All You Need To Know About The IAS Interview Process


From February 11 to March 29, 2019, a total of 1,994 Mains qualified candidates shall be appearing for the IAS interview. This is the third and final stage of the UPSC Civil Services exam for the year 2018. The Personality Test assesses the suitability of a candidate for a life in administration. Facing the interview panel is a daunting task but armed with facts and information, a candidate with confidence and appropriate soft skills can surely ace the interview.

Venue: Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), Dholpur House, Shahjahan Road, New Delhi-110069

Timing: Two sessions per day ( Forenoon session 9:00 AM onwards, Afternoon session 1:00 PM onwards). It will be mentioned on the candidate’s call letter.

Dress Code: Basic formals suffice (dark trousers with a light-coloured plain shirt for men and saris or ‘churidar’ for women)

Maximum Marks: 275 (it seems less when compared to Mains but scoring high marks here can be the path to one’s service/cadre of choice).

Vacancies: 782 (as per UPSC 2018 notification)

Overview of the process

  • Candidates usually reach the venue with some time in hand, and the security in front of UPSC organises them in a queue and does the preliminary verification (interview call letter and cross-checking the candidate’s name on their list). It is recommended to carry some government-issued identification.
  • After the security ushers the candidates inside the hallowed gates of the UPSC, they are required to check in their bags and mobile phones. The candidates are then made to sit in an entrance hall where the actual verification of documents (education documents, caste certificates) takes place. Usually, it is a smooth process and the staff is polite and ready to help. There are also newspapers along with tea/water and biscuits for the candidates. Candidates are also handed out a questionnaire to fill (basic background info for UPSC’s research and analysis purposes).
  • Once the documents are submitted, the candidates are given the number of the panel and the sequence number of the order in which they will appear before the panel. For e.g. a candidate might be told he/she has to appear before the panel number 5, and for that panel, he/she will be going in as the 3rd individual for that session. They don’t disclose the name of the panel chairperson at that time and it is pointless to ask that.
  • The somewhat visibly nervous candidates are then escorted to a large circular hall in the centre of the building complex. Here, the candidates are grouped and seated based on their panel number (all the people scheduled to appear before the panel number 5 will sit in a group and so on). Also, this is where a few staff members will hand out forms for travel reimbursement for out-of-town candidates (they refund for train travel in 2nd class).
  • In one session, a panel takes the interview of 5-6 aspirants. So, initially, the hall is quite full (5-6 panels in all, hence 30-35 odd candidates sitting and waiting). Usually, an interview lasts for about 20 minutes, although there is no time limit as such and people have recounted experiences of being part of even 40-minute interview.
  • One by one, names are called and candidates make their way to their respective panels (after another security check where one has to leave any remaining documents/papers/pen). Usually, a staff member escorts one from here to the room of the panel chairperson.

So, candidates usually reach the venue around 8:45 AM for the forenoon session. After the formalities, the first candidate to appear before the panel will be called around 10:15 AM. Depending on one’s sequence number, one can estimate the waiting period. Hence, it is essential that you don’t arrive on an empty stomach or sleep deprived.

Tackling the actual interview is a completely different challenge. It’s a unique experience for everyone, even for experienced candidates but there are some essential things which candidates need to inculcate before they face the panel.

Broadly speaking, a polite, humble candidate who is calm and confident has the best chance to score high marks irrespective of the panel chairperson, the medium of the interview and the number of questions answered.

All the best!

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