Samanvaya: IGP 2018 (Interview Guidance Program): Here's how you start

With Mains 2017 results declared, UPSC CSE 2017 exam now enters its final stage. Congratulations to all those who made it to the list of selected students for Interview.

Before I start, I have to state that I have a long-standing empathy-corner for people who get bummed out of the UPSC boat at this stage. Getting ditched after writing Mains is a very tricky space to be in: You don’t know which subject played havoc, you can’t know about that till before Mains results come out, you don’t know the gap between reality vs expectations and even though the next year Prelims is looking right at your face, you have now started to feel itchy about this UPSC marathon.

Hold on to your good memories and stay the course. Trust me, 70% junta skips misses on their track right here, right now. I will write a detailed blog for you which would give you some practical intervention points but for now, stay the course. You won’t be able to let go of your UPSC dream but you might unwittingly let go of the right path. And you don’t want to do that. 

I have seen 3 cycles of UPSC: Pre, Mains, and Interview (thrice over). 

Like most of us, I had visited my share of coaching institutes for guidance, sat across the mocks, then sat through the lecture sessions which deliberate over the “type of interviews”, “personality types most suitable for an IAS officer” and generic gyaan etc. only to find that while they do make sense at some level, it is a bit difficult to imbibe and change your personality type in a span of 1 month.

I was what I was.

I could think fast like most of us can and know what’s right/ wrong on a particular occasion but in this whole process of sizing up my mock board members, internalizing my responses to suit the interview, controlling my impulses to run over and not play ball with them etc. etc. I made the following conclusions:

  1. Don’t bother to change your personality type: It is very easy to get feedback on ‘your personality type’ and a tad difficult to alter it to suit UPSC board’s need for an ideal bureaucrat
  2. Master your DAF: If you are quizzed on what you wrote in your DAF and you don’t come on top of it, there is no coming back. DAF based interviews are generally the safest to navigate. Next come “Scenario-based interviews” which are open-ended questions with no right answers and the board marks you on your structured thinking and mature approach towards real-life scenarios. Assuming that you have been good with current affairs and have a few case studies to cite, these are still manageable. The worst are “Fact-based interviews”: Here is where a board member goes rogue and digresses into an infinite spiral of facts and figures and more often than not, puts you in a situation where you have to defend your lack of knowledge or wriggle out of it in a ‘zen-like’ way.
  3. Personality type matters for the Fact-based/ Stress interviews: But since you are what you are, try to keep up the interviewer humored with DAF based or Scenario based interview. This is doable and that’s where the stress of this program lies

Basis my learnings, here’s how Samanvaya: IGP 2018 (Interview Guidance Program) is pegged to help you keep up on the right path:

For a holistic interview prep, here’s what you need :

  1. Prepare your DAF: Create a folder in google drive or a notebook on Evernote and make notes on important areas of your DAF (Home state, institute/ stream, hobbies, work-ex). Share this with us. [Details will be shared on the telegram group, below]
  2. Polish your story: Everyone loves a good narrative and given the subjectivity of the interview process, there are times when the board is deliberating on a ‘scenario builder question’ and you find an opening where you can bring an anecdote from your life or a case study closely lived and that gives them a perspective into your mental framework/ decision making capabilities/ affinity towards a certain cause etc etc. That brings out an undeniable human element in the game and gets the interview back on course [This is where our 1 on 1 calls will come in handy]
  3. Prepare your current affairs well: The Fact-based interviews are the most cringe-worthy. You might have an ability to talk ad-nauseam on a scenario builder question… tinker with opinions, take sides with stakeholders etc. but fact-based, current affairs heavy bombs are very straightforward and leave very less room for ‘bs’. Hence, stay up close with CD’s newscards. [We will have a special package of “Samachar Manthan” for the interview qualified guys and the details will be given out soon]
  4. A few mock interviews: Mock interviews should be given in a pair from the same place. Give one – take feedback – try to inculcate that and then appear again in front of same/ similar interview panel and let them judge you on your improvement. This is mostly to stitch up last min personality glitches. For now, we do not have a facility for the same. If you can have some coaching institute arrange that for you, go for it. Remember, have interviews in a pair. Measured improvements go a long way in boosting confidence.

How will this program work?

All candidates selected for interview will have to send us their DAF form copy after filling out this form: Click2Register

After you fill the form, please send the PDF copy of your DAF to with subject line DAF-Your Name-Interview Guidance 2018

We will then add you to a dedicated telegram group for this initiative. Detailed instructions will be given in the telegram group itself. Expect a formal structure by 12th January 2018

P.S.- This program is FREE. But we might limit the entries to ensure quality.

Other in-service officers may also be a part of program and all of them will guide the aspirants about how interview process has evolved over years, what are expectations of interview board from candidates and what questions can be framed out of the details that you filled in DAF

Prepare well. You have come so far, we want you to get into Final list…

Best of luck!

If you have any queries, mail to or call on 08823831311

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By Dr V

Doctor by Training | AIIMSONIAN | Factually correct, Politically not so much | Opinionated? Yes!


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