Tips for facing interview for the civil services from Tripura based candidates- a personal experience

Dr VK Bahuguna

The civil services are the first choice of candidates who want to serve their country and State with aplomb and have an ambition to feel respected and appreciated for their job. The interview in the parlance of Union Public Service Commission(which is responsible for conducting recruitment process for all the organized civil services and central government offices except for scientific and academic organizations in the country), a personality test is conducted to judge the suitability of a candidate for a particular post. 

We must understand the predicament of our selection process through interview, it is difficult for any interview board to judge the suitability of a candidate in just 30 to 40 minutes. This writer had been a member as well as Chairman of several interview boards under the Central and State governments including academic and scientific institutions of national importance. These tips are based on his personal experience.

During the process of interview I have always been looking for three things. First, the way a candidate strolls in to the interview room and how he carries himself with his persona which is judged from the way he wears his clothes, the way he greets and the way his eyes are exhibiting his confidence. Second which is often more important is how honest is he in his answers, bluffing is the sole criteria for rejection but positive guessing when genuinely stuck up can be allowed if permission. The third, is how well he is acquainted with his surroundings and how he deals in conversation with the board on issues where he feels is not in agreement with the board. These are some of the qualities which will reflect if the candidate is an officer material or a fit person to be appointed in a particular post. Since he had already qualified  in the written test his knowledge will be judged for his mental alertness and depth of understanding a situation and his capability to handle the subject. 

Now, coming to Tripura situation, the candidates here coming from the states background will face the interview board on the following different situations. In most of the situations the common preparation should involve the following;

1. Knowledge of the post or department for which he is appearing for interview. It is more important for those who are getting directly interviewed for the position without a written examination.
2. Physical features of the State and Country- Fine tune the recent developments for example like Indo-border trade issues, specific socio-political, sports etc development. For this purpose download the booklet of Statistics printed by the State Planning and Coordination department/website of Central and other states as the case may be. Economic parameters like Bamboo, Pine apple, Rubber etc and small industries.
3. History of the State and its socio-economic profile.
4. Constitutional provisions like fundamental rights, duties, centre and state relations, judiciary and constitutional bodies and their functioning, provisions and recent events in the country.
5. Economic situation and market forces.
6. International relations; terrorism and defense related news headlines.
7. Sports.
8. Hobby. This depend upon what you have filled up.
9. Modifications in financial affairs like GST and its impact(This is only an example for illustration so one has to keep himself/herself abreast of the current topics and schemes like Swatch Bharat, Ujjawala Scheme, MNREGA etc as for different years the topics in media will be different).

So the best way of getting a mastery over these aspect is to read two newspapers daily i.e one local and another national or regional level. Develop the habit of reading news feed online. It will automatically cover all the nine points mentioned above. In addition to above one or two Magazine reading should be the habit along with Niti Ayog Magazine "Yojana". For improving the personal appearance wear proper Indian dress with proper hair cut (the present Rolando type hair cut prevalent among youngsters is a sure recipe for rejection and poor show.

Having said about the common features now the preparation should be directed on the following pattern depending upon for which examination one is appearing. Here it is also to be stressed that in all the UPSC and State PSCs the pattern of examination has shifted from subject knowledge to over all knowledge of the country's profile of governance.

1) For TCS, TPS and allied services: As I stated above a mastery over above parameters with how the candidate will like to be helping to discharge his duties in a given situation. Mock interviews should be carried out and a brief note on each aspect with bullet points like a postcard be prepared. The main mental makeup should be  developed to bring happiness to the common people and the questions should be answered in that light. Some time the examiner may provoke you to get your nerve tested on many situations when the state specific bias comes to fore. The candidate must note that in the civil service one has to be a political in all situation and firm on his commitment for larger good of public while dealing with questions. Last but not the least, remain as natural as possible keeping in the minds the tips mentioned in the first Para. No artificial honesty and extreme views to be avoided.

2) For UPSC Civil Services. The preparation should be same as for the TCS etc examination with more focus on the whole on the national and international issues and current affairs. The psychological makeup of the candidate is also an added factor some time specially to judge the emotional IQ of the candidates.

3) For Tripura Forest Service and IFS: The cut off for the IFS in preliminaries these days in at least 15 marks higher than for the other civil services like IAS because of few seats and hence the candidates who qualify have excellent grip over the examination. The main examination for IAS/IPS and IFS ate different. For personality test the candidates should have more focus on the forests of their state and the country including international topics like Paris deal, world forests and international conventions on climate change, bio-diversity and desertification. One of the critical issue is the conflict between people and the forests specially mining and tribal affairs. It is for the fact that forest, tribal and mineral map overlap each other. The causes of natural disasters and climatic vagaries need to be properly understood and prepared and a sound knowledge of Forest Rights Act 2006, Wildlife Protection Act 1972, Forest Conservation Act 1980, Environmental Protection Act 1986 and the concepts of National Green Tribunal and Supreme Court orders on forests and environment matters should be properly understood. The role of IFS and TFS in rural and tribal affairs should also be prepared. The candidates are expected to know the  dependency of people on the natural resources apart from other current affairs.
4) For other posts advertised by the TPSC: Apart from the current affairs the candidate must procure status material about the post in the state and guess what can be asked to improve the situation. For example in Animal Husbandry posts they must know how to tackle the shortage of milk products and the general health issues of animals; for Fisheries how much the state is dependent on import and how he will meet the challenges. What is necessary is to present yourself as a well meaning knowledgeable person on whom the government can bank on running its scheme after his/her selection.

For private sector employment the domain expertise and references matter most in getting jumps from one post to other. The interpersonal relations with colleagues with complete synergy with your work ethos and achieving targets of your organizations  brings more stability and remuneration in private sector. The crux of an interview as to prepare oneself for acting in a theatre in which an actor makes holistic attempt to look like his character. So play the character role of the job you applied for.

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