Interview Guidance

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Interview has become a vital part in many of the job recruitments like ISRO, CIL and IES. Even for pursuing higher education like Masters, interview play an important role in some of the Indian institutes and in foreign colleges. Given the technical nature of these interviews, many are confused about the topics to prepare. We shall take up these two categories, job as well as higher education related interviews in this article.

Q: What would be asked in a typical technical job interview?

Ans: Most of the interviews start with candidates introduction, and then it will carry on with technical questions. This introduction is aimed at calming the candidates in that nervous situation. Because, when the questions are simple as explaining about oneself, there will not be any stress on the brain and this will settle down the candidates.

Q: Do all interviews start with introduction?

Ans: Majority of them start with introduction. But in rare cases interview board can directly go to other questions skipping the introduction.

Q: How would be the scenario in the UPSC interviews?

Ans: So far I have attended three UPSC interviews, one for IES and remaining two for civil services. In all three, chairman of the board started with introduction.
Introduction is vital in this case because many follow-up questions will be asked and the remaining interview will automatically continue on those questions. For example in my IES interview I have mentioned that teaching was my interest and many members asked me that why I haven’t pursued my career in the teaching. So, one should work out properly before filling the detailed application form for UPSC exams.

Q: What about other job interviews?

Ans: Here also it could be started with the introduction. But unlike in UPSC interviews, introduction may not affect overall interview and not many follow-up questions may be asked.

Q: What should be conveyed by the candidates in introduction?

Ans: Briefly say about the place you are hailing from, about your parents, achievements if any, and about interests and hobbies.
UPSC interview:
  • Candidate should practice thoroughly before hand, to convey properly.
  • Candidate should be in a position to anticipate all related and follow-up questions.
  • Hobbies are an important component, because one can expect trivial questions on this topic. For example in my civil services interview I was asked about travelling which was mentioned as my hobby.
So here candidate can guide the interview in which ever direction he/she wants, with little bit of planning.
Other than UPSC:
  • Pure technical job interviews like ISRO and CIL doesn’t pay much heed to introduction but still candidates are advised to prepare for any eventuality.
  • So it is better to prepare for all the related and follow-up questions of the introduction

Q: What happens after Introduction?

Ans: Generally remaining interview revolves around technical issues. Candidate should brush up all the basics; but no need of a detailed study. Try to spend more time analysing the concepts instead of byhearting the same.
  • Candidates need to know about the current affairs also, because some times interviewer may simply show interest in candidate’s awareness.
  • If it is a UPSC interview, like IES, one will be expected to know about current affairs and the probability of testing candidate’s awareness is very high.

Q: Should all the technical subjects be brushed up alike?

Ans: NO, but rather it depends on the job profile. For example in case of Coal India Limited, candidate is required to focus on the fields that are related to coal. So emphasis should be on the subjects like thermal and power plant engineering. Candidate should use his/her discretion to select the subjects depending on the type of job interview.

Q: Can we prepare interesting subjects along with job related subjects?

Ans: Yes, and this is very important. Because in the most cases, interviewer will enquire about your interesting subject to ask questions from that subject.
  • This situation may arise in two ways
    •  Asked by interviewer voluntarily
    • If the candidate struggles with other subjects then interviewer may ask about candidate’s interesting subject.
In many of my interviews including IES, I was asked about my favorite subject. So this question should be prepared thoroughly.

Q: So what is the broad list of preparation for the technical part?

Ans: As mentioned above, identify the subjects that need extra focus based on the interview (like ISRO, BEL or IES). Select one or two interesting subjects and prepare thoroughly.
Further questions depends on your qualification.
Only graduation:
  • Focus more on final year project and understand it thoroughly
  • One should in a good position to convey the project theme clearly. Here, the underlining fact is that, it is the candidate’s understanding than the mere accumulation of the knowledge, which would project the candidate’s preparedness for future challenges.
Master’s degrees:
  • Focus on project work with detailed understanding
  • Advance subjects like, finite element method(FEM) in case of machine design, finite difference method in thermal or robotics etc. should be prepared if your area of specialization is that field.
  • Don’t stumble upon your area of specialization.

Q: How is technical subject preparation for interview is different from that in the written exam?

  • In case of written exam, answers are conveyed in one way without worrying about follow up questions. So, wrong answers for some questions wouldn’t impact marks for other correct answers .
But whereas in an interview, it is a two way interaction, so candidate should have clarity on what they say. Conceptual clarity is vital to convey your knowledge clearly, without ambiguity.

Q: Are higher education entrance interviews different from the job related interviews?

Ans: Not much. In fact, they are easier than the job interviews. Generally, faculties are very cool and interactive and no pressure should be mounted on you. Candidates should prepare well the technical part with follow-up questions in the mind. Remaining is similar to the job interview.

Q: What are the general suggestions?

Be yourself
  • Don’t try to imitate or act like others; but project yourself
Don’t try to fake
  • Give genuine answers and many a times this will impress the interview board.
  • Emotions can be understood easily,  and it would be communicated to the interviewer, if the candidate trys to fake.
  • You should have courage to admit the unknown questions.
  • Remember, those who are sitting and watching our thamasa are very experienced 
Listen before you answer
  • Don’t jump on to answers even before the completion of the question.
  • Remember, this is not a Arnab’s debate show.
  • Listen carefully to the question, even though it is simplest and dumbest thing you ever heard.
  • Take some time to formulate properly and then deliver in an effective manner.

Myths about interviews

Q: Will poor academics track record affects my interview prospects?

Ans: Not at all.
Many people have the perception that it may create a bad impression. Having good academics will be nice but poor record wouldn’t affect anything. I know many people who have performed really well and secured impressive marks even with average academics record.

Q: Should I be overdressed as shown in many videos?

Ans: Select a decent dress but no need to go overdressed. I have seen many people coming in suites even in the Summers, and sometimes interviewers make fun of them. Simple and decent formals with tie is enough and don’t burn money unnecessarily for the sake of one day interview.

Q: Should I sit like a statue or wave my hands for explanation?

Ans: Yes you can, if it is your extra skill..:)..
  • Be natural and feel comfortable while sitting but don’t go for some awkward postures as we do in our home.
You can use your hands while explaining something, but don’t make interviewers blocked with your fingers.Waving of hands is a natural process and no need to control it.

Q: My communication is very bad,  will it affect my interview?

Ans: If you can convey your intentions clearly then that would be enough. But again I strongly recommend everybody to focus on communication skills, because the person with good communication can convey his/her inner ideas more effectively with ease.

Job specific tips

a) IES

Type of job:
  • More of managerial and less of technical nature as we move up in the hierarchy.
Introduction part:
  • Special emphasis is needed as this is conducted by the UPSC
  • More follow up questions can be expected.
  • Special care should be given to the interests and hobbies mentioned in the applications.
Technical part:
  • Prepare basis, specialisation subjects and project in case of Master’s degree
  • Final year project, and of course the subjects of your interest.
Current affairs:
  • Special focus required as board members are very much interested in candidate’s general awareness


Type of job:
  • More of technical nature even with escalation of positions in the job.
Introduction part:
  • Normal preparation is enough, no need to go so deep as in UPSC interviews.
Technical part:
  • Prepare basics, specialization subjects and project in case of Master’s degree
  • Final year project, and of course the subjects of your interest.
Current affairs:
  • General awareness is required, so better to have a glimpse of current happenings around you, with special emphasis on events of other space agencies.

c) CIL

Type of job:
  • More of technical and maintenance in nature.
Introduction part:
  • Normal preparation is enough, no need to go deep as in UPSC interviews.
Technical part:
  • Prepare basics, specialisation subjects and project in case of Master’s degree
  • Final year project, and of course the subjects of your interest.
Current affairs:
  • General awareness is required; so better have a glimpse of current happenings.
  • Also focus on the coal related policies of government, major mines in India and other relevant issues.


Type of job:
  • More of technical and research oriented in nature.
Introduction part:
  • Normal preparation is enough, no need to go so deep as in UPSC interviews.
Technical part:
  • Prepare basis, specialization subjects and project in case of Master’s degree
  • Final year project, and of course the subjects of your interest.
This interview is famous for follow-up questions in technical field. Many practical applications will be asked, so conceptual clarity is vital to give good answers
Current affairs:
  • General awareness is required; so better to have a glimpse of current happenings.
  • India is aggressively pushing for nuclear energy presently, so know about three stages of our nuclear programme, different technologies and recent advancements
  • India’s agreements with different countries, government policies like nuclear liability law and international issues like Fukushima disasters.
wish you all the best….

1 Comment

  1. ramakrishnan says:

    The tips given on UPSC interview preparation are very useful to crack the interview. Thanks for sharing this information. Keep sharing such UPSC preparation tips.

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