Service Selection Boards (SSB)- some useful links for candidates re the methodology, what to expect, etc

SSB Consists of three independent tests-Psychology, Group Tasks, and Personal Interview, all designed scientifically and time-tested to select the right person for this job.

On the final day, every Assessor and the candidate sit together for and have a chat- the fate of the candidate for that SSB is decided by the Assessors collectively there.

SSB is a two stage process. To qualify for Stage II, a candidate needs to clear Screening Test or Stage I.

Before anything, candidates fill certain Forms and also the Bio Data forms known as “Personal Information Questionnaire” (PIQ). PIQ is very important- there must be no cutting and consistency in each of the four or five copies of PIQ you are to fill.
A well written PIQ, impeccable Interview is your Recommendation Letter

In Stage I, you are given Intelligence Test (Verbal and Non-Verbal), then there is a Picture Perception test, in which a slide (hazy or clear) is shown and then each candidate writes their story and later have a Group Discussion. This sequence is popularly called PPDT- Picture Perception and Discussion Test.

The Psychology tests consist of:
  • Thematic Appreciation Test (TAT)- Commonly known as Picture Story writing.
  • Word Association Test (WAT)
  • Situation Reaction Test (SRT)
  • Self Description Test (SD), or a variation of this
In Group tasks or GTO (Group Testing Officer), which is spread over two days, candidates take part in the following tests:
  • Group discussion
  • Group Planning Exercise (sometimes known as Military Planning Exercise)
  • Progressive Group Tasks
  • Half Group Tasks
  • Individual Obstacles
  • Group Obstacles Race
  • Command Task
  • Lecturette
  • Final Group Task
Then there is the Interview, which is quite similar to GDPIs (Group Discussion and Personal Interview) of the MBA. But since the job profile of a military officer is quite unique, certain tips and an idea of the Interview's structure will be useful.

The Interview/Personality Test would be conducted by a Board of competent and unbiased persons who will have before them a record of the candidate’s curriculum vitae. The candidate will be asked questions both in his/her own field as well as matters of general interest to test his/her awareness and understanding.

In broad terms, this will be an assessment of not only his/her mental calibre but also his/her social traits and integrity of character. Some points:
  • Physical Make-up
    • Appearance
    • Bearing
    • Manners and Mannerism
  • General Intelligence, Aptitude and Interest
    • Ability to perceive, analyse and present facts and situation.
    • Work related aptitudes, like discipline, empathy etc.
    • Extra-curricular activities-participation in games, sports, debates etc.
  • Disposition
    • Leadership, drive, determination, quick decision making etc.
    • Self-reliance.
    • Ability to face stress and crisis.
    • Courage-moral and physical.
  • Behavioural aspect of personality
    • Inter-personal relations with superiors and subordinates.
    • Commitment to values, integrity, secular and national orientation.
Suggested Reading:
  1. A detailed writeup of the SSB Interview, almost complete in every respect
    courtesy Shantanu Harde on Orkut website
  2. Article on SSB on Wikipedia