[Topper’s Interview] Ms. Shikha Simtia [SDM] – HAS 2019 [Rank 4]

By | June 5, 2021

Interview by HP General Studies

Candidate Profile: 

Name Shikha
Rank in HAS 4th
Roll No 9003317
Age 26
Marital Status Unmarried
Total Attempts in HAS 4
Optional Subject Sociology
Schooling Medium Hindi
College Medium English
Medium Chosen for Mains Answers English
Medium Chosen for Interview English
Hometown/City Chamba
Work Experience if any None
Details of other competitive exams, including success and failures Cleared CDS twice however never attended SSB Attended the interview of APRO at HPPSC Wrote Allied mains twice and attended the documentation in 2019
Details of coaching/mock tests/postal material for this exam (if used) None for mains

Sometimes used the test series of Alchemist for prelims.

Services preference HPAS>BDO>DFSC>Principal>DEO


%age in class 10 82%
%age in class 12 85%
Graduation course and %age BSC(non-medical) 66%
Name of college, city and passing out year GDC Chowari and DAV Kangra in 2015
Post Graduation MASS Communication (HPU Shimla) 75%
Any other course None
Hobbies and extra-curricular achievement Listening to stories,Playing field hockey,singing (old bollywood) Journaling.

Represented my Distt at state level in Hockey Won best cadet in NCC camp while serving as a Sergeant.

Editor of my College magazine.


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

Ans: Sir/Madam, let’s start from my name first .My name is Shikha .I belong to Chamba. I am 26 years old. I have done my schooling from GSSS Kakira. I did my graduation from Govt. Degree College Chowari and DAV College Kangra and my Post Graduation is from HPU Shimla. We are eleven members in our family. My father is an ex-service man. I lost my mother to cancer. My step-mother is a homemaker .I have six sisters and 2 step-brothers.

And talking about the field of competitive exams I never knew I would end up here during my childhood or even while in my graduation . I always wanted to do something with my life but I was never sure about that ‘what ”. It was during my Post-graduation at HPU Shimla that I came to know about HPAS and actually decided to prepare for it. And the whole preparation process actually made me fall in love with the services.

Ques: Typical day in your online life?

Whatsapp/Telegram: Instagram and Youtube.

Online Study Websites/Apps: Vision IAS , Insight IAS mainly.

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

Ans: I prepared for HPAS only and I feel fortunate enough to land on the same . In the process I cleared other exams also but my entire focus was always the same . And I am someone who believes that You only have one dream and should work for it at the cost of everything (your time, money, comfort etc). And yes if even then you fail or life is not fair to you, you will definitely land somewhere (as hard work pays off) but until then you should work toward that single goal only.

From my personal experiences I have always preferred making notes of each and everything, even for prelims. And I rely more on books rather than the notes of any particular topper or academy. If you have your own notes you can revise the entire notebook or even notebooks in a single day itself and I personally believe that making notes also helps improve your answer writing.

Prelims (Paper-1): 

Topic Booklist/Strategy
Ancient History Arihant/Lucent GK book (sufficient for prelims) NCERT .
Medieval History Arihant/Lucent GK book
Modern History A Brief History of Modern India (spectrum), History of Modern India (Bipin Chandra)
Art & Culture (not required as such for prelims)
Polity (Theory + Current) Indian Polity (M Laxmikant), Newspaper current (vision IAS monthly)
Economy (Theory + Current) NCERT 11th, 12th

Sri Ram IAS Notes, Indian Economy Arihant (for revision)

Current (Vision IAS monthly magazine)


Science (Theory + Current) NCERT 9TH 10TH (from 6TH if from non-sciences) (especially Biology )

Current (vision IAS monthly magazine)

Environment (Theory + Current) Environment (Shankar IAS Academy), Current (Vision IAS monthly magazine)
Geography of India NCERT 11th 12th

India and World Geography (Majid Hussain) Physical and Human geography (G.C Leong)(Read if you can)

Physical Geography NCERT (Physical Geography)
Geography of World MAPS and India and World Geography (Majid Hussain)
Current Affairs Newspaper

Vision IAS monthly magazines Vision IAS PT 365 (for revision) Pratiyogita Darpan

Gyanam (only for revision)

Himachal GK The Wonderland Himachal Pradesh (Jagmohan Blokhra)

Jokta’s book on HP GK (for revision )

Himachal Pradesh Current Affairs Economic survey and Budget of HP Giriraj (newspaper)

 Prelims (Paper-2): 

Topic Booklist/Strategy
Reasoning AS this paper is qualifying in nature so I solved previous papers of HPAS aptitude test and was confident to make it . So I myself never prepared for this through any kind of book.

However I would definitely suggest you to prepare for this as the GS will be of no use if you fail this one.

English -do-
Maths -do-
Communication  -do-

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

Ans: Prelims was always an issue with me so I attended the mock tests of Alchemist for prelims

I also solved previous question papers available on HPPSC website (especially of HPAS ).I think they prepare you for the exam and help you avoid mistakes. You come to know the appx number of questions you should attempt in the exam and will fetch you good marks.

Talking about mains I never took any mock tests. But I will suggest you to take as many mocks as possible before the exam as it helps you better manage your time and improves the quality of your answers .

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

Attempted questions Correct Official Score
GS 79 63 114
Aptitude 65 55 103

Mains: Compulsory language Paper: 

Compulsory language Paper Your preparation/Strategy/Booklist
English (None)
Hindi Vyakaran Bharti

Mains: Essay Paper:

Ques: How did you prepare for the essay paper?

Ans: I focused mainly on the editorials of the newspaper (both Hindi and English) and tried to improve accordingly .

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

Ans: Try to cover all the possible dimensions, use quotes.

Mains: General Studies (Paper-1):

Topic/Unit How did you prepare/Booklist
History perspective of Indian Culture heritage Nitin Singhania (selective Topics ,as per the syllabus of mains)
World History As per the syllabus of mains (from NCERTs, Youtube etc).
History of Himachal The Wonderland (Jagmohan Blokhra)
Disaster Management Acc to the topics of mains (from youtube, google etc).
Indian Geography 11th, 12th NCERT
Geography of Himachal Pradesh The Wonderland (Jagmohan Blokhra)
Indian Society My optional (Sociology) covered this section.
Ethics/Gandhian Thoughts Google and Youtube
Society and Culture of HP  The wonderland (Jagmohan Blokhra)

Mains: General Studies (Paper-2): 

Topic/Unit How did you prepare/Booklist
Constitution of India Indian Polity (M Laxmikant)
Polity of Himachal Pradesh Jagmohan Balokhra
Governance in India Indian Polity (M Laxmikant),
Governance in HP Jagmohan Balokhra
Social Issues Google and Youtube.
International Relations Vision IAS, Drishti, Google and Youtube.
International Institutions Vision IAs, Drishti, Google and Youtube.
Cyber crime/Drug menace/Socio-Economic development of HP Google and Youtube

Mains: General Studies (Paper-3): 

Topic/Unit How did you prepare/Booklist
Indian Economy Sriram IAS notes , Vision IAS current magazine
Schemes and Important Institutions of the World Vision and Drishti
Economy of HP Economic Survey of HP
Science and Technology ISRO Website, Google and Youtube
Energy Sector of India Youtube and google
Science and Technology/IT/Biodiversity in HP Google
Environment Science Environment (Shankar IAS)
Agriculture and Horticulture Jagmohan Balokhra and Economic survey of HP
Tourism Sector in HP Jagmohan Balokhra and Economic survey, google

Ques: 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 personally prefer writing in paragraphs however it should be according to the question asked .You can write 4 mark questions in bullets and others in paragraphs and bullets.

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: I feel introductions and conclusions to be very important, especially in the 20 mark question. I try to include these in each and every question.

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

  1. Did you use highlighter/sketch-pen in your answers?: Ans: I used sketch -pen in optional paper. None in GS.
  2. Did you draw any diagram in any paper? Ans: Yes, in some questions mainly in 20 mark questions and optional papers .
  3. If yes, did you draw diagram with pen/pencil?- Ans. Pen.
  4. Did you use ruler?- Ans. NO
  5. Did you write with Blue or Black pen? – Ans: Blue and Black for keywords

Mains: Optional Subject

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

Ans: Sociology. Because society and its working interests me the most and it also had limited syllabus.

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

Ans: I would say it is up to you . Choose the subject you like studying and it will definitely fetch you good marks .And if it’s Sociology ,then it is very interesting and takes only 45-60 days to prepare.

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

Ans: IGNOU BA and MA notes of Sociology.

Ques: Sleepy classes for Sociology on Youtube (helped the most). Nitin Sangwan’s Essential Sociology.

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

Ans: Yes in Sociology optional especially in paper2 current affairs are very important as 70% of the paper is based on current social topics.

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

Ans: 2 months.

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

Ans: appx.40 days.

Ques: Do you maintain self-notes for revision of optional? In which format- electronic or paper? Ans. I prefer self-notes.(on paper)

Ques: 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 entire paper is according to the syllabus mentioned and is direct . So covering each and every topic from the syllabus will help you tackle the questions well.

Before the Interview:

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

Ans: Interview is more of a thinking process and as it is a personality test you should have a clear idea about your personality (eg if you like certain things ,why do you like them etc etc)

For my interview I prepared my home district well and tried to build cleared stances on certain current topics and talked to myself for hours like ( why this and not that)

Ques: Did you attend any mock interviews by coaching classes? How were they similar / different from the official interview? Do you believe it is necessary to attend such mock interviews?

Ans: Yes I attended 1 mock conducted by CivilsTap academy. It helped me improve certain things however it was somewhat different from my actual interview.

It is up to you if you feel confident enough than no need but yes it gives you lessons to learn .

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

Ans: Sari with formal heels.

During the interview:

Ques: Who was the chairman of you interview board?

Ans: Maj Gen D.V.S Rana.

Ques: How long was the interview?

Ans: Approx 30- 35 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: I felt the entire interview was very pleasant for me . I was confident and wore the exact same smile while coming out of the interview room. The entire interview was in English and I never felt any unforgettable moments.

Chairman sir asked me why did i choose mass communication after graduating in sciences. And then other members started questioning. The next question asked was ,why HP board and not CBSE.

My father was in the army and I was an NCC cadet so 25-30% of my interview was based on the army. (like what regiment, why is that regiment famous, difference between life of army and police, Police reforms etc etc). Then some of the women issues like women harassment at workplaces, women empowerment, what will you do for women if selected how will you empower women of HP etc etc.

Next ..one of the members asked me, As I can see you speak English very fluently can you speak Hindi at par with English.

Next, I was given a situation in which I was supposed to be an administrator and asked to perform certain tasks by the CM which was not within my powers. And he also added the condition that if you do it you will enjoy a comfortable job throughout your career. Member asked me whether I would do it or not .

Next member asked me about .. Chamba ,why is it backward ,what could be done etc etc and what are the qualities of an administrator…your take on whether an administrator should be a specialist or not etc etc.

Chairman sir again questioned me about ..Chamba Rumal and Minjar. And saw my DAF as it was an interesting one and asked about the ups and downs and lessons I learned from them. Next he asked me to act as an IFS officer at UN and give arguments about the permanent membership of India at UN. Next was UN reforms .

And in the end Chairman sir said “My last question is ..let’s suppose you have exhausted all of your chances then what ?’

This is all I can recall at the moment . But I really enjoyed the interview and there was not a single time I felt like losing control over my interview.

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: In the interview your answers gave them questions and not my entire interview but 40-45% was what I expected.

Your mark sheet:

Subject Marks Secured
Prelims (Paper-1) 114
Prelims (Paper-2) 103
Mains Subjects:
English 63
Hindi 40
Essay 44
General Studies -1 84
General Studies -2 86
General Studies -3 114
Optional (P-1) 70
Optional (P-2) 69
Written Total 467
Interview 135
Final Score 602

 Career Backup Plan:

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

Ans: I had none. If I had exhausted all of my chances and Even then could not get into the services I would have taught, as with 10-12 years of experience I could make others fulfil their dreams.

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: Sure there are times when you feel like these are just not for you . But I read Geeta alot 🙂 and believe in “karm karo fal ki chinta mat karo “ It always helped me maintain my continuity . I also think that you should always take time for yourself to do whatever you like to do. I used social media, I watched each and every single movie and I love to travel which I did a lot as according to me you should be happy first. Love your books unconditionally and take failure as lessons. Trust me failures will always make you a better learned person as I think your failures are what makes your success great .

Enjoy the ride, don’t burden yourself with results, be thankful that you have been given the time to learn more. And don’t give up on yourself just be patient and remind yourself “Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts”.

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

Ans: My entire focus this time was on optional as I was scoring good marks in GS in my previous attempts. So this time I changed my optional and it worked out best for me.

Struggle of a Working Professional:

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

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? How do you fight against mood swings and distractions?

Ans: I have seen students asking a lot of questions about how to prepare for certain exams from toppers and people who have succeeded. They can only give you the idea, your consistency is what’s going to help. I believe that before preparing you should answer a few questions like (what do you actually want to do and why that only )once you have answers to those, you will always put effort and continuity won’t be the issue. Don’t do it because someone else did it ,don’t do it because someone wants you to do it ,do it because you yourself want to do it and nothing will ever distract you . You may fall but you will definitely rise again. and as I have mentioned earlier Don’t burden yourself with the results. Enjoy the journey, you are going to miss it once you are there.

Ques: 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: I would say I have learned to be patient . I was someone who could not wait for long for anything to happen. The whole process of preparation has taught me to wait with a smile. And success is not just about achieving or becoming something it’s about how you carry yourself at your worst.

Perseverance is the answer to all of your questions. And remember “Hard work betrays none”

Ques: 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:If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant. If we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome “( John Billings).  Failures just add stars to your success. Learn from them, you are almost there.

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 incidence that you would like to share with the readers?

Ans: ”Nothing great is ever accomplished alone” (Usman Mustafa). I have a lot of people to be thankful for, my entire family ,friends and teachers. I would like to thank my mother the most whom I lost at a young age of 13. Whatever I am today is because of my mother and my father . They had to sacrifice a lot in order to make their 7 daughters study. My father always gave us the independence to carry ourselves according to our wishes .My father always said “koi baat nahi beta aaram se karo” and that was the most relieving thing for me. My sisters believed in me even at times when I doubted myself.

Ques: 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: Yes I did .It helped me alot during my preparation of HPAS. hpgeneralstudies provides good material for preparation of HP competitive exams .It has a lot of solved papers along with the study material. I also used it to look into the topics for HPAS mains .So I would like to thank the creators .

HP General Studies remarks:

Thank-you Ms. Shikha 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, HAS 2018 and 2019

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