UPSC CSE Interview: 7 Lessons from Past Candidates

The UPSC Civil Services Exam (CSE) is a marathon, and the interview stage is often the final hurdle separating aspirants from their dream career. Unlike written exams with well-defined answers, the personality test (interview) assesses your suitability for a multifaceted role in civil service.

Learning from the experiences of past UPSC CSE toppers offers invaluable insights for current aspirants. Here, we explore key lessons from successful candidates to help you ace your interview:

  1. Deep Understanding of the DAF:

The Detailed Application Form (DAF) is your life story presented to the board. A study by the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta (IIM Calcutta) revealed that over 60% of interview questions in 2022 were directly linked to information provided in the DAF.

Lesson: Thoroughly understand every detail in your DAF – your academic background, hobbies, work experience (if any), and choices filled. Be prepared to elaborate on these aspects and how they connect to your desire to serve the nation as a civil servant.

  1. Stay Updated on Current Affairs:

The interview is a platform to showcase your awareness of national and international issues. A survey conducted by coaching institutes revealed that nearly 80% of UPSC toppers in 2023 emphasized the importance of in-depth knowledge of current affairs for the interview.

Lesson: Develop a habit of regularly reading newspapers, analyzing news magazines, and staying updated on government policies and initiatives. Utilize online resources and government websites for deeper insights.

  1. Hone Your Communication Skills:

Clear, concise, and confident communication is paramount during the interview. Research by the Centre for Creative Communication (CCC) suggests that strong communication skills are a crucial factor differentiating successful and unsuccessful UPSC candidates.

Lesson: Practice expressing yourself clearly and articulately. Participate in mock interviews with mentors or coaching institutes to receive feedback on your communication style and body language.

  1. Develop Well-Rounded Opinions:

The interview is not just about facts; it’s about your thought process. Don’t shy away from expressing your opinions on relevant issues. However, ensure your viewpoints are well-informed, balanced, and backed by logical arguments.

Lesson: Actively engage with current affairs and government policies. Develop well-reasoned arguments and be open to discussing different perspectives during the interview.

  1. Practice Handling Pressure:

The interview environment can be nerve-wracking. However, staying calm and composed under pressure is crucial. Studies by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) highlight that candidates who exhibit calmness and composure during job interviews are more likely to be successful.

Lesson: Practice deep breathing techniques and relaxation exercises to manage interview jitters. Participate in mock interviews to get comfortable facing the board and answering questions under pressure.

  1. Authenticity is Key:

The interview is an opportunity to showcase your true self. Don’t try to fabricate stories or pretend to be someone you’re not. The board can easily detect inauthenticity.

Lesson: Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses. Highlight your experiences and learnings, showcasing a willingness to learn and grow as a future civil servant.

  1. Show Enthusiasm and Passion:

Let your passion for serving the nation shine through. A survey by leading UPSC coaching institutes revealed that candidates who displayed genuine enthusiasm and commitment to civil service during their interviews were more likely to leave a positive impression on the board.

Lesson: Demonstrate your genuine desire to contribute to society and make a positive impact as a civil servant.


By learning from the experiences of past UPSC toppers, you can gain valuable insights into the interview process. Remember, the interview is a two-way street. It’s your chance to assess your suitability for civil service and showcase your unique qualities to the board. With dedication, preparation, and a genuine desire to serve, you can crack the UPSC CSE interview and embark on a fulfilling career in civil service.

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