IAS, IPS, IFS etc...
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In the journey of Civil Services Examination, The Interview (Personality Test) is like a climax of an interesting Suspense Thriller movie. The whole process is the Most Important, Interesting and Memorable part.
Also, it is the most misunderstood, least prepared for, least guided/misguided and often the most mishandled and mismanaged process. But when rightly handled, it is surely the easiest and the most rewarding experience.
* It has a great scoring potential. Process of just 25 to 35 minutes and marks scored has a wide range: 140 to 220. It is the last chance to maximize total score. Even if score in the Written Examination is near the cut-off, you can score very high and be in the selection list.
CSE, 2014 Cut-off marks (General Category):
Written : 678 (for getting interview call)
Final : 889. (for getting selected after interview)
So in CSE, 2014 a Candidate on cut off should have scored 211 marks in Interview (889-678=211) just to be in the selection list.
(Similarly, in CSE, 2013 a Candidate on cut off should have scored 210 marks in Interview just to be in the selection list).
* There were 90 Vacancies for IAS in 2014. Total score of Rank 90 is 951.So approx. cut-off for IAS=951 marks if we assume that all have given 1st preference to IAS. Difference of marks between IAS and last candidate in the List is of 62 marks. (951-889=62). Range of Marks in Interview is 140 to 220 i.e. of 80 marks.
* Difference in marks between those getting 1st preferred service and 2nd or 3rd preferred service is so narrow, Sometimes 5 marks or less. So even a small difference in interview marks changes the Service Allocation, leading you to appear again for Prelims.
* Of course, there was wide Range of marks in the written Examination, 2014 compared to 2013. So Interview marks had a comparatively less bearing on final rankings in 2014 as compared to 2013. So 2014 topper Ms. Ira Singhal who had scored exceptionally higher marks in the Written Examination, could be topper with only 162 marks in Interview. But she is an exception.
* Let us take two examples of interview marks being a deciding factor:
Name Marks Written Marks Interview Total
Nityesh Sharma 724 165 889
Sucharita das, 685 204 889
The UPSC Personality Test is:
* Preparation can be made the most interesting game. Will see how.
* Suspense about your marks in the Written Part also makes it interesting. So no option but to maximize your marks.
* Often, results surprise you with marks much above/below expected.
MEMORABLE: marks in the interview has a great bearing on your selection/elimination or at least on your service allocation. The score can push you up to get 1st preferred service, or pull you down at the bottom or out of the selection list. The experience will leave a lingering memory for the whole life and during the next attempt starting with the Preliminary Examination.
MOST MISUNDERSTOOD: Will see later.
UNDERPREPARED OR LEAST PREPARED FOR:
* Preparation starts late. Often neglected.
* Less time invested compared to Written Examination.
* Preparation is often random and haphazard.
LEAST GUIDED: less than 3500 candidates scattered all over India. No favourable economies Of Scale for professionally coaching them. So providing them Detailed Guidance is not Commercially viable.
* Logical corollary of the above.
* Candidates often misguided by Myths and rumors.
MOST REWARDING EXPERIENCE: If rightly prepared for and handled, immediate reward of above 75% marks. Morever, it rewards you with crops of a polished personality, to be harvested through the rest of your life.
LET US UNDERSTAND THE PROCESS FROM PREPARATION TO PERFORMANCE :
* A Statistical Analysis : Following Table shows Interview marks of 590 selected candidates of General Category in CSE, 2014:
Marks Scored No. of candidates falling in this Range Of Marks
Upto 100 001
101 to 120 001
121 to 140 018
141 to 160 108
161 to 180 197
181 to 200 194
201 to 220 071
Let us simplify :
Scores no. of candidates Percentage Cumulative %
Upto 140 020 03.39 –
141 to 160 108 18.31 21.70
161 to 180 197 33.39 50.09
181 to 200 194 32.88 87.97
201 to 220 071 12.03 100
What UPSC says:
“The Civil Services (main) Examination shall consist of:
Above words have two cryptic clues:
To give a full and clear insight of the Personality Test (Interview), UPSC explains and clarifies in detail:
The above words of UPSC:
* Clarify the objective, technique and the syllabus of the test.
* Explain its objective: assess Personal suitability and mental caliber. To remove any possible ambiguity or misconception of a candidate about its objective, it even lists out some mental qualities to be assessed.
* Clearly rules out one more assessment of General or Specialised Knowledge after Written Examination. But re-emphasizes on the intellectual and mental traits. Besides, it expects you to take Intelligent Interest in Current Events, modern currents of thought and new discoveries.
* Technique: friendly elders having natural yet directed and purposive conversation. BUT NOT a Cross examination like a lawyer questioning an accused.
* Clarify further about its objective: assess Personal suitability and mental caliber. To rule out any possible ambiguity or misconception about its objective, it even lists out following mental qualities to be assessed to finally judge your suitability as a person :
Means presence of mind, confidence and mental composer.
Key words here are personal suitability, mental caliber and qualities as a person.
It also tests intelligent interest in:
Key words here are intelligent interest and curiosity of well educated youth.
Now, simply re-read the above seven qualities. You will realize that almost all the candidates who qualify for the interview already have most of the above qualities. Expecting E-summon for interview is itself an evidence thereof. All are supremely talented. Still, there is a wide difference in their marks. Why?EXPLODE THE MYTHS
In the Written Examination you have a Syllabus, study material, Previous year’s Papers, Professional guidance and so on. But a candidate’s access to the real UPSC Interview Process is almost nil. A candidate’s Post Interview Feedback or Interview Transcript, even if honestly given, is often misunderstood. It is, at the most, a script but not the movie. A candidate groans under the burden of a plethora tips. As a result, clear understanding of this important and interesting process is contaminated with Myths. It needs a Distilled Understanding. Myths are dangerous viruses. So vaccinate yourself against them. Let us burst all such myths one by one :
Myth of Subjectivity: In a Written Examination, there is only one evaluator. In Interview, there are five unbiased evaluators. If any subjectivity is still there, accept it because you cannot change it.
Personality can not change in months: Out of those candidates who have appeared in 2013 and 2014, many have improved their scores by 60 to 80 marks in 2014.
Result largely depends on luck: Luck is the most random element in any human effort. Planned systematic Preparation is the most reliable way out.
Strict Interview Panels: It is a widespread myth that some interviewers are strict and Dream Killers. Truth is that all panels are unbiased and friendly and award all range of marks.