Best Strategy to Crack UPSC Interview 2023

upsc interview preparation
upsc interview preparation

Looking for the best strategy for UPSC Interview preparation? This article of NEXT IAS unveils a comprehensive strategy on how to prepare for UPSC Interview. 

About UPSC Interview/Personality Test

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts Civil Services Examination (CSE) every year to select candidates for India’s most prestigious jobs such as Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS) etc. UPSC Interview/Personality Test is the third and the final stage of the UPSC Civil Services Examination.

It is a Viva-voce type of examination wherein the candidate is interviewed by an Interview Board. With a total of 275 marks allotted to UPSC Interview/Personality Test, it plays an important role in ensuring selection and better rank of a candidate. 

Strategies and Tips for UPSC Interview Preparation

The nature and scheme of UPSC Interview is such that cracking it requires a comprehensive UPSC Interview preparation strategy that encompasses multiple things, such as – Thorough Coverage of Relevant Subjects, Developing an Effective Verbal & Non-Verbal Communication, Inculcating Good Interview Demeanours etc.

Following is a list of important elements, as explained under various heads, that should be incorporated in one’s UPSC Interview preparation to ace the same:

Thorough Coverage of Relevant Subjects

The UPSC does not provide any defined syllabus for Interview/Personality Test. However, the Scheme of Interview/Personality, as provided by the UPSC, and the experiences of the past interviewees suggest that questions asked by the Interview Board are generally based on the following spheres:

  • About Yourself: This is the area which the UPSC Interview, generally, starts with. Thus, a candidate should prepare concise-yet-comprehensive answers on questions such as – introduce yourself, your strengths, your weaknesses, your idols etc. 
  • Detailed Application Form (DAF): The interview board expects one to have a thorough knowledge about every single detail mentioned in one’s DAF. Thus, one should prepare well for questions based on one’s – educational background, work experience, hobbies, home state etc. 
  • Optional Subject: Albeit the Interview/Personality Test is not intended to be a test either of the specialized knowledge of the candidates, the Interview Board does ask some basic questions based on your Optional Subject. Thus, one must be well-versed with the basic concepts and theories pertaining to one’s optional subject. 
  • Current Affairs: It is a well-established fact that all the three stages of the UPSC Civil Services Examination are current affairs driven. Thus, your preparation for UPSC Interview must include a thorough study of current affairs of the last one year, and especially of the last 6 months, that are of national and international importance.
  • General Knowledge: The interview board does ask questions based on the subjects included in the General Studies papers of the UPSC Civil Services Main Examination, such as History, Geography, Polity, Economy etc. Thus, UPSC Interview preparation cannot be complete without preparing these subjects.
  • Situational Questions: Many times, the interview board poses some situational questions to check the candidate’s decision making abilities. These questions are pretty much similar to the case study questions asked in the Mains Ethics Paper. The candidate is advised to prepare for such questions as part of one’s preparation UPSC Interview. 

Developing an Effective Verbal & Non-Verbal Communication

While you may be a great scholar of a particular subject, the interview board gets to see only that much of your knowledge which is conveyed through your communication. This highlights the importance of paying attention to Verbal and Physical Communication as part of your UPSC Interview preparation. Following are some tips to improve this aspect of your preparation:

  • Verbal Communication: Verbal Communication becomes the primary medium to present your knowledge before the interview board. Thus, it is imperative that one has a good command over the language chosen as the medium for one’s interview. This, in turn, requires that one pays attention to following elements:
    • Paying close attention to what the members of the interview board are saying and thoughtfully process them to base your response upon.
    • Maintaining a good level of fluency with clear articulation of ideas.
    • Using appropriate vocabulary and correct grammar.
    • Modulating your tone as per the situation so as to convey your mindful presence in the interview. 
  • Non-Verbal Communication: If not more, non-verbal communication is as important as verbal communication when it comes to the UPSC Interview. In order to assess your personality, the interview board assesses various elements of non-verbal communication. Thus, the candidate must work to improve upon things such as:
    • Maintaining a confident Body Language
    • Maintaining good Gestures & Postures
    • Maintaining proper Eye Contacts with members of the interview board. 

Inculcating Good Interview Demeanours 

The UPSC interview board expects that a candidate has a positive attitude towards the service to the nation and one’s life in general. The board tries to gauge this through your verbal as well as physical responses to the questions and situations posed to you. Thus, it is really important that as part of one’s UPSC Interview preparation, one develops good interview demeanours to showcase following positive values in one’s response and behaviors:

  • Present yourself as a truly flexible and adaptable person by adjusting your approach as per the interviewer’s mood and questioning pattern.
  • If you make a mistake, acknowledge it gracefully and move on with the interview confidently.
    • Here, it is to be noted that acknowledging one’s own mistake doesn’t mean becoming apologetic or losing one’s confidence. Rather, it means showing your courage and ability to maintain composure. 
  • Express gratitude if a member of the interview board makes you aware of something you didn’t know or corrects your mistakes. 
  • Exude positivity throughout the interview, even while facing challenging or absurd-sounding questions.
  • Ensure honesty and truthfulness in your responses. Any fabrication or exaggeration might backfire and tarnish your image before the board. 
    – One interview board, generally, consists of a Chairman and 4 other Members. Taking average years of public life experience of one member as a modest 20 years, the cumulative experience of the interview board amounts to 20 x 5 = 100 years. The candidate must understand that you cannot fake before the interview board and get away with it.

Other Things to Keep in Mind

Apart from the above core strategies, these are some really important interview tips for UPSC to give a final shape to your IAS Interview preparation:

  • Mock Interviews: Appear for a sufficient number of mock interviews to ensure that everything you have practiced gets ingrained in your mind. This will also help enhance your confidence. 
  • Dress Professionally: As they say – first impression is the last impression. One should dress professionally to create a positive first impression.
    • An appropriate Dress Code for the UPSC Interview includes – Formal Shirt & Pant, Tie, and Formal Shoes.
  • Miscellaneous Tips: Remember some small but very important things such as greeting the interview board while entering the room as well as while leaving the room, carrying all your documents etc. 

A judicious and smart implementation of these key strategies can help one crack the UPSC Interview/Personality Test to enter into India’s most prestigious jobs. 

We wish you all the best!


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