Prof. V.P. Gupta,Director, Rau’s IAS Study Circle, New Delhi – Jaipur – Bengaluru

“Personality is the unbroken chain of successful interactions.”
Personality Test or the Interview Test is the final lap of the Civil Services selection process. It carries 275 marks (with no minimum qualifying marks). Marks obtained by the candidates in the Main Examination (written examination) as well as Interview would determine their final ranking. Candidates will be allotted to the various services keeping in view their ranks in the Examination and the preferences expressed by them for the various services and posts.
Well, let me tell you, the interviews are composed of the most important ingredient and that is “YOU”. Everything else that goes on in an interview is peripheral or secondary. Talking about oneself is not easy for any one in such a situation. Yet that, precisely, is what you are required to do in an interview.
Your past achievements, present inclinations and vision for the future are what you must be ready to talk about in a clear-headed manner in an interview for any job. An interview is a celebration of “YOU” from start to finish. So at least the main theme of the interview is not covered by any amount of fog or mist.
The preparation for an interview, therefore, should begin by keeping yourself at the centre. In fact, viewed from a social perspective, we all love to talk about ourselves and we never tire of telling others how we feel, what we think, why we acted the way we did and when we felt stumped or clueless, who then rescued us and where all that finally led us to. We are usually full of ourselves, if not self-obsessed.
The interviewers have two major concerns in their mind: (a) the personality issue and (b) the knowledge aspect of the candidate. Now, in case of Civil Services, the knowledge aspect is taken care of by an elaborate written examination, which has already been done. What remains to be evaluated is the personality aspect of the candidate. It is for this reason the interview has been, at times, also called “the Personality Test”.In a situation like Civil Services, the personality aspect worries the selectors more than the qualification aspect, since Civil Services do not require any critical technical qualifications for the day-to-day administrative business of the government.
The personality of a person has been variously defined to include a vast number of qualities of head and heart. The personality of any person is the sum total of what one has experienced, seen, heard, read or felt from the very moment of one’s birth onwards. In short, what the government is looking for in a candidate is a man of substance who possesses the mind and courage to take on any job and give his/her best to it, without flinching even for a moment. Ultimately, it is the contents of one’s character that any employer looks for in a new employee and not just his/her outer persona.
We all do have some fear at the time of going for an interview and that is quite natural, so this is acceptable. However, what is not acceptable is fear morphing into panic, which can diminish a performance in many ways. It is, therefore, perfectly natural to be a bit nervous before an interview, but there is an element of energy present even in this nervousness and if properly harnessed, this energy can help you to present yourself with agility, passion and conviction. It can give you the edge that you need to perform well. But in order to do so you need to control your nerves in a positive way. Believe me, you have done it many times earlier, so you can do it again, when required. Before the interview, you should try to visualise an enthusiastic interviewer, who is reacting positively to your responses. Picture yourself delivering a clear and interesting presentation, admit to yourself that you may be nervous, but you are going to convert your nervousness into energy, in a positive way.
Here are some last minute tips, which you should keep in your mind to enhance your performance in front of the Interview Board :
ü  Intelligent listening: Eye contact should be maintained to show that you are listening attentively.
ü  While speaking, the eye contact can be a little relaxed.
ü  Low Peripheral Movement (LPM): It shows that you are used to people listening to you carefully, when you talk to them.
ü  Cut your answers short to the required patience shown by the members of the Board, talking to you.
ü  They usually like to talk more, so listen carefully and think for a few seconds before you start answering. This will show you are organising your thoughts in your mind, before starting to speak.
ü  Bring in qualifiers while talking, so as to leave some room for difference in opinion.
ü  Do take a stand, but do not be adamant or unwilling to appreciate the Board’s opinion.
ü  Use a couple of words from the question while answering it. It shows you have listened to the question very carefully.
ü  Be careful about limited use of technical jargon.
ü  Do not rely upon guesses or speculation, if you are not sure about something.
ü  Listen very keenly, reply with respect, in brief. Do not go in for introductions, come to the central issue of the enquiry immediately.
ü  Even if there has been some initial mistake, keep playing with confidence and do not think you have already lost the game. They are looking for warm, sensitive, respectful and attentive youngsters and not a quizmaster.
ü  Talk humbly about your achievements and hobbies, as you may not be a great expert in those fields. You may have mentioned some of your hobbies in the Interview/Personality Test Form, without a serious background in them.
ü  Say less to convey more. Less is more these days, as per the minimalist creed.
ü  Argue logically and generalise correctly if you have to, add a rider (other things being equal as they do in economics).
ü  Do not try to “read too much between the lines”.
ü  In Civil Services Examination, Interview Tests are form driven and not content driven, yet you must speak sensibly about what you know.
ü  Do not start evaluating your performance while still sitting in the Boardroom.
ü  Remember, while answering any question, what is “easy to see” is “easy to miss”.
ü  We often tend to miss the obvious and go for some non-crucial aspects of the subject. So be careful.
Remember that the interviewers are not your adversaries and they are not conducting the interview in order to pull you apart. Their interest lies in what you have to say and show them about yourself.

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