UPSC Prep Education

Biting the silver bullet

When preparing for the interview, mock tests can be a cure-all panacea.

The success of an aspirant in the challenging civil-services examination often hinges on her/his performance in the interview. Here, how to answer, particularly those analytical questions requiring expression of views and opinion is often crucial.

While framing one’s views and formulating one’s opinion on an issue, aspirants are at times in a quandary as to appropriateness of their own thoughts. Here is a triple test which would help them overcome the impasse. To assess the soundness of your views and opinion, evaluate whether they conform to: logic and reasoning, the Constitution and the extant laws, and the larger interest of the country and its people.

In this evaluation do not be afraid to differ even from the populist views or government policies if they are not in harmony with the above test. After all, the policies are dynamic, evolving and not fossilised or even sacrosanct. But yes, do temper your criticism (if any) and eschew undue aggressiveness.

Similarly, if you are not in agreement with a Board member’s viewpoint on an issue, do not become argumentative about it. Rather, respect it while humbly expressing your own dissenting opinion. While honesty is indeed the best policy and will remain so, needless criticism of one’s self or one’s behaviour is totally uncalled for.

An officer is expected to be positive and to have confidence in one’s own abilities.

A diffident person who undermines his own potential can hardly qualify for leadership positions. As such, uncalled for expression of one’s shortcomings or giving self-deprecating replies is a habit which must be eschewed.

Have faith in your abilities and believe in your own self.


But how to inculcate and hone these positive, ‘how to answer’ attributes?

Here is a practice akin to the proverbial silver bullet. It is akin to a self-mock test. Take out an hour of your time daily. Sit in solitude, preferably before a full-length mirror or a web-cam or a smartphone, where you can sufficiently view your expressions and your body language. Keep the first 10 minutes of this hour for formulating five to seven questions from your personal profile, current issues, etc.

Pose these questions to yourself as if you are the interviewer. Then go ahead and answer them aloud. Once you are through with your reply to a question, put yourself in the shoes of the interviewer and guess what further queries can arise from your reply. Subject yourself to probing questions including those you fear the most. Pose to yourself all of the secondary questions which are likely to emanate from your reply and answer them one by one. Once you are through with your set of replies, review them. Ask yourself: Are you satisfied with your answers? Do they conform to the ‘triple test’? If no, think about how you can further improve upon them. If need be, go back to the primary question and rephrase all your replies again.

One must realise that every individual is best aware of her/his own fears, though at times hesitant to face them. But alas! The tryst with success is nigh impossible without boldly confronting one’s fears and sufficiently overcoming them.

The concluding part of the series on the civil services exam.

The author is an IRS officer and author of ‘Civil Services Interview: How to Excel’, and other civil services examination preparation books.

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 1:56:38 PM |

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