Put your point across without beating around the bush.

  • It's OK to not know an answer to a question. Simply telling the panel that you do not know is much better than making up an answer or getting stuck on it for too long.

  • You may be asked to solve a puzzle or provide an answer that uses nothing but your common sense.

  • Do not be hesitant to share your views and opinions provided that they are backed by good reason. You can be assertive and confidence but only to the extent that helps the panel understand your perspective. Do not enter into an argument with the panel over any issue.

  • Do not lie or boast unnecessarily. Do not quote facts and figures that you are unsure of.

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The UPSC Civil Services Interview can prove to be one of the most difficult and stressful phases of the whole process. However, it is also a wonderful opportunity to interact with some highly-experienced and knowledgeable people. Just sitting for the interview is a unique experience, which is only gained by a handful from millions of aspirants appearing for the exam. Be confident of success, prepare well and give it your best. Good luck!

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