Criteria of assessment
Interviewers ask a host of searching questions to assess a number of qualities and competencies of candidates. These qualities pertain to personality aspects as well as mental abilities of an aspiring candidate. Broadly, interviewers look for the following attributes in the personality of the candidate:
- Physical appearance and bearing
- Grasp, imagination and mental alertness
- An eye for detail
- Inquisitiveness to learn more
- Communication skills
- Ability to analyse a problem/ situation in a logical manner
- Ability to display courage, when needed
- Current affairs with special emphasis on developments in various fields
- Team spirit and co-operation
- Sense of responsibility
- Leadership skills
- Decision making abilities
- Planning and organising abilities
- Cheerfulness and stress management
- Physical and mental stamina
- Intellectual honesty
- Overall impact of personality of the candidate
As you might be aware, defence services lay specific emphasis on discipline, team work, physical/mental stamina and courage, besides other qualities of the candidate. Therefore, candidates must pay special attention to these aforesaid aspects during their stay in the SSB.
Peculiar aspects of SSB interviews
As a matter of fact, interviews in SSBs are more probing in nature and the questions are asked in such a fashion that all 15 OLQs (Officer Like Qualities) emerge rather clearly. The candidates are encouraged to speak spontaneously and share their ideas with the interviewing officers in a frank and forthright manner. To achieve this objective and to create an atmosphere, which is free from stress, only one IO interviews the candidate. This is unlike most interviews, which are conducted in Private/Public sector or UPSC for high level jobs, and where a panel of experts grill the candidate. The SSB interviews do not confine to assessing mental ability of the candidate, but probe a number of personality aspects, which are quite relevant for effective functioning in the defence services.
Preparing for the Interview
Most candidates have apprehensions about facing an SSB interview. Focussed preparation, therefore, is the key to success and to avoid those preinterview jitters. In this regard, following steps must be initiated by candidates:
- Academic background: Refresh academic achievements, by revising basics of your academic background.
- General Awareness: Get to know happenings around you while preparing for SSB interview. Candidates should get familiar with defence related matters such as various defence deals, acquisition of defence equipment and other such developments. Besides, they must be aware of essential information in respect of their village, town, state and India in general. Candidates are also expected to have basic information regarding general awareness, which a well informed citizen ought to have. To collect requisite information and data, the candidate must read a national newspaper besides journals on current affairs to update their knowledge about various developments in the country and elsewhere.
- Making Short Notes: Make brief notes on current topics for reference and subsequent assimilation. Refer these notes frequently to refresh and to gain confidence.
- Displaying knowledge of what you claim: Be ready to prove your achievements that you claim and get to know more about your hobbies and other activities/sports etc.
- Improve Communication Skills: Read on a variety of topics and practice to speak over a reasonable time to improve your expression. Listen to TV or radio news and discussions on a regular basis.
- Organise Mock Interviews: Polish your communication skills during practice interview session with friends. It helps in confidence building.
— Wing Commander (Retd) D M Mathur, VSM is a senior selector and a trainer. He has been an Interviewing Officer at Air Force Selection Boards and was the Chief Instructor – Interviewing Techniques at Defence Institute of Psychological Research, New Delhi