Facing the Interview board
RIGHT APPROACH – I
[Miss Rao is a candidate for Civil Services. She has fared very well in the Written Exam. The interview lasts for about 35 minutes—from 10.45 to 11.20 a.m.]
Candidate: Good morning, Sir.
(The Chairman directs her to take her seat meant for the candidates.)
Chairman: Miss Rao, did you do your B.A. Hons. (Sociology) in 1999?
Candidate: Yes, Sir.
Chairman: What are you doing presently ?
Candidate: I am a reporter with a newspaper.
Chairman: What do you report ?
Candidate: Mainly social and crime incidents.
Chairman: Tell me the nature of these crimes.
Candidate: They are mostly such petty crimes as pickpocketting, chain snatching
Chairman (interrupting her): What do you think are the reasons for these crimes ?
Candidate: Sir, the reasons are primarily socio-economic incharacter.
Chairman: What social reasons ?
Candidate: These are due to our traditions, such as the dowry system, no choice in the selection of mates, and the like.
Chairman: Can you think of other reasons ?
(Miss Rao does not make a reply)
First Member: You are from Kolar Goldfields. How is that the KGF has made no impact on the countryside around it ?
Candidate: The mines were never expected to work for so long.
First Member: Are there no labour colonies and houses also ?
Candidate: No, Sir, but attempts are being made to construct houses for the workers. A few units have been completed.
Second Member: Do you think that profitability in the public sector should be connected with profitability in the private sector ?
Candidate: No, Sir. The public sector has been set up primarily as a welfare measure. First Member: Are the mines very deep in KGF ?
Candidate: They were, Sir. But now in South Africa, they have gone even deeper.
Third Member: Do you play badminton and table tennis ?
Candidate: Yes, Sir.
Chairman: Can you name any Indian player who has attained international fame in badminton ?
Candidate: Yes, Sir. He is Prakash Padukone.
Chairman: Has badminton made any contribution to international diplomacy ?
Candidate: No. Sir. It is table tennis—the “ping-pong” diplomacy—made famous by the Chinese.
Second Member: How did it get its name ?
Candidate: This was with reference to the Sino-American relations. When China had ideological differences with Russia, it turned towards the United States for an ally. In this regard, long preparations were made. Table tennis teams were exchanged between China and the USA. Hence, the name “ping-pong” diplomacy originated.
First Member: Do you think that it is over now ?
Candidate: It is more or less over, Sir.
Second Member: Then, what is “Shuttle Diplomacy” ?
Candidate: I am not very sure, Sir.
Second Member: It is with regard to Kissinger’s diplomacy. Can you now remember ?
Candidate: Yes, Sir. It was the “shuttling” of Mr. Henry Kissinger between Cairo, Beirut and Tel Aviv to bring about restoration of peace in West Asia.
SecondMember: Did it succeed ? Candidate: Yes, Sir. It resulted in the Camp David Accord.
Chairman: Who benefited the most out of this accord ?
Candidate: Israel, Sir.
First Member: How ? Under the treaty, it had to return the captured territories to Egypt.
Candidate: Sir, Israel got political recognition from a powerful Arab country—Egypt. As to the returning of the territories, these territories did not originally belong to Israel.
Third Member: OK. Suppose you are selected for the IAS and you are given 21 days to tour and find out about your country, which places would you like to visit ?
Candidate: I would visit some representative farms, industrial centres……
Chairman: Would you visit some irrigation projects also ?
Candidate: Yes, Sir. I was about to mention this,
First Member: You have studied Sociology as the subject of your specialisation.
Candidate: Yes, Sir.
First Member: Can you name any one who has worked for tribal welfare in India ? I know you will say Gandhiji, but name someone else.
Candidate: I am sorry. I cannot recollect any other name now.
Chairman: You were the Secretary of the Planning Forum during your college days. What was the purpose of this Forum ?
Candidate: To promote planning consciousness among the students, Sir.
Third Member: Miss Rao, suppose you are posted in some country in Africa. Assume you are explaining to some African leaders the way India has succeeded through planning. Tell us all you will talk about.
Candidate: The entire planning programme for the country is drawn up by the Planning Commission. The sectors are selected according to priority, sources of revenue are identified, funds are allocated and targets fixed. India has rapidly progressed through planning……
Third Member: OK, have you travelled outside Karnataka ?
Candidate: Very little, Sir.
Third Member: Have you heard of Gangotri ?
Candidate: Yes, Sir. Third Member: Where is it ?
Candidate: In the Garhwal Hills in Uttarakhand.
Second Member: Have you heard of the man-eaters of Kumaon ?
Candidate: Yes, Sir. Second Member: Which animal is called a man-eater ?
Candidate: Tiger, Sir.
Second Member: What does the Corbett National Park commemorate, Miss Rao ?
Candidate: It commemorates the memory of Jim Corbett who single-handedly killed the tigers in the Terai region and made the place safe for humans. He was a famous hunter, Sir.
Chairman: Galbraith said, “India is a functioning anarchy.” Would you comment on that ?
Candidate: Anyone could say what he likes about this country. True, there are problems of maladjustment and disturbances within the economy. But India has endured as a stable democracy all these years.
Third Member: Who is BalamuraliKrishnan ?
Candidate: He is an eminent exponent of Camatic music, who has been experimenting with various ragas and trying to evolve new ones.
Chairman: What is the equivalent of raga in Western music ?
Candidate: The ‘notes’.
Chairman: Say, the ‘scale’.
Candidate: Thank you, Sir.
Second Member: Tell me about India’s relations with its neighbours.
Candidate: In the changed world scenario, the Government is doing its best to improve our relations with China, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh. As for Pakistan, mutual distrust and hostility have vitiated the atmosphere all along but with the advent of democracy in Pakistan one hopes positive response from across the border.
Third Member: What do we export to the Arab countries ?
Candidate: Fruits, vegetables and other necessities, also industrial tools and equipment. These countries provide a huge market for ourlabour force. Many Indians have gone and settled there in search of better prospects.
Chairman: Thank you, Miss Rao.
Candidate: Thank you, Sir.
[COMMENTS : Observe that the candidate did not adopt the guessing posture even once. When she did not know the answer to a question, she candidly admitted it. Whenever she was in doubt, she did not take any chances. This is the golden rule of interview. Even otherwise, the candidate is not expected to know about everything under the sun.]
RIGHT APPROACH – II
[The candidate, RuchiNarula, enters the room when her name is called. She offers her salutations to the Chairman and Members of the Board and takes her seat after having been asked to do so by the Chairman. She thanks the Chairman.]
Chairman: Miss Narula, we are glad to notice from your bio-data that, besides being a prolific writer, you have travelled widely. Will you let us know what struck you most when you first visited the foreign lands ? Did you feel strange on account of different national characteristics of the people living there ?
Candidate: Well, Sir, I did not feel strange when I first went to the United States with my father since the landscape looked quite familiar to me because of its illustrations in various books and magazines published in India. As for national characteristics I do not believe in any. The only characteristics that I know of our individual characteristics which differ from one individual to another, no matter whether he is an Indian or from any other country.
First Member: What, according to you, accounts for a sudden interest abroad in things of Indian origin, particularly the Indian saree, music, yoga and so on ? Do you think this to be a passing phase, or has it found a permanent place in their way of life ?
Candidate: As far as I could judge, Sir, Indian culture has created good impression on the people in the West. My conviction is based on the fact that for these people it is a sort of discovery from which they derive much satisfaction and pleasure. I also feel that for them the Indian artistic traditions seem to be really fascinating and enchanting. Indian music, particularly, offers them a new experience. This view has been strengthened by the recent holding of Festivals of India in England, France, United States and Russia.
Second Member: What is your field of writing ?
Candidate: Sir, I write short stories, features on topical Issues and at times the biographies of eminent persons.
Chairman: Do you regard literature as a link between the peoples of various countries ?
Candidate: Sir, I do not think that literature has linked, or could ever link, different people.
Chairman: Do you wish to say that there are no national literary tastes ?
Candidate: Sir, I do not believe in the geographical division of literature. There cannot be such a thing as Indian Literature with special characteristics of its own.
Chairman: To what would you attribute today’s misery In spite of the rapid advancement of knowledge ?
Candidate: Sir, I think it is due to the fact that we have been developing knowledge without paying much heed to human values, Therefore, while knowledge expands, our minds remain underdeveloped. We are applying knowledge with undeveloped or under-developed minds. This results in disillusionment and misery.
First Member: What makes you opt for the Indian Foreign Service ?
Candidate: I know French and German, and I would be able to serve my country better by getting into the Indian Foreign Service where my knowledge of these foreign languages will be an asset.
First Member: What do you understand by the policy of non-alignment ?
Candidate: Sir, it would be necessary to explain the background of this concept before saying what is meant by non-alignment. The world was till a decade ago divided into two major camps or blocs—one led by the USA and the other by the erstwhile USSR. There were quite a number of countries sandwiched between these two power blocs, especially those that attained independence after World War II. These countries belonged to neither group, nor did they wish to align themselves with either of superpowers. These are called non-aligned nations.
Third Member: What is the difference between ‘non-alignment’ and `neutrality’ ?
Candidate: Prima Icicle, there is no difference, Sir. But in actual practice there is a considerable difference between the usage of these two words. Neutrality implies a static approach to some extent, while the policy of non-alignment shows a positive, active and deliberate effort on the part of a group of people to make for the balancing of global equations.
First Member: When was the United Nations founded 7 Who gave it its name ?
Candidate: The United Nations was founded in 1945 after the end of World War II. Sir, it was the American President Franklin D. Roosevelt who gave the world body its name : United Nations Organisation.
Chairman: What is meant by the term, “Third World” ?
Candidate: Sir, the term “Third World” signifies the underdeveloped or developing countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America. India also comes under this category.
First Member: What is the difference between an Ambassador and Charge d’ Affalres
Candidates: An Ambassador is the senior-most diplomat officer in rank. Charged’ Affaires comes next, In Commonwealth countries, however, our envoys are called High Commissioners, and not Ambassadors.
Chairman: Miss Narula, what are your other interests ?
Candidate: Sir, besides writing, I am deeply attached to music, especially jazz.
Second Member: What about sports ?
Candidate: Sir, I am interested in lawn tennis, but I must confess that I am just a mediocre player,
Chairman: That will do.
Candidate: Thank you, Sir.