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IAS Interview Question

IAS stands for Indian Administrative Service. IAS's candidates are selected by a central level examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). It is considered one of the toughest government exams in the country. This exam consists of three parts: Prelims, Mains and then Interview. The interview part of the UPSC examination is the most critical. It ensures you get the best service and can also play a critical role in the final selection.

IAS Prelims and Main examinations are conducted to test the candidates' academic and general awareness (Along with a diverse range of topics). On the other hand, the IAS Interview test is the civil services candidate's personality and temperament test.

The UPSC examination Pattern

To become an IAS, the candidate has to face and clear the following three exams:

Prelims: This is the first exam, and the paper has objective type questions. It is a very tough examination as its questions are neither repeated nor copied from any reference books. Besides this, the probability of each question has an equal probability of 1/4 of getting correct.

Mains: This is the second paper and is a subjective type. The candidates who get selected in prelims appear for mains. In this paper, the candidate's way of writing and presentation of knowledge is checked. In this paper, the candidate has to show his knowledge by writing the answers in detail.

Interview: This is the third stage of the examination. If the candidate gets selected in mains too, he has to appear for the interview. The interviewers, in the interview, are senior IAS officers. They ask the candidate every such question which he/ she has not studied in a textbook.

The following personality traits are checked in this interview test:

  • Mental alertness
  • Critical powers of assimilation
  • Clear and logical exposition
  • Social traits
  • Interest and knowledge of current affairs
  • Balance of judgment
  • Variety and depth of interest
  • The ability for social cohesion
  • Leadership skills
  • Intellectual and moral integrity

Common Interview Questions and Assessment

When you get qualified in the prelims and mains examination, you call for a personality test or interview test. In this test, the UPSC panel members can ask questions related to your detailed application form.

The questions can be asked on your place of birth, interest, issues related to your home state, current national issues, and more.

For example, if you are from Uttar Pradesh or Bihar, you can face questions related to politics. If you belong to some famous tourist place, a member can ask, what is your city famous for? What is the name of the famous places in your city? The candidates' hobbies and areas of interest also play an important role during the interview. If your hobby is gardening, you will surely get some questions about soil, vegetables, herbs etc. Besides this, if you have any prior job expression, the questions related to that job can be asked.

For example, if you have worked as an engineer, you could be asked about technology, innovation, job profile, etc. While you answer these questions, the members of the panel observe how you respond to each question.

During this session, the panel tries to assess whether your answers suit the Indian national or a regional mindset.

Situational Interview Questions

The interview panel can also create questions according to certain situations and asked to you. For example, they may give a situation like an earthquake, fire burst, floods and ask the candidate to respond to it in a district collector's role. Members might also ask tricky questions.

These situational and tricky questions are asked to evaluate the candidates' mental alertness and the ability to think logically in a crisis.

Note: The UPSC Interview 2020 will take place tentatively in March and April 2021.

Expected Topics for UPSC Interview in 2019-2020

Here, we are providing some topics which have the highest probability to be asked in the IAS interview 2020:

  • Formers Protests on Agriculture Bill
  • Shaheen Bagh Protest
  • Abrogation of Article 370
  • National Register for Citizens (NRC)
  • US-China Trade dispute
  • India China Conflict
  • Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)
  • Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 (Amended in 2019)
  • National Investigation Agency Act (Amendment in 2019)
  • India's aspirations for a $5 trillion economy by 2024
  • Ban on e-Cigarettes
  • Balakot Air Strikes
  • Chandrayaan-2 Mission
  • Protests in Hong Kong
  • Rafale jets for the IAF
  • Transfer of RBI Surplus Funds to Government
  • Doubling Farmers' Income by 2022
  • Sedition Law in India
  • Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019
  • Population Control in India
  • Mob Lynching incidents
  • Chief of Defense Staff (CDS)
  • Dam Safety Bill, 2019
  • Lateral Entry in Government
  • Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization
  • A slump in the Automobile sector
  • Privatization of Air India
  • Issues in the Telecom Sector
  • India-US and India-Russia relations

Some Important Details about UPSC (IAS) Interview

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

Timing of the Interview: Two sessions per day (Forenoon session 9:00 AM onwards, Afternoon session 1:00 PM onwards). It would be mentioned on the Union Public Service Commission's call letter if you were eligible for the interview.

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

Maximum Marks: 275 Marks (It seems very less than Mains examination, but scoring high marks in the interview can be the path to one's service/cadre of choice).

Questions Generally Candidates ask on Google

1) How can I become an IAS officer?

Firstly you have to clear the preliminary exams which consist of 2 papers of 200 marks Secondly you have to clear the main exam which is very important then you have classified for an IAS interview if you qualify interview then you go to LBSNNA for training after clearing training you Will become an IAS officer.

2) How many members are there in the IAS interview panel?

According to our knowledge, there are 5 members in the IAS interview panel in which each of them asks some questions.

3) Is it compulsory to give IAS interview in English?

No. It is not compulsory to give IAS interview in English. You can give an interview in your mother tongue language also.

In the IAS interview, the interview panel always asks practical questions, GS (General Study), about yourself, some questions related to the degree which you have gained before entering for IAS interview.

Examples of some questions:

  • Why do you want to join the civil services?
  • Why do you want to join the civil services if you can do well by doing social work?
  • Why do you want to join civil services and not Politics?
  • Why do you want to join civil service even though the salary is limited?
  • Explain why you chose IAS as your first preference?
  • What is your ambition in life?
  • You have opted for arts subjects when you are an engineer. Why did you choose that subject?
  • What is special about your date of birth? Any important event took place that year?
  • What does your name mean? Any famous personality or god that is associated with that name?
  • Would you like to change your name?

The interviewers always ask tricky and very simple questions. It would be best if you did not worry about these questions and only answer the one which comes to your mind first, but your answer must be diplomatic and practical. The questions may also be twisted, but you should convert them into a simple question and answer it. Some questions may look useless and illogical from the outer side but logical from the internal.


Questions Generally asked by the Interview Panel

1) Why do you want to join the civil services? / Why do you want to join the civil services if you can do well by doing social work?

This fact cannot be ignored that most of the candidates dream of becoming an IAS officer due to certain emotionally driven reasons. You can say that it is one of the most prestigious government jobs in our country. We all know that an IAS officer is endowed with unmatched power. Even a state government cannot take action against IAS officials without taking permission from MHRD. Apart from being an attractive career option and benefits such as a good package and job security, civil services offer a platform for a candidate to serve the country at different levels, work for the underprivileged's welfare, and contribute towards the nation's development. But, it would help if you did not answer in such a simple and straightforward way. Your answer must be diplomatic and suits all the aspects.

Your answer should be like:

My basic reason of entering into civil services is to serve the nation, serve the people and to bring positive changes in the society.
Sir my main motive to join the civil services is to positively affect the lives of thousands of people in and around my region. I well know that an IAS officer is responsible for regulations of policies, developmental activities and also, the administration. He can play an important role in handling administrative affairs of both central and state governments and may also lead government ministries, higher departments, and important socio-economic institution of our country and may represent our nation at international, bilateral or multilateral platforms.

2) Why do you want to join civil services even though the salary is limited?

This is a very tough and tricky question. This is not a type of question that has a fix and exact answer. The answer to this question can be varied from person to person. No two aspirants will give the same answer.

However, you can answer this question by serving the nation, power and prestige associated with this job, being in a leadership position, various assignments, etc.

You can answer this as follow:

IAS as a job I believe is best in India. This is a job where you don't think about salary. This job provides opportunities to serve in leadership and key positions in government. India is a developing and welfare-oriented nation, And IAS are involved in the formulation and implementation of national policies, which gives an IAS officer ample opportunity to problem-solving, innovating, and bringing ideas to life. Moreover, professional growth in IAS is rapid. They get a chance to serve in various departments of government. This variety of assignments and rapid professional growth and are enough for high job satisfaction for me.

Last but not least, IAS's prestige and pride are also a reason I want to join IAS.

Another Ans: Everyone who prepares for this examination has some thinking and mindset about civil services or IAS. You can tell yours to the interview panel very clearly and in a very straightforward manner.

Don't try to impress the interview panel by telling lies and boasting stuff like:

  • I will remove corruption.
  • I will make India the best of the best country.
  • IAS can give me power, so I will make everything correct wherever I will be posted.
  • I will eradicate poverty.

See, these statements are vague. You will get bashed in the interview if you won't be able to put up the fact and give back your statement logically.

So, you should always say meaningful things and always be ready to follow up questions.

If you don't know anything, then you can say I don't know.

Saying irrelevant things will lead one thing to another, and you will end up with a bad interview experience. They are really smart folks. Be simple nice genuine, and speak clearly.


3) What is special about your date of birth? Any important event took place that year?

To answer this question, you must tell the historical or any other special facts associated with that date. For example, suppose you were born on 23rd April 1992. Then you can say that-

  • On 23rd April 1992, India's most eminent filmmaker Satyajit Ray dies, leaving a huge void in Indian cinema, which is yet to be filled. He was the only filmmaker from India to win an Oscar.
  • On 23rd April 1564, the great English poet William Shakespeare was born. He also died on his birthday on 23rd April in the year 1616.
  • On 23rd April 1972, Apollo 16 astronauts (John W. Young, Thomas K Mattingly II, Charles M. Duke Jr.) explores Moon's surface.
  • On 23rd April 1920, the Ottoman Empire in Turkey ended.

There are a lot of such facts that you can tell the interview board.


4) What is your ambition or aim in life?

The definition of ambition or aim is a motivation or a strong urge to achieve something. If this question is asked in the UPSC interview, then you have already achieved a big goal that you have set for yourself.

You can answer like: "My ambition in life is to become a good officer who feel the pain of their citizen and try to solve their problems as much as possible. I want to take part in nation building through this great profession. I believe in the fact that everything is possible in the life with hard work and positive attitude, and I shall prove it true."


5) You have opted for arts subjects in UPSC when you are an engineer. Why did you choose that subject?

According to the recent trends, most engineering graduates choose their optional from humanities subjects in UPSC exams. The percentage of engineers is growing year by year who crack the UPSC exams. Engineering students crack the UPSC exam because of the practical pedagogical methods in their four-year engineering studies. This provides them with a better analytical aptitude as compared to Arts graduates.

Another big reason is that the brightest students in school are encouraged to take up Engineering or Medicine, and this is the same cadre of applicants that appear for UPSC. Because of these fields' very nature, engineering students understand competitive exams better than the Arts graduates.


6) How can I select my subjects in UPSC if I am from an engineering background?

The subject selection for the UPSC exam depends on your choice. It doesn't matter from which background you are. For the civil service exam (IAS/IFS/IPS), you have to choose only one optional, and for IFoS, you have to choose 2. If you are an engineering graduate, Mathematics will be a good optional for which you might have the pre-requisite knowledge. But you should select Mathematics only if you have an interest in that subject. Always remember that coaching for Mathematics is not widely available compared to other subjects. If you think you can prepare the subject by yourself only then opt for it.

If you don't feel confident in Mathematics, you should focus on the big four art subjects (History, Geography, Polity, and Economics).

Select one subject you find interesting, and feel the confidence you can write the answers, refer to previous year question papers. The biggest advantages of these subjects are that you can find many trainers and study materials who can guide you. Find someone who can guide you. It can be any coaching institute or anyone from your friends or family.

Besides these subjects, Public Administration is also a good choice. Don't go for engineering subjects like Mechanical, Civil or Electrical if you don't feel confident. These subjects are lengthy, took a lot of time.

Note: Choose your optional only on your interest. Remember your optional subject is a very crucial factor to get you in the final list.


7) How to choose the optional subject for UPSC Civil Services Exam?

Many aspects should be kept in mind while choosing an Optional Subject for the UPSC exam:

1. Interest and academic background of the aspirant

Before choosing your Optional, you should identify your interest in a subject. Go through school level NCERT's (Class 11th and 12th preferably), and check the Optional subject syllabus and your comfort level in reading the subject.

For example:

(a) If you are from the Commerce background, look for what you have already studied in college and choose accordingly between Commerce, Management or Public Administration.

(b) If you are from an Engineering background, check the syllabus and content of optional subjects like Physics, Chemistry, Maths, Engineering optional - Civil, Electrical, Mechanical etc. If you are not comfortable with the science subjects mentioned, check other optional subjects such as Geography, Psychology, Anthropology, Political Science, Sociology, Public Administration, Philosophy etc.

2. Coaching and Trainers available for the subject

You can talk to your seniors, friends, and civil servants who have already qualified to identify the best coaching classes available in your city. Study material from good coaching, along with the classes conducted, can accelerate your preparation.

3. Contribution of the Optional Subject towards General Study syllabus

This point is very important, and that's why many aspirants take humanities subjects as their optional because they cover a good part of the general study.

4. Performance of the optional subject in the recent past (at least past three years)

The individual performance of a candidate can vary on a large number of parameters compared to his competitors. You can find that some optional subjects do not fetch the marks desired compared to the effort put in by candidates. You should avoid those subjects.

5. Time Management

Time management is the biggest factor to be selected in the UPSC exam. The candidate should decide how much time he/she would spend studying an Optional Subject. A few candidates might be working while preparing or studying at a university. They should choose optional by estimating the amount of time required to study the chosen optional subject and General Studies.


Tricky, Funny and out of the Box Questions asked in UPSC Interview

1) What if one morning you woke up and found that you were pregnant?

Girl: I will be very excited and happy. This is great news, so I will take an off and celebrate the good news with my husband.


2) One day, if you found your sister nude on the bed, what will you do?

This question is asked to test your temperament. Here, you shouldn't lose your temper because a brilliant candidate will always stay patient and give the best answer. You can answer like that-

I will cover my little sister under a towel because a small kid gets affected by cold easily.


3) Twins (Ram and Shyam) were born in May, but their birthday is in June. How's this possible?

May is the name of the town.


4) If 1 is the company and 2 is the crowd, next what will be the 3 and 4?

3 and 4 there is always 7.

This question is asked to test your brilliance. So, don't confuse and overthink and give the answer.


5) What looks like half an apple?

The second half APPLE.


6) A killer was condemned to death. He has three options: room number one is on fire, second rifles with the killer and third Tiger, who had not eaten for three years. What should he choose?

Room number three, because three years is enough to kill a lion by hunger.

These types of questions are asked to test the decision making ability of the candidate.


7) If you had three apples and four oranges in one hand and four apples and three oranges in the other hand, what would you have?

Absolutely very large Hands.


8) How to drop a raw egg onto a concrete or cement floor without cracking it?

Concrete floors are very difficult to crack.

This question is asked to check your ability to think out of the box. You have to think in a unique way for these types of questions.


9) Can you tell in which STATE is the Bay of Bengal?

It is in a liquid STATE.


10) Can you name three consecutive days without using the words Wednesday, Friday, or Sunday?

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.


11) How will you lift an elephant with one hand?

Elephant with one hand cannot be found anywhere, so no needs to lift that.


12) What can you never eat for your dinner?

Lunch and Breakfast.


13) Is it possible for a man to go eight days without sleep?

Yes. He can sleep at night time.


14) Peacock is a bird who doesn't lay eggs. Then, how peacock's children are born?

The female peacock is used to lay the eggs and not the male one.


15) What will you do if I go with your sister?

I will be very happy, sir. I cannot find a better life partner for my sister than you.


How to prepare yourself for the Interview?

The UPSC interview process is used to check the candidate's mental ability, general awareness, social etiquette, and overall personality. This process is not meant to solely ascertain the candidates' theoretical knowledge because the commission has already organized two tests for this cause. So, the candidates should mainly focus on their soft skills.

Questions generally asked on Introduction

  • Tell us briefly about yourself.
  • Tell us about your hometown.
  • What is the meaning of your name or surname?
  • Tell us about your family.

Questions generally asked on Education

  • Which subjects did you study during school/graduation, and do you think they are relevant to life in administration?
  • Which subject was your favorite/least favorite?
  • Why did you choose 'xyz' college/school?
  • What kind of projects did you do during school/graduation/PG?
  • Would you call yourself an average student? Why?

Questions generally asked on Current Affairs.

  • What are today's headlines?
  • Which today's news impact you most?

They can also ask for a few important news about India/your state/your hometown in the last few months.

Note: For UPSC aspirants, it is very important to read newspapers and follow the daily news. You can face a lot of questions related to the latest news topics in the Interview. Your answer should be diplomatic. Avoid giving a one-dimensional opinion for any question.

Questions generally asked on Work profile.

  • What were your roles and responsibilities at your job?
  • Why do you want to become an IAS/IPS/IFS officer?

Note: Prepare yourself well if you have any gap between your Education and your work history. You can also explain how your previous work experience can help you in your career as an administrator.

Questions generally asked on Optional Subject.

  • Why did you choose this optional?
  • Why didn't you pick your graduation subject as your optional?

Questions generally asked on Hobbies

These questions are asked according to the hobbies you have listed in your DAF. If you have listed sports as a hobby, the Panel can ask questions on famous sports persons or/and the latest results. If you have specified singing as your hobby, you can also be asked to sing during the interview process.

IAS Interview Preparation Strategy

  • Read 2-3 newspapers daily and follow current affairs.
  • Make a list of possible questions that can be asked based on your DAF.
  • Practice for answer demo questions in front of a mirror.
  • Try to make a video of yourself as you answer questions during the practice session.

The IAS interview questions' main purpose is to check the suitability of the candidate to life in administration. This is not mandatory to answer all the questions to get good marks on the UPSC Personality Test. It is often not about whether you know the precise answer to the question, but how you face, the situation in such a condition matters more.

Few key points to avoid in an IAS interview

  • Don't take stress on the day before the Interview. Took a good nap, rest well and be calm.
  • Don't try to bluff in the Interview. IAS interview is not as other Interviews you have faced before. So, be genuine.
  • Don't argue with the panel members. It is a discussion, but candidates should maintain decorum at all times.