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

Cracking Civil Services (CSE) Interview – Part 3

While you are waiting outside the interview room

1. Do not sit on the chair

The orderly will escort you to the interview room and ask you to wait outside until you are called. Here you may have to wait for 15 to 20 minutes. There is chair for candidate to sit and wait. Do not sit. Repeat do not seat. Here you are alone. No other candidate is with you with whom you can talk or crack jokes. Idea here is to remain confident. There are two ways to be confident. First is genuine confidence. You are already feeling confident. You are not anxious and ready to take everything head on. Second. You fake it. you send signals to brain of a confident man or woman. Sitting on chair alone with drooped shoulders crossed legged is a posture of nervous person not of a confident one. So don’t sit.

2. Power Pose

In animal kingdom when an animal is threatened it increases its size. A snake opens his hood. Cats stand in a way which would increase their size. These animals are showing to their attackers that they not afraid and ready to fight. If you not feeling confident then fake it. This is the purpose of power pose. Do the power pose to feel confident.


You can read about this theory much more on your own. One thing more you can add is walk. Walk like a fucking king as you own the place.

3. Remember memories which make you laugh just before you enter the room.

Just before entering the interview room in CSE 2015 interview I thought of two memories. First one was a very funny incident I had with my ex-gf long time back another was a very funny joke which I had read few days ago. This bought instant smile on my face. I entered the room with the biggest grin I could had. You have only two weapons for the interview. Your smile and confidence. All the previous advice were to amp up these weapons. So enter the interview room with biggest smile and confidence. And this is not fake as you are feeling these emotions genuinely from inside.

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Cracking Civil Services (CSE) Interview – Part 2

On the day of interview in the waiting room

1. Do not discuss probable interview questions

Discussing probable interview questions on the day of interview won’t help you. Each person is different with different background. Questions relevant to one person may not necessarily be relevant to other person. If you discuss with other candidates or engage in a Q & A session then most probably the person is going to ask you questions which he or she has prepared which may not be relevant to you. Also, if in this Q & A session you felt that you don’t know this or that, why didn’t you read this then it could be detrimental to your confidence and performance. So do not engage in such Q & A sessions. Your interview will happen inside the interview room. No need to panic beforehand. At this point of time you should have “I am adequate” frame of mind. Whatever I need to know I know already and if I don’t I will think of some good answer there only or worst case I will say “Sorry Sir, I don’t know.” which is also a perfectly legitimate answer.

2. Do not overthink about the panel

You will come to know about the panel in which you will be appearing for the interview. Every panel has some reputation developed from the experiences of past candidates who have appeared for the interview. Such as this panel do not give good marks, this panel asks a lot of technical questions etc. Don’t overthink . Go with clear mind without any preconceived notions otherwise your fear will become self-prophecy. The best you can do is that during your lazy and intensive period of preparation you can gather information about the uniqueness of some panel and prepare accordingly. In CSE 2014 I appeared in D. K Dewan Sir board. The first question he asked me was to draw the map of India and mark various places on the map. (An A4 sheet and pen was placed in front of me beforehand.) I drew the map and marked places but they were not accurate. In the hindsight, I think I could had handled this situation better. Some of my friends who had already appeared in the interview had told me that he is asking map based questions. They were asked to draw maps from around the world. Middle East, Europe etc. I had already made my mind that if I was asked to draw map then I would decline by saying “Sorry Sir, I don’t know.” But how can say that you don’t know drawing map of India. After that it became foot in the door problem. Once I drew the map I had to go with other map based questions. I wouldn’t say it was bad but also not great.
If you want to be prepared for some particular board then prepare beforehand. Don’t make strategies on the day of your interview. All panels are equally good to judge your personality. No board is easy or hard. It’s your attitude which would decide how they are going to treat you.

3. Crack Jokes

Crack jokes with fellow candidates. Waiting for your interview turn can be atrocious. And if you are 4th or 5th to be interviewed then you have a long time to wait. If you stay silent and overthink about the interview it can make you anxious. So talk random stuff with fellow candidates unrelated to interview. Best is to crack jokes, share funny incidents. This will keep you stress free and in good humour. If you are laughing and having good time outside the interview room then you will carry this good mood and positive energy inside the interview room. Also if you laughing you are sending signal to brain that there is nothing to worry about. You can’t be laughing and afraid at the same time.
During mock interviews I realized my face is like a mirror. If I am stressed it will appear on my face. I cannot hide. Many candidates would face the same problem. In my almost all CSE 2013 and 2014 mock interviews I was given feedback that you look stressed all the time even when you are giving good answers. Try to be little relaxed and smile. I didn’t knew how to change that. How to fake smile and avoid tensed face. In CSE 2015 I realized my face is mirror to my inner emotions. I cannot hide what I am feeling inside. So I need to feel happy from inside to show happiness on my face. Hence, crack jokes, share humorous stories. It will keep you engaged while you are waiting for your turn and keep you away from getting nervous and you would enter the interview room with smiling face.

4. Adjust your attire

Fifteen to twenty before your turn (You will come to know when you are expected to go inside) go to washroom and adjust your attire. You need to show your best self.

Click for Part 1, Part 3 and Part 4

Cracking Civil Services (CSE) Interview – Part 1

I have appeared in three Civil Services Examination (CSE) interviews. Each interview has been a learning experience. My first interview was in CSE 2013 by Rajni Razdan Madam board. It was a disaster and I scored a poor 140. Next interview was by David Dewan Sir board in CSE 2014. My performance was average and I scored 160. Next I appeared for the interview in CSE 2015 in Arvind Saxena Sir board. Whatever mistakes I made in my previous interviews I tried to avoid that and implemented learnings to improve my score. CSE 2015 interview was dream interview. I was passionate, excited, confident and smiling all the time in the interview. I scored 190 in CSE 2015 interview. So I am sharing my insights for the interview which worked for me and will help all those who will appear for CSE interview.

Before The Interview

1. Filling DAF – Less is More

Detailed Application Form (DAF) is filled much before the actual interview. It is filled after the prelims result announcement. Therefore extra care should be taken while filling the DAF. Details put by you on DAF is useless if you cannot defend it. For example, some people would put everything in hobbies. Such as football, cricket, music, reading etc. If you can answer all the questions in interview emanating from these points then it’s all good. But you need to remember that you are giving more ammunition to board members to gun you down by writing more. Also, you have to prepare much more. Board members are not going to be impressed by what is written on the paper but whether you can answer their questions. If you think it will portray your multi-faceted personality then it’s a mistake. It doesn’t mean anything if you can not answer their questions. In my CSE 2013 DAF I had written that I had participated one time in Hindi drama in college which won 3rd prize in the IITK’s cultural festival. During interview preparation phase I searched everything about the Hindi drama. It’s evolution, history, famous personalities , famous Hindi plays, famous dramatics schools etc. In the interview the first question asked to me was “Tell me ten tragedies and comedies of Shakespeare.” I was not prepared for this. I froze and my confidence level tanked. It feels much worse when you know that you should have known this and now its too late. On the hindsight I see it as a mistake why I didn’t prepared english plays. And if I had prepared then Shakespeare plays would have been the first thing that I would have prepared. Probable reason for missing this most probably could be that this play was one off thing and probably not one of the prominent things which I wanted to project about myself.
So write in DAF which you can defend. Because if you make blunder in questions arisen from DAF it does two things. First, it affects your confidence level because you would have certainly prepared your DAF and you found yourself still unable to answer. Second, if the question was very basic, fundamental and you failed to answer then it raises question in the mind of interviewer whether you are genuine or not. It undermines your credibility.

2. Declutter and prioritize DAF

Every candidate would have some strong zones in his personality which he or she wants to project which sets you apart from others and want the interviewer to ask from that area so he or she is comfortable in answering and present his or her best self. For me it was weightlifting. I was captain of the institute weightlifting team and had won medals at district level. In my CSE 2013 interview not a single question was asked on this. In CSE 2014 one question was asked but I was not able to answer it satisfactorily. This time I made changes in my DAF to present in a way that catches the interviewer’s attention. I saw the results in CSE 2015. Questions were asked. Appreciated my physique and were happy that I pusued something unconventional. Below is a snapshot of CSE 2014 and CSE 2015 DAF. Observe the changes and uncluttered look.

2014 DAF
2014 DAF
2015 DAF
2015 DAF

3. How to prepare questions related to DAF

Previous two points are things which you do before the Mains exam. This would start after Mains exam. You will have 2-3 months for preparing for the interview. You should know everything written about yourself in DAF. Mistakes in answering questions asked from outside the DAF is pardonable but not from DAF. DAF is replica of your personality. Mistakes in DAF amounts to not knowing about yourself or worse faking it.
The best thing to do would be to identify keypoints in your DAF such as your name, school, home town, graduation subject, hobbies, job etc and on each key point try to generate 20 questions. By the time you reach 20th question maximum dimension would have been covered, If you are confident about your DAF it will boost your confidence for performing better.

4. When to Start preparing – Peak at the right time

Mains exam is over in December and interviews are held from April to June. It is very important to peak at the right time. Because if you start early you will be exhausted and lose enthusiasm by the time you will appear for interview. That’s what happened with me in CSE 2014. And if you start too late you will panic that’s what happened with me in CSE 2013. On the day of interview your preparation should be on the cusp of peak so that you make that extra effort to achieve your best on the D-Day. This is applicable everywhere. In December 2008, I went to IIT Madras for Inter IIT sports meet. I was participating in weightlifting event. A day before my event I went to gym to practice. Players from other IIT’s were also practicing there. To show off I started lifting more and more weight and reached my maximum that day and my coach also encouraged me to do the same. (In the hindsight he should have stopped me.) I lifted weight which I had never lifted before. So what happened next day. I could not lift the weight I had lifted just yesterday and lost Bronze medal by 1kg. So it’s very important to save your that little extra push for the D-Day and peak at the right time. Not before not after. So what is the right time to start preparation? This may vary person to person but 20-30 days before your interview is good time to go in intensive preparation mode. Anything more than that could exhaust you. Preparation period can be divided into two parts “Lazy period” and “Intensive period”. Lazy period is from Mains to 20-30 days before your scheduled interview. i.e. 3-4 months. This much time is enough to prepare background material for intensive preparation mode and work on your personality. In this time prepare every possible question related to your DAF. Write answers to those questions. Indulge in extra curricular activities. Enjoy life and be happy. Next, your intensive period of preparation would start 20-30 days before your interview date. In this period memorize best answers to DAF related questions which you have prepared. Give mock interviews in institutes, give mock interviews with friends and have discussions.

5. Mock Interviews

Mock interviews play very important role in gauging your performance. For candidates appearing for the first time in interview if they feel that 20-30 days time is too less time for mock interviews then one may give one mock interview early to just get the feel but schedule rest in the intensive period of interview preparation.
Next question is how many mock interviews are sufficient. In CSE 2013 I gave around 14 mock interviews. It had the effect of exhaustion and panic. Since it was my first interview I was already anxious and in mock interview I was asked a lot questions to which I didn’t knew the answers. I felt inadequate. Many of the questions asked to me were irrelevant to my personality. Probably those questions were asked because interviewer had knowledge in that area but it had detrimental effect on my confidence. So it’s very important to appear in good mock interviews. In CSE 2015 I gave 4 mock interviews only. Two at Vajiram and two at Samkalp. I skipped the Ravindran Sir session at Vajiram. In my previous interviews he had given me average reviews. This time I didn’t wanted to hear bad things just before my interview otherwise who knows it may become self-fulfilling prophecy.
It doesn’t matter how many mock interviews you give. What matters is how you felt. If you feel you don’t need to give any mock interviews so be it or after just one interview you feel that you got the hang of it so be it. In my various mock interviews I have realized that each mock interview is unique and is totally different from that years CSE interview. In mocks instead of focussing on what you said and not said focus on how you said it. Whether you were confident, loud, stressfree, fluent etc.

6. Discussions

Discussions are the best way to prepare for interview. You not only prepare your content but at the same time you come to know about other people ideas which you may too use. Friends around you who are also appearing for interview are good for discussions and mock interview. Advantage of giving mock interview with friends is that you are stress free and if you don’t know the answer to some question you can immediately check the right answer or both of you can come up with a better answer. While preparing for CSE 2015 interview I was having mock interview with one of my friend. He asked me to tell some weightlifters from India. I told him Sonia Chanu and K Ravi Kumar. Next question he asked me to tell the states from which they belong. While preparing my DAF I had prepared list of weightlifters but didn’t thought of checking to what states they belong. I checked that out later. And my CSE 2015 interview I asked to tell a weightlifter from Manipur. I immediately told Sonia Chanu from Manipur. Maybe if I had similar discussions during CSE 2013 I may not have fumbled on naming plays of Shakespeare.
Another thing which helped me alot was discussions with Sri Ram Sir of Sri Ram IAS coaching. He used to have discussions with group of aspirants appearing for interview in the evening in a park in New Rajinder Nagar. No charges. I used to go there and attend it. The discussions were very fruitful. Improved my quality of responses. And I have used ditto lines told by Sir in some of my responses in the interview. It would be good if you had discussions with some a person who has wide experience and can give broader perspective on various issues.

7. Talk, Talk, Talk

Your performance in interview will also depend on your oratorical skills. At this point three challenges are infront of the candidate. First, talking. Person who is preparing for CSE has most probably devoted his time in honing his writing skills and memorizing material for the exam. Additionally, if he/she is living in some PG in Rajinder Nagar, Karol Bagh etc. then he would be having very limited conversation with othes. I remember there would be days where I would not have talked to anybody or only one word replies e.g Yes, No, Haan bhaiya, wo dena etc.In interview you have to explain complex ideas in few simple words. So if you don’t come out of this silent mode you will have tough time. To be fluent without umms and ahhs in conversation it is necessary to talk as much as possible. If you are with somebody don’t be silent. Talk, talk and talk. You have accumulated enough knowledge and you have interesting things to tell the world. It doesn’t matter what are you talking. It could be CSE related or random stuff. Important thing is you are bringing your speaking skills back to normal which may have dulled during preparation phase.
Second, speaking in English (For those whose mother tongue is not English and have opted English as medium of interview). Aspirants whose mother tongue is not English would not be using English in there daily conversations would find fluency in English tricky. You may be good in conversational day to day English but I am talking of giving succinct CSE interview answer where conversational English may lead to superfluous answers. Best way to improve is to use English in your conversation regularly. Your CSE friends would understand why you have suddenly gone all English. Your conversation needs to be 100% in English. This way you can internalize English. You may be writing good English but if you are not speaking those words in your regular conversation then they are not coming out of your mouth in the interview room and then you would look for substitute words and the your answer will become superfluous. You may go in Hinglish or Regional language + English with non CSE related people in your life so it doesn’t become awkward.
Third challenge is to improving your spoken vocabulary. Problem is that the words which we write in CSE are not regularly used while speaking. It affects fluency when these words didn’t click on time. To overcome this trick is to read English newspaper aloud. Words like Democratic, secularism, integrated service delivery mechanisms etc. are not used in our daily usual conversations. By reading newspaper aloud you would be speaking these words even if you are not able to say them with other people. Gradually such words will become part of your spoken vocabulary and will improve quality of your answers.

8. Decide what you are going to leave

Preparing for CSE interview is tough. Because there is no end to what to prepare. It’s endless. So you have to decide what are you going to prepare and leave everything else. I focused on my DAF and some of the current issues which I thought were important. Once you have decided what are you going to prepare you need to forget everything else and need not worry. I was in a mode “Whatever I need to know I know. I am adequate.” And if there is a question of which I have no Idea then I am going to say “I don’t know”. “I don’t know” is also a perfect legitimate answer. You can’t be expected to know everything. You are not encyclopedia. Once you have the frame of mind that “You are adequate” it will boost your confidence. For CSE 2014 interview I started preparing early. First I completed what I thought was important. Then from that point I went to I need to know this, I need to know that. I felt how much I don’t know. What if they asked me that. How I am going to respond to that. With this frame of mind you would not be able to give your best. You have fear inside which will be observed by board members.

9. Be happy

Appearing for interview is a great opportunity. An opportunity available to only 2500-3000 candidates out of lakhs of candidates who appeared for the exam. This creates anxiousness and performance pressure in candidates. They want to give their best. After preparing for over a year you don’t want to mess up now. You will become extra serious and extra studious. This is exactly opposite of what interviewers are looking for. They are looking for a bureaucrat who is confident, jovial and humorous. Anxiousness and performance pressure would make you unhappy, sad and timid personality. So it is important to keep oneself happy. So watch a movie if you feel like it. You want to binge watch youtube videos then just do it. You want to travel. Do it. Bottomline is to keep oneself happy. No need to feel regret thinking why I am watching a movie, playing etc. instead of preparing for interview. All of your preparation would go down the drain if you are not happy as you would not be able to achieve your full potential. I was equally prepared for CSE 2014 and CSE 2014 interview contentwise. In CSE 2014 interview I scored 160 and in CSE 2015 interview I scored 190. Only diffrence was the mindset. I was more relaxed, less anxious and happy in 2015.

10. Surround yourself with positive people

Surround yourself with people who make you happy. It may be your friends, parents, boyfriend or girlfriend whoever fulfills the purpose. Try to have some people who are outside your CSE circle. Who are not constantly asking about prepration. People with whom you can have normal conversation. It’s a good time to increase your friend circle and include some exciting passionate people in your life. Few days before my interview for a brief period of time I came in contact of a girl whose passion, exhuburence, point of view towards life was amazing. Interacting with her immediately put me in good mood. Bottom line is to surround yourself with people who make you happy. If you are happy in outside world then you would be happy in the interview room. If you are anxious, not confident outside then you would be the same person inside the interview room.

11. Exercise

I used to daily go for gym during CSE 2015. I could see remarkable change in my mood compared to before when I used not to go gym. Doing exercise releases endorphines which releases stress and keeps you happy. You are motivated. Do whatever works for you. Gym, running, cycling, yoga etc. Anything but do something physical. It changes the way you look towards things and the way you feel. Also, its very important for the people who has BMI over 30. You would not be allocated service if your BMI is above 30 as you will be termed temporarily unfit. You will be allocated service only when your BMI is less than 30. It’s true. It has happened with me. I qualified CSE 2014 but was not allocated service because my BMI was 34. Once I bought it down to less then 30 after losing 17 Kgs I was allocated IPoS in April 2016. Your lazy period of prepration is perfect time to work on your body if your BMI is above 30. Even if this is not the case exercise is a good stress buster.

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Civil Services Interview 2015

I had my civil services interview on 28th April 2016 in forenoon session. Chairman of my board was Mr. Arvind Saxena. Sir was very cordial and other board members were also very supportive. I had a pleasant interview experience compared to my previous two. Writing down my interview experience. Words are not exact as but general interaction is reflected.

I entered the room said good morning to chairman and all the board members present. One of the seat to my right was empty at that time. Arvind Sir asked me to sit down. Then he started reading my profile. So you did your schooling from Noida then Electrical engineering from IIT Kanpur then you worked for 5 years. In between a lady member came I just nodded and smiled she did the same.

C: So I assume you left your job last September.

Me: Yes Sir, last year I got selected in civil services so I left that job.

C: This is not reflected in your profile. Which service ?

Me: Indian Postal Service, I joined it 10 days back… (Before I could complete the answer he himself gave some answer to his question of why I joined late and then moved to next question. )

C: OK even though you are only 10 days into academy I am going to ask about the postal services. Now in the world of social media , telephone etc. who is using postal service. What future you see of this.

Me: Sir, what you said is correct. But I see the potential of this department. It has over one lakh fifty thousand post offices. 90% of them are in the rural areas. The government’s current focus is financial inclusion. And Postal department is the only department in the country which has the capability and experience to implement financial inclusion across the length and breadth of the country. It has been providing savings bank account and insurance since 1882 and 1884 respectively.

C: Tell me two strengths and two weaknesses of postal department. One you have already said the reach of the postal department.

Me: Sir the second strength would be Postman. Postman is the walking KYC. He knows everybody in the village and his/her locality. People trust postman and this trust has developed over centuries. He is the right man to lead financial inclusion. Talking about weaknesses. The type of mail which is been handled is changing. Personal mail has given way to commercial mails and packages from online retail are bigger and bulkier so to handle this mechanization and technology induction is required which is lacking now.

Second weakness would be that when we want to have financial inclusion then we would require a workforce which understands the intricacies of banking system. For which retraining of work force and additional hiring would be required. The required workforce for implementing financial inclusion is rightnow lacking.

C: Private couriers allege that India post is able to provide such cheap services because it is heavily subsidized. How can they compete against you. How will you counter this.

Me: Sir, the objective of postal department is different from other courier services. Postal department is providing public service. Providing cheap means of communication to poorest of poor and farthest of farthest person residing in the country. For courier service their motive is pure profit.

C: Still you are subsidized and they cannot compete against you.

Me: Yes Sir in that sense market is a little distorted.

C: Ok this would be easy for you. Say you have a friend in US and he wants to visit you via land route for Christmas how can he come to you.

Me: (Paused for few seconds) Sir he can come via America Alaska to Russia then to India.

C: … Yes, I specifically gave you  the Christmas information. ( Couldn’t heard properly what he said at the start and I am not sure whether it was a positive or negative comment. He can not visit because it would be too cold or he can because the seas would be frozen. I just nodded)

C: Have you read today’s newspaper?

Me: Yes Sir. I have seen the headlines.

 C: In today’s newspaper there was a news that Telenor is thinking of exiting the market the base price set for spectrum is unsustainable. Initially we had first come first serve system now we are having auction. And we have also seen 2g 3g scam. Which is better system.

Me: Sir I have not read this particular article but I can comment on the same.

C: But you can answer …. It’s a general question.

Me: Sir when first come first serve policy was introduced times were different. Country needed investment and establish telecom sector. These kinds of sops were required to attract investment from private players. Now the market is established. There are multiple players. Competition is best for the market, consumers and the companies themselves. Discretion may lead to corruption. As you rightly pointed out the 2g scam.

C: So the base price would increase.

Me: Yes Sir.

M1: China is rising. How do you see them in future.

Me: Sir China has grown at a tremendous pace in past few decades but now it is showing signs of slowing down..(got interrupted)

M1: It’s temporary.

Me: Sir the rising wages in China will lead to losing of its competitiveness and slowing down of its economy. It may not grow at the same rate as it has been in the past but still it will be one of the largest economy in the world and engine of growth for the world.

M1: Will the difference between India and China would grow or what will happen.

Me: Sir government has taken several inititatives to boost the economy and the consensus among the political parties is also for rapid economic growth … (Interrupted)

M1: Tell me about the gap between India and China, would it increase or decrease?

M1: Sir China opened its economy much earlier and had lead over India. We were late in liberarizing our economy. China grew at a rapid pace and the gap has widen and still widening. But presently government has taken several inititatives to boost Indian economy. Thinking we would be able to match China in near future would be too hopeful but I am opportunist (Paused. This is not the word I wanted to say. Thinking of the right word but nothing clicking)

M1: You wanted to say optimistic.

Me: Yes Sir, Thank you sir. I am optimistic that with the initiatives taken India would be able to decrease the economic development gap between India and China.

M1: What is Washington consensus?

Me: Sorry Sir I am not aware of that.

M1: What could be the reason for India’s slow growth. …. (negative points about India highlighting lacunae in India’s growth.)

Me: Sir, I would like to differ from you. We had an impressive GDP growth of 7.5% when the whole world is slowing down. Even world bank …(interuppted).

M1: Figures are disputed.

Me: Sir but we cannot deny the general trend.

M1: What is the reason for such slow growth. Is it political …

Me: Sir it is because of the way we Indians have developed over thousands of years (interrupted)

M1: So it is an attitude problem.

Me: Sir we Indians are cautious people (interrupted)

M1: Even when we have such large scale poverty …. it is our weakness.

Me: Sir I don’t think it as our weakness rather I see as our  strength. We have built robust systems. This has allowed us to face tough times.  Other nations which grew at a rapid pace crashed and burned. Our growth has been sustainable and has led to development of all.

M1: Don’t you think democracy is our weakness. China because of its authoritarian character has led to a rapid development whereas it has slowed us down.

Me: Sir what China could do can not be done in India. India is a multi-cultural multi-religious multi-lingual country. Here rule of stick would be very difficult to maintain. It is our democracy which has helped us in keeping united. So democracy is our strength. Even if our development would be slow but will be for all.

M1: In some textbooks Bhagat Singh and Rajguru described  as revolutionary terrorists. Do you think they were terrorist.

Me: No Sir they were not terrorist. To differentiate we need to see the definition of terrorist. A terrorist uses terror to terrorize to acheive it’s goals (interrupted).

M1: What is the basic difference between them and terrorists of today.

Me: They didn’t targeted the civilians.

M1: Yes.

Now the next member took over he again read major points from my DAF.

M2: So you were weightlifter.

Me: Yes Sir, I was the captain of my college weightlifting team too.

M2: Tell me one weightlifter from Manipur.

Me: Sonia Chanu from Manipur.

M2: Tell one more.

Me: Sorry Sir I am unable to recall at this moment.

M2: So you play cricket.

Me: Yes Sir.

M2: You are good with statistics ?

Me: I would try to answer your questions.

M2: When was the first test match was played in India.

Me: Sorry Sir, I don’t remember this.

M2: What is superconductivity ?

Me: At very low temperature resistance of conductor becomes negligible and free flow of electrons can occur. This is known as superconductivity.

M2: Where is it used?

Me: Sorry Sir not able to recall.

M2: Is Uttar Pradesh 100% electrified?

Me: Yes Sir it is.

M2: In many parts of UP people …  steal the electricity … How do they do it.

Me: Electricity is stolen by use of hooklines.

M2: No I am talking of stealing of electric wires. How do they do it and how to prevent it.

Paused and thinking, about to  answer, M2 said ok leave it but when he saw I was going to give answer he asked “Do you want to attempt the question”.

Me: Yes Sir , I don’t know how exactly they do it but I can provide a theoretical explanation how to do the same. Wire between two transformers can be deenergised by switching off the line and then steal it. To prevent it we can have smart meters to monitor electric supply. Abnormal switching and flow of current can be monitored to detect stealing of electrical wires.

M2 doesn’t seemed satisfied with the answer said something I just nodded.

M2: What is the importance of First Day cover.

Me: They are published by postal department on important occasions.

M2: What is the importance.

Me: People like to collect them. Philately.

M3(lady member): I don’t remember the question what she asked but remember the answer.

Me: Mam, before taking Maithili literature I was not aware of the richness of Maithili literature and Indian literature in general. Vidyapati one the greatest writer of Maithili literature wrote about the love of Radha and Krishna. And in contemporary times one the writers I like Raj kamal Choudhary writes about the daily struggles of people (interrupted)

M3: Which particular story of Raj Kamal Chowdhury you are referring to.

Me: Like Raj Kamal Chowdhury’s “Aprajita” talks about the devastating floods by river kosi. By reading Maithili literature I came to know about how rich is our literature. I feel more connected to the stories of Indian literature. I have read English literature but never felt same deep connection. I face the same situations and emotions in my day today life which our Indian literature talks off. It has allowed me to better understand my culture, my society, my family even myself.

M3: So you have started reading Maithili literature.

Me: I have started reading Hindi literature because I am more comfortable in that.

M3: Which writers you read.

Me: I am reading the same authors who have written in Maithili too. I have read Rajkamal Choudhary’s Hindi writings. I have read other Hindi stories and novel but I remember the titles but not author.

M3: Have you read Premchand.

Me: I have read few stories but I have not yet started Premchand.

M3: Amit whenever I open news channel I see only shouting, its difficult to find a good news channel to watch. Which channel would you recommend me. 

Me: Mam I would recommend the same channel which I watch. The Rajya Sabha TV. The discussions are thoughtful and helps in my preparation too.

M3: Why didn’t you say DD News it’s also a very old channel.

Me: Mam, I have limited time So I watch RSTV only.

M3: The news shown by many channels is some time very misleading. It is very difficult to discern from news and opinion. What they are doing is wrong what you have to say.

Me: Mam, I partially agree with you.

M3: Partially. Tell me what part you agree with and what part you don’t agree with.

Me: Mam what you said is correct. It has become difficult to discern between news and opinion of the channel. Sometimes the reporting is so twisted that viewer cannot know what was the original news. But on the other hand there are multiple channels representing multiple views so viewer has a choice to see what channel he want to watch and subscribe to which idea. These are like opinion pages of newspaper (interrupted).

M3: Any special reason for using analogy of opinion pages of news paper.

Me: Mam, opinion page shows the opinion of editor and newspaper and rest of the pages are news item. So these talks shows and debate on news channels are like opinion pages of news channel.

M4: You worked in Kalinganagar. There you would have seen agitations.

Me: Yes Sir, I was once myself gheroed by people.

M4: What was the situation and how you came out of it.

Me: My area of work was near the boundary beside the village. Once or twice in a month some disturbance would always happen. People will come and steal rods and iron items and we can’t do anything. On that particular day I reached my site at 8am and I saw no worker there. As per norms by 8 am work should start. My contractor was nowhere to be seen. The office was locked. I was looking for my contractor how come he has not yet started the work. So I went and opened the lock. The moment I unlocked the door, group of people came and surrounded me. From nowhere contractor came and said to me Sir you leave don’t stay here. He told the people that I am a Tata Steel officer. The people themselves asked me to leave the Site. They said we have nothing to do with you. Our diffrences are with the Tata Steel and administration. I believe people have grievances from institutions and processes. They don’t have emenity towards  an individual. And if you show genuine concern towards their problem they would not harm you. They didn’t had any personal enmity towards me. So I came out of the situation unharmed.

M4: So if the greviances of people are handled properly then there would be no agitations.

Me: (Paused for few seconds) Sir I fully agree with you.

M4: You fully agree with me !

Me: Yes Sir people agitate when there core interests are violated. If those are preserved then I don’t see any reason for them to agitate.

M4: What about  a theif. He wants to steal would you allow him.

Me: Sir I would like to quote from a Maithili novel “Prithviputra” in which a character says something.

M4: As long as you properly translate for us.

Me: Sir the person has land with very low productivity. His not able to grow enough for him and his family. He says “Jeena jyada zaroori hai baki sab baad mein”

M4: You said this in Hindi.

Me: Yes Sir, I am not fluent in speaking Maithili but can write and understand. The person who is stealing is forced to do so. If a person is theif then it is the failure of society too, it failed to provide educational opportunities economic opportunities to lead a better life.

M4: So administrator has a role in improving society.

Me: Yes Sir, if administrator have been given this power then they should use it judiciously for betterment of society.

M4: You have to choose a person for a job one is B.Com Economic Honors and other is  B.SC Arts whom will you choose.

Me: Sir it would depend on the kind of work to be done. If the works involve creativity like banner making , popularization and propagation of programs and policies them I would be inclined that candidate from  arts background would be a better choice. And if the work involves number crunching , accounting etc then I would choose the other person.

C: That all Amit, your interview is over.

I thanked everyone and exited. Good thing about my interview expereince was that I was never stressed and gave all answers with confidence.

Hoping for the best 🙂