[Topper’s Interview] Rashmi Sharma [HPS] – HAS 2021 [Rank 6]

By | September 1, 2022

Interview by HP General Studies

Candidate Profile:

Name Rashmi Sharma
Rank in HAS 6th
Roll No 20129215
Age 36
Marital Status Married
Total Attempts in HAS 3
Optional Subject Sociology
Schooling Medium Hindi + English
College Medium English
Medium Chosen for Mains Answers English
Medium Chosen for Interview English (though they asked in Hindi as well)
Hometown/City Mandi
Work Experience if any 12 Years
Details of other competitive exams, including success and failures Long list of failures and successes!!! Interestingly I don’t remember most of them now.
Details of coaching/mock tests/postal material for this exam (if used) Coaching for 2 months later dropped

Prelims : Test series HP Generalstudies , Downloaded Subject specific Test papers (UPSC)

Mains Test Series : Raman Academy, Referred to Previous year Solved Mains Questions from CivilsTap

Services preference HPAS – HPS  – District Controller – BDO – AR

Education:

%age in class 10 70%
%age in class 12 69%
Graduation course and %age 73%
Name of college, city and passing out year IEET Baddi, 2007
Post Graduation NA
Any other course NA
Hobbies and extra-curricular achievement 1. Mentioned in DAF: watching old Hindi Movies

2. Few More( which I didn’t mention)  Love to watch Movies (in any language), Wildlife Documentaries(Animal Planet), Criminal investigations (Discovery), Thriller, investigation and Haunting Shows

Introduction:

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

About Me: Born and brought up in Mandi. I completed B.Tech (Computer Science) in 2007 and joined my first company (UST Global) as Software Engineer in 2008 January (Kerala).   Later switched to Infosys Chandigarh in 2010 and worked there till 2020 as Technical Test Lead.

About Family: My Father is retired as Chief Manager from State Bank of India. My mother is retired as Language Teacher (Hindi). My elder sister is Veterinary officer and younger brother is Mechanical Engineer. My husband Surya Sharma works in HPSEB as Senior Executive Engineer.

I have 5 year old son, Rudraksh.

WHY did I Choose Civil services?  Bahut saare….. One of them – I was looking for a change and explored several areas related to higher education, job switch, foreign settlement etc. Then someone suggested civil services. I researched a lot about the exam and services. I liked their area of work which ultimately led me here.

Ques: Typical day in your online life?

Ans: Studied mostly from online sources. Most of my notes are in electronic format.

Whatsapp: Used for entertainment only

Telegram: For Prelims Test papers

Online Study Websites/Apps:

  1. hgeneralstudies.com : For solved previous year Question papers ( extremely helpful)
  2. Mrunal Youtube videos and notes: For Modern and World History, Economy, Culture and Answer writing related videos.
  3. VisionIAS website : Current Affairs, PT365 and Test Copies of Toppers.
  4. InsightOnIndia: Daily Static and Currents Quiz
  5. ADD247 App : MCQs daily
  6. Evernote App : For storing my e- notes.
  7. Himachal govt. website for Mains topics eg, Economic survey, tourism policy etc.
  8. Several other website during mains preparation

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

Ans: I read mostly through online sources and Books. I am not very comfortable with the idea of notes making (for everything). I did prepare few notes but only for those topics which were not available easily.

Prelims (Paper-1):

Topic Booklist/Strategy
Ancient History Lucent
Medieval History Lucent
Modern History Spectrum
Art & Culture Not prepared for Prelims
Polity (Theory + Current) Lakshmikant
Economy (Theory + Current) NCERT+ Sriram IAS Economy notes
Science (Theory + Current) Lucent
Environment (Theory + Current) Shankar IAS + Internet
Geography of India NCERT + MCQs Book
Physical Geography NCERT + MCQs Book
Geography of World NCERT + MCQs Book
Current Affairs Hindu/ Daily Analysis

VisionIAS Monthly, PT365, Gyanam Magazine ( soft copies)

Youtube Videos : Daily/Monthly videos on Current Affairs MCQs

Himachal GK Akash Darpan + Jokta GK Book + Balokhra
Himachal Pradesh Current Affairs Tribune/AmarUjala

Prelims (Paper-2):

Topic Booklist/Strategy
Reasoning Previous Year Question Papers(2010 -2020) + Internet
English Previous Year Question Papers(2010 -2020) + Internet
Maths Previous Year Question Papers(2010 -2020) + Internet
Communication Previous Year Question Papers(2010 -2020) + Internet

My approach: I searched topics (asked in PYQPs) on Google and referred to related Youtube videos. Most of questions asked in CSAT are repeated in several other exams related to RRB/Railway/NDA etc.

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

Solve as many as possible Mock tests or PYQPs or Subject specific tests.

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

Attempted questions Correct Official Score
GS 75-77 109.33
Aptitude 40-47 70

Note:  I don’t remember the exact questions I attempted. However, I was able to clear pre with minor margin as you can notice. I couldn’t prepare well for my pre exam due to some issues, however  practice done in last 2-3 years helped me.

Mains: Compulsory language Paper:

Compulsory language Paper Your  preparation/Strategy/Booklist
English Previous Year Question Papers(2010 -2020) + Internet
Hindi Previous Year Question Papers(2010 -2020) + Internet

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

  • Most of the questions asked were similar to the ones asked in previous years.
  • I again relied on the internet and youtube for relevant topics asked in previous year exams.
  • Not difficult if you at least spend 7 days before Prelims. As there is not much time left after Prelims.

Mains: Essay Paper:

Ques: How did you prepare for the essay paper?

 Ans: Firstly, I read essays written by previous year toppers. Then I noted down topics from HPAS PYQPs. Picked one Topic from the list and collected data according to that. Started writing in different formats. Chose one format at the end. Practiced several essays before exam.

Ques: 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. India’s Role in Contemporary International Politics

 Note: I don’t remember the key points now. But I’ll provide my notes where above topics – Health and International relations were covered. So you can get idea what I would have written.

Mains: General Studies (Paper-1): 

Topic/Unit How did you prepare/Booklist
History perspective of Indian Culture Heritage Culture Notes from Mrunal’s site (ppt )  + Nitin Singhania’s handwritten Notes ( e- notes downloaded) + NIOS
World History VisionIAS World History Notes + Mrunal’s World History Videos
History of Himachal Jokta HP Mains Book + Balokhra + Internet
Disaster Management Prepared Notes from Online sources:  unacademy  + NCERT Class 11 Geo
Indian Geography NCERTs + Maps
Geography of Himachal Pradesh Jokta HP Mains Book + Balokhra + Internet
Indian Society
  • Sociology notes and Currents Magazines
  • Anudeep Durishetty’s Notes on society
Ethics/Gandhian Thoughts My Notes  ( prepared from internet sources like Current affairs magazines, ARC report  and Test paper’s notes )
Society and Culture of HP Balokhra + Jokta HP Mains Book + My Short Notes

Mains: General Studies (Paper-2): 

Topic/Unit How did you prepare/Booklist
Constitution of India Lakshmikant
Polity of Himachal Pradesh
  1. Jokta Mains Book
  2. My Notes
  3. Balokhra
Governance in India Notes prepared ( ARC report crisp data)
Governance in HP
  1. Jokta Mains Book
  2. My Notes
  3. Balokhra 
Social Issues Internet + PT 365 – Social Issues
International Relations
  1. Current Magazines + Drishti site information
  2. Topper’s Notes
  3. My Notes
International Institutions Internet + Current Magazines
Cyber crime/Drug menace/Socio-Economic development of HP
  1. Jokta Mains Book
  2. My Notes

Mains: General Studies (Paper-3): 

Topic/Unit How did you prepare/Booklist
Indian Economy Basic understanding: NCERT

Advance level : My Notes + Internet (Currents+ Data on websites) + Sriram IAS notes

Schemes and Important Institutions of the World Internet+ Current Affairs
Economy of HP Jokta Mains Book + My Notes + Economic Survey + Budget
Science and Technology My Notes  (Source: Internet – eg, ISRO site + coaching institute ke article)
Energy Sector of India My Notes  (Source: Internet)
Science and Technology/IT/Biodiversity in HP Jokta Mains Book + Balokhra+ Internet
Environment Science Shankar IAS
Agriculture and Horticulture Some articles from Kurukeshtra Magazine + My Notes
Tourism Sector in HP My Notes + Jokta Mains Book

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

 Ans: Answer sheets provided this time had plenty of space for writing answers as per the need. Answer writing practice done before the exam helped me a lot. So fixed space doesn’t bother you much, if you have practiced before.

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.

Bullets or Paragraph: Bullet Points

I wrote answers in bullets mostly. As these not only make our answer more visible but also help us to avoid repetition.

 About Keywords: Important to understand

Keyword needs to be kept in mind while writing answer. I practiced beforehand so it didn’t bother much during examination. Your mind &  hand automatically connects and help you to write  what is asked.

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, I mostly followed ‘introduction-body-conclusion’ format in papers. Optional for 4 markers due to time and space constraint. But must for 8 and 20 markers.

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? – NO
  2. Did you draw any diagram in any paper? – Few
  3. If yes, did you draw diagram with pen/pencil? – Pencil (suggested)
  4. Did you use ruler? – NO
  5. Did you write with Blue or Black pen? – Blue. Black used for headings (Hindi, English and Essay) . I don’t remember if I used Black for Optional paper.

Mains: Optional Subject

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

My optional: Sociology.

Why Chose Sociology: My father suggested that this subject can be easily covered in less time. However, being a science student, it took great time and effort (covering the syllabus, understanding the key topics and making notes). I revised it several times, referred to a number of sources and make an understanding of subject.

Why not Other Subject: I had 3 attempts only, so had to take safest route. (Interest vale subject baad mein padh lungi :P)

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

Advice: Apna dimaag lagao.

Benefits of having subject like Sociology: Syllabus can be covered in less time and easily available content.

How to choose optional:

  1. Read about the scope of study/content in particular subject
  2. Talk to someone who has an idea about the given subject
  3. Talk to someone who has written an exam in the given subject
  4. Check average marks scored in previous year Mains examination
  5. Give general reading
  6. Take idea from PYQPs and Check toppers Test Copies

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

Sources List:

  1. E-Notes / My Notes –  Online sources /NCERT/IGNOU/NIOS
  2. Essential Sociology Book
  3. UPSC Previous Year Mains Questions Book (*Most Important )
  4. Sleepyclasses videos on Sociology

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: Internet Research and Current Affairs are necessary for Optional. Books are not enough as if we see Paper 2 have some dynamic topics like Poverty, social evils, farmer’s protests etc.

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

Ans: It is difficult to calculate the exact months. However, Sociology takes less time due to easily available content like Toppers Short Notes, Videos etc. Important is to cover and make an understanding of the subject before prelims.

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

Ans: I wrote only 2 answers of sociology during my preparation!!!.. I didn’t take any test series for sociology optional. It is only one month before the mains when I asked CivilsTap regarding Sociology Test series. They provided me link of Solved Sociology Previous year Question papers. So I got idea on how to write answers. Also referred to UPSC toppers answer sheets.

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

Ans: I prefer highlighting keywords in books itself. I prepared electronic notes for topics not covered in books and related to currents. Multiple revisions of books/notes train your mind to look at important information only and remember rest of the content by keywords.

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: I found it similar to the pattern followed in previous years. Few topics were repeated, and few were from currents .Understanding of subject and multiple revisions can prepare us for anything unpredictable. (Baaki I won’t find myself being the best person to advise regarding sociology)

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: I prepared an excel with possible questions to be asked like personal details, job, places visited, Current topics etc. Essential – > Daily news paper reading , Online Sansad TV debates and attended Mocks.

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, I attended several mocks. (As I was staying in Panchkula, Gharwaale har mock ke liye dhakel dete the :P)

Mocks are important as they help you to understand on how you process information and deliver it in stressful conditions.

Though nothing is necessary, but why to take a chance? Interview marks are added to your mains marks. Isliye isko bhi importance de do bhai!!!!

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

Ans: Formal dress/looks are an important part of your personality.

I wore Blue saree + Light blue blazer + Black Formal Heals

During the interview:

Ques: Who was the chairman of you interview board?

Ans: Sh.Ajay Kumar, IFS (Retd.) Chairman

Ques: How long was the interview?

Ans: 20-25 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.

My Interview experience: Good. They asked me different set of questions (factual and opinion based).I had no uncomfortable experience during interview. I entered with a smile, maintained the same throughout the interview (as far as I remember) and left with smile J.

Below are the questions they asked:-

My profile: They asked me about My Job, What impact it can make in public services etc. + about my family. Economy: 5 trillion economy goal and how we can achieve it Reforms necessary for India, Labor reforms , Himachal Trade policy related, Tourism etc. My Dist. (Mandi): Why Chhoti Kashi, Temples, lakes, About significance of Mandi Shivratri, Food, culture etc. Women: Challenges of women in rural areas,SHG, How I will connect to them, issues with working women, Currents: Drone Policy of Himachal, 5G spectrum, Violence , secularism and religious issues, Kashmiri pandit’s exodus and how will I tackle the situation Misc.: About Pahari Gandhi, Relevance of Festivals in Himachal.

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: Yes, it was totally on expected lines. I didn’t consider any question as uncomfortable. Practice will help us to cover different areas in holistic manner.

Your mark sheet:

Subject Marks Secured
Prelims (Paper-1) 109.33
Prelims (Paper-2) 70
Mains Subjects:  
English 64
Hindi 60
Essay 53
General Studies -1 87
General Studies -2 75
General Studies -3 114
Optional (P-1) 64
Optional (P-2) 56
Written Total 449
Interview 112
Final Score 561

Career Backup Plan:

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

Ans: Kuch badhiya hi hota J!!!!!

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

Ans: I started executing my career plan after mains (December) as my three attempts were over. I got few opportunities suiting my skills. But decided not to join as I was waiting for the positive results.

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: Mental – Stress, tension, and frustration can be tackled through our own strong will. Outer Circumstances cannot be changed so I changed my outlookJ. I faced several health issues and family problems during the preparation phase. Some were to such an extent that I left hope of clearing this exam in my last attempt. However, hard work done in past years helped me to clear this exam with comparatively less effort. Also, constant support of my Family and mentors.

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

I consider my previous attempts as learning phases which helped me to understand the process better and ultimately leading towards success.

  • Read, write and Revise
  • Practice before exam
  • Take care of your Mental and Physical Health (which is suggested but not taken care)

Struggle of a Working Professional:

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

Ans: > Choose a Mentor. > Set Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Yearly targets. > Make a timetable. > Follow it. > Engage with likeminded people. > Test your knowledge > Work on your Weaknesses > Check your Result

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: I risked my career for something which was difficult to achieve. So I pushed myself hard.

Few TIPS:-

  • Lack consistency? Try doing something which you hate during your free time..Padhai easy lagegi J
  • Finding it difficult to keep your study momentum? Please discuss your goal (Clearing UPSC/HAS) with your neighbors/competitors and relatives. Why? Because they won’t let you forget your goal J and keep asking about your future plans!!!!! That will definitely work!!!!!!!

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: Sab Moh-Maya hai !!!!! Don’t expect anyone to become guru after getting one success.

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: Lage Raho!!!!!

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 entire family and my mentors.

 

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 hpgeneralstudies.com for your preparation and if yes, how did it help you? And you can even reply “No”.

Ans: Thank you hpgeneralstudies!!!! I have already mentioned the usefulness of this platform for HPAS aspirants.

HP General Studies remarks:

Thank you Smt. Rashmi Sharma 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.

 Below are the links to my notes:- ( Just take an idea )

Click on the given (blue) links and you’ll be directed to EverNote Pages.

Study Plan

  1. How to Start
  2. Interview
  3. My Plan
  4. Syllabus and Sources

Currents

  1. For Mains
  2. Sources for Currents

Essay

  1. Fodder Material
  2. Approach for Essay

GS-1

  1. GS-1 Material
  2. GS-2 Material
  3. GS-3 Material

HIMACHAL

  1. Strategy to Cover Himachal
  2. HP- Mains Specific
  3. HP- Prelims Specific

Misc

  1. Important Documents

Prelims Stuff

  1. Environment
  2. Geography

SOCIOLOGY

  1. Sociology – How to handle 🙂
  2. Sociology Notes

Category: HAS Interview

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