Interview, also known as the personality test, is the last stage of the UPSC examination. Candidates making through the mains stage become eligible to sit in the interview test. Before getting to the answer of who has given the UPSC CSE interview in a different language other than English, here are some important details about the interview stage:
About the Interview Stage
- The duration of the interview stage remains about 30 minutes.
- The usual UPSC interview dates occur between February and March. However, one should always rely on the official UPSC website for an accurate schedule.
- The interview panel consists of the Chairman of the interview board and four other members who are usually experts in different fields of UPSC.
- One should be clear enough that the purpose of the UPSC interview questions is to check whether the candidate is suitable for a career in the civil services. The panel in your interview round assesses your potential to demonstrate good administrative skills.
- The interview marks are 275 marks out of the total of 2025. One should remember that the mains result does not affect your interview marks, and the total of mains and interview decides your overall ranking for UPSC.
- Many students prepare with the misconception that the UPSC interview is a knowledge test. However, it is not a knowledge test but a personality test.
- There may be some subjective questions, but the panel assesses how you reach a definite question and not what you answer.
Is English Important for UPSC Interviews?
Many candidates end up making English as an essential part of their UPSC preparation. But, is English really the only language to excel in the UPSC examination? Certainly not. The UPSC interview is a personality test in terms of your potential to become a civil servant. It is never an English proficiency test.
Your UPSC interview medium should be a language through which you can express and communicate your ideas and answers in the best words. It should not be the one for which you have to go for language classes (Spoken English classes) rather than focusing on your preparation.
Even in your career of civil services, English does not play a significant role unless you are required to serve at the central deputation. As an IAS officer, you will be trained with your cadre’s local languages during your training at LBSNAA.
In How Many Languages can UPSC Interviews be Given?
According to an announcement in 2011, UPSC made a revolutionary change declaring that the aspirants for civil services can now give their personality test interviews in a language other than English or Hindi.
These languages have to be out of the mentioned languages in the 8th schedule of the Indian constitution and not necessarily have to be the language used as a medium in the written examination. This change was amplified by a PIL registered by a 2008 UPSC candidate, Chittaranjan Kumar. The reason behind his PIL was the fact that he wanted to give his interview in Hindi and not English which he had already used as a medium for mains.
Even though Kumar wrote his Mains paper in English, he still did not want English to be the medium for his UPSC interview. It was because he believed in better command over his Hindi than his English while speaking. The filed PIL considered that many non-English speaking candidates end up scoring less because of the lack of English speaking skills.
Who has Given UPSC CSE Interview in a Language Other than English?
Many of the candidates from a rural background or less access to the English speaking world feel that they might lose marks and ranking. However, they should remember that English is just a medium of communication in Interview and what stays important is communication and not the language. They are free to choose their respective regional languages as per the 8th schedule of the Indian constitution.
Some of the candidates may fear that their choices of regional language as the medium for the interview may hamper their communication because of a translator’s presence. However, the interview questions are often subjective, and therefore, a translator will not be able to build any misconception between you and the panel. But you are required to answer without any stammering and anxiety.
How many Candidates are Choosing a Language other than English?
According to the report of selected candidates in LBSNAA, the following data will let you know about the preferences of candidates for their medium of Interviews:
Language Medium Preference of Candidates
- In 2018 only eight of the candidates out of the total 370 selected candidates gave their UPSC interview in Hindi, and the rest 357 had English as their medium.
- In 2016, 13 candidates had Hindi as their medium out of the total 377 officers, and the majority of 350 candidates gave their interviews in English.
- In 2015, 15 candidates had Hindi, and 329 candidates had English as the medium.
- In 2014, out of the total 284 candidates, the number of candidates who had Hindi was six, while that of English candidates was 272.
- There is a small proportion of candidates giving their interviews in their regional languages. For example, in 2019, only eight selected candidates had Marathi, three in Tamil, two in Telugu and only 1 in Gujrati.
The small proportion of candidates choosing their regional language or language other than English shows the inbuilt fear within candidates that they may not succeed in the UPSC examination without English. Candidates should consider their regional languages for the IAS preparation and not stick to English as the only way of success.
English is just one of the languages used in the UPSC interview. It should not be considered as the only option to succeed in the examination. For more guidance on the preparation of UPSC interviews join UPSC Pathshala‘s network of 200+ qualified personal mentors who are experts with years of experience. Visit our website to know more!