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Old Sunday, August 05, 2012
Snowleopard Snowleopard is offline
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Default CSS Interview Preparation

The ability to withstand pressure and hold one's ground logically and with facts and arguments is appreciated and rewarded.

By Prof Anwar Ali Bukhari
(This article first appeared in Jahangir's World Times in its November 2009 issue)

Interviews are the most important part of any competitive examination. It is more so for CSS. While the written papers test one's memorization and recall capacity as well as the ability to organize material and present the same in a logical, precise and effective manner, the interview evaluate one's personality. Physical appearance, gestures and gesticulations, voice quality and speech mannerism, posture and carry, dress sense and body chemistry, facial expressions and eye contact are critically looked at. It also evaluates a person's integrity, motivation and commitment to a goal. The ability to withstand pressure and hold one's ground logically and with facts and arguments is appreciated and rewarded.
The outcome of an interview determines ones position and ultimate placement against the available positions. It is not clear from above that the interview preparation has to be undertaken under expert supervision and guidance? Needless to say that that one's entire career is at stake. Hereunder are some points that one should bear in mind while preparing for a CSS interview or any major interview.

Physical Appearance

It is generally believed that one has to look good on the given day but what is forgotten is that appearances do not change overnight. Regular care has to be taken. Now is the time to prepare to look good on that day. Regular walks, early morning fresh air, breathing and physical exercises have to be part of that preparation. This schedule will give you a relaxed, confident and self assured visage (a person's facial expressions) as a part of your personality. This will also improve your memory, stamina and concentration. Cosmetic changes on the given day are not the right approach.

This is the time to get through medical examination done. Serious medical problem can pay put to all your efforts. Weight and bulkiness has to be shed off to achieve a trim and healthy look.

Body Language

Most of us do not know how do we look when we sit on a chair, how do we look when we smile or frown or try to look serious. Even we are not aware of how we sound when we speak or what impression we create when we walk into a room. It is time that you look at you in a full length mirror and watch yourself in different actions. There is sufficient time to correct any absurdities or idiosyncrasies (a mode of behaviour or way of thought peculiar to an individual) you observe. Your interview guide should correct most of them. He is the one who will groom you and give you stature and personality.

Voice Quality and Speech

Read your newspapers and written material aloud. It will accustom your tongue to those unfamiliar pronunciations and sounds. Record it on a tape recorder, rewind and listen. It will bring to your notice how meek, disjointed or shrill you sound or conversely how loud or bombastic. Even your breathlessness while speaking a long sentence, wrong or right pronunciation and general standard of speech will come to your notice. Then say what you have read in your own words. It will facilitate your expression and speaking ability. Soft, firm, fluent and impressive way of speaking makes the interviewer interested in you and pay attention to what you have to say.

Current Affairs and Strategic Issues

You know that interviews are not just your looks and grooming. Your knowledge of the world at large, national, regional and international issues of the time, controversies and problems are discussed and your opinion sought about their solution or the rightness and wrongness of different aspects of problems. This is where you can be different and better than others.

I strongly suggest that you start reading DAWN newspaper and some other like NEWS or Pakistan Observer besides magazines like TIMES and NEWSWEEK, HERALD or WORLD TIMES. Even a lot of current news and commentaries are available on TV channels and Internet. The more you read and listen the more ideas, arguments and fact you will accumulate. But, is the accumulation of the material alone is enough. The answer is NO. This is where your interview guide will help you. He will hold group discussions and mock interviews with you to help you organize your responses to different questions, improve your speech mannerism and help you decide on the line of argument to pursue on different topics. He is well versed in national, international and geo-strategic issues and will augment your knowledge with his insight on issues and problems.

Map Reading and Geography

Very few of us know the geography or the exact locations of the places where events are taking place. Knowing the geography will give you a better insight into how a country or a place and its surrounding areas are affected by an event or a happening and how and why do different players react differently to an event that may look so straight forward from a distance. This is very important while studying strategic issues involving countries or regions.

Command Tasks

Command tasks require practice. It evaluates a person's ability to encourage discussion, receive suggestion and strategies on how best to formulate a plan to overcome a given situation. It shows that you have leadership qualities and the acumen (the ability to make good judgments and quick decisions) to plan and assign duties to be carried out. Practising it under specialist guidance will prepare you better.

Psychological and Intelligence Test

For these there are number of books available in the market, these are memory and speed tests as lot of questions have to be answered against specific time available. Get those books and practice against a clock ticking away.

Favourite Books and Personalities

A very careful selection has to be done here. Routine suggestions emanating from academies are not recommended by me. Your selection of books and favourite personalities opens you up to your interviewers and gives them an idea of what you are and what you stand for. Books selected must be read fully. Comments prepared to others will expose you. Same is the case with personalities. Sufficient material must be collected and digested about them. Practice how to present your appraisals (examine someone or something in order to judge their qualities, success or needs) of these personalities and how to defend what you feel about them.


Academies operating in the city are not well disposed to the importance of interview preparation. While they are doing a fair job in equipping students with notes and material for written examinations they leave the students high and dry (leave them in a difficult position) for this most important segment. And, honestly speaking this is not their forte (a thing at which someone excels) either. Candidates are advised to go to experts for interview preparation. There are just very few who do it expertly and properly. Seek good guides and work hard with them. Learn to relax your minds and tone up physically. It will do wonders. From my experience with students, very good preparation and excellent interview performance on the given day can fetch from 170 to 200 marks, good effort between 145 to 165 and a satisfactory one from 130 to 145 which mostly is not sufficient unless you score near to 700 in written.

Remember any score of above 810 can get you a placement but for better placement one has to score in excess of 850. You know what you have done in written. Now is the time to improve your chances or to fortify them further by thorough, all round and expertly guided interview preparation.
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