[Topper’s Interview] Rajneesh Sharma [SDM] – HAS-2017

By | July 3, 2019

Interview by HP General Studies

Candidate Profile:

Name Rajneesh Sharma
Rank in HAS 5
Roll No 19001418
Age 23
Marital Status Unmarried
Total Attempts in HAS 1
Optional Subject Political Science
Schooling Medium English
College Medium English
Medium Chosen for Mains Answers English
Medium Chosen for Interview English
Hometown/City Dharampur, Mandi
Work Experience if any No
Details of other competitive exams, including success and failures 2 UPSC mains, 1 UPSC Interview
Details of coaching/mock tests/postal material for this exam (if used) Vajiram for GS, Shubhra Ranjan  Studies for optional, Vision and Forum IAS for mocks
Services preference HAS-BDO-Tehsildar-DFSC-ETO-ARCS


%age in class 10 86
%age in class 12 90
Graduation course and %age Botany Hons. 83%
Name of college, city and passing out year Department of Botany, PU, Chandigarh,2016
Post Graduation NA
Any other course NA
Hobbies and extra-curricular achievement NA


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

Ans: Myself Rajneesh Sharma, my father is in HPFAS  serving as  Assistant Controller, my mother is a homemaker, I have a younger brother who is in the final year of college. I got attracted towards civil services in final year of my graduation due to inspiration from my seniors and friends like Akshit, Ajay Dahiya, Shiv Kumar, etc. I always loved reading and that was an added advantage.

Ques: Typical day in your online life?

Whatsapp/Telegram: Spent 2-3 hours on it

Online Study Websites/Apps: Some stuff from Youtube but not much. I’m more of an old school.

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

Ans: I personally read books multiple times rather than making bulky notes, I’m also lazy to make notes. My strategy has always been to start early and finish nicely.

Prelims (Paper-1):

Topic Booklist/Strategy
Ancient History R.S. Sharma
Medieval History Satish Chandra
Modern History Spectrum, Bipan Chandra
Art & Culture CCRT, Vision Art, NCERT 11th
Polity (Theory + Current) Laxmikanth, The Hindu
Economy (Theory + Current) Sriram booklet, Vajiram notes, The Hindu
Science (Theory + Current) The Hindu
Environment (Theory + Current) Shankar IAS, The Hindu
Geography of India Ncert 11th
Physical Geography Ncert 11th, GC Leong, Vajiram notes
Geography of World Online
Current Affairs The Hindu
Himachal GK Jag Mohan Balokhra
Himachal Pradesh Current Affairs Didn’t prepare much except Budget and Economic Survey

Prelims (Paper-2):

Topic Booklist/Strategy
Reasoning Youtube
Maths Youtube

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

Ans: I bought a test series, I think they are helpful in fine-tuning the preparation and reenergizing oneself.

Ques: Approximate no. of attempted answers vs. correct answers. in Prelim 2017:

Attempted questions Correct Official Score
GS 124
Aptitude 112

Mains: Compulsory language Paper:

Compulsory language Paper Your preparation/Strategy/Booklist
English Wren and Martin Grammar
Hindi Ashoka Hindi Vyakaran

Ques: Other observations/tips/comments on the length/difficulty level of compulsory language papers in HAS-2017?

Ans: Require some preparation of 2-3 days, can’t just go and think to do everything in the exam hall.

Mains: Essay Paper:

Ques: How did you prepare for the essay paper?

Ans: I wrote some essays and got them reviewed. Made a format and tried to use my GS and newspaper knowledge to add flesh and blood to my essay skeleton.

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

Ans: India Pakistan relation and terrorism, and Agriculture.

Mains: General Studies (Paper-1):

Topic/Unit How did you prepare?/Booklist
History perspective of Indian Culture heritage CCRT, R.S. Sharma, Satish Chandra, 11th NCERT on Art
World History Arjun Dev
History of Himachal Jagmohan Balokhra
Disaster Management Online
Indian Geography 11th NCERT
Geography of Himachal Pradesh Jagmohan Balokhra
Indian Society NCERT 11th
Ethics/Gandhian Thoughts Read in detail in Political Science Optional
Society and Culture of HP Jagmohan Balokhra

Mains: General Studies (Paper-2):

Topic/Unit How did you prepare?/Booklist
Constitution of India Laxmikanth
The polity of Himachal Pradesh Jagmohan Balokhra
Governance in India Online Readings
Governance in HP Online Readings
Social Issues The Hindu
International Relations The Hindu
International Institutions Online Readings
Cybercrime/Drug Menace/Soci0-Economic development of HP Online Readings

Mains: General Studies (Paper-3):

Topic/Unit How did you prepare?/Booklist
Indian Economy Sriram booklet, Vajiram Notes, NCERT macroeconomics, and Indian economy
Schemes and Important Institutions of the world Vision scheme Booklet
Economy of HP Economic Survey of HP
Science and Technology Relied on the science background and The Hindu
Energy Sector of India Online reading
Science and Technology/IT/Biodiversity inHP Online reading
Environment Science Shankar IAS
Agriculture and Horticulture Online
Tourism Sector in HP Online

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

Ans: I found it good, I always believe in writing more in less.

Ques: Did you write answers in bullet points or in paragraphs? Some players were claiming that they wrote the 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 mostly write in bullets, but 20 markers were written in essay format.

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 did follow IBC in 8 and 20 markers but not in 4 markers.

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? No
  2. Did you draw any diagram in any paper? No
  3. If yes, did you draw a diagram with pen/pencil?
  4. Did you use a ruler? No
  5. Did you write with Blue or a Black pen? Blue

Mains: Optional Subject:

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

Ans: Political Science, because I like it.

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

Ans: If you are passionate about this subject and can sit back for long hours to study then you may choose it but be careful as the humanity subjects are sometimes poorly marked.

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

Political Theory by OP GaubaShubhra  Ranjan  Notes, IGNOU material selectively, Stanford Encyclopedia Dictionary of Political Science, Youtube videos, LPU distance learning material on Constitutions of different countries.

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: It is a very traditional optional, so a good grasp over concepts is needed and interlinking between concepts is a must.  Current affairs add extra edge by giving scope to add current examples linking to classical political theory.

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

Ans: 4-5 months.

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

Ans: 1 year

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

Ans: Self notes in paper format for some topics, rest just relying on an underlined portion in the study material.

Ques: Your observation about the difficulty level of 2017 mains vs previous papers. And what precautions/rectifications are necessary for the future strategy for given optional subject?

Ans: This was my 1st attempt, so I don’t have much idea about the difficulty level of previous papers. According to me, if your basic concepts are clear and you can interlink things, any paper can be tackled.

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 made 5-6 separate folders for different streams, one for current affairs and other for topics like hobbies, college, etc.

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: I didn’t attend any for HAS, but attended some for my UPSC interview which helped me in HAS as well. 2-3 mocks should be attended to fine-tune one’s communication and increase confidence.

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

Ans: Blue suit.

During the interview:

Ques: Who was the chairman of your interview board?

Ans: Major General (Retd.) DVS Rana

Ques: How long was the interview?

Ans: 15 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: One member asked me different indices and India’s ranking on it,  I wasn’t remembering exact ranks so  I didn’t answer them.  He then shifted to more substantive questions like the state of corruption in India and possible remedies.

The second member asked very good questions viz role of MLA in a democracy, the discussion then went to direct democracy, 3rd tier of PRIs and ULBs, etc.

The third member asked about hydropower projects in HP and especially in Mandi, tourism policy.

Chairperson asked about India China relations, MacMohan Line, security challenges to India…

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: Unexpected thing was that nothing was asked from hobbies, background, etc. And also nothing much from optional. It was not a stress interview but a visual conversation.

Your mark sheet:

Subject Marks Secured
Prelims (Paper-1)  124
Prelims (Paper-2)  112
Mains Subjects:
English  54
Hindi  60
Essay  68
General Studies -1  108
General Studies -2  80
General Studies -3  100
Optional (P-1) 72
Optional (P-2) 73
Written Total 501
Interview 91
Final Score 592

Career Backup Plan:

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

Ans: I would have tried again, one failure cannot derail me.

Ques: When were you going to “execute” that backup plan? (E.g. after a number of failed attempts/ after I cross-age/after dad retires/after girlfriend/boyfriend dumps me etc.)

Ans: No backup.

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: Just remember why you started, never rely much on outside motivation because it will vanish sooner or later, have a fire inside which would never vanish. One advice is; do not become over serious in the preparation phase, there is a difference between being a serious aspirant and a stressed aspirant, take time for family and friends.

The struggle of a Working Professional:

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

Ans: NA

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: Let mood swings come, friends and family are a great anchor to fight any mood swing. Take breaks after 15-20 days, like a full day off.  A good recharge is a must for good performance.

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: Preparation for civil services makes you a better and balanced human and citizen. One thing that I learned is the only thing between you and success is you. Learn daily from mistakes, rework and fight back. Never underplay your own strategy.

Ques: Many hardworking candidates have failed in Mains/Interview of HAS-2017. They’re feeling cynical, hopeless and depressed- what is your message to them?

Just remember why you started…

गिरते हैं शहसवार ही मैदान-ए-जंग में । 

वो  तिफ़्ल क्या  गिरेगा जो घुटनों के बल चले ॥ 

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: My parents, My brother Arvind, My grandma, Akshit, Nikhil, Rakesh Uncle, Rohit Wilson, Shiv Kumar, Sumit Sahagal, Ajay, Rajnish, Aditya, Rajesh, Rahul, and many more. Sorry as I think I missed many names.

Ques: You are well aware of the sacred rule of conducting the 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 didn’t.

HP General Studies remarks:

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

We wish you a great future ahead.

Note to the readers:

You can contact Sh. Rajneesh Sharma through email <[email protected]> for any query or guidance regarding the civil services exam.

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