Interview Preparation for TCS/TPS & Other TPSC Exams

B.L. Vohra IPS(R), Former DGP Tripura

For any serious aspirant, who wants to join the TCS/TPS, the preparation for interview should start from the date of the filling up of the application form.While starting preparation it should be clear to you that this interview actually is called Personality Test. The panel discusses with you some issues in a pleasant manner to know what kind of a person you are. It is not an interrogation chamber. They make you comfortable and want to select the best persons for the administration of the state for serving the people. Such interviews generally last for about half an hour.

While starting preparation, the most important thing is that you should start reading dailytwo newspapers, one local and the other national, and watch one news on TV every day with immediate effect from the date of filling up the form. This is a must and will give you a head start. If you do this it's half the battle won. Those who read newspapers regularly generally do very well in interviews as they gather current and past information about lot of things nationally, internationally and subject wise. 

Before the actual interview you should rehearse the interview with friends,ifpossible, you should attend a few mock interviews with seniorserving or retired officers depending on what you can manage or with a coaching institute holding such mock interviews if available. This will help you in knowing and overcoming your shortcomings in instalments beforehand and prepare you well for good performance during the real interview.

There are four broad components of the preparation:
Physical appearance
Body language, manners and courtesies 
Content and 
Working on all these should start immediately.

Physical appearance- One should appear and dress formally. By appearance means proper haircut, shave, and nails properly done for men. In dress the men should wear a blue colored suit with a white shirt and matching tie weather permitting or at least a white/light blue colored shirt with a dark blue tie and a dark blue pant. Of course, one can use any color combination but these colors are considered to be the most formal and do give you at least a slight advantage over others in marks. These marks may be very few but every mark matters for the merit list. However,if you are not comfortable with a tie don't wear it. Wear these clothes on a few occasions before the interview to feel comfortable. The clothes should neither be tight nor loose. And you should wear well-polished black shoes, and not fancy ones, with matching dark colored socks.

The girls should wear a comfortable light-colored saree or salwar-kameez. A good well ironed cotton saree should be good. In Tripura girls are used to wearing sarees but if someone has not been wearing it is worth a practice before hand. A suitable comfortable chappal, and not a new one, should be enough. The hair should be well combed, neatly tied, and minimal makeup and jewelry should be worn.

The idea is that while sitting in the interview one shouldn’t be worried about the dress but rather concentrate on the discussion.

On the morning of the interview you should read only the local newspaper and a national newspaper so that you ae updated about the latest events in the state and the country. If national newspaper is not available go through the headlines on your mobile phone. Do not read anything else that day.

Please reach the interview venue at least half an hour before the appointed time. Use the wash room, drink water, do some breathing slowly with eyes closed and don't worry too much about the interview. Rather try to look forward to the forthcoming discussion. If you feel nervous, drink water and pray to any God on whom you have faith. But actually, your preparation will make you confident. Believe in yourself.

Body language, manners and courtesies- When asked to move in, take a deep breath, open the door slightly and ask; "May I come in, Sir/Madam?" after noticing whetherthe Chairperson is a man or a woman.

Once asked to move in, get in with a straight posture walking in a confident manner. If you are wearing a coat, button up the upper button only while entering and not the lower one. If the coat has three buttons, button up the top two buttons. Don't bow your head while walking in. Hands should hang by the side and in no other position. It shouldn't seem that you are begging something with a bow with hands locked in front. Neither the hands should be at the backwhich signifiesthat you are concealing something. Go and standerect with equal weight on both the feet near the chair meant for you.

Say 'Good Morning/Afternoon, Sir/Madam' depending on the time of the day to the Chairperson only, and not each of the Board members unless there is a woman among other board members and if there is a woman wish her also.After that look at other members of the Board and smile and nod while looking at them. 

Please sit only when you are asked to sit. Don't take the seat on your own. If the Chairperson is busy, wait for his signal or words to sit. Don’t either seek permission to sit. Just wait. Once asked to sit, thank the chairperson and pull the chair meant for you a little back and then sit. Don't be in a hurry. Once seated unbutton your coat if you are wearing one, move your body back and let it rest with the back of the chair. It will give you some confidence.Relax your body and keep your both hands on the knees and never on the table. If you are used to speaking with hand gestures, check that tendency and if you can't help it keep the hands below the table for gestures. Don't bend forward or sit at the edge of the chair during the conversation.

If you are offered a cup of tea during the interview don't say 'No'. Start sipping the tea only after the Chairperson starts sipping it as tea would come for all if asked for at the time of your interview.

Once the interview is over and you are asked to leave, please stand up near the chair after getting up, button up your coat, thank the Chairperson, and another lady member if she is there, look and nod at others, take at least two steps back while facing the board and then turn back and walk out swiftly. It’s not good to show your back to the board immediately after getting up. That would be bad manners.

Content is the most important part of the interview.You should prepare well. The questions will generally be asked from you from the details filled in by you in the original application form and from current affairs apart from a situation that may be given to you to analyze and suggest a solution.

Your application will have details like your place of birth, educational institutions where you have studied, the places you have worked etc. So, know a lot more about it. For example, if you were born in north district you should know about rock paintings in Kailashahar or the route to Silchir etc. About educational institutions if you have studied in Kolkata or Bengaluru, you need to quite a bit about the institutions' history and the city. You should know about the subjects that you have studied in your school/college and those which you studied for appearing in this TCS/TPS examination. You are also expected to know a lot about Tripura, NE region and India. You also need to know quite a bit about Bangladesh and your bordering states.

You need to abreast of the current affairs for which your newspaper reading regularly will be very helpful. You need to know the major issues facing the state and the country like agricultural distress, unemployment etc and your solutions to such problems. Your arguments should be backed by logic.

You may be given a situation like how to handle a crowd indulging in violence. The answer would be that first you will put down the violence strongly with the help of the police force.

Delivery- Always listen carefully to each question. Never be in a hurry to answer the question. After listening to the question, pause and think a little before answering. If you have not understood the question, please ask the member politely," Can you kindly repeat the question Sir/Madam as I have not understood the question". Always give short simple answers to the questions. While answering to the member who has asked you the question try to look at other members of the board as and when possible as you are answering the board and not the individual member. Your voice should be neither loud nor low. The idea is that all in the room should be able to listen to you comfortably. If asked to raise or lower your voice do so with immediate effect. 

Be honest in your replies. If you don't know the answer say so because the interview is not a test of your knowledge but of your personality. The Government is looking for honest persons. Even if you say 'No' to five questions out of say ten questions, no crime done. If you know the answer give it in short. Remember the word KISS – keep it short and simple. Don't try to show off your knowledge. If you do so you'll land in trouble. You might say something to which the Board member(s) may hang on and you may be driven to a corner. If you know half the answer, give that and say honestly that you don't know more about it. Never guess or try to bluff. You will be caught. Never even say, "May I guess?" while replying.  Never interrupt the panel member nor argue. If you are given any information do thank the panel member. Sometime a panel member may deliberately put you under pressure with a counter viewpoint forcefully. Don't change your view unless you really find any merit in it. You should only say, 'Sir, I respect your views but I have my own views in the matter'.  Don't get agitated. And always back up your view with logic. Have independent thinking. Don't borrow the views of others unless you are really convinced about it.

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