Inspector of Customs/Intelligence Officer
Federal Board of Revenue
Jahangir’s World Times (JWT): Please tell us about your educational background
Faran Khalid (FK): I completed my primary and intermediate education from Hafizabad. After that, I graduated from University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore, in Geological Engineering. I completed my second bachelors in civil engineering from the same institute, later on.
JWT: How long did it take you to prepare for the Assistant Section Officer (S&GAD) exam?
FK: This is really a tricky question. Although I secured 7th position in ‘Inspector Customs’ examination, I prepared for it in a very short time of just two weeks as I was, in those days, preparing to appear in final exams of the last semester of my second bachelor’s degree. However, my preparation was very direct as it was only syllabus-orientated and was based, to a large extent, on the analysis of past papers.
For the descriptive paper, the time available for preparation was about three weeks. I allotted one week each to Current Affairs/Pak Affairs, English and Islamic Studies, respectively.
JWT: What were your principal resources?
FK: My principal resources were very diverse.
For screening exam
1. Past papers (I analyzed how the examiner sets the paper)
2. Different online sources
3. MCQs published every month in JWT magazine
For descriptive exam
It was a tough nut to crack. I followed a very direct approach after FPSC uploaded the syllabus for this post. Since it was mostly based on current affairs, I checked the Current Affairs past papers of CSS, then shortlisted the dimensions and did a directed study. Sources I used for this part included:
1. Al Jazeera and Dawn articles
2. For domestic affairs, JWT magazine
3. CFR articles
JWT: How was your experience at World Times Institute during your preparations?
FK: It was a very good experience. I learned a lot here. WTI is like a second home to me. I first joined it to prepare for CSS examination, and later returned to the Institute for the interview session. It was very helpful indeed. The rigorous mock interview sessions were a blessing as they prepared me for the final interview. Tips shared by the mock interview panelists really made me aware of my weaknesses and motivated me to work on them. Especially, Sir Azmat and Sir Ahsan helped me a lot to find the correct approach to tackle the difficult questions.
JWT: How new aspirants should start preparations for the various one-paper exams?
FK: New aspirants should start making preparations right after the publication of the advertisement. They should not wait for the announcement of exam date and should start their preparation as early as possible.
JWT: What areas should (s)he focus?
FK: This is a very important question. The main focus should be on English, Current Affairs and Mathematics as examiners now mostly focus on the aforementioned areas. If aspirants work on these three portions, it will set them apart from the rest of the lot of their fellows.
JWT: What is, in your opinion, an ideal time table for a sound preparation?
FK: An ideal time table to ace any one-paper exam is between 40 and 60 days for a beginner and 30-45 days for an average aspirant.
JWT: What strategy should the in-job aspirants adopt as they have scant time at their disposal?
FK: Well, in-job aspirants need to show determination if they want to achieve their goals. If you are doing a full-day job, you still have time in the evenings. Five hours a day can be a game-changer for your fate as hard work yields results. Believing in your own self is essential as well. So, instead of wasting time on social media sites, use your phone in a productive way and diversify your knowledge, study in your break hours, travelling times, etc. Just never give up on your dreams
JWT: How did you handle the interview pressure while before the panel?
FK: To be honest, I was much motivated and relatively calm. Being an engineer, I have gone through the process of viva voces during my degree, so it was a similar experience. Plus, the rigorous mock interviews at WTI did the trick. I have strong belief that if anything is meant for me, it will come to me. As Allah SWT has taken the responsibility of your Rizq, I wasn’t worried at all. This belief put my heart to ease. I did my part of sincere hard work and left the outcome to Allah.
JWT: Please share some questions the panellists asked during the interview?
FK: My interview was a bit lengthy; it consisted of three sections. First section was introductory, about me and my educational background. Second section was about customs and Customs Act of Pakistan while the final section was about GK. It included questions from Current Affairs, Pak Affairs, EDS and Islamic Studies.
JWT: On the basis of your experience, what tips you would give to the prospective aspirants?
FK: Be honest with yourself and focus on your weak areas because only then can you overcome your shortcomings. Nowadays, you need to diversify your knowledge bank as examiners are setting tricky papers. Use multiple sources for preparation instead of mindlessly cramming past papers. Last but not least, our generation should learn the importance of prayers. Keep your parents happy and take good care of them and I can guarantee that you will achieve true success due to their prayers. As success is not permanent and failure is not final, so don’t ever stop trying.