BCS viva voce: Questions not to be asked

Better preparations needed for BCS viva voce.
Khaled Sarkar

The Bangladesh Public Service Commission (PSC) has started to bring about changes in the viva voce for the recruitment of Bangladesh Civil Service (BCS) cadre officers.

PSC has also said they are trying to move away from asking routine questions in the BCS viva voce.

But, this constitutional body believes it’s impossible to change everything immediately as reforms take time. PSC has started the process of change and it will take some time to see the results.

PSC sources said questions regarding the names of different countries, currencies or capitals are not asked in BCS viva voce. This has been done as part of bringing about a few reforms in the viva voce.

Moreover, viva voce board members are gradually being discouraged to ask questions about the candidates' village home, university and the subject they studied.

PSC believes that asking the job-seeker about their religion can also cause a sort of positive or negative influence towards them. So, asking about the religion is being forbidden as well. Plus, PSC is planning on imposing quite a few more reforms alongside these.

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On this issue, PSC chairman Sohrab Hossain told Prothom Alo that they are trying to make such arrangements that nothing but the candidates’ roll numbers are there before the viva board members.

Because it’s not necessary for the board members to know where or what the candidate studied, where their home is or what religion they follow.

Answers to these questions can influence the viva board members. For instance, if a candidate is from the same district or university as the board members, they show signs of softness.

It can be the opposite as well. The board members might dislike people of a certain district and if they find the candidate is from that particular district there remains a possibility of this affecting their marks as well.

Board members are being encouraged to ask those questions only that prove the candidates’ capability and competence. The reformation process has already been started and it will take time for it to be reformed entirely.


PSC said they will emphasise on guiding viva board members to ask creative questions. Board members will have to come prepared with studies for this.

After a candidate is asked to answer a question, they will be judged based on how accurately they answered the question, how expert they are in crisis management, how profound is the answer they gave, whether they became nervous or not etc. If a candidate fails to answer even a single question but responds smartly to them all, they will get marks for that too.

They would regurgitate the answers, learnt from coaching centres at the viva board and get good marks by impressing the board members, those days are getting over. Only those who are talented and capable will become BCS cadres, said PSC.

Sources from the PSC said that viva board members can only see the documents that candidates bring with them, but don’t have the means to verify them. That means carrying these documents to the viva board is useless.

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But in future the viva procedure will be such that the candidates won’t have to bring any documents there. PSC will be verifying their documents beforehand. Currently, there’s a way to verify the secondary and higher secondary level documents. The education boards charge Tk 5 to show each piece of document.

But there should be a way to verify documents on the university level. If that can be arranged there will be no need to verify the documents at the viva board anymore. PSC has informed the University Grants Commission of this demand. A project will also be launched in this regard, said the PSC.

Meanwhile, the viva voce of 43rd BCS is beginning on 3 September. PSC has said that the viva voce will be held at the commission’s headquarters in capital’s Sher-e-Bangla Nagar from 10:00am onwards.  First phase of this viva voce will conclude on 12 October. PSC will be taking viva voce of 180 candidates every day.  

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