Types of questions actually asked in UPSC Interview

upsc interview


Types of questions actually asked in UPSC Interview


Ice Breakers : easy to answer. Purpose is to make you comfortable. Mostly pertain to your bio data in the DAF. Like How your hobby has helped you in real life, information about your college of Graduation etc.

Closed Questions : Questions having factual answers with no elaboration. Purpose is to decide topics or areas on which further probing questions could follow or to quickly assess your attentiveness and listening more than knowledge. Honestly answer them. Even when you cannot answer, be honest and precise.


Before saying ‘ I do not know’, consider : ‘I have read/heard about it but cannot recollect at this moment’ or Generalised response. E.g. ‘What data do you have to substantiate that your state has good Law and Order Situation?’ Answer may be ‘ I do not have any exact data but it is based on my personal observations.’ ‘I saw girls moving freely at night without any fear.’

Open ended Questions: The most important ones. They require detailed answers to assess your personality. They demand your own answers, views and opinions and rationale behind your views. Need to think well before responding.


Listen with interest. Nod along to show you are interested and attentive and to signal to your mind : ‘ yes I can’. Smile often.

Ask for clarification. If any doubts, clarify what you have understood about the question and let him/her confirm or clarify further. Or simply ask him/her to repeat the question.

Think to organize/frame and present your answer.

Be honest, humble, empathetic and assertive as per need of the moment.

Probing questions: They assess clarity of thoughts, views, feelings and attitudes. They are often follow-up to your previous answers. They probe into your answers. You are asked to justify. You are contradicted with opposite views. Often, the interviewers pretend to be displeased/not interested. They pretend it with their negative words and body language to assess your response in stressful situations. They do not stress you like a lawyer in the court but like a polite elderly person. You need to be confident, calm, positive and assertive but yet humble.

The Devil’s Advocate : These questions are provocative. Often, interviewers express views opposite to his/her actual view to assess your hidden prejudices, if any. The question ‘why do you want to be a civil servant’ is asked this way : ‘You are already a doctor and earning more than a civil servant. Are you not wasting country’s precious resources by opting for Civil Services?’

Sandwich Questions : a mix of many/all the above. Like History of reservation in India, who are weaker Sections, what Percentage, should we have it, caste/economic status as criteria and so on.

Clarifying questions : Interviewer reflects back what you answered to clarify understanding. He/she may use your paraphrase and say what he/she understood. He/she may actually summarize what you said or bring new interpretation to it. But sometimes he/she pretends to have interpreted it differently just to check your assertiveness, integrity, confidence or consistency. He/she assesses your listening, consistency and understanding.

Corrective : Interviewer may correct your actual mistakes or advice you like an elder and check your response. Need to be cheerful, humble and open to correction and grateful for advices. When you make a mistake and do not self-correct it, they often ask a question just to hint at your mistakes. They check whether you realize and admit a mistake and assess your behavior when your mistake is revealed.

Situational or What if questions : hypothetical questions. Cannot work out your answer beforehand. Tests your ability to think objectively and logically. E.g. ‘ what shall be your priorities if you are a Collector of your Home District?’

Questions with a Disguised motive : In CSE, 2014, many candidates panicked when the board members quizzed them with a rapid fire of many trivial factual questions which they could not answer. They got nervous. Interviewers often pretended to be dissatisfied and often said : ‘you must know this’. This made some Candidates more nervous and mentally agitated because they thought that the panel was conducting a test of factual knowledge or a quiz contest and not the Personality Test. It undermined their confidence, calmness and even their faith in the interviewers. It adversely affected their marks. Actually, they fell into a trap of Questions with a Disguised motive.

Actually, the panel wanted to test their confidence, calmness and composure during unexpected situation. Need was to answer what you know but calmly and frankly saying ‘I don’t know’ to the rest. Even if you cannot answer a hundred such questions, you do not lose even a single mark. Just maintaining your calm would fetch you decent marks.

E.g. What is the area of your home state and India in K.m.s? How many tremors in Gujarat Earthquake? How many islands in India? etc.

Out of the Box : common sense questions with no correct or incorrect answer. Here are some Examples of questions answered in UPSC Interview:

What will you do if I run away with your sister?

A: ” I will not get a better match for my sister than you sir”.

Interviewer (to a female candidate) – What if one morning you woke up & found that you were pregnant.

A: Girl – I will be very excited and take an off, to celebrate with my husband.

( Think positively. )

Interviewer ordered a cup of coffee for the candidate. Coffee arrived and was kept before the candidate. what is before you?

Candidate instantly replied “Tea”.

Alphabet “T” is before Alphabet “U”.

Try answering following questions actually answered in UPSC Interview:

  • How can you drop a raw egg onto a concrete floor without cracking it?
  • If it took eight men ten hours to build a wall, how long would it take four men to build it?
  • If you had three apples and four oranges in one hand and four apples and three oranges in the other hand, what would you have?
  • How can you lift an elephant with one hand?
  • How can a man go eight days without sleep?
  • If you throw a red stone into the blue sea what it will become?
  • What looks like half apple ?
  • What can you never eat for breakfast ?
  • What happened when wheel was invented ?
  • Bay of Bengal is in which state?
  • Twin babies are born in May. Their Birthday is in June. Why?

Answers actually given by CSE candidates:

  • Concrete floors are very hard to crack!
  • No time at all it is already built.
  • Very large hands.
  • It is not a problem, since you will never find an elephant with one hand.
  • No Probs , He sleeps at night.
  • It will Wet or Sink as simple as that.
  • The other half.
  • Dinner.
  • It caused a revolution.
  • Liquid State.
  • May is the name of place of birth.


Go through some Toppers Interviews below to understand better

Kunal Kishore ,  Interview Score = 198

Atul Vikas Kulkarni, Interview Score = 178

Roshni Thomson, Interview Score = 193

Saikanth Verma, Interview Score = 208

Raja Gopala Sankara, Interview Score – 212

Ayushi Sharma, Interview Score =193

Akhand Sitra