Frankly speaking, there are no criteria to describe any question asked in the interview as best or the worst. Every question asked is important because that goes towards deciding your fate in this examination. Howsoever irrelevant the question may seem to be, but that has the potential to decide your future. Often it takes a single question to decide whether you are fit to be an IAS or not. The more you get to know about IAS Interview the more you realize that it is a game of probabilities and uncertainties. You never know what next you may be asked in IAS interview. You might have prepared a lot related to current affairs but entire UPSC interview went on unexpected lines. After appearing in three IAS interview, one thing I can say with Certainty is that there is no predictability in the IAS interview questions and answers.
However, you must prepare well predicting all the possible questions to be asked from all related aspects in your DAF. Don’t leave any stone unturned while preparing but be prepared mentally to face anything and everything as IAS interview questions would throw a plethora of surprises in real time. Based on having faced 3 interviews myself and having gone through n number of interview transcripts of successful candidates, I have selected few questions which appealed me the most. I do not claim that these are the best ones in the history of IAS interview questions. There is no such database of interview questions so it is an extremely challenging task to reproduce the best questions along with the answers from the IAS interview. Based on my extensive research I am producing some questions along with the answers.
The purpose of giving the exact answers as responded by the toppers here is to make you aware about the ways of framing your answer. You should analyze how toppers nailed the questions raised with their nearly perfect answers. The same question may be answered in hundreds of ways and so may be the variation in scores. So ultimately, it is not the content of your answers but the way your thought process worked to produce that answer. Obviously, apart from verbal communication, a lot depends on body language. A lot is spoken in the IAS interview without even speaking anything. So, try to analyze your overall conduct apart from focusing on the questions and their answers. So here we go.
25 Best IAS Interview Questions and Answers:
IAS Interview Questions 1: What is the difference between vision, mission, aims, and objectives? (Gaurav Agrawal, Rank 1, CSE 2013)
Ans: Sir vision is at the top its the broad overarching destination. For example, the government can have the vision that the governance reaches to that last person, the poorest man. The mission is the strategies which one can adapt to reach the vision. The mission can be, use of technology for better delivery of services, climate-friendly (I don’t know how this came to my mind) mission, poverty elimination mission etc. Aims and Objectives have to do with long term and short term goals or outcomes of the mission.
IAS Interview Questions 2: What do you think is responsible for the reduction in research? (Background B.Tech from REC Warangal, ME from IISc, Bangalore, Mutayala Raju, Rank 1, CSE 2006)
Ans: Sir, IISc is not able to retain those students who completed M.E. and other courses there. One reason is the brain drain, Sir. The second one is that research is not attractive in India, Sir. For example, in our batch out of 230 students who completed M.E., only 2 joined for Ph.D. in IISc. At the end of our M.E., we got campus placements. The minimum salary is around 6 lakhs/annum. It is attracting most of us. Those who are really interested in research, they are going abroad as they will get more money and research is attractive there. Here, a Ph.D. student gets 12,000 – 15,000 Rs per month. Also, material considerations have risen these days, sir. We have to include some compulsory courses in morale & ethics to stop this.
Q3. (In continuation to the previous question) Instead of choosing a job or research, why did you choose civil services as a career option?
Ans: Sir, The incident that took place in my village in November 2000, when I am in 3rd year of B.Tech, has changed my career options. Nearby Engineering college students came to our village for a picnic as our village has an excellent beach. 7 of them drowned in the Bay of Bengal and all of them has taken sand into their lungs in addition to water. Since our village is an island, there is no transportation, medical & meager educational facilities, it took 2 hours to reach the nearest town which is 16 Km away from my village. By that time, 6 out 7 died, Sir.
Chairman: You are telling about an incident in your village. In that case who will respond first?
Ans: (3-4 seconds silence)
Chairman: Whether it is Block development officer, Doctor, or Police.
Raju: Sir, It is the police to respond first.
Chairman: Then, you are already in IPS. Why did you come here again ?
Raju: Sir, even for police it took 2 hours to reach that place as there is not enough transportation facilities.
IAS Interview Questions 4: Dr. Agrawal. You are serving in a rural area as a doctor for the past 4 years. Why do you want to leave such a noble thing you are doing ? (Dr. Himanshu Agrawal, Rank 28, CSE 2013)
Ans : Sir. As a doctor, I can only cure the problems. As an administrator, I can prevent the problems of all fields from happening them to occur altogether and it is well known that prevention is better than cure.
Q5. (looking pleased)- okay, do u think u can use your experience as a doctor in civil services??
Ans: Sir we follow an approach in medical services where we listen to patient’s problems, think about various solutions, apply the best solution and then also follow up for his healthy life. Sir I can use a similar approach in civil services to fulfill my goals.
IAS Interview Questions 6: What is the subtle difference between terrorism, militancy, fundamentalism, insurgency? (Chakresh Mishra, IPS)
Ans: Sir, terrorism is the use of any method, violent or verbal or symbolic to create terror in the mind of the general population. Militancy is the use of the violent method for achieving some political purpose. Insurgency is a violent protest against the state or any authority. And in the last, fundamentalism is the adherence to an ideology on the exclusion of other ideologies. It may be based on religion, region, caste, ethnicity or any other thought.
IAS Interview Questions 7: Why is Lata Mangeshkar called the queen of melody and not the likes of Asha Bhosle and Shreya Ghosal? (Munish Sharma, Rank 2, CSE 2013).
Ans: Sir, she has a naturally endowed sweet voice which sounds good even in higher octaves. When she talks, her voice is not as great but lends beautifully to musical creations. Plus, she does a lot of riyaaz. But she is like Shreya Ghosal + Sunidhi Chauhan. Her voice is as sweet as Shreya’s of even more. But unlike her and like Sunidhi she is more comfortable singing high notes. Some people allege she indulged in monopoly while at her prime.
Q8. What do you think?
Ans: Sir, I don’t know the inside story but I know that she started refusing film fare award after winning them in a row, to give chance to talent like Kavita Krishnamoorthy. And sir, it must have taken a lot of commitment to reach where she did. (Member was visibly happy with the response)
IAS Interview Questions 9: So there is a lot of allegation on brain drain and subsidized education etc. What do you think on this, is it right or wrong blah blah and do we need any policies to attract them back etc. ? (Kirthi C, Background – B.Tech, IIT, Interview score- 215, CSE 2013)
Ans: Sir the objective of Nehru in setting up IITs is that they can help solve the problems of nation like poverty, illiteracy, and hunger (The issues of India I really had to feel for) and I personally think it is the moral responsibility (stressed moral of every IITian to contribute back to the society as it is also hugely subsidized but some also opine that because of this, we have good relations with the US today. However sir, after the 1990s the brain drain reduced, and hardly 20 percent leave to states now. If they leave, it is because of opportunities but not for the love of other countries sir. And sir there is really a need for using the expertise of them for our country. For e.g. in the electronics sector, if the present trend continues, we would be importing more electronic hardware than we import oil/ gold in the future.
Q.10 Federation, what are the changes happening in the last 50 years and there is the talk of a federal front, what do you think?
Kirthi: Sir, India is a union of states not federation of states though there is a federal distribution of powers. Sir, in the first twenty years, congress was the party at both centre and states and hence relations with the states are easily managed. But after the 1967 elections, in more than half of the state, non Congress government formed, because of which the idea of federation strengthened. And also sir, to Lok Sabha, the 5 major states of AP TN UP Bihar WB which contributes to the majority of the Lok Sabha doesn’t have a large presence of national parties which shows the strengthening of the federation. But sir, the importance of Land Boundary agreement with Bangla which is very important to nation cause of the connectivity to NE and also sir recently the terrorist attacks and NCTC need are real issues sir. I think the evolution of political culture should happen ultimately sir with electoral reforms etc. where leaders in politics who have a national vision should come rather than a narrow parochial and regional view.
(she was one of the highest interview scorer, CSE 2013).
IAS Interview Questions 11: You said that you are interested in gender issues. I would like to ask you two questions in this regard – what do you think of reservation for women in parliament? And also don’t you think that working women end up neglecting the family and their children? Should women not focus more on domestic issues? (Gitanjali Brandon, Rank 6, CSE 2012).
Ans : May I respond to your second question first ?
Member : Go ahead.
Ans : Sir, I don’t think that a working women neglects her family or children. I have seen several examples of working women who manage to maintain a good work – life balance. Women are generally good at multi tasking, and most women can easily balance the two if they prioritize and manage their time correctly.
Moving on to your second question on the reservation for women in parliament – I believe that given that women make up half the population, their representation in parliament is undoubtedly marginal. And towards that end, the reservation will help. And women representatives would hopefully try and mainstream gender issues in the public discourse. However, I would like to add two caveats to this point. 1). The often raised argument that reservation in parliament may serve to entrench women from political families and privileged backgrounds to garner more seats in parliament without significantly impacting gender concerns. 2). Countries like Rwanda and Pakistan that have a reservation for women in their legislature do not do well on gender indices.
IAS Interview Questions 12: Its reported that in last 19th and 20th century man has made numerous discoveries. What are your views on this ? (Sachin Rana, IAS 2014)
Ans : (After thinking for a while) Madam I think this observation is only a perceived one. Mankind has made innovation from the very beginning. We invented fire, the wheel, and then the iron, bronze etc. But it is only in 19th and 20th centuries that we have documented many of the innovations such as car, plane, ship and mobile phone etc. (I was looking at chairman and he was nodding in concurrence).
Q13. What would you innovate today if given the opportunity ?
Ans : Madam I would be willing to build something that could measure the stress level of all the aspirants sitting outside. They all are in bad shape, something that could measure their pressure level… chairman interrupted in high tone… why are they in bad shape ?
Ans : Sir, the pressure to perform, may be is the reason.
Q14. So you want to calculate and measure the pressure level of mind.
Ans: (With a smile) Yes Madam, actually by that we can give counselling to those who are not able to manage their stress level. Their colleagues and friends in a group can do that.
IAS Interview Questions 15: Tell us, who is a good teacher? (Teaching was mentioned as a hobby, Subhra Saxena, Rank 1, CSE 2008)
Ans : A good teacher is the one who can conceptually explain topics to students. Someone who can motivate students to do better. Someone who can be a friend, philosopher and guide to students. (Interviewer was apparently not satisfied with the answer)
Q 16. (Counter question) No, tell me if you are teaching students in a class, how would you make sure that they followed what you were teaching?
Ans: Sir, I would first try to understand the level of cognitive maturity of students. Then I would try to adjust the speed of teaching to suit most of the students because at any level of teaching not all students would be satisfied. I would include practical examples to make them understand the concepts better. The students who have somehow not grasped the things I taught them, I would give them time other than the class to make sure they understood it. (Member was apparently satisfied so he let it go).
IAS Interview Questions 17: Mr. Khan: (smiling) Some countries do not have a Civil Service. Like the US (a member intervened to add that a few services do exist in the US but not a civil service) and some other countries like (he told a few names that I don’t remember) do not have a permanent civil service. Shouldn’t India also abolish the civil services? (Pawan Kadyan, IAS, CSE 2012)
Ans: Sir, every country has its own parameters to judge that. India has evolved in a manner that we need a civil service. The US has had a long history and time to develop (Mr. Khan interrupts: But we’ve had a longer history.) Sir, I mean since independence. We need more time before we can do away with the civil service if that is indeed needed. Civil services are the drivers of the car the country is. We play a critical role, perhaps the most critical role in taking the country forward. (M4 interrupts while looking at Mr. Khan: Sir, he is identifying with the services.)
Ans: (In an embarrassed, humble, jovial & conversational tone with a smile) Sir, I didn’t mean that. I am extremely sorry (and a big smile).
Mr. Khan: I never thought of this analogy before (looks excited and inquisitive). So, if the civil services is driving the car (smiled) then what are the politicians doing?
Ans: Sir, they along with many others are sitting in the back of the car. Civil services decide how well and at what speed the country moves forward. (Interviewer acknowledged it with a big smile)
IAS Interview Questions 18: What is governance? What is governance deficit? What should we do to solve this deficit? (Alankrita Pandey, IAS 2016)
Me: Sir, Governance is about making policies for common good, providing basic services, executing and implementing schemes, initiatives and upholding the welfare of one and all. Governance deficit is the inability of the government to reach out to its people, the mismatch between government priorities and needs of people and lack of participation of people in process of governance. This deficit can be bridged by enabling direct contact between government institutions and people, bridging trust deficit with good governance, democratizing government processes. For examples, community policing is an effective way to bridge the trust deficit between polic and the common man. (you can give any other example as well to prove your point)
Q19. Why do you want to join IPS? (Such IAS interview questions are usually asked in the beginning and believe me, this answer can make or break your interview by setting the momentum early. Be well prepared with an impressive answer)
Ans: Sir, I believe shrouds don’t have pockets. But, while lying under a tri-colour shroud, what Hemant Karkare or Sandeep Unnikrishnan or Ashok Kamte carried along transcends whatever wealth can buy. I am not afflicted by ‘martyrdom syndrome’. But, yes I want to serve the nation by blood and iron. And if need be, would not hesitate from taking the bullet on the chest.
Sir, I have always felt very passionate about uniform as it brings enormous pride and immense responsibilities in life. It had been my childhood dream to join uniform services. This service would fulfill that dream along with giving me the opportunity of serving the people. Sir, I would work hard to change the reputation of police among common man by bridging the existent trust divide, community policing and ensuring police is always there for the safety and security of common man. Sir, I see the purpose of my life getting fulfilled in this prestigious Indian Police Service.
Q20. Tell me about AFSPA , have you heard of it? should we repeal AFSPA?
Ans : Yes sir, its Armed Forces Special Power Act, enacted in 1958 to deal with counter insurgency operations in North East, later on, extended to Jammu & Kashmir. It provides for deployment of armed forces in Disturbed areas. Sir, before a decision is taken on repealing AFSPA, we has to see the background on which it was enacted, present situation and futuristic contours. With the cross border terrorism and as sir you pointed out , civil unrest on the upswing, I will say, TIME is not yet ripe to repeal AFSPA. It is a necessary evil. It is a sine qua none with counter insurgency operation. However, there should be ZERO TOLERANCE for human rights violation. we should sensitize our troops . But we shall be open to any changes if required in AFSPA based on taking into confidence all the stakeholders such as an army, civil administration, police, media, local people so as to make it fit into the changed political scenario of disturbed areas.
Q21. Why are we spending so much on ISRO missions while we have so much poverty in the country. Do you think it makes sense to go with such heavy investment in space technology sector?
Ans: Mam, ISRO expenditure is helpful for the people of the country in disaster management, crop productivity forecasting, ground water level monitoring, weather forecasting, communication. Hence, I feel though we are spending on ISRO missions, but this indirectly benefits the poor man. For example- The cyclones on the eastern coasts are predicted in advance thus enabling the administration to take evacuation measures and other relief works. This has reduced the loss of lives and damage to the properties and we know that poor are the worst victims of any disaster so it really helps them minimizing the extent of the loss. Hence in a long term, I don’t see it to be ill appropriated and see it in as playing a role in the development of people & the nation. (You should take a positive stand in such Interview questions because Government has invested heavily in such strategic sectors with a vision which you must understand and appreciate).
Q22. You are a sportsperson. You come from a sports school. You have been doing sports regularly. Tell us, what according to you are the problems in Sports in India? (Persons with sporting background may be asked similar questions in the IAS interview)
Ans: Sir, the biggest problem is in the way we perceive sports. Its seen as a hindrance to academics. Sports is not seen as an economically viable career. There is a prevalent saying in Indian society “padhoge likhoge banoge nawab, kheloge kudoge banoge khrab” this means ”If you study hard then you become a gentleman and a successful person, but If you play then would not become a successful person”. This has largely shaped our mindset towards sports. Girls are not encouraged to play sports despite having proved their talent time and again at international stages. The all round support for promoting sports is missing. Then the Govt incentives and focus on sports has been low. Sports infrastructure is lacking. Private investment in sports is also low. But Sir, the past few years our sports persons have performed very well in various international competitions and have shown us the way ahead.
Q23. You want to join IAS. You must have read about the history of the service. Tell me how do you see the IAS of today and 30 years back. What changes have taken place over these long duration? (These questions are intended to test your awareness about the service you are willing to join)
Ans : Sir, 30 years is a long duration for considerable changes in the society, economy and polity of any nation. The challenges have also taken new forms. Back then, IAS was highly focused on addressing issues such as Extreme poverty, high IMR & MMR, high illiteracy, poor infrastructure, developing the eminent institution of nation etc. But post Economic reforms a lot has changed. Fast pace of growth led to the creation of wealth, economic opportunities, urbanization, better connectivity, improved skills of people and so on and so forth. But thereafter new challenges have cropped up, inequality has widened, women illiteracy still exists, agriculture is becoming unremunerative, disaster frequency have increased so IAS have accordingly equipped themselves to deal with ever emerging issues in the 21st century. Now, due to the technical nature of emerging problems such as climate change, the emphasis is on the specialization of IAS to effectively address them thus leading to lateral entry as well. The steel frame nature of IAS still exists but it has got several makeover to fit into the changed times and reality.
Q24. Present to me a holistic description of the country you grew up in, I don’t have any knowledge about it. (A very broad question, you must give a holistic description in a nutshell. Be precise and try to use more keywords to express yourself).
Ans : Sir, I grew up in a nation known for its rich history, cultural legacy and unbound prosperity. My country believed not only in universal toleration but accepted all religions as true. I feel proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and nations of the earth. My nation believed in “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” meaning the whole world is a family. Sir, today my country is a model of democracy for the rest of the world. Being the 2nd populous nation, it has a vibrant demographic dividend. My nation is one of the mega diverse country in the world with biodiversity hot spots, enormous diversity of fauna & flora, endangered species etc. But sir, my country is also facing several challenges such as poverty, unemployment, corruption, a crime against women, female infanticide, poor infrastructure etc which indicates that my country is yet to become an inclusive, happy and progressive nation in the true sense.
Q25. Many people do well in the studies but not in life. Why does it happen?
Ans : Sir, Doing well in studies makes it easier to do well in life but for that, the learnings have to be applied in life. Many people fail to do that. Also, the real learning occurs outside the four walls of the classroom. Life is the best teacher, who fails to learn the hard lessons of life are bound to lag behind. For example – Sir, I studied a lot theoretically about Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude in GS paper 4. I understand what needs to be done to uphold my Integrity in all circumstances. But If I do not apply those principles in my real life, then despite doing well in civil services exam I cannot become a good civil servant. Also, sir being a bookworm is no guarantee to success in life. One must be open to learning from all sources, be creative and innovative, be thoughtful and willing to take risks to do something great in life. Life is much more than just beyond the books.
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I may go on to present innumerable questions from the past but that is not the sole purpose here. Because anyway, the questions are not going to be repeated as every IAS interview is an unique one. Even if the same question is raised, you are going to have a different answer and thus different score. The idea of giving some chosen few questions from the toppers interview along with the answer is that you should pick the art of framing your answers. Some questions may really require you to analyse an issue critically in a minute or so, that requires articulation and assimilation of several ideas. So, the preparation strategy should be to work upon communication & expressive skills along with a bird’s eye view on current affairs and deep analysis of DAF.
If you learn the art of answering then you can make tough questions look simple. You can handle them easily without losing your calmness and composure. That is the skill you should try to develop while preparing for IAS interview. It’s not just the content of answers which matters but the way you deliver matters more. Body language is too important an aspect to be ignored in any interview. Work upon that as your non-verbal communication plays a crucial role in deciding your score. Overall, try developing a holistic and dynamic personality, this is what they are eventually looking for. Hope this article helps you improve your Preparation for IAS Interview. ALL THE BEST.