In Conversation with Usman Ali Ghumman, 1st in CSS-2015

Usman Ali Ghumman

I attended mock interview sessions at the World Times Institute (WTI). The exercise was extremely helpful as it helped me identify my flaws and iron out the kinks in my strategy for the interview.

Jahangir’s World Times (JWT): First of all, please tell us about your educational background?

Usman Ali Ghumman (UAG):  I completed my schooling from Army Public School, Murree. Later, I did my intermediate from Islamia College, Lahore. After that I went to Government College University Lahore from where I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Economics.

JWT: As everyone starts dreaming of a future career in childhood, so, what were your dreams? Did you always aspire to be a CSP officer?

UAG: While I was doing intermediate, I realized that I had a natural inclination toward liberal arts and literature. Actually, I was never a science-centred person; liberal arts always fascinated me. However, it was during my graduation at GCU, when I decided to take CSS exam. So, I appeared in CSS-2011 exam and got allocated in Inland Revenue Service (IRS).

JWT: Why did you decide to abandon IRS and go for another attempt? And, what aspect of PAS fascinated you most?

UAG: I must say that the past two and a half years I have spent as an IRS officer have been wonderful as I have learned a lot during this time. IRS is a prestigious service that requires specific set of financial, accountancy and technical skills.

However, I feel, PAS has a broader spectrum in terms of work and definitely offers more chances of mobility, which is very attractive for people like me who want to constantly grow. It also offers opportunities to utilize your true potential and polish your skill set through diverse experiences.

JWT: How much helpful did you find World Times Institute in your preparation?

UAG: I attended mock interview sessions at the World Times Institute (WTI). The exercise was extremely helpful as it helped me identify my flaws and iron out the kinks in my strategy for the interview. The WTI panellists were highly professional and their feedback proved very constructive. It helped me streamline my ideas and fix the loopholes in my style of delivery, expression and overall preparation.

Usman Ali Ghumman 1JWT: What, in your opinion, is the key to making a difference in written part of CSS exam? And, please also tell about your strategy for the interview as you have secured excellent marks in it.

UAG: Acing the written exam needs ‘smart work’; the key lies in studying smartly rather than extensively. Furthermore, it requires good writing skills. So, improving your writing skills before the written exam would be a right step in the right direction. It is true for the interview as well; it all depends on how smartly you study and how judiciously  you extract the information befitting your requirements. What actually counts in the interview is the fluency in expressing your thoughts as well as your confidence. Moreover, you must refine your ideas and sublimate your thoughts well before the interview. You also need to augment your thoughts with supporting arguments to sufficiently elaborate your point before the panel. Defend your arguments; this will certainly go in your favour. Keep your facial expressions and body language energetic. Be loud and clear when you speak and a little smile every now and then would do the trick.

JWT: Generally, passing the compulsory papers seems a formidable task to most aspirants, what was your technique and strategy that you have got excellent marks in those?

UAG: Again, I would stress on the significance of smart work. It all depends on how smartly you pick up the material and how you put that knowledge on paper. For a meticulous preparation, each and every subject should be given equal attention. In actual paper, focus on what the question demands from you. Add maps, quotations, flowcharts, wherever needed. It will be like a cherry on the top. It’s a competitive quota-based exam where even a single mark has the capacity to decide your future. So, try to increase your average score so that you may get a better position on the final merit list.

JWT: What were the toughest and the easiest parts of your whole CSS journey?

UAG: The toughest part of my CSS journey was preparing for the exam alongside doing a full-time job. The easiest part was the fact that I was a civil servant already; so I did not experience the kind of anxiety and pressure that first-timers usually go through.

JWT: As you have achieved a phenomenal success by securing first position in CSS-2015, so what actually was the thing that helped you bring off this feat?

UAG: I think phenomenal success is for everyone who has passed the exam. Each and everyone appearing in the CSS work hard enough to make it to the final list. This time Allah Almighty has been kind to me that I secured the top position.

Here, I would advise the aspirants not to take too much pressure before, during or after the exam. Pressure from your family and friends may lead you to stress. So, if you can, do focus on your goal; and forget everything else. I didn’t tell anyone in my family, except my mother, about the exam until the result was declared. Therefore, finally when I broke the news to them, they were ecstatically surprised. If you keep it confidential, you have nothing to lose!

JWT:  Who deserves the credit for your success?

UAG: As an old adage goes, there is a woman behind the success of every man. That woman in my life is my maa jee. She is a devoted mother who has supported me through the best and worst of my time. My maa jee is my guiding star — it is solely the power of her prayers that I have achieved this success. And, of course, Abu has always been there for me and has supported me throughout my life. All my family, friends, teachers, colleagues and well-wishers have made me what I am today.

Usman Ali Ghumman 2JWT: What distinguishes you from other successful candidates?

UAG: Nothing at all! Maybe I was just in the right place at the right time! However, I believe we are all intellectually equal. I do not know the struggle each one of them has been through to get so far. Everyone is equally worthy of praise on their achievement.

JWT: How your interview with the FPSC panellists fared well for you?

UAG: First and foremost, it is important to decipher what pattern the interviewers follow to ask questions. I observed that this year the panellists had a set-out pattern of questions. So, as expected, they asked questions related to the candidate’s personality, hometown, etc. Then they moved on to asking questions related to a candidate’s current job or, if they were studying, about their degree in progress, etc.

In my case, they first focused on my academic degree. Then, as I knew that they would be exploring my desire to switch from one occupational group to another, I was expecting questions related to that. Since I had well-organized answers in my mind to satisfy them, therefore, this segment really went well.

On subjects-related questions, a considerable amount of time was given to current affairs. Moving on, questions were put forth from the optional subjects. The panellists asked for my opinion on development in the taxation sector and challenges encountered in the Inland Revenue Service, and some specific laws and schemes that were recently introduced.

To be honest, I did skip some questions but luckily, the ones that I answered did hit out strong.

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