CSS INTERVIEW How to prepare

Interview is a very significant part of Competitive Examination for it’ll determine the occupational group (like PAS, PSP, FSP, etc.) a candidate would be allocated in.

So where I congratulate all those fellows who have cleared the written part of CE-2012 exam, it is highly advisable for them that they take this interview seriously and appear in it fully prepared.

Experiences of CSS Interviews in the Past

The pattern of interview in Competitive Examination has changed significantly over the years. It is more so because of the increasing number of candidates who appear and then qualify the written part of this examination. This year as well, around 800 candidates have passed CSS written. So it gives the Commission a lot of talented candidates to choose from, making it tougher for candidates each year.

In CSS interviews conducted in last three years, it has been observed that it is the Panel Interview that carries more weightage in interview marks than other parts. Psychological Examination also matters a lot as a candidate’s performance in it does create an impression in the mind of examiners about his/her personality. So candidates are advised to focus on both aspects.

During Panel Interview in past couple of years, questions were asked from following areas: your favourite books and personalities, optional subjects, current affairs, international affairs, occupational groups of preference, hobbies, etc. Questions asked in interview are diverse and mostly opinion based.

Keeping in mind that an entire career is at stake, candidates are advised to make a thorough preparation preferably under supervision and guidance of some reliable sources. This piece of writing is designed to give you a complete insight of this exam and to give you some do’s and don’ts to follow. The candidates would be confronted with three more segments now ‘the Medical Exam, Psychological Assessment and Viva Voce.


Psychological test includes multiple tests and activities which expand to two days. The primary objective of psychological assessment is to estimate the abilities and personality traits of the candidates in order to gauge their aptitude for the Civil Services of Pakistan.

Day 1

The first day is a long and hectic day for the candidates as it is characterised by different psychological, personality and aptitude tests. These tests primarily aim at collecting information about the interests, opinions, personal preferences, personality moulds and personal information about the family life of the candidates. These tests are fired in rapid succession, so the candidates must be mentally prepared for this. A sound sleep on the night before exam and a good breakfast are essential in this regard. This day doesn’t require a formal suiting but too casual clothing should be avoided.

A list of 1st day’s activities:

Document Verification

Filling of Pro forma of Candidate’s Educational     and Occupational information

Aptitude Tests

Analytical Questions

Sentence Completion


Personality Trait Assessment Tests

Picture Stories

Autobiography ‘it has to be written on a prescribed page within eight minutes

The candidates are advised to practice these tests more and more. Apart from these, candidates are asked to mention:

Two of their favourite personalities (living) and      reasons for liking them
Two books recently read and liked by them.

Two short-term and long-term policies of the     present government that you would support.

Two national and international events of great     significance.

The answers given by candidates would be further explored and questioned in interview with psychologists as well as the panel.

Day 2

The second day activities are different and include two group discussions, one in Urdu and one in English, on general topics, command tasks and an interview by a panel of psychologists. The primary focus of the second day is the attitude and response of the candidate while functioning and interacting with the group of people. The group discussions are meant for ascertaining the communication skills of the candidates, their opinions about the society at large and issues relating the domestic and international scenarios and their mannerism while behaving in a group and discussing their views and opinions.

Apart from the group discussions, the candidate would be supposed to perform command task functioning in a group. During this activity, each candidate would be required to play the leading role when demonstrating his problem, while subordinate/coordinate role while participating in other candidates’ demonstrations. Each candidate would be given eight minutes for performing his/her command task. Proper management of time is the key for performing the command task. The candidate may divide the time in three parts:

  1. in the first part of time, he should make others comprehend the given problem,
  2. in the second  part, he should ask for the suggestions,  and
  3. in the third part, he should dictate the actual command and conclude.

    The part played by the candidates, in the command tasks, is aimed at checking whether they possess the potential and qualities that are required in the members of the Civil Services of Pakistan. After completing the group activities, each candidate is supposed to confront a panel of psychologists for a brief interview for providing any additional information that may be required by the panel to form an assessment of the candidate’s personality.

    It is noted that the panel asks questions which relate to the previous life, professional career, social orientation, future planning, other available options before the candidate, reasons for joining Civil Services and as diverse fields as economics, politics and other social issues. It is further noted that the tone and duration of the interview varies from individuals to individual.

    Suggestions for Candidates
    Come properly dressed up in a formal suiting. Preferably, wear that suit which you have tried a couple of times before so that it doesn’t feel uneasy to you.
    Behave like a gentleman, avoid aggressive or dominant attitude towards your colleagues.

    In Urdu discussions, avoid using English words for which suitable Urdu words can be easily substituted. It shows your attitude towards you national language as well as your command over it.

    In discussions, think before you speak. Gather two most striking and valid points in your mind and then say them in an effective manner. After consuming 40-50 seconds, give turn to others voluntarily. Show that you are an interested listener as well.

    Look towards the candidate who is speaking at     the moment.

    Do not ever look at the panel of psychologists. Ignore them. Avoid speaking again and again. Don’t try to dominate the group. Show some respect to other  members.
    On your second turn, give opposite view as well.
    In command tasks, try to engage all the sub-
    ordinates when you are performing as a leader.
    If proper suggestions are not coming, suggest a few of your suggestions to them.
    Do not show dislike to any of suggestions, no matter how absurd they may be.
    Do not try to behave like a ‘good officer’. Just be  a ‘good gentleman’.

    The Panel Interview
    The candidates, usually after a break of a few days, shall appear before the FPSC panel headed by the chairman FPSC. Two or three senior members are also a part of the panel. The duration of interview may range from 15-40 minutes. It must be noted here that the duration of interview does not mean good or bad performance of the candidate. It is pure quality of interview time that matters.

    Preparing for the Panel Interview
    Remember, interviews are generally two-pronged assessment. One part pertains to your personality and the other to your knowledge. You should focus on both these aspects.

    Your Personality
    The personality part relates to your physical appearance, body language, posture, voice quality and tone, and confidence level. You cannot change your personality overnight but you can start focusing on it now. Take out some time from your busy schedule for yourself and start regular morning walk and evening sports. It will also help you maintain your weight within a normal range.

Body language means how you carry yourself and it speaks volume about your personality and character without even a word uttered from your mouth. It is important to maintain eye contact with the panel as it shows your confidence. You need to move, sit, and stand tall as a slouched posture reflects anxiety, uncertainty and low self-esteem. Similarly, cross-legged sitting posture indicates your lack of interest and the shaking of legs signals nervousness and anxiety.

Hand gestures also play a key part in non-verbal communication but you must not overdo it.

During the interview, maintain a positive outlook and attitude. Don’t look too serious or too smiley. Speak clearly and confidently. All these traits demand practice and you can develop or improve these skills by forming a group and practice group discussions and mock interviews.

Your Knowledge
The other part relates to your knowledge that would be assessed by the panel through their questions. The questions asked from the candidates would be broad-based and wide ranging. However, you may, purely for the purpose of comprehensive preparation, divide them in following categories:

Profile of the Candidate
Qualification and its scope
Occupational experiences and learning from     those
City of origin ‘a brief introduction
Why you want to join civil services?
Reasons for leaving the profession (doctors)

Pro forma Questions
Questions may be asked from information provided in the Day-1 Psychological Examination. It may relate to:
Favourite personality
Favourite book
Policies of Government
National/International events

The Group of first preference
Profile of job
Devolution Plan 2001
Its advantages and flaws
SLGO 2012 and its implications
Reasons for preferring PAS over other groups/services
How to control corruption in departments
What reforms would you bring as a DCO

Police Order 2002
Thana Culture
How to check corruption in Police
Community Policing
How to reform Police

Foreign Policy and its determinants
Major trends in Pakistan’s FP
Challenges to FP
Suggestions for FP
How to improve image of Pakistan
Pakistan’s foreign relations

Optional subjects studied by the candidate in CSS
Reason for opting
What did they learn
Main theories and concepts of that Subject
Short-term and long-term policies of the government that the candidate mentioned in day-1 psychological exam.

General Questions
These would relate generally to the Ideology of Pakistan, problems confronting the Muslim World, current national and international issues and events, national policies and geography.

The questions asked would be very searching and thought-provoking. 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 would be 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.

It is, therefore, highly advised that the candidates do not have any constraint on their minds. The interviewing panel never has any prefixed opinion on question 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.

In the end, I would like to advise the candidates to realise that this is only a job’s interview. Every candidate would not get allocated. So, give it your best try and leave the rest to Allah Almighty. Failure to get allocated would not mean an end to your life. The best lesson to be learnt from this exam is that consistent hard work and well-planned and directed efforts are the only way to succeed in life. Some candidates may fall short here but if they learn this lesson, they would fly high in next endeavours of life. May Allah bless you all.

Areas to Focus
Pakistan’s Foreign Policy
Economy (Agriculture, Industry, Exports, Challenges, IMF Loan)
Energy Crisis / Circular Debt
Terrorism / Extremism
Performance of Present Government
Good Governance
Corruption and Accountability ‘NRO
Recent Amendments to the Constitution
Civil-Military Relations
Balochistan Issue/Federalism/Provincial. Autonomy
Judicial Activism vs Parliamentary Supremacy
Role of Media
Future of Democracy in Pakistan
Education; Health; Women; Minorities Issues
International Issues and Organizations

Suggested Reading
Jahangir’s World Times; JBD Quarterly Journal
Dawn; daily Times
Newsweek; Herald
Economic Survey of Pakistan
State Bank’s Quarterly Report
For Statistics of Economy, consult Business Recorder, and Dawn (Monday)
Devolution Plan 2001, SLGO 2012 (for PAS)
Police Order, 2002, Police Act, 1861 (for PSP)
WAPDA Vision 2025
Education Policy, 2009
Oxford Pakistan Geography

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