Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, Ministry of Defense
Jahangir’s World Times (JWT): Please tell us about your educational background
Arsalan Arain (AA): I did my graduation in Business Administration from Fast University Karachi. To further my education, I did LLB from University of Sindh. Currently, my MPhil in Defense and Strategic Studies from Air University, Islamabad is in its final stage.
JWT: How long did it take you to prepare for Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, Ministry of Defense exam?
AA: I have been preparing for competitive exams since 2018.
Recruitment process for the post I have been selected for consists of two phases: (1) written exam comprising two papers, i.e. English Essay and Composition; and (2) Interview.
Both these papers were not easy as they seem because time constraint was there and papers were lengthy. There were 15 questions in professional paper out of which 10 questions were to be attempted in 3 hours. Mostly, questions were related to PPRA Rules, public administration and human resource management, computer, financial accounting, management, governance and public policy. Though it took me 15 days for the preparation of written exam, it was my knowledge base and extensive writing practice that helped me to ace this part.
JWT: What were your principal resources?
AA: My principal resources were: books, JWT magazine and the Internet (news articles and YouTube).
JWT: How much helpful was Jahangir’s World Times during your preparations?
AA: The role played by JWT was like a family head who guides other member to success. Research-based material published in JWT helped me a lot in acing questions related to Current Affairs and Pakistan Affairs, especially during the interview.
JWT: How was your experience at World Times Institute during your preparations?
AA: My experience at World Times Institute was indeed a rewarding one. Soon after I was short-listed for the interview for this post, a WTI alumnus, Shahab Aslam (PAS, 2016), recommended it to me for interview preparation. The very next day, I left for Lahore to join WTI. I found the faculty as well as the administration very cooperative and supporting. Ms Tehmina Habib, in-charge of our classes, was a real source of inspiration there. Sir Moazam Lodhi was the one who helped me to identify my weaknesses and work on those. I learned humbleness from personality of Sir Adeel Niaz; his all-out support to aspirants in WTI is really commendable.
JWT: How new aspirants should start preparations for the various one-paper exams?
AA: In my opinion, new aspirants must work on their language first as it is the only way of communication between them and the examiner. Improved English-language skills will also help them better comprehend books, newspapers and other sources preparation. Then, they must join an academy like WTI for gaining command on subjects to score high marks.
JWT: What areas should (s)he focus?
AA: I believe the major areas on which the aspirants should focus are English (written), General Ability and Current Affairs.
JWT: What is, in your opinion, an ideal time table for a sound preparation?
AA: I think there is no ideal time table for sound preparation as it may vary from person to person. I recommend aspirants to practice writing 2-3 hours on a daily basis and same is best for reading as well. Doing so will increase not only their knowledge but also their stamina to perform well in the final exam.
JWT: What strategy should the in-job aspirants adopt as they have scant time at their disposal?
AA: I was working as tax consultant during preparation for this exam, so I reduced my sleep time to 5-6 hours. I would suggest in-job aspirants to limit their interaction with people and try to cash their time in learning new things that are relevant to their exams. Judicious use of time is the best strategy.
JWT: How did you handle the interview pressure while before the panel?
AA: I had no pressure of final interview because the pressure I faced during WTI’s mini and grand mock interviews had helped me prepare well and had boosted my confidence in myself. Since I was the penultimate candidate to be called in for interview, I had to wait for a long time and it was really exhausting. However, as I entered the interview room, the panel welcomed me and asked me to have a seat. Meanwhile, I oriented myself to the surroundings and, resultantly, I was more confident than before and my energy level had boosted. I strongly believe that if one had passed mock interviews at WTI, one can pass any interview in life.
JWT: Please share some questions the panellists asked during the interview?
AA: There was no introduction; they asked me about my family members. Some of the questions the worthy panellists asked are as follows:
How you will manage stress in much-stressed work environment?
How do you see a grade-18 post? Is it a high-level seat or a mid-level one, and why?
Give the names of elected prime ministers from Sindh. (As I answered this question, one panellist initiated discussion on First PM Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan and Karachi).
Name any two sea ports of Sindh and three of Pakistan.
Three questions were related to Business Administration.
Question regarding economy of Pakistan.
Questions regarding job description.
What is the difference between hard work and smart work? Which one is better?
Pakistan’s new political map and my take on it.
Discussion on CPEC. (Panellists allowed me to speak on it for 15-20 minutes. I started from OBOR to CPEC’s prospects for China and Pakistan and then discussed its projects in detail.)
Overall, the interview lasted for around 50 minutes.
JWT: On the basis of your experience, what tips would you give to the prospective aspirants?
AA: My advice to aspirants is very simple. Adopt self-accountability and persistency. Setting any goal is useless sans action. Try to learn things and build your knowledge base. To achieve one’s goals, one must develop means and better utilize one’s time.