My Civil Services Interview ; Part 2

Part 1 of my civil services interview was titled “The day I differed from a Nobel Laureate” and i published it 40 days back. Here is part 2 of the interview.

In my view, Civil Services interview is more of a discussion generally, rather than a grilling session. The “knowledge” has already been tested in the Written examination and therefore the interview is more of a personality test.

Some of the other questions in the interview were as follows;

Democracy/Dynasty/voting.  The Board asked me thats my view on regimented democracy was. I said that i am not very sure of what it is.

My answer was accepted without probing on and they then asked me to give my opinion on dynasty politics in 1 sentence. I simply said i am not in its favour as it does not allow the competent, efficient and meritorious to come up. I was asked did i think universal adult franchisee is a success and i said that yes, since in all elections the government has been formed by the party which had the support of the people.

On MP’s. One Member asked me whether like the term of US President is limited to 2 Terms same should be for an MP in India. I said no, since there are many good leaders who nurture their constituencies well due to which they are re-elected 7-8 times on merit, with votes of the people. The immediate next question was How an MP can nurture and i said through the MPLAD scheme whereby 2 crores are given to an MP per year to spend on their constituency. I was asked why not this be increased, doubled or trebled and i replied that many MP’s are not able to spend it and so there is no need to increase the amount. A lady Member laughed and said that they are spending on wrong things so its better its not spent, and i politely said we should try and ensure that its spent on correct and right things. She then said that can the scheme be modified to take care of national interest and not only local interest. I said yes thats simple, insert a clause that a certain percentage is spent on education and health, then automatically national interest will be taken care of.

Relevance of NAM. My response was if it means remaining equidistant between the 2 superpowers, then no, it is not relevant as we have only 1 superpower now, USA and situation likely to remain the same. However in my opinion NAM also stands for the equality of nations and also stands for the independence of foreign policy and was a platform for weak, underdeveloped countries to come together

American President’s Visit. I stated that Bill Clinton’s visit was very successful as an attempt was made to understand how complex the Kashmisr issue was and for the 1st time an American President accepted that elements in Pakistan were fuelling unrest in Kashmir. The visit was also successful as in mu opinion trade would increase and in the new internet based Knowledge economy India and USA were poised to be natural allies.

On USA. I was taken back to my earlier statement that USA was the only superpower and asked whether it is good for the world. I replied that any situation of one person/party/country having too much power is normally not good and one can only hope that power is wielded responsibly by USA. I was asked how nations can come close together and i replied that closeness can be through trade. One Member abruptly said that USA will not allow this and i politely disagreed that “While Madeline Allbright has herself said that ever since UN was formed, USA has used it to further its interests, but with trade , nations can come close together and USA will gain the maximum with access to new markets. I was asked a strange question “Is USA Afraid of China’?. i replied no, there is no reason to be , however it may be a bit wary of China’s ascendency, and India should use that wariness to forge a successful relationship.

On my weaknesses. I said that i get irritated sometimes and perturbed, especially if i see that I am working hard but my team member is not. (this was a prepared answer). The follow up question was then you are a bad leader. I replied that i take care not to allow my weakness to affect work, as for me the target is most important and i take care to see that all are motivated.

On Boss giving illegal instructions. There were a series of rapidfire questions as follows;

1. What will you do if your Boss gives you illegal instructions? Ans. I will follow the law. 2. What if he insists.? Ans. I will reason with him. 3. What if he says, I am your boss, dont reason with me, do what i say. Ans. I will point out a way of doing the same work in a legal manner. 4. He says No, i want it done my way, I dont care, I am the boss. Ans. I will point out that the work will land him in trouble and me too. 5. He says Dont teach me, how many times i told u i am the boss, do what i say. Ans. I will go on leave, but not carry out his illegal instruction.

There was a moment of quietness when i said I will go on leave. Then one member asked “Isnt that accepting defeat.?” I said, No as i was left with no alternative, and going on leave is a way of showing protest

The next question was “Will you resign?” I said with a broad smile, “No Sir, I wont resign, I have studied so hard and fought so hard to be in the few 100’s among a few lakhs. Why should i resign for an adamant, corrupt boss.”. Hearing this the entire Board burst into laughter.

The interview ended on this note. It had gone on for 43 minutes. A lady Member wanted to ask one more question but the Chairman stopped her saying, Madam you must have been satisfied. In fact all of us are satisfied, Mr Misra, Wish you the very best.

Hearing this i was ecstatic as this was very positive indeed. When the results came out, i was pleasantly surprised that I had 240, which was the highest marks that year( along with 4 other candidates). That high marks in interview was primarily responsible for my getting a rank of 89 and a job in IRS. In fact the other 4 who got 240 also got IFS, IPS, IPS and IRS (Customs) showing that written exam gets you a job, Interview decides what job it will be.

My Civil Services interview was one of the memorable days of my life, hence blogged it. Hope you enjoyed reading about it as much as i enjoyed giving it then and  writing about it now.











6 thoughts on “My Civil Services Interview ; Part 2

  1. Hello sir,
    The blog is very well written. But I have a few honest questions (in all respect). Hope you do answer them.
    1. Is there any corruption in the interviews? My father about 20 yrs ago had passed the KAS mains. During the interview he was asked to pay a bribe. Now I don’t want to dwell on the past, but my point is how is the situation today?
    2. I know you will most probably say there is no chance for something like that today, but I ask what are the measures taken during the interview to ensure this?
    3.Is it possible for me to record my interview covertly so that it wouldn’t directly affect the interview itself, but act as a last line of defense if at all I am faced with corrupt officials.
    P.S: My father’s interview is his claim. Without evidence I won’t claim its validity too much. So pls don’t quiz me on it!!
    My grandparents worked in the secretariat, they too tell stories about internal corruption. So this is not a question of doubt.


  2. Thanks for your appreciation. I will definitely answer your queries.
    1. It is unfortunate that your father was asked a bribe. There is no need for evidence to be asked for or given. No question of quizzing you on it. The person asking for the bribe is to be condemned in all ways possible for depriving a genuine candidate and favouring a non-genuine one for giving the bribe.
    2. As regards UPSC the interview members are generally very senior bureaucrats and or professionals like Dean of IIT, Vice Chancellor, Government of India Secretary etc. Hence interview is more a discussion. And very often people of very normal and poor background make it. In fact i genuinely feel that if a survey is taken then it will be found that more people of poor background have made it and very very few from rich background.
    3. Corruption is everywhere but institutions like the UPSC have maintained their integrity and respect. The exam process is also gruelling with preliminary exam, written and interview and from a few lakhs only a few 100’s are selected.
    4. It is not possible to record the UPSC interview as one simple goes for the same without any files etc. It is better to go with clear mind and confidence which will help the interview rather than try to record it and in the process be ill at ease and appear uncomfortable.
    5. Generally the UPSC interview is over and after the candidate leaves the room the Board sums up the candidates performance in a few minutes discussion. Those few minutes are important. Hence one should end the interview well, and apart from a few good answers which will strikingly appeal, have an overall good impression. That will help
    Thanks. Wish you the very best


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