Interview is an integral part of any selection process. As a matter of fact, 80 per cent of the selections for all kinds of jobs are conducted essentially consequent to an interview. The selection system adopted to induct officers of the armed forces also involves a one-to-one interaction between the candidate and a senior armed forces officer. This interaction is conducted in a formal setting, yet essentially in an informal manner to assess various personality traits of an individual. The task assigned to the interviewer is to observe the behavioural pattern of a candidate and thereafter decide about his suitability to meet multi-dimensional job requirements of an armed forces officer. Besides interviewing, selection procedure adopted in the selection of armed forces banks upon group testing and tests of psychology to make it a three-pronged selection system. Even though we concede that experience is most vital to learn and appreciate the nitty-gritty of interviewing technique, there is also a definite need to understand the foundation of interviewing before one faces it.
Foundation of the interview
The selection techniques used in the armed forces are primarily based on certain principles of psychology. In the same light, the basic concept of evaluation interview is based on the premise that personality of an individual is developed under the influence of one’s heredity and environment. In the interview technique, the interviewer digs into the past of an individual and based on his past behavioural pattern, tries to predict his future behavioural pattern. To apply this technique, the candidate is assiduously encouraged to narrate his autobiographical details under strict guidance of the interviewer. The information thus provided by the candidate is analysed to reveal his personality. The basic assumption in this regard is, that the best indication of what an individual will do in future stems from what he has done in the past. Or in other words, present behavioural pattern of the candidate is caused by his past experiences and the situation in which he happens to be.
Although it may be possible for a person to develop and grow, and thus modify his behaviour, yet more often than not, it is difficult to completely overcome the effect that long years of behaving in a particular manner have produced on him. Thus, if a person has been avoiding work at the time when he was a child, he is very likely to continue avoid working when he is employed as well. Similarly, if a person has shown his abilities to adjust in a new environment, he may not find it very difficult to adjust in the new environment in his new job also. Thus, past behavioral pattern usually guides a person’s subsequent behavioral pattern. It is most crucial to understand certain factors that influence a person’s development and provide indications about his likely behavior while dealing with various situations of life.
A candidate has obviously no control over his hereditary traits. Whatever a person inherits by virtue of his birth continues to remain with him. However, certain other traits, which are responsible due to environment and learning etc, remain within his control. It is for the interviewer to try and analyse the personality of the candidate and assess the extent to which the candidate has utilised his environment to minimise the effects of his liabilities, and at the same time, capitalise on the strong points of his personality. The environment to which the candidate is exposed during his initial years of life plays a significant role in his personality development and character building. In this context the atmosphere in the house, the type of neighbourhood he gets, schools he has attended, friends he possesses etc, all influence his growth and personality.
What Interviewers look for
We have compiled twelve personality traits which are essentially required in a candidate to become a Defence Officer. Generally speaking, interviewers look for:
- Candidates who can express their ideas clearly and effectively.
- One should be reasonably selfconfident of themselves.
- There should be an above-theaverage academic achievement, and practical intelligence.
- Have clear goal to achieve.
- Stay motivated and are enthusiastic to achieve results. Should have the ability to calculate risks.
- Thinkers and planners.
- Aware of environment and happenings
- Keen to learn
- Have team spirit and be assertive
- Leaders and impressive
- Enterprising to initiate new moves.
- Most important be willing to put in that extra bit of hard work with a smile, both mentally and physically and shoulder responsibilities
— The author is a senior selector, trainer and the author of four books