DAF for UPSC mains – Do’s and Don’ts, Hobbies For Interview

What is DAF?

  1. DAF or the Detailed Application Form is a online form for Civil Services (Main) Examination (Written and Interview). The online form can be filled only by the Candidates who are declared by the Commission to have qualified for admission to the Civil Services Main Examination.
  2. The Candidates who are declared by the Commission to have qualified for admission to the Civil Services (Main) Examination have to submit online Detailed Application Form-I [DAF-I] along with scanned documents/certificates in support of date of birth, category(SC/ST/ OBC/EWS /PwBD / Ex-Serviceman) and educational qualification with required Examination Fee.
  3. Also, The candidates who are declared to have qualified Civil Services (Main) Examination will have to indicate order of preferences for the services for which they are interested to be allocated to, in the online Detailed Application Form-II [DAF-II], before the commencement of Personality Tests (Interviews) of the examination.
  4. The candidates who wish to indicate IAS/IPS as their Service preference have to  indicate all the Zones and Cadres in the order of preference in their online DAF-II as per the existing Cadre Allocation Policy applicable for the Civil Services Examination.
  5. DAF plays a very significant role in the interview stage of the CSE exam. It is the only document through which the interview board knows about you and assesses your personality. The information provided by you in your DAF is used to judge your personality, to know about you and your life till now.
  6. Your interview is based on the details provided by you in your DAF. The questions may be based on your personal informations, educational qualifications, career choices, employment information, hobbies, service and cadre preferences, and anything related to these topics. It may not be restricted to just these topics and other questions not related to your DAF may also be asked, but that will mostly originate from the initial discussions from your DAF.



Online DAF has SIX modules:

  1. Personal Information: Name, date of birth,place of birth, hobbies and other basic information about you. Most of the fields here may be auto populated i.e. already filled for you from your preliminary examination form.
  2. Educational Information:  You have to fill all about your education Commencing with Matriculation or equivalent examination till Graduation. You may also mention any other educational qualification you have.
  3. Parental Information: Information related to your parents.
  4. Employment Information: Here you have to enter your employment details accurately. Questions can be asked from this section in the Personality Tests (Interviews) of the examination.
  5. Upload documents: You have to upload scanned copies of documents like proof of Age, Educational Qualification, Community Certificate, PH Certificate etc. as mentioned in the instructions of the application.
  6. Final Submission You have to fill all the above modules completely before finally submitting the form online, using the Final Submission Module.


The modules and contents may vary every year and this is taken from the 2019 Prelims notification.



Let’s first look at the definition of hobby,

An activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure.

In short, something you do regularly, and which helps you relax. Hobby is not something you need to have expert knowledge about, but hobby is something you should have basic knowledge about which anyway you will have if you have been doing it regularly. Hobbies can be anything from as simple as talking to people, meeting new people to really complex ones like Cosplaying, carpentry, etc. So mention whatever you enjoy doing regularly in your leisure time, and just be prepared to answer any questions about it.  When it comes to hobbies, there is no one size fits all, and you should just try to be real.

You should not shy away from indicating any hobby. Rather, it would help if you are specific when talking about it. Thus, instead of merely mentioning reading as a hobby, indicate your preferences: novels, magazines, short stories, fiction, etc. Such a description captures the attention of the reader.

If you have an interesting hobby, ask yourself what questions can be asked about it. Try to second-guess the interviewer and ask a person who has expertise or experience in that field to help you frame questions likely to be asked and keep your answers prepared. Also prepare for the subsequent questions likely to arise from your responses in the interview. Remember that the Board is not likely to ask you to showcase your talent (sing, dance, etc). They are there to test your awareness and depth of understanding about the subject. Reading books and articles related to your hobbies and interests may help.


If you are not sure about your hobbies, then it is better to leave the space blank rather than mentioning something that you have never done in your life. Many candidates think that they can prepare the theoretical part of their ‘hobby’ well and answer any related question in the interview. But they forget that the interviewers are very experienced people, and can easily discern which answer is borne out of experience and which is not.


What can be asked on Hobbies?

Let’s have a look at some of the questions that can be asked about some most common hobbies.


  • What kind of photography are you interested in? (wildlife, landscapes, portraits, city life, etc.)
  • What are the different types of cameras?
  • Name a few famous photographers from India.


  • What type of Music?
  • What is your favourite song?
  • Is Indian Classical Music declining?
  • What is the state of folk music in India today?
  • Tell us something about music therapy.


  • What kind of painting? (oil, water colour, charcoal, fabric, etc.)
  • Which famous painters do you know about? (Picasso, Van Gogh, Hussain, Raza, etc.)
  • What measures can be taken to promote art in India?
  • Tell us your opinion on artistic freedom of expression? What do you think of censorship?


  • What do you like to read?
  • Who is your favourite author? Why?
  • Which is your favourite book?
  • What do you think of Indian writers in English?
  • What do you think of regional writing in India?
  • Give an account of the role of writers/poets in the Indian freedom struggle.


  • What do you like to cook?
  • What are the various methods of cooking?
  • Name any TV shows on cooking that you watch.
  • Why western food and Chinese food are so popular in India. But Indian food is not becoming as popular in western countries (this question was asked in IFoS interview).
  • Name some famous chefs in India or your state.
  • Your opinion on packaged foods?
  • Indian society is tending towards fast foods. What are the reasons? And its implications on health?


As you can see, questions can be really wide ranging and hover anywhere from Challenging to very easy.

As you know what hobbies you have included in your DAF, it is advised to be ready for everything that can be asked.

If you fail to answer any questions even after preparing well, don’t worry. Interview is not about how much you know; it is about how well you handle situations. The best example for this is CSE 2018 AIR 2 Akshat Jain. Visit this link (it will start right from the point when he talks about his interview) to know how keeping his calm helped him in the face of continuous bouncer questions being asked by the panel.

Do’s and Don’ts

  1. Be Careful: Go through the guidelines given by UPSC to fill the form as per given instructions, and be very cautious while filling your DAF. Provide the required documents in the format mentioned by the commission. Any discrepancies in the information provided by you or a lack in fulfilling the demand related to image quality, signature quality, quality of PDFs may cause you unnecessary problems or may even cost you your candidature.
  2. Do not fill false information: You are accountable for each and every word you mention in your DAF. So fill everything taking into consideration that any question can be asked from whatever you have mentioned.
  3. Service preferences: Service preference is a matter of serious consideration and it is crucial to fill the preferences in correct order considering various aspects of the service such as career growth prospect, perks and advantages, national and international assignments, working conditions etc. For this, you must know about the various services provided by the commission. Your seniors or mentors can assist you in filling your service preferences.
  4. Cadre preference: Choose your cadre wisely, as the order of preferences provided by you will decide your cadre which you will be working in for the rest of your career. Go through the extant cadre allocation policy(we have done it for you here). Do not fill random choices after the initial 5 to 10 choices. Give sufficient time to fill each preference according to your desire to work in those areas. If not sure, do consult your seniors or mentors who can guide you.
  5. Trivial/ show off accomplishments: Do not fill something just to show off- like some people write about some trivial competitions they won in primary or elementary school, but when asked about it, they hardly know anything-because if you fill something, it is better to have practical knowledge of it.
  6. Specific over general:  It would help if you are specific when talking about hobbies. Thus, instead of mentioning just movies, specify the genre, the language of movies;instead of merely mentioning reading as a hobby, indicate your preferences like novels, magazines, short stories, fiction, etc. Such a description captures the attention of the reader, and also helps you to prepare specifically.


    Some DAFs of successful candidates who have uploaded it on quora here.






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