IAS officer Apala Mishra secured AIR 9 in UPSC CSE and got the highest marks in the interview round. Here, she shares how she aced the exam, especially the Personality Test.
Dr Apala Mishra secured an All-India Rank (AIR) of 9 in her third attempt at the Union Public Service Commission’s (UPSC) Civil Service Examination (CSE). From not clearing the prelims in her first two attempts to securing the highest-ever marks in the personality round, 27-year-old Dr Apala has had an inspiring journey.
Dr Apala is a BDS (Dental Surgery) Graduate and after that, she pursued UPSC. “Being a part of UPSC provides one with a vast canvas to work for the public. It also offers very unique and diverse work opportunities, which other professions do not,” She says.
Apala who scored 215 marks on the personality test, which ranks among the highest so far, has a few tips for the future aspirants.
1. Knowledge forms the base of Personality.
“One of the biggest myths is that you don’t need to prepare for the interview round as it will only test your personality. However, 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.
2. Know Your Detailed Application Form (DAF)
One of the most important things to remember for the personality round is the 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. The interviewers are likely to see through it. Revise whatever you have mentioned in your DAF and have answers to everything you put down.”
3. Know Yourself
Besides having a good understanding of general knowledge and subject-wise knowledge, Dr Apala urges aspirants to spend time knowing themselves. Explaining this, she says, “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. Do not leave any stone unturned about understanding yourself.”
4. 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. As in her case, the interviewer asked her about the art on the saree she was wearing. “The basic thing to remember is to have a good understanding of yourself,” she adds.
5. Prepare for The Interview
Not just the learning part but hearing how you sound while answering the questions helps. Often people prepare by looking at a mirror and answering questions. But it is better to record yourself and hear it later to know exactly how you sound to another person. “I would also discuss various topics with my parents over dinner. During these conversations, I would pick up on important points to be kept in mind. This helped overcome my introverted nature.” She also adds that one can practice with anyone, not necessarily someone associated with UPSC.
6. Set Time Aside for Preparation
Dr Apala set aside close to three months for the interview preparation. According to her, those three months are optimal.
Credits: The Better India
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