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IAS (UPSC CSE) Interview Strategy

Updated On -

Mar 5, 2021

IAS interview or the UPSC Personality Test is the final stage of the selection procedure of the UPSC IAS Exam. This is a face-to-face personality test. To qualify the last stage of the IAS selection process, the aspirants should have a clear idea about the IAS interview strategy. UPSC IAS Interview questions test the candidates’ mental acuity, general awareness, social etiquette, and overall personality. Generally, an IAS interview lasts for about 30 minutes and aspirants face interview questions that cover a broad range of topics.

Candidates who get to qualify the IAS Mains, only archives the opportunity to attend IAS Interview. This test does not judge candidates' knowledge rather it is all about your presence of mind, psychological health and wits, and control over language. The interviewer wants to check whether the candidate has the potential to demonstrate good administrative skills. This round carries 275 out of the total 2025 marks.

Brief about DAF form

Candidates who have been declared qualified in UPSC Prelims and UPSC Mains Examinations have to first fill-up the Online Detailed Application Form (DAF). Properly analysing DAF is equivalent to getting your half work done. UPSC Interview panel can dwell a candidate on the content written in the DAF form, as this form contains detailed information about a candidate such as his/her Birth Place, Subjects in graduation, optional subject, details of the college, professional experience, the topic of interests, hobbies, etc. Hence, thoughtful time must be given to prepare for DAF based questions in the Interview. It is more or less introspecting yourself. The following are some tips:

  • A candidate must have a detailed knowledge of the word mentioned in DAF. For example, in the case of candidate Name-Any famous personality with the same name, the meaning of name/surname
  • Be aware of the personalities for the sports or hobbies that the candidate wants to pursue. There is no need to do a Ph.D. in sports or hobbies but your interest must reflect candidates’ curiosity on the subject.
  • It is always advisable to have a hobby that reflects the trait of your personality. For instance, motivating others as a hobby reflect your personality.

Must Read: IAS (UPSC CSE) Mains 2021 Recommended books

IAS Interview Preparation Tips: Process

IAS (UPSC CSE) is more or less like a discussion round in which a broad range of topics from where questions can be asked. Facing the UPSC CSE interview can be an unnerving task but if a candidate is aware of the facts and information then he/she can surely excel in the interview round of the UPSC CSE.

  • IAS Interview is a face-to-face one-day test.
  • Candidates Interview Admit Card contains the time and the venue of the interview, which need to be carried compulsorily for preliminary verification.
  • It is recommended to carry some of the government-issued identifications.
  • At the Exam Centre’s entrance hall, verification of documents like educational certificates, Caste certificate etc takes place. Candidates are also handed over questionnaires to fill in their basic background info. After all the verification, candidates are allotted a panel. Each panel generally has 5-6 candidates for the interview.
  • The Interview is a completely different experience and tests the inner psychological state of the interviewee(candidate).

Some IAS UPSC Interview questions

Based on Introduction

  • Tell us briefly about yourself.
  • Tell us about your hometown.
  • What is the meaning of your name (first name/ surname)
  • Tell us about your family

Candidates need to prepare these questions since these questions can be base on further questions to be asked.

Based on Education Background

  • Which subjects did you study during school/graduation and do you think they are relevant to life in administration?
  • What kind of projects did you do during school/graduation/PG?
  • Would you call yourself an average student? Why?

The basic qualification for the UPSC CSE exam is Graduation. Followup questions can be asked from the subjects that the candidate had studied in his/her graduation/post-graduation. Also many times it might be possible that the interviewer (Board member) is itself the student of that particular subject. Check IAS Eligibility Criteria


Interviewer: When did you know that you wanted to join the Civil Services and when did you start?

Srushti (IAS 5TH RANK 2018): I completed my graduation in 2018 in Chemical engineering. It was around the third year that I had decided that a private job, being a chemical engineer is not something I am doing all my life. I am from a normal middle-class family. I remember asking myself - Where can I reach using my learning capacity, the way I can learn, and the way I can gain knowledge. Using that capacity what position can I reach, where I will be able to make a positive change in the lives of so many people. It was then that I felt Civil Service is that door. It opens so many opportunities to have such great exposure in your entire career and that’s how I chose civil service.

Based on Current Affairs or on news

  • What are today’s headlines?
  • Tell us about your hometown's latest news in the last few months.

It is not advisable to bluff with the board members rather it is better to be humble and truthful. Check How to prepare for Current Affairs


Interviewer: What is the subtle difference between terrorism, militancy, fundamentalism, insurgency?

(Chakresh Mishra, IPS): Sir, terrorism is the use of any method, violent or verbal or symbolic to create terror in the mind of the general population. Militancy is the use of a violent method for achieving some political purpose. Insurgency is a violent protest against the state or any authority. And in the last, fundamentalism is the adherence to ideology on the exclusion of other ideologies. It may be based on religion, region, caste, ethnicity or any other thought.

Based on Work Experience

  • What were your roles and responsibilities at your job?
  • Why do you want to become a civil servant?


Interviewer: Dr Agrawal. You are serving in a rural area as a doctor for the past 4 years. Why do you want to leave such a noble thing you are doing?

Dr. Himanshu Agrawal (Rank 28): Sir. As a doctor, I can only cure the problems. As an administrator, I can prevent the problems of all fields from happening altogether and it is well known that prevention is better than cure.

Further followup question

Interviewer: Okay, do u think u can use your experience as a doctor in civil services??

Dr. Himanshu Agrawal (Rank 28): Sir we follow an approach in medical services where we listen to patient’s problems, think about various solutions, apply the best solution and then also follow up for his healthy life. Sir I can use a similar approach in civil services to fulfil my goals

Be prepared with this answer as here also they are checking the candidate's value system. They want to know how your previous experience can help in your career as an administrator.

Based on Optional Subject

  • Why did you choose XYZ optional subject?

If the candidates have chosen any other subject from their graduation one then another question can come up as follow up question i.e.

Based on your Hobbies

They can ask questions on a candidate's hobby like any current news related to your hobby. It might be possible that one of the board members' hobbies is also the same as candidates, so better not to bluff.

Interviewer: Tell us, who is a good teacher? (Teaching was mentioned as a hobby,

Subhra Saxena( Rank 1): A good teacher is one who can conceptually explain topics to students. Someone who can motivate students to do better. Someone who can be a friend, philosopher, and guide to students. (Interviewer was apparently not satisfied with the answer)

Trailing question

Interviewer: No, tell me if you are teaching students in a class, how would you make sure that they followed what you were teaching?

Subhra Saxena( Rank 1): Sir, I would first try to understand the level of cognitive maturity of students. Then I would try to adjust the speed of teaching to suit most of the students because at any level of teaching not all students would be satisfied. I would include practical examples to make them understand the concepts better. For the students who have somehow not grasped the things I taught them, I would give them time other than the class to make sure they understood it. (Member was apparently satisfied so he let it go).

Mr Alok Kumar (AIR 41, IAS BATCH 2018) Interview

Also, check do’s and don’ts of the IAS interview

*The article might have information for the previous academic years, please refer the official website of the exam.


lakshay kakkar
Does IAS interviewers check candidates’ knowledge only?
kavita rani

Hi Lakshay. The test not only judges candidates' knowledge rather it is all about your presence of mind,psychological health and wits, and control over language. Interviewer want to check whether the candidate has the potential to demonstrate good administrative skills or not.

uma goenka
What is included in IAS interview?
kavita rani

Hi Uma. IAS interview or the UPSC Personality Test is the final stage of the selection procedure of the UPSC IAS Exam. This is a face-to-face personality test aimed at qualifying the last stage of IAS selection process. Candidates must follow a clear IAS interview strategy mentioned here to get a good score.

tanishka shah
How can I introduce myself in IAS interview?
kavita rani

Hi Tanishka. Be calm and have a gentle smile on your face, try to maintain eye contact with each and every panel member while introducing oneself, and stay motivated. These are some of the ways that help you ace the IAS interview round.

koyena biswas
Is IAS interview difficult?
kavita rani

Hi Koyena. As of now, the IAS interview panel consists of renowned personalities from different fields and is headed by a chairman. This along with the fact that you would be competing with best of the best; makes the IAS Interview one of the most difficult and challenging stages to crack in the civil services examination.

What type of questions are asked in IAS interview?
kavita rani

Some type of questions that are asked in the exam include Tell us briefly about yourself, tell us about your hometown, What is the meaning of your name (first name/ surname, etc. Further information is here.