First let me congratulate all those who have been called to attend the SSB Interview. That’s because you have met the eligibility conditions as well as cleared the required written examinations for appearing in the Services Selection Board. That makes you very special, because out of the millions of defence aspirants, only a few boys and girls manage to even appear in the SSB.
Overview of SSB Procedure
In order to appear for SSB interview, candidates must have past the relevant qualifying written exam like National Defence Academy (NDA), Combined Defence Services (CDS) or Air Force Common Admission Test (AFCAT) examination. These written exams are either conducted by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) or the respective service headquarters. At times candidates may be called for SSB Interview based on the marks scored in academics without any written examination. Therefore, I am confident that you guys are academically brilliant, and the we don’t need any further tests, to assess your academic performance.
Lifetime Engagement in the Armed Forces
Services Selection Board analyses your personality profile, considering the unique requirements of life in the armed forces. When you join the armed forces, you are committed for life, unlike other occupations where you can join today and quit tomorrow. However, that is not possible in the armed forces. If we happen to induct an unsuitable candidate in the armed forces, two possibilities are likely to happen.
The first possibility, which is likely to happen is that, you would feel out of place at the training academy and would run back home. The next possibility is that the Army, Navy, Airforce, or the Coast Guard would be badly affected, because they would have to put up with a demoralized officer for a long time.
Military Training is Tough
Military training at NDA, IMA, NA, AFA, or OTA are quite tough, and it is not suitable for everyone. It is quite unlike the training at engineering colleges where everyone can pass out successfully, if they put in a bit of hard work.
You must be both physically and mentally tough, to withstand the rigorous military training. That’s the aim of SSB. Our aim at the SSB is to induct candidates who are physically and mentally tough, who can withstand training, and pass out successfully as an officer.
Life as part of a Team
Thirdly, in the armed forces you would be not only work as a team, but live as a part of a team. Living as a part of a team is quite different from working as part of team. In other occupations, you would go back to your own life after office timings. What you do after office hours does not matter to your company.
However, in the armed forces you are on duty 24 hours a day and 365 days in a year. That is what I mean by saying that you live as a team. These are the three main reasons for the existence of Services Selection Board Testing Process.
Personality Assessment at SSB
Remember, all the tests administered at the SSB, are aimed at assessment of your personality. Even if the interviewing officer asks some questions regarding academics, he is only trying to analyse your personality, and not your academic knowledge.
As I have already told you before, it is not required to check your academic knowledge, since you have already proved your academic brilliance. In the SSB, the Psychologist, Interviewing Officer and the Group Testing Officer try to understand your personality, using different techniques.
The psychologist administers a written psychological test to assess your personality. Interviewing officer tries to find your personality, using his technique of personal interview. The third technique is the group testing technique, administered by a Group Testing Officer.
First please understand that SSB is an assessment of personality and not your performance. Therefore, you can’t just improve your performance without improving personality by quick fix methods, and expect to be recommended by SSB. In order to be recommended, you must consistently improve your personality. Personality development is a long-drawn process, and can only be improved, over a period, by determined efforts. In simple terms, if you improve your personality, you would stand better chances at recommendation.
Before we proceed to the selection process in the SSB, here are some tips on improving your personality.
- Keep yourself physically fit by regular exercise.
- Improve mental strength by activities like meditation.
- Improve your academic knowledge by learning concepts over and above your syllabus.
- Learn to deal with groups of people by participating in team sports.
- Keep abreast of general knowledge, by reading, analysing and discussing current affairs with your friends.
- Leadership qualities can be improved by volunteering for leadership positions like in your school, college or community.
- Develop a spirit of adventure, by participating in adventure sports or activities.
- Improve language and public speaking skills by participation in debates and extempore events.
- Practice time management and punctuality through conscious effort.
- Improve your organising skills by helping in organising events.
Before we end this write-up, let me give you a few points from our discussion. Firstly, selection boards look forward to recommending candidates with a balanced personality profile. A recommendable candidate has an average level of practical intelligence, gets along comfortably with others, willing to take on leadership responsibilities and has the capacity to withstand the stress and strain of life. These four aspects are divided into 15 Officer Like Qualities (OLQ) for the purpose of assessment. As candidates you don’t have to memorise these qualities, but display them in your thoughts, speech and actions.