IAS Exam Interview Preparation Tips

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ias-interview-preparation-tipsThe civil services IAS interview conducted by the UPSC is not just another interview. Many people consider it THE interview to clear. Scoring well in the IAS interview requires a combination of knowledge, smartness, alertness, and other qualities that are detailed in this complete guide to the IAS interview.

What is expected of a candidate in the IAS interview?

  • Constructive thoughts
  • Fresh and unique ideas
  • Integrity
  • Honesty
  • Commitment
  • Firmness
  • Patience

How many members conduct the IAS interview?

Although the number of members is not fixed, generally the interview is conducted by a board consisting of 6 members including the board chairperson, who is a UPSC member and the rest are invited to conduct the interview.

These members are from different fields, including subject matter experts, psychologists, bureaucrats, educationists etc. All of them are highly experienced and ask searching questions to the candidate.

It is worth knowing that the UPSC chairman does not sit in any interview board but oversees the interview process. It’s the UPSC members who chair the interview board. Typically each board member chairs one board so the number of IAS interview boards is equal to the number of the UPSC members, but there are exceptions as well.

The newer members may sit on other member’s board in their first year as UPSC member to gain some experience of conducting the interview to this premier service.

Focus areas for IAS interview

While preparing for the civil services IAS interview, there are some core areas that you should focus on.

  • Birthplace and State
  • Optional subjects
  • Educational background
  • Hobby
  • Family background
  • Job experience (if any) and particularly, government job
  • Current affairs
  • Extra curricular activities
  • Educational institutions attended

Your mains form is the key guide

By far, the most important source is the mains form you filled after clearing your preliminary or CSAT exams. So ensure you fill the mains form very very carefully. The questions can be on any topic like your birthplace, name, job, optionals, family background, hobby, sports, education, state etc.

Recommended Books for IAS

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So cover each and every topic in minute detail and a good practice is to keep the copy of your mains form as the reference while preparing for your IAS interview.

The Getup

As with all formal interviews you are expected to dress formally. Female candidates may wear a Saree or a Salwar whereas males should wear a shirt with tie. If you want you can also wear a suit. Many candidates do that as it gives them more confidence. Just ensure the colors of your clothes are sober to suit the occasion. No fancy shirts or sarees here please. You’ll have all the time to wear these once the interview is over.

One reason why you should avoid fancy clothes is that such clothes tend to distract attention of the board members from you to your clothes, which is not desirable.

Keep your presence of mind no matter what

Many candidates, especially those appearing for the first time, lose their composure the moment they are unable to answer a few questions. Relax, the UPSC board members aren’t just testing your knowledge during the civil services interview.

In fact, more than knowledge they want to assess your personality, your traits, your ability to work under pressure, to handle a tricky situation. After all, this is precisely what you will be facing in an intensely political environment once you enter the civil service.

If you don’t know a particular answer, just say so politely. Do not try to bluff the members or hazard a guess. Most likely, they will feel insulted and that will be the end of your interview and that year’s attempt. These members have vast experience and knowledge and they can easily make out when a candidate is trying to fool them.

They will in fact appreciate your honesty and courage in saying that you do not know the answer. Just keep your poise and smile intact.

Remember: One good, convincing answer is better than ten half hearted answers that lack conviction.

This is the nature of the IAS interview.

Be prepared to answer some tricky questions

Answering the question requires your presence of mind. If the members ask you a recall or memory based question, you will either answer it or say you don’t know. But if the question is a bit tricky then you will need to be alert to answer it. For instance if your hobby is astronomy, then be prepared for some confusing question like “With what velocity will Tendulkar have to hit the ball to make it go beyond the Earth’s gravity?”

If you are a racing fan like me, then you could be asked some unexpected questions like what will be Michael Schumacher’s height sitting in the cockpit. To answer this you will need to know a formula one car’s ground clearance and Schumachers height.

Stick to your stand

Many times candidates are quizzed to ascertain their firmness in making decisions or statements. Once you take a stand and you believe you are correct, in spite of contrary claims by some members, stick to it.

Don’t try to be a ‘yes sir’ person. Our whole system is suffering because of such chaperone’s who change color faster than a chameleon. If you can convince the questioner regarding your stand, in a polite manner, then the other members will be greatly impressed.

Even when consensus is not possible just say that you respect his or her view but do not agree with it. But in case you realize that the member was correct after all, then you should admit it and thank the person for shedding extra light on the topic, which you were unaware of.

This is called tactical diplomacy.

Can you guide the interview course?

Many candidates who have appeared for civil services interview claim to have nudged the board members into asking questions on their well-prepared topics by purposely mentioning these in their answers.

For example, if a candidate is asked to list the steps required for boosting the economy, he or she may deliberately stress on banking services if it is related in some way to the candidate’s profile. And the next question could well be on the banking sector which the IAS interview candidate will find easy to negotiate.

But should such an approach be followed? While the jury’s is still out on this many people feel there’s no need for guiding the interview if you are well prepared. Anyways, the board members are quite experienced to know the strong and weak areas of any civil services aspirant. So it may not work even if you tried it.

Books for IAS

All the books for IAS Interview, Prelims and Mains preparation at one place.

Some common questions

Although the civil services interview is very unpredictable, there still are certain common questions, for which you should prepare well.

  1. Why do you want to join the civil service?
  2. Situational: If you were the Collector of a district and a communal clash broke out, what steps would you take to bring the situation under control?
  3. Why do you want to leave your current job to join the civil services?
  4. Explain US stand towards India in relation to Pakistan and China

Even though the first question seems pretty straightforward, many IAS candidates find it quite difficult to give a convincing reply to it. One of the reasons for this is that the interview board members do not want clichéd replies like “because I want to serve my country” and so on.

Also, avoid coaching class answers. These board members can easily pick up a reply that is not genuine. In fact some candidates have been chided for giving replies taught by Ravindran, the Vajiram director and owner.

At the same time you should also be prepared for some follow on questions for all the expected questions. Whatever reply you give, ensure your answer is convincing and genuine.

Note: You can enroll for my Test Series course at 20% discount using coupon code TESTKRACKER

Reference Books for IAS

GS Solved Papers
General Studies Manual
Manorama Year Book
Oxford Student Atlas
Science and Technology

Topic-wise Books for IAS

Indian Polity Laxmikanth
Ecology and Environment
India's Struggle for Independence
Brief History of Modern India
Indian Art and Culture
Certificate Course in Geography

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IAS Kracker

IAS Kracker is your friend, mentor and guide to help you crack the IAS exam. We have been guiding hundreds of IAS Aspirants since 2009 to help realize their dream of cracking the IAS exam. Know more about us.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 38 comments
nikhil - March 14, 2013

very informative..! thank you sir 🙂 currently m in b.tech 2nd yr…
cud u please tell me, how shud i start ?

    IAS Kracker - March 16, 2013

    Pls refer the eBook for getting started!

jenny - March 15, 2013

hey…currently i am pursuing b.a. English hons and i am in second year…can you please guide me as to how should i begin with my preparations for the civil services exam..

    IAS Kracker - March 16, 2013

    Refer the eBook!

Arun Dev - March 16, 2013

All the information related to IAS interview is so useful.
Sir, I have done BA in 2011 but i have three year gap between my 12th and BA due to some personal reason.
will it effect my bio data during the interview. Please give me a sufficient reply because I am so worry due to this.

    IAS Kracker - March 16, 2013

    Dear Arun,

    Don’t worry about the Interview now, focus on getting there first. Only your confidence matters!

manas ranjan mohapatra - March 17, 2013

thank u sir for giving such vital informations.

vikas - March 18, 2013


Manjunath - March 20, 2013

Hi Sir,

I am Manjunath, 2011 Engg(E&E) Passed out. now im working for MNC Software Company from last 15 months. and I want to take IAS-2014 exam. could u please guide me how can i start my preparation in a better way.


    IAS Kracker - April 12, 2013

    As above, pls refer the eBook for starting your prep

SHUBHAM TIWARI - April 3, 2013

Your instructions for Ias Interview is very nice & healthy . One can easily gain it & can prepare

    IAS Kracker - April 12, 2013


Navanita kanjilal - April 22, 2013

I am preparing for mains exam of IAS. If you will kindly guide me some books i will be really oblighed.

akkiiii - April 23, 2013


i m doing architecture nd m in 2 nd year.. i wnt to start prpration for ths cn u plzz guide me…. nd cn u plzz explain sme more detail abt ths ebook?….

Sidharth Bhakth - April 24, 2013

Dear Sir, I am a civil service aspirant and follow your blog regularly for updates and advises on the UPSC exams. I plan on taking History as my optional. Could you please guide me on what all books to study and how to preoare a strategy for covering the syllabus.

Thank you!

Soumya - April 28, 2013

Sir , i m preparing for cse 2014..Is it possible to crack ias without coaching?

anurag mohanty - April 29, 2013

sir,nw i’m in b.tech 3rd yr…i ‘ll crack IAS in 3yrs but wnt ur guidance n motivation so plz hlp me… i’m rly so exited n intrested for this…..

Swati - May 4, 2013

i want to prepare for IAS Exam & these were very helpful instructions & information for me & everyone. Thanku so much for providing us these helpful instructions

    IAS Kracker - May 5, 2013


mritunjay kumar singh - May 6, 2013

Thnx for giving so much detailed info about ias interview.
I am in b.tech (mech.) 2nd semester what should i do at present for upsc exam preparation pls pls tell me

himanshu srivastava - May 6, 2013

your instruction for the preparation of IAS is very benefitial…….thank u sirrrr!!!!!!!!!!

ashutosjh sharma - May 8, 2013

sir it’s very useful ………..thanxx…
can you suggest me what can i do for preparation as a student of 9 or 10 class such as books , e books etc. etc……………
and can you suggest which subjects are best for I.A.S………………………………….??????????

CHETAN BHAGWAT - June 6, 2013

I m oing job as medical officer since last 6 yr. i want crack u.p.s.c. in 1st ATTEMPT M GIVING STATE SERVICE EXAM but not succecc.please guide me with some name of books for prelim. in hindi virsiom

Sateesh - June 9, 2013

sir, i am joining in b.a course. these information and free book is very helpful for me and my friends. thank you very much sir.

Swati Soni - June 19, 2013

please tell me……..can i wear formal shirt nd trouser for ias interview if i am not comfortable in saree and suit…………..

Swati Soni - June 19, 2013

really i am not at all comfortable in saree and suit so please give a rply that i can wear formal shirt and trouser………….for ias interview………….

    IAS Kracker - June 19, 2013

    Of course you can dress in formal attire. Trouser and shirt is acceptable.

AKHILESH - June 23, 2013

Sir, plz guide me for upsc cpf (asst comm.) interview. i m having it in august 2013.

Rushabh Shah - July 9, 2013

Which eBook are you saying to refer to? I can’t find it. Please give me the link to download it.

vaibhav goyal - July 10, 2013

Sir,currently I m in 11 th class….as there is,much more competition I hv started studying fr CSAT test I would like 2 know dat is maths compulsary in IAS ??? Bcz I m nt dat much good in maths……..pls reply fast sir…….

saravana kumar - July 17, 2013

how much marks should i aim in mains and interview separately if i need a final selection when i belong to forward class. how much should my friend who belongs to SC.

Hasnain - September 11, 2013

sister plz avoid jeans and Tshirt for interview

Himanshi dubey - April 7, 2015

now in 2015 i m studying in class 10th so plz guide me or help me how could i start my prepareation for IAS i m so confused about all these things

Vimlok tiwari - September 7, 2015

sir m want to choose political science as optional plz sugest book for both paper in hindi medium

sharan - October 8, 2015

Dear sir, I’m currently studying BBM final year student.
my request to you what are the remedies to asking question in I board please suggest to me and it’s very cordial compare to other
I board . can it best or good for c s candidates?

Rashmi Singh - October 14, 2015

My date of birth is 27/8/1995 and I want to participate in 2016 preliminary exam of upsc the exam held on 7th of August 2016 .. am I eligible?

neetu raina - November 3, 2016

Sir..am an intern of bhms …will u advice plz which subject shll I select as optional

Ujjwal Kumar Roy - May 7, 2017

Hello am a student of BaLLB 1st year and I want to be an IAS officer. Seeking for a guide to start early. Can you enlight my path and tell me the best way to approach for.
I Hope you reply.


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