[Topper’s Interview] Mrs. Oshin Sharma [SDM] – HAS 2020

By | December 23, 2019

Interview by HP General Studies

Candidate Profile:

Name Oshin Sharma
Rank in HAS 17 (BDO) and SDM in 2020
Roll No 40902206
Age 27
Marital Status Married (now maried in 2021)
Total Attempts in HAS 2
Optional Subject Indian History
Schooling Medium English
College Medium English
Medium Chosen for Mains Answers English
Medium Chosen for Interview English
Hometown/City Kangra
Work Experience if any Taught at coaching centres.

Raj Malhotra and BrainTree

Details of other competitive exams, including success and failures 1. Appeared for Civil Services Mains exam 2019

2. Appeared for HP Allied Services Mains 2019.

3. CSAT was always an area of concern.

Details of coaching/mock tests/postal material for this exam (if used) Raj Malhotra IAS Academy Chandigarh for GS and Optional.

CivilsDaily UPSC Mock Tests

CivilSquare HAS Mock Tests

Services preference HPAS


%age in class 10 80%
%age in class 12 80%
Graduation course and %age 74%
Name of college, city and passing out year RKMV Shimla/2014
Post Graduation M.Sc Chemistry (Honours) Panjab University
Any other course ——-
Hobbies and extra-curricular achievement Kathak, Painting.

Won State Level Prize in Painting and was awarded the ‘Highly Commendable’ Award in Youth Festival in College.

Won Vice Presidential Candidature in Govt. Degree College Dharamshala.


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

Ans: I hail from District Kangra and was brought up in District Shimla. I schooled at the initial stage in DAV Tutu (Shimla) and the rest of the School was studied in DAV Lakkar Bazaar, Shimla.

My Father, Sh. Bhuvnesh Sharma is serving the state as Naib Tehsildar and Mother, Smt. Sundri Sharma is PA to DC Kangra. My younger sister,  Aabha Sharma is Bank PO (PNB) and the youngest brood of the family is my brother, Pranav Sharma, pursuing LLB from Panjab University, Chandigarh.

In the final year of Graduation, a gradual tilt to be a bureaucrat got into frame and after my Masters, I was quite determined to take the plunge.

Ques: Typical day in your online life?

Whatsapp/Telegram: 3 Hours.

Online Study Websites/Apps: 4 Hours

Ques: What is your style of preparation and notes making?

Ans: I believe in making precise notes, solving MCQs every day, writing answers within time frame and getting them reviewed. Revision, Re-revision plays a vital role in getting the job done.

Prelims (Paper-1):

Topic Booklist/Strategy
Ancient History Tamil Nadu NCERT, RS Sharma
Medieval History Satish Chandra Vol. 1 and 2
Modern History Bipin Chandra and Sumit Sarkar
Art & Culture Nitin Singhania
Polity (Theory + Current) M. Laxmikant/ DD Basu
Economy (Theory + Current) Ramesh Singh and Sanjeev Verma
Science (Theory + Current) Only Current Topics
Environment (Theory + Current) Shankar IAS
Geography of India NCERT 11th and 12th
Physical Geography Notes of Vinay Joshi Sir
Geography of World Notes of Vinay Joshi Sir
Current Affairs NeoIAS, iasparliament, VisionIAS
Himachal GK Helios and Balokhra
Himachal Pradesh Current Affairs Tribune and hpgeneralstudies.com

Prelims (Paper-2):

Topic Booklist/Strategy
Reasoning Any Banking Booklet
English Newspaper
Maths Took coaching at Race Institute, Chandigarh
Communication Newspaper

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

Ans: Yes. Abhimanu IAS and  CivilSquare Mains Course + Test Series. Mock Tests are the lynchpin to success.

Ques: Approximate no. of attempted answers vs. correct answers. in Prelim 2019:

Attempted questions Correct Official Score
GS 100 69 118
Aptitude 70 57 106

Mains: Compulsory language Paper:

Compulsory language Paper Your  preparation/Strategy/Booklist
English Newspaper
Hindi Tenth Grammar

Ques: Other observations/tips/comments on the length/difficulty level of compulsory language papers in HAS-2018?

Ans: Hindi was a bit perplexing this time so one should not take it on easy stride.

Mains: Essay Paper:

Ques: How did you prepare for the essay paper?

Ans: GS preparation overlapped the material required for essay and my optional subject (History) too got me nuances of the relevant topics.

Ques: Which essays did you write and what key points did you include in it?


  1. Skilling Youth ‘A necessity for India’.
  2. Electoral Reforms and Indian Democracy.

Mains: General Studies (Paper-1): 

Topic/Unit How did you prepare/Booklist
History perspective of Indian Culture heritage Nitin Singhania and Notes of Bhushan Rohta Sir
World History Sujata Menon, Mrunal Notes.
History of Himachal Notes of Bhushan Rohta Sir, Wonderland and Helios Books.
Disaster Management Notes of Vinay Joshi Sir, Youtube Videos
Indian Geography NCERT 11th, 12th
Geography of Himachal Pradesh Notes of Bhushan Rohta Sir, Jokta Sir Book and Helios.
Indian Society I have prepared notes on my own.
Ethics/Gandhian Thoughts Mitra IAS Notes
Society and Culture of HP Mian Goverdhan Singh

Mains: General Studies (Paper-2):

Topic/Unit How did you prepare/Booklist
Constitution of India M Laxmikant
Polity of Himachal Pradesh B.A notes
Governance in India Prepared as per syllabus.
Governance in HP Tribune
Social Issues Tribune
International Relations Self-made Notes + Rajya Sabha TV debates.
International Institutions Google
Cybercrime/Drug menace/Socio-Economic development of HP Google

 Mains: General Studies (Paper-3): 

Topic/Unit How did you prepare/Booklist
Indian Economy Ramesh Singh and Sanjeev Verma
Schemes and Important Institutions of the World Google
Economy of HP Economic Survey and the Budget of the state
Science and Technology Newspapers
Energy Sector of India Newspapers
Science and Technology/IT/Biodiversity in HP Newspapers
Environment Science Newspapers
Agriculture and Horticulture Nidhi Soni Book
Tourism Sector in HP Nidhi Soni Book

Ques: How was your experience with the ‘fixed space’ answer sheet?

Ans: It helps in getting the paper done within the time limit.

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

 Ans: I used all the methods in writing my answers. Diagrams are a must.

Ques: 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.

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

  1. Did you use highlighter/sketch-pen in your answers? – No
  2. Did you draw any diagram in any paper? – Yes
  3. If yes, did you draw a diagram with a pen/pencil? – Pen
  4. Did you use a ruler?- No
  5. Did you write with a Blue or a Black pen? – Both

Mains: Optional Subject

Ques: What’s your optional subject and why did you chose it and not something else?

Ans: Indian History. The subject is helpful in Prelims and in General Studies 1 too.

Ques: If a new player wants to pick your subject, would you advice for it or against it?

Ans: Yes, I would favour it.

Ques: Essential book/resource list for the optional you have read:

Ans: RajMalhotra Sir Notes, BaliyanIAS, and Vajiram Notes.

Ques: 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: Not much is needed.

Ques: How many months did it take to finish the core optional syllabus?

Ans: 3 months.

Ques: How many days/weeks before the exam, you started answer writing practice?

Ans: 6 months before Mains.

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

Ans: I am an Old School so not much into gadgets.

Ques: Your observation about the difficulty level of 2018 mains vs previous papers. And what precautions/rectifications are necessary for the future strategy for given optional subject?

Ans: Not much. But HPPSC tilts more towards UPSC so one should go through UPSC previous year mains papers.

Before the Interview:

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

Ans: I had a discussion with my family and friends.

Ques: 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: Yes. It is important to attend mocks to polish you to face the final stage.

Ques: Describe the formal-dress worn by you in the interview.

Ans: Suit-Salwar-Blazer.

During the interview: 

Ques: Who was the chairman of your interview board?

Ans: Retd. Major General DVS Rana

Ques: How long was the interview?

Ans: 30 Minutes

Ques: 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: It did not go as per expectations but it ended smoothly. They were much into IR and my hobbies.

Ques: 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: Mock Sessions helped to handle the situation.

Your mark sheet:

Subjects Marks Secured
Prelims (Paper-1) 118
Prelims (Paper-2) 106
Mains Subjects:
English 49
Hindi 61
Essay 60
General Studies -1 92
General Studies -2 106
General Studies -3 111
Optional (P-1) 39
Optional (P-2) 64
Written Total 472
Interview 105
Final Score 577

Career Backup Plan:

Ques: If you were not selected, what was your career backup plan?

Ans: The state was never my focus. I was preparing for UPSC and will continue doing that.

Ques: When were you going to “execute” that backup plan?

Ans: There was no Plan B.

The struggle of a Senior Player/Junior Player:

Ques: 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: Enjoy the journey and get yourself enlightened by the end of the day.

Ques: What went wrong in your previous attempt? What changes did you make in this current attempt?

Ans: Cleared Prelims last year but could not write mains due to some reason.

The struggle of a Working Professional:

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

Ans: I was a teacher in the coaching centre so that was supplementing me in my preparation.

Grand Wisdom:

Ques: 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 study momentum going on? How do you fight against the mood swings and distractions?

Ans: Follow your daily schedule religiously and stay determined.

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

Ans: There is so much beyond this exam so one should not feel dejected in case, he fails to qualify.

Remember ‘Failure is the condiment that gives success its taste’.

Success is multi-dimensional.

Ques: Last year many hardworking candidates have failed in Mains/Interview. They’re feeling cynical, hopeless and depressed- what is your message to them?

Ans: As Albert Einstein Said ‘A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.’ So, Never Give Up.

Credits: Family/Friends:

Ques: 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 incidents that you would like to share with the readers?

Ans: I owe the credit to my family, especially my mother. My friends Gurleen, Tarun, Raja, Saurabh, and Nandha were my pillars of support. Special thanks to Vinay Joshi Sir and Bhushan Rohta.

You are well aware of the sacred rule of conducting interviews 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: Your content is very helpful. One should follow it religiously.

HP General Studies remarks:

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

We wish you a great future ahead.

Read also: All other interviews of HAS 2017 and HAS 2018

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