[Topper’s Interview] Kunika Akers [SDM] – HAS 2021 [Rank 2]

By | July 10, 2022

Interview by HP General Studies

Candidate Profile:

Name Kunika Akers
Rank in HAS 2nd
Roll No 20106936
Age 26 years
Marital Status Unmarried
Total Attempts in HAS 3
Optional Subject Psychology
Schooling Medium English
College Medium English
Medium Chosen for Mains Answers English
Medium Chosen for Interview English
Hometown/City Kullu
Work Experience if any 2 years and 7 months as Inspector,  Department of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs in the Govt.  of HP
Details of other competitive exams, including success and failures Qualified Allied Services Exam in 2019

Simultaneously appeared for HPAS interview in 2019 but could not qualify

Details of coaching/mock tests/postal material for this exam (if used) SNM IAS Academy, Chandigarh
Services preference HAS-BDO-Tehsildar-DFSC-HPS-ARCS


%age in class 10 81.7%
%age in class 12 77%
Graduation course and %age B.Sc (N) and 83%
Name of college, city and passing out year KVIN, Bilaspur (2017)
Post Graduation -NA-
Any other course -NA-
Hobbies and extra-curricular achievement Dancing, exploring new places and reading Urdu poetry


Q. Tell us something about yourself, your family, when and why did you enter in this field of competitive exams?

Ans: My father is into business and my mother is Lecturer in the Govt. of H.P. I developed an inclination for civil services during my college days and started preparing after completion of graduation.

 Q. Typical day in your online life?

Ans: Whatsapp/Telegram: For online study groups

Online Study Websites/Apps: Insights on India and Drishti IAS.

Q. What is your style of preparation and notes making?

Ans: Prepared consolidated notes for HP GK and optional. Relied partly on coaching study material and self-made notes for GS.

 Prelims (Paper-1): 

Topic Booklist/Strategy
Ancient History NCERT
Medieval History NCERT
Modern History Spectrum
Art & Culture Nitin Singhania, class notes and PPTs
Polity (Theory + Current) M.Laxmikant
Economy (Theory + Current) Class notes, Economic survey and Budget, daily newspaper
Science (Theory + Current) Science section from Lucent, monthly magazines
Environment (Theory + Current) Shankar IAS academy book
Geography of India NCERTs
Physical Geography NCERT and G.C. Leong’s Physical Geography
Geography of World NCERT and class notes
Current Affairs Daily newspaper, Vision IAS monthly magazine
Himachal GK The Wonderland
Himachal Pradesh Current Affairs The Tribune newspaper and SNM academy Current Affairs Book

 Prelims (Paper-2): 

Topic Booklist/Strategy
Reasoning Dr. R. S. Aggarwal’s book and PYQs
English Same
Maths Same
Communication Same

 Q. Did you attend any ‘mock tests’? Do you think they’re necessary for success?

Ans: I did take mock tests. They’re greatly helpful in self-assessment prior to the exam.

 Q. Approximate no. of attempted answers vs. correct answers. in Prelims: 

 Subject Official Score
GS 103.33
Aptitude 80.67

Mains: Compulsory language Paper:

Compulsory language Paper Your  preparation/Strategy/Booklist
English Previous year question papers
Hindi HG Publications

Q. Other observations/tips/comments on the length/difficulty level of compulsory language papers?

Ans: Reading newspapers can help develop a good command over languages. Also, the preparation for the same should be done in line with the previous year question papers.

Mains: Essay Paper: 

Q. How did you prepare for the essay paper?

Ans: Practised on weekends. Wrote down gist of editorials that can be helpful in essay writing.

Q. Which essays did you write and what key points did you include in it?

  1. Ignorance and Neglect of Health and Hygiene: A Human Disaster
  2. Ecotourism: Future Prospects and Challenges

I ensured to include quotes and keywords relating to the topic.

Mains: General Studies (Paper-1):

Topic/Unit How did you prepare/Booklist
History perspective of Indian Culture heritage Class notes and Vision IAS test series
World History Notes
History of Himachal The Wonderland
Disaster Management HAS mains book by Nidhi Soni Ma’am, class notes and online websites
Indian Geography NCERT
Geography of Himachal Pradesh The Wonderland
Indian Society Vision IAS test series
Ethics/Gandhian Thoughts HAS mains book by Nidhi Soni Ma’am and online websites
Society and Culture of HP The Wonderland

Mains: General Studies (Paper-2): 

Topic/Unit How did you prepare/Booklist
Constitution of India M.Laxmikant
Polity of Himachal Pradesh The Wonderland and Mains book by Nidhi Soni Ma’am
Governance in India Coaching study material
Governance in HP HAS Mains book by Nidhi Soni Ma’am
Social Issues Class notes and Vision IAS test series
International Relations Insights on India and class notes
International Institutions Class notes and online content
Cyber crime/Drug menace/Socio-Economic development of HP HAS mains book by Nidhi Soni Ma’am

Mains: General Studies (Paper-3): 

Topic/Unit How did you prepare/Booklist
Indian Economy Current affairs magazine, class notes, economic survey and budget
Schemes and Important Institutions of the World Online content
Economy of HP HAS mains book by Nidhi Soni Ma’am, state economic survey and budget
Science and Technology Current affairs magazine and notes
Energy Sector of India Online content and coaching study material
Science and Technology/IT/Biodiversity in HP HAS mains book by Nidhi Soni Ma’am
Environment Science Shankar IAS Environment book
Agriculture and Horticulture Economic survey and current magazine
Tourism Sector in HP State economic survey

Q. How was your experience with the ‘fixed space’ answer sheet?

Ans: Mains test series helped in tackling the space constraint and organising answers as per demand. 

 Q. Did you write answers in bullet points or in paragraphs? Some players were claiming that they wrote entire paper in bullet points, so it doesn’t matter whether examiner is asking ‘examine, comment, discuss or xyz’. Simply write in bullets and points.

Ans: I used a blend of both bullets and paragraphs.

Q. Did you follow the “introduction-body-conclusion” format? Because some mains-qualified candidates claim they simply wrote the points they could recall within the time, instead of bothering with proper introduction and conclusion.

Ans: Yes, I followed it for 20 markers and partly for 8 markers. The format should be strictly followed while writing 20 markers.

 Q. I don’t like asking following rudimentary questions, but these are the most frequently asked questions by new aspirants.

  • Did you use highlighter/sketch-pen in your answers? – No
  • Did you draw any diagram in any paper? – Yes
  • If yes, did you draw diagram with pen/pencil? – Pen
  • Did you use ruler? – No
  • Did you write with Blue or Black pen? – Yes, used black pen for headings and blue for rest of the content.

 Mains: Optional Subject

 Q. What’s your optional subject and why did you choose it and not something else?

Ans: Psychology, because I was always interested in reading it. Also, I read it during my graduation.

Q. If a new player wants to pick your subject, would you advise for it or against it?

Ans: With the right resources Psychology can fetch good marks and can be well prepared within 3 months.

  1. Essential book/resource list for the optional you have read:
  2. Introduction to Psychology by Clifford T. Morgan and Richard King
  3. Robert A Baron’s Psychology
  4. Applied Psychology by Smarak Swain

 Q. How much of internet-research / current affairs is necessary for this optional? OR can one simply rely on the books and be done with this subject?

Ans: Quoting examples from current can add extra value to answers and there are topics which are hard to find in books so,  preparation without internet research won’t suffice.

 Q. How many months did it take to finish the core optional syllabus?

Ans: 3 months

 Q. How many days/ weeks before the exam, you started answer writing practice?

Ans: After preliminary exam

Q. Do you maintain self-notes for revision of optional? In which format- electronic or paper?

Ans: Self notes in paper format.

 Q. Your observation about the difficultly level of 2020 mains vs previous papers. And what precautions / rectifications are necessary in the future strategy for given optional subject?

Ans: The paper was a blend of both direct and indirect questions. Keeping topicwise content ready and sufficient answer writing practice can help one sail through.

 Before the Interview:

Q. How did you prepare for the interview for college grad, hobbies, place of origin, and current affairs at national and international level?

Ans: I was constantly in touch with Nidhi Soni Ma’am from SNM IAS Academy. She helped me to prepare questions related to my DAF. For current affairs, I read newspaper regularly. I had prepared a list of expected questions based on my personal and job profile which helped me to tackle questions during the interview.

 Q. Did you attend any mock interviews by coaching classes? How were they similar / different than official interview? Do you believe it is necessary to attend such mock interviews?

Ans: Due to some unavoidable reasons I couldn’t attend any mock interviews this time.

 Q. Describe the formal-dress worn by you in interview.

 I wore  a beige coloured cotton silk suit with dupatta and black coloured  heeled sandals.

During the interview:

Q. Who was the chairman of you interview board?

Ans: Sh. Ajay Kumar, IFS (retd.)

Q. How long was the interview?

Ans: Around 25 minutes.

Q. Please narrate your entire interview- what questions did they ask and what did you reply and other pleasant or uncomfortable experiences during the interview.

Ans: My interview was on 21st June, which marked 2 important days there were questions pertaining to International Yoga Day and summer solstice. Chairman Sir asked questions related to impact of COVID-19 on economy, Atal tunnel, Kulluvi naati dance record. Home district remained an important area of focus with questions pertaining to history of prominent temple and supplementary questions related to the same. Questions were asked about my current job profile, issues therein and situational questions.

Q. Was your interview on the expected lines of what you had prepared or did they ask you totally unexpected questions? Was it a stress interview, did they ask any uncomfortable questions? If yes, how did you handle it?

Ans: Most of the questions asked were on the expected lines. Both opinion-based and factual questions were asked.

Your mark sheet: 

Subject Marks Secured
Prelims (Paper-1) 103.33
Prelims (Paper-2) 80.67
Mains Subjects:  
English 63
Hindi 52
Essay 57
General Studies -1 95
General Studies -2 78
General Studies -3 105
Optional (P-1) 72
Optional (P-2) 70
Written Total 477
Interview 105
Final Score 582

Career Backup Plan:

Q. If you were not selected, what was your career backup plan?

Ans: I was already working as Inspector, FCS&CA.

Struggle of a Senior Player/Junior Player:

Q. How did you survive through this mental prison of HAS and what’re your words of wisdom to other senior players/Junior Players? If any specific inspirational incident(s), please share.

Ans: Patience and perseverance is what keeps you moving. I believe in being intrinsically motivated and putting constant efforts. Self-belief is the key.

 Q. What went wrong in your previous attempt? What changes did you make in this current attempt?

Ans: I appeared for the interview in my very first attempt but couldn’t qualify. I worked on improving my score in the optional subject.

Struggle of a Working Professional:

Q. If you’re a working professional, share some tips on how to manage studies with job?

Ans: Time management is very crucial for working professionals to prepare. I managed time before and after office hours. And not just counting the number of hours I studied but the effectiveness of the time spent in studying. Making the most out of the limited time is an art to master for working professionals.

Grand Wisdom:

Q. People know what books and syllabus points are to be prepared. But most of them lack consistency in their preparation. So, how do you keep your study momentum going on? How do you fight against mood swings and distractions?

Ans: I kept a daily track of my targets, and used to write a diary before sleeping mentioning my targets for the upcoming day. Planning targets beforehand that are SMART- Simple, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound can help counter the negativity and give you a sense of accomplishment on daily basis.

Q. Through this struggle and success, what have your learned? What is the wisdom of life and competition? What is your message to the new aspirants/veteran aspirants?

Ans: Preparing for this exam requires patience and consistency which can help you sail through.

Q. Many hardworking candidates have failed in Mains/Interview of HAS 2020. They’re feeling cynical, hopeless and depressed- what is your message to them?

Ans: Believing in yourself is what you all need to do.

 तू शाहीन  है परवाजहै का तेरा,

तेरे सामने आसमां और भी है

 Credits: Family/Friends:

Q. Behind every qualified candidate there are many people who stood by during those uncertain times when he/she was merely an ‘aspirant’. Would you like to tell the world, who were those people in your case? Any specific incidence that you would like to share with the readers?

Ans: My parents and sister have been really supportive throughout this journey. My mentors at the academy, my maternal uncle and aunt who constantly motivated me and believed in my capabilities.

You are well aware of the sacred rule of conducting interview of qualified candidates- the last question must be about self-marketing. So, Did you use www.hpgeneralstudies.com for your preparation and if yes, how did it help you? And you can even reply “No”.

Ans: I visited the site for availing the previous year question papers that were of immense help.

HP General Studies remarks:

Thank you Ms. Kunika Akers for giving us your precious time. Hopefully, this interview will help thousands of aspirants who have been preparing for the HAS exam.

HP General Studies wishes you a great future ahead.

Category: HAS Interview

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