How should you answer controversial questions in the UPSC Interview?


The final stage in the Civil Services Examination (CSE) is the personality examination (interview) administered by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). Usually, it’s a 30-minute workout.
The effect of interview marks in a candidate’s final rank is therefore highly important. We’ll see some ‘difficult questions’ in this section, and the ‘right answers’ to those.

The UPSC interview board 

Every applicant will be interviewed by a board that will have a record of his / her career before them. The board is normally composed of 5 members including the chairman of the board (a member of the UPSC).The selection board will seek to determine the candidate’s suitability for a public service career.

Description of the questions asked 

The applicant would be asked questions on general interest matters. The board must attempt to develop a normal relationship with the nominee to reveal his / her mental qualities. The exam is meant to determine a candidate’s intellectual calibre.

How does the UPSC interview board ask any questions?

UPSC Interview is not anything to be concerned for. This is typically a very convivial workout. What a candidate has to do is ensure he doesn’t slip into some situation of panic where he can’t express himself openly.

The board of UPSC is looking inside you for officer-like qualities. If possible, your responses will bring good mental attributes inside you to light. That said, neither purposeful nor artificial should be made. When the board gets the idea that you will become an effective officer in the future through normal and respectful interaction, you will get good marks and, in effect, get picked.

Don’t mug generic responses 

  1. Note there are no right-for-all-occasion answers in UPSC interview.
  2. A response that suits one candidate from a different profile can not suit another candidate. Presumably, in another question he/she would have taken a different stance, and giving a general answer might contradict his previous position.
  3. Candidates will gage the situation separately, and react accordingly.
  4. Normally, the counter questions will be back to back based on your responses.

A model interview transcript 

Though mugging up ready-made answers isn’t a good idea, reading through the mock interview transcript below will help you get an idea of how to word a better response, suitable for a potential civil servant.

Question Topic 1: Protest against the laws passed by the board member of the Indian Parliament: There have recently been several demonstrations against a law enacted by the Indian Parliament. Will you, as a law-abiding citizen, back these protests?

A model reply for a Candidate interview: Sir, I infer that you are staging protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). A democracy like India will, in my opinion, still be open to different voices.

If the demonstration is nonviolent, and if it makes authorities relook at some loophole in the law, I believe that these demonstrations can only reinforce democracy.

There are instances where Parliament’s actions have been found unconstitutional and the Supreme Court has reversed them. India’s supreme court has already explained that Right to Protest is a fundamental right (FR) beforehand.

These demonstrations can, however, only be carried out by peaceful, lawful means. These demonstrations should also never deviate from the primary objective of attracting larger and substantive public dialogue on the matter.

Question Topic 2: Board Member Question on Public Discussion Forums: Do you think India lacks appropriate channels for public debate?

An Interview candidate’s model answer: Sir, India is still developing as a true democracy. Aside from voting, there is very limited public involvement in the decision-making process. In that sense, I believe the current forums for public debate have not reached the masses.

Government programs such as the ‘MyGov.in’ platform are welcome but participation is limited. Immediate steps should be taken to raise awareness of the debates taking place in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. In this sense, social media too can be used.

Question Topic 3: Social Media Board member reliability: How accurate and trustworthy are the social media details being circulated?

A model response for an interview candidate: Sir, as most social media are self-publishing sites, it’s true that all the information shared through it is not reliable information, too without much clarification or control.

We have also come across a lot of fake news, especially through social media misinformation posts.

Already several social media companies are taking action to counter false messages. I predict there’s going to be a major change slowly for responsible and mature use of social media.

Conclusion: Take a stand, don’t beat around the bush As you may have noticed, most of the questions in the interview with UPSC were a continuation of the previous subject. That’s how UPSC is trying to get to know you better-using a simple communication technique. In this phase you can contradict your previous stand if you are not true to yourself, thereby losing valuable marks.

Having said that in the UPSC interview, don’t be afraid to take a stand. Don’t run to the woods. Be true. UPSC appreciates having a highly informed view of the latest issues.

Don’t be one-sided though.Present the problems in different dimensions, weigh the pros and cons, and then stand up! | IASWithHariMohan

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