In recent years, the importance of Viva Voce has become ever-more profounder. The number of candidates appearing in the Competitive Examination (CE) has increased significantly, ergo enhancing the competitiveness. For instance, over the past 2 years the pass percentage in the written portion of the exam has dropped considerably to around 2-3 per cent. It is important to note that if you can make a difference of 50-60 marks in interview, the whole equation of merit would change in your favour. Therefore, I believe the importance of the interview cannot be downplayed.

In this piece, I will go on to elaborate a strategy for the CE-2014 candidates as they will be called for Viva Voce in the coming months.

At the outset, it is pertinent to make a brief analysis of the CE-2013 result as it would help us understand the phenomenon mentioned in the introductory paragraph.

In CE-2013 exam, a total of 238 candidates could get through and with some exceptions, the scores of more than 80 per cent candidates ranged between 620 and 690. But, the viva voce stage was really the decider phase for them.

Now coming back to the point, it is to be noted that Viva Voce is divided into two parts:

1. Psychological Assessment:

This activity spans two days. It is followed by the interview with the Board after a gap of almost 20 days. During the psychological assessment, the candidates would be tested for their intelligence quotient, emotional quotient, personality traits, weaknesses, strengths and general aptitude. This is done through written tests on the first day which include picture story writing, sentence completion, autobiography writing and word association. Whatever a candidate writes, the psychologists use it to infer his/her personality traits.

2. Group Activities:

On the second day, your speaking skills, interpersonal skills and aptitude for the Civil Services will be put to test through group activities. Activities on the second day include command task, group discussion/speech and a brief interview with the psychologists. Once again prior practice and training would help you in getting through these tasks.

Based on this two-day exercise, the psychologists prepare a report on the candidates and send it to the board. Do remember that this report is of utmost significance because any weakness reported therein can be picked up by the board and you will be targeted for that.

Panel Interview

After completion of the Psychological Assessment phase, you will be called for interview with the Board members. This is the most crucial segment of the Viva Voce, and perhaps the most critical moments in your entire struggle. Your brilliant performance during this 300-mark interview will definitely turn the equation in your favour.

How to Prepare?

Being well prepared for the interview is of pivotal importance. In this regard, here are a few things which the candidates must keep in mind before actually appearing before the board:

1. First of all, do go through your optional subjects. Subject-related theories and their practical applications as well as relevance of different aspects with the current affairs must also be prepared well.

2. Secondly, different topics of current affairs should always interest you. You should follow the latest developments in National and International Affairs. Do not go too deep into the topics. Study only the sufficient facts and figures along with different opinions. But, do develop an opinion of your own and never vacillate between different views. Since most of the interview questions relate to current affairs, topics like energy, economy, government policies for various sectors, political developments, war on terror and different aspects of Pakistan’s foreign policy must be prepared well. Moreover, a chance is always there that you will be asked questions on Islamiat and Pakistan Affairs. Favourite book and personality are also hot topics too.

Work on them as well!

The Interview Tips & Tricks

I believe every candidate gets sufficient time to prepare for the interview. Here, I would share a few step-by-step tips that will be extremely helpful during the actual interview.

Before Interview

1. Don’t panic during preparation, especially in the days before interview.

2. Be very selective while selecting your dress for the interview. You should present a formal look.

3. Present yourself as a well-groomed person.

The Interview Day

1. On the day of the interview, reach the centre well before time.

2. Remain calm and composed, even if you have missed a topic or two because losing your cool and composure would be detrimental for you.

3. While waiting avoid detailed discussions with other fellows in the waiting room as these may confuse you.

4. Once called for the interview, take a pause; relax, and then ask for permission to enter the room.

During Interview

I can assure that the atmosphere in the room would be very comfortable. So, put up a smile while entering the room.

1. During the course of interview, do remain calm even if you drop questions. In fact very rarely any candidate wouldn’t drop questions.

2. Be precise, concise and to-the-point while answering the questions.

3. Do not divulge the extra details of an answer as it would make you sound irrelevant.

4. Do detailed discussion only when asked.

5. An artificial attempt to present an Oxbridge accent is not called for. Do remember that while the official language of the interview is English, our national language is Urdu and we have different dialects even in Urdu.

In this piece, I have tried to cover all the basic principles for a good-scoring interview. I believe all candidates who follow these basic guidelines would do much better than their competitors. Follow these principles, study hard and above all practice your interview as much as you can.

May the odds be ever in your favour!

By: Fazle Rabi Cheema


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