IAS officer Dr Apala Mishra secured AIR 9 in UPSC CSE and got the highest marks in the interview round. She shares some useful interview tips for UPSC aspirants preparing for the exam.

It is not just your personality: “We need to understand that knowledge, too, forms the basis of our personality. It requires equal amounts of work that one puts in at the prelims and mains stage,” says Dr Apala.

Know your Detailed Application Form (DAF): Dr Apala says, “Ensure that you put in only those attributes and strengths that you wish to highlight in the DAF. Do not put down any achievements or hobbies that you cannot explain in your DAF.”

Do not bluff: She advises people to stay calm before the interview. “ If there is a question to which you do not know the answer, refrain from bluffing. It is perfectly alright to mention that you do not know the answer or anything about the topic,” she says.

Be ready to face ‘googlies’: “When you are asked a question that you were not expecting, take a few seconds to process it before you formulate your response,” says Dr Apala. She advises not to panic and to give a very calm response.

Know Yourself: Knowing yourself is as important as knowing your subject matter. “Be aware of the meaning your name signifies. Have details about the city and state you were born in or belong to. If there are some unique festivals or cultural events that your city/state celebrates, be aware of them.”

Prepare for the interview: Hearing your own answers is always beneficial. While some aspirants prefer standing before a mirror and answering for practice, Dr Apala says that recording herself and playing it back helped.

Set time aside for preparation: “For the interview stage, there is so much to go through and learning might feel repetitive. For example, if I am from Delhi, there will always be something to learn and retain about the place. Food, language, people, history, etc.” Three months for the interview is optimal, she adds.