Cracking Civil Services (CSE) Interview – Part 4

Inside the Interview Room

1. Be Loud

You have entered the interview room with your biggest smile and happiest face. Now it’s time to announce that you have arrived. Greet the chairperson and other board members with loud voice not in a meekish voice. A good thing about humans is that their energy is infectious. If a person is happy, smiling and full of passion then he transfers the same energy around him. If you are feeling confident then people around you will sense that. A self-assured confident person talks loudly. When a person is in doubt or fears that what other will think about him he goes into shell. If you are not feeling confident then fake it. It has a reverse effect. If you behave like a confident person you are sending signal to brain that there is nothing to worry about. So talk loud. One thing here to remember is to maintain your loudness. Generally for questions to which you know answer you will talk loudly and when you are in doubt your voice level will drop automatically. This is clear hint to the people taking your interview that you are not sure about the answer and you buckle under pressure and then they may start asking more uncomfortable questions in the same area. A bureaucrat in a day has to face many pressure situations and he cannot show weakness under pressure. So be loud.

2. Don’t Rush

When a person is anxious, not sure of the answer he is speaking he or she would start speaking fast. It’s a natural instinct. You want to get over with uncomfortable situation as soon as possible. Speaking fast is clear indicator to interviewers that you lack confidence. If you lose confidence then anxiousness, nervousness and tension would appear on your face. (You have only two weapons inside the interview room. Your confidence and smile. Don’t lose it. If you maintain these two qualities throughout your interview you are bound to get good marks no matter what you said and what you not said.) Remember you are one of the chosen few who have been called. They are there to listen to you. You have already grabbed their attention. You are already above average. There is no need to be nervous. Just be carefree. Imagine an interviewer is taking interview of Sachin Tendulkar. If Sachin Tendulkar wants to speak about some match situation would he rush or explain in a calm manner which allow the person infront of him to grasp everything. Confident persons don’t rush while speaking. They speak at their own pace. So just do that. Don’t rush.

3. It doesn’t matter what you speak but how you speak

Candidates are anxious about what they are saying. Is my content complete ? Would they like it? Is it good enough? Forget it. Remember only one thing whatever is coming out of your mouth is most important most interesting thing in the whole universe just because it is coming out of your mouth. Even if it is shit the shit is important because you said it. Many of you would have seen movies of Salman Khan. Many of his dialogues are ridiculous, doesn’t even make sense. But still his movies are blockbuster. His dialogues are mimicked. If any other person had said the same dialogues he would be surely ridiculed but not Salman Khan. The way he delivers those absurd dialogues makes it interesting. When you have the frame of mind that you have the best most interesting thing to say in the room you would automatically display confidence, you will feel happy. There would be constant smile on your face and you will transfer these emotions to people around you. People don’t remember details. What matters to them is how you made them feel. Even if you are giving technically good answer but you are not confident then you will appear anxious, full of doubt and possibly fumble. Consequently, you will fetch less marks compared to person who knew little but spoke with conviction, confidence and passion. In CSE 2015 interview in one of my replies I wanted to say “I am optimistic … ” but in flow I said “I am opportunist …”. I immediately realized my mistake. I stopped. But this “optimistic” word is not clicking in my mind. May be after 2-3 second pause the member himself said “You wanted to say optimistic.” And then there was short laugh, grin on everyone’s face. I also smiled thanked the member and continued. What just happened here was very interesting. If the similar situation had appeared in CSE 2013 or 2014 interview I would have panicked thinking I forgot a simple English word, it would have affected by confidence and then a downward spiral. This time I knew that it doesn’t matter what I am saying but how I am saying and whatever shit I am saying is awesome just because I said it. I do not require validation by others. So when I stopped I was not nervous I was still smiling, confident and self-assured. And probably the way I was speaking till now, they would have wanted me to complete the answer. Hence, they helped me. Also, the whole interview atmosphere was jovial. Optimism-optimistic blunder would have appeared as funny so they just laughed it off and moved on.
Bottom line is to make people around you happy. That is only possible when you are confident, happy and smiling. So forget what you say, focus on how you say it.

4. It’s OK to take pause

Every question’s answer can not be on the tip of your tongue. There would be some questions which would require careful thought to give balanced good answer. General tendency is to start speaking immediately. And then you would realize mid way that I have digressed, didn’t covered all aspects or I could have done better. Avoid all this by taking pause for few seconds. 15-20 second pause is also few seconds. Don’t worry. We normally think if I don’t start speaking interviewer will think that I don’t know the answer. It’s wrong. you are giving careful consideration. It’s a mark of evolved man or woman. In Japanese culture if you start speaking immediately it’s considered rude because it will be taken as you have not considered their opinion. If you had you would have thought about it. So pause, think and give your best answer.
There would be question in your mind now. Should I ask for Chairman’s permission such as “Sir, I would like to take few moments to answer this question.” Don’t do it. You don’t need anyone’s permission. If you have paused to think then that question requires your careful consideration. No questions about it. If you ask for permission then it could go against you. Suppose 3-4 instances appear in your interview then what are you going to do? Would you ask for permission everytime? It will appear awkward also it will break your concentration. Suppose for first five seconds you thought then you realized you need more time. You asked for more time and started thinking again. In this scenario you broke your chain of thoughts and wasted precious time in asking for permission. And what if Chairman denies or even after taking time you can’t think of answer. Best is to take pause on your own terms and think. Worst case you are unable to answer. Just say “Sir, I carefully considered the various aspects of the issue but I am unable to come at any definite conclusion.” or simply say “Sorry Sir I am unable to think of answer at this moment.” In my CSE 2013 and 2014 attempts I would start speaking immediately. Clear sign of nervousness. You want to get over with this ordeal as soon as possible. Interview is an opportunity not ordeal.
In CSE 2015 in many analytical questions I took pause and answered. None of the members minded it. In one of the questions I took much longer pause. And then the moment I started speaking the member said I think I should ask you a different question. But when he saw I was about to speak he asked me ” Do you want to answer ? ” I replied in affirmative. My answer was not exactly what he was looking for but this whole situation didn’t unnerved me. This time the change in me was I was not afraid of taking pause. Only a confident, self assured person can stay silent and think when all eyes are fixed on you. Even if I didn’t gave the satisfactory answer I still conveyed following message. I gave due consideration to the questions which require them. I don’t rush. A quality which an administrator certainly requires. Forget pauses are awkward. It’s a tool to give your best answer. So don’t worry about taking pause. You want to give your best and if it requires you to pause and think then do it. (Note: Only for analytical questions not for factual ones. Avoid pauses for DAF related straight forward questions. DAF is replica of your personality and you should know everything about it.)

End Note

Crux of all these advice is that if you want to project yourself as confident, jovial, fun person inside the interview room then you should be the same person outside the interview room too. It cannot happen that you will suddenly transform into that person if you are anxious, nervous, tensed outside the interview room. Your confidence and smile are the only weapon you have. So you need to have genuine emotions of happiness and confidence from inside. How good you can pull this off will largely depend on what you have done in your lazy period of prepration and honed it in intensive period of prepration.
Have fun. Stay happy. And crack the interview with flying colors.

Click for Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3

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