Queries of CSS Hopefuls

Q#1: How to answer the question asked about our personality traits in Interview?

Best: conscientious, trustworthy and self-reliant.
Worst: intense, competitive, perfectionist.
It is a common question in Interview especially with Psychologists’ Panel. When they ask you to describe your three best and worst personality traits, watch out that interviewers are increasingly savvy about evasions of the second part of the question, so it’s best to just face it directly. Find negative words that are double-sided’ that can be flipped to be positive.
For example, in the sample answer, ‘competitive’ can mean ‘combative’ and aggressive, ‘but it can also mean ‘goal-oriented, diligent, and determined’.
Likewise, ‘intense’ can mean, on the one hand, ‘harsh’ and ‘extreme’ and on the other, passionate and powerful.
And ‘perfectionist’ can mean ‘controlling’ and ‘unyielding’ but also ‘meticulous, dedicated, and thorough’.
A good rule of thumb is to choose positives that don’t make you sound arrogant, and negatives that can be given a positive spin.

Q#2: How should I solve opinion based questions especially in Pakistan- and Current Affairs papers?  

The very reason for examiners’ increasingly asking opinion-based questions, especially in these two papers, is due to the candidates’ traditional way of attempting papers. Remember it is a competitive examination and everyone now reads good standard textbooks in addition to CSS specific ones available in market. Thus, when the source of information is same, examiner encourages originality of approach and in-depth analysis of issues asked. In such questions, you need to be specific in your argumentation. You should start your answer with an introductory paragraph giving your interpretation of the issue asked; briefly describing the course your argumentation would be following. Then you should prove your argument in a logical flow giving facts and quotes wherever relevant. In such questions, you are judged on the basis of your level of ‘understanding’, depth of knowledge and analysis of issues.

Q#3: Is it useful to give brief outline before the answers?

It is not required except in English Essay paper. However, a lot of candidates adopt this approach. It gives the examiner a ready reference of what arguments you would be developing in your answer. However, such outline doesn’t carry any marks of its own.

Q#4: I feel CSS is a pressure exam so how I can control my nerves from the pressure of examination hall especially in the first two papers?

It is a common problem. Exam nerves ‘as this condition is called’ are a combination of many factors. Fear of unknown is the most common one as it directly relates to your level of preparedness. Those candidates who have studied and practised well for exams tend to be more confident. Thus, best way to avoid it is to prepare well and be confident. Another reason of anxiety is the excessive use of caffeine-containing drinks such as coffee, tea, and coke. To calm your nerves, you need to reduce intake of these drinks a day before examination. Having a healthy breakfast keeps your tummy normal. Deep breathing is a useful technique to calm you. In the exam hall, you need to be focused on paper. Just believe in yourself and your preparation.

Q#5: I have my own opinion regarding National and International issues but, I am afraid that perhaps my opinion can annoy the interview panel?

Dear candidate, remember that the interviewing panel never has any prefixed opinion on questions asked, and any difference of opinion by the candidates would never be considered adversely. The panel is always impartial and is only interested in the response and views of the candidate. It is, therefore, advised that the candidates should not have any constraint on their minds.

The candidates are expected to give very frank, forthright, original, independent and well-considered answers particularly on controversial issues affecting our national policies. Bold and uninhibited views by the candidates are appreciated. Any generalised answer, very ordinary and rhetoric in content, without keeping the ground realities in mind, as well as lacking factual data, logic and rationale would obviously be unconvincing and consequently would not accrue any merit.
However, having said that, you also need to keep it in mind that you have to prove your opinion with solid arguments. So whatever stance you take in interview, prepare yourself to defend it in front of the panel.

Q#6: Sir would you please recommend any book which can provide general guidance about CSS?

Best guide in this regard is the FPSC Guideline available at FPSC website www.fpsc.gov.pk/. A very useful book for beginners is __________________ by Adeel Niaz.

Q#7: I have arts background so should I go for Psychology as optional because it is scoring?

Psychology seems the most favourite optional subject as we get a lot of questions of this subject are being asked by CSS Aspirants. In your case, it’s a tough choice, rather a risky one. It depends how much time you can spare for this subject. You need to just go through the syllabus of Psychology and if you think you can understand it well, then go for it.

But do remember that it’s your attempt, not the subject that would fetch you good or bad scores. Attempting Psychology doesn’t guarantee any score of its own; you have to give it a thorough preparation. If you are unsure, leave this idea and concentrate on other subjects which you can prepare well. A good attempt in papers like Journalism, Sociology, British/Indo-Pak History, International Law, and Regional Languages ensures excellent marks to candidates each year.

Q#8: How I should introduce myself in the beginning of interview?

This introduction question is a vital stage of interview. It is said to be an ice-breaker for an interview by which the interviewer allows you to settle down and make yourself comfortable as you are answering the most expected question that every candidate has prepared the best. However, it has a lot more significance than merely being an ice-breaker. The basic introduction is a synopsis of your information that you have already provided in your CV, but it also presents you with an opportunity to add some effective techniques to your interview. So just give your full name and work portfolio, if any. Next you should give your educational profile and any additional courses or experiences of working. Also mention your interests if you have been a member of any association or part of any team or organisation. That’ll be it. You need to practise it for 2-3 minutes. Your effective communication, right from the beginning helps you make a mark.

Q#9: Why Geography scores are not consistent?

Geography is a science subject and has traditionally been a favourite subject of successful candidates. Every year, most of the candidates who secure top 100 positions in CSS have Geography as their optional subject. However, many a candidates fail to secure good marks in this subject due to their faulty approach. First of all, they follow substandard books rather than the textbooks recommended for this subject. They do not give to-the-point answers as required in a science subject. They give unnecessarily lengthy answers with irrelevant material. More importantly, they fail to draw required diagrams and maps which could help attain good marks.

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