Interview With Harikishore S., IAS Topper 2008 (14th Position)

Do you want to fulfill you parents dreams ? Do you really want to be respected by the society ? Do you want an opportunity to serve the public ? Yes ! Probably it seems like you want to pursue your career in the field of Civil Service. Hay ! I got this interview from Competition Refresher which is truly amazing for all of us to know and learn directly from the mentors.

Interview with a skinny chick travelling - World Wide Hitchhiker

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Interview With Harikishore S., IAS Topper 2008 (14th Position)



Q. What is the secret of your success in this examination?

A. Harikishore S. : Self-belief, priority-driven hard work and creative thinking are the secrets of my success in the Civil Services Examination. In addition, support from my parents and friends helped me sail through difficult times. Above all, it’s God’s grace.

Q. How did your parents, family and friends contribute to your success?

A. Support from my parents and brother helped me sustain motivation for two long years of preparation. Friends always provided a hand to hold and a heart to understand. They boosted my morale when I was low on self-belief. I wish to dedicate my success to my parents, brother and friends.


Q. How much time do you think one requires for serious preparations for this examination?

A. If one is starting without any background, I think one requires about two years (one year preparation + one year exam) for achieving success in the Civil Service Exam.

Q. Which journals and newspapers have you been reading for the General Studies and other papers?

A. Newspaper: The Hindu, Magazines: Competition Success Review, General Knowledge Today, Yojana, Frontline. I also read CSR year book and other CSR books.


Q. Had you not been selected in the Civil Services Examination, what would have been your reaction? Which other service / career would you have gone in / opted for?

A. I would have been very sad if I would not have been selected in the Civil Services Examination. If not selected this year, I would have opted to write the exam once again. If not selected in that attempt also, I would have gone in for a career in teaching.

Q. Do you remember any remarkable incident of your life that motivated or prompted you to go for a career in the Civil Services?

A. There was no such incident in my life that motivated me to go in for a career in the civil Services. The variety and challenges of Indian Administrative Service attracted me. Also, scope of this job to make a difference in the lives of people prompted me to go in for this career.

Q. How do you visualize your success?

A. I visualize my success as the result of a focused, systematic and priority-driven study.

Q. What were your strong points which enabled you to achieve success in the Civil Services Examination?

A. I believe that analytical skills are one of my strong points. I was able to achieve success in the Civil Services Exam because I could analyse the previous years’ question papers and syllabus very well and could decide on the high priority areas. It also helped me read only relevant news from the newspapers and the magazines.

Creativity is another forte which helped me a lot in this exam. I always try to bring variety in my answers. This is achieved by drawing sketches, writing poems and presenting the answer neatly with side headings and underscores. This helped me to gain good marks in the General Studies and Optional subjects.

Also, systematic and continuous revision helped me to be in Top 20.

Q. What were your Optional in the Civil Services Examination?

A. Prelims: Mechanical Engineering, Mains: Geography, Malayalam Literature

Q. How many attempts had you made earlier before you got selected?

A. This was my third attempt. I could not clear the Preliminary Examination in my first two attempts.

Q. What was your criterion for the selection of the Optional subjects?

A. Mechanical Engineering was a natural option for the Preliminary Exam as it was my graduation subject. I had all books with me and no coaching was required. Also, the fact that I cleared GATE exam (M. Tech admission test) boosted my confidence to choose Mechanical Engineering at the Prelims stage.

For the Mains, I switched to Geography and Malayalam Literature because of following factors:

Interest: I like traveling, hence there is an inclination for Geography. Also, it is a natural option for students from Engineering background as this subject has some technical contents. My hobbies are reading Malayalam fiction and writing. Therefore, I selected Malayalam Literature.

Both subjects are highly scoring: There is scope for creatively in both these subjects. In Geography maps and figures can be drawn to supplement answers. In Literature, we can always write creatively. Thus, there is scope for scoring high marks.

Q. How did you prepare for your compulsory papers?

A. For the Prelims’ General studies : Focus was on current affairs as in recent years, questions fro current events form a major share of the General studies paper. I started collecting facts from The Hindu newspaper one year before the Prelim Exam. In addition, I studied modern India and Geography (map-based study) thoroughly. Since I am from an Engineering background, no specific preparation was done for Mental Ability. I did not study science, as I felt that by studying Current Affairs, Geography, History and Mental Ability I could clear cut-off in the General Studies.

For the Main exam : English and Regional Language: No specific study was done. Before appearing for exam, I went through previous years’ question papers.

For General Studies Papers : Extensive study was conducted for the General Studies papers. Here also, focus was on current events. I listed all the important developments in the field of science, polity, economy, international relations and social issues that took place in the last one year before the Mains. I collected relevant information about all these events from The Hindu newspaper, as also from magazines such as Frontline, CSR and Internet. In addition, I studied History and Statistics with the help of NCERT textbooks.

Essay : Generally, the six essay question paper are from six different fields (viz. Polity, Economics, Environment, International Events, Psychology, Women, Sociology, etc.) Since it is not possible to study all topics for essay, I decided to focus on the environmental issues. I collected some facts, prepared analysis and thought about solution for some major environmental issues. Also, I prepared a bit on women issues as a factor of safety. But, this year there was no question from these two areas. So, I had to write an impromptu essay.

Q. What is your impression about the Interview Board?

A. The Interview Board was very helpful and encouraging. On a couple of occasions when I said ‘I don’t know Sir, the members were kind enough to give a hint about the answer. They were keen listeners and that boosted my confidence.

Q. Is this pattern of the examination appropriate for selection? Would you recommend any other improvement?

A. I think the present pattern of examination is appropriate. Some arrangement to neutralize the variation in interview marks awarded by different boards would make the selection ideal.

Q. Do you feel that there should be no restriction on the number of attempts?

A. I feel that the present system is OK. There should be restriction on the number of attempts, as it will force the aspirants to opt for other careers and settle in life, if not successful in the Civil Services Exam within the permitted attempts.

Q. Do you think that the UPSC needs to be more transparent in its examination and evaluation?

A. I think it will be beneficial for the student if UPSC discloses the cut off in each subject and General Studies (at the Prelims stage). In my opinion, evaluation scheme pattern seems all right.

Q. What is your advice to the future aspirants?

A. Believe in your abilities. With strong determination, proper planning, systematic study, and creative thinking, everyone can taste success in the Civil Services Exam. Also, I believe priority driven hard work and right guidance are quintessential to be a topper.

Source : Competition Refresher, Magazine

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