How to Crack CDS SSB Interview

Updated On -

Jun 19, 2019

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Shivani Tiwari

Content Curator

CDS 2018 was conducted on February 4, 2018. UPSC CDS I 2018 Results is expected to be announced in the month of April - 2018. CDS SSB interview will be conducted in the month of July. All the aspirants should start preparing for SSB as it is one of the most grueling selection process for entry into prestigious Armed Forces of India. SSB (Service Selection Board) conducts the personality & intelligence interview to analyze potential and compatibility of each candidate.

All the candidates who will qualify in CDS would be shortlisted for participating in SSB. The 5-day selection process will be scheduled at the Armed Forces SSB Centres spread across the country. The main aim of the CDS Selection Process is to test the candidates for the required aptitude and qualities that the Army, Air Force or Naval Services seek in their commissioned officers.

There are in total 13 SSBs setup across the nation for selection process of Indian Army(4), Air Force(5) & Naval Services(4). The main motive of the Service Selection Board is to test candidates’ aptitude during the 5 day selection process and assess whether they are at par with the intelligence required at the level of officers in Indian Armed Forces.

Key Qualities Assessed in CDS SSB.

Candidates are usually under the impression that SSB is a physical exam. However, that is far from the truth. Candidates will realize that only one physical trait is required i.e. Stamina. Retired commander NK Natarajan once said in an interview, “As an assessor at SSB, I often heard candidates asking at the end of all the tests, as to what is it that we see in them to select. It is unfortunate that they do not even know what are they tested for.” Candidates are adjudged on 3 aspects - Psychological (Manasa), Group (Karma) and Personal Interview (Vacha). Candidates are selected on the basis of 4 prominent factors for all such aspects. These factors are further divided into 15 characteristics.

But first, candidates should ask themselves “who (what) is an officer?”. Let us answer this for you.

An officer is a member of armed forces who holds a position of authority. Officers should have the ability to lead and manage any obstacle thrown at them, has the ability to motivate themselves, inspire others and make tough decisions efficiently.

Now, coming back to those 4 factors on which candidates will be judged. These factors are not something that candidates can achieve in a month, rather it takes a lifetime to nurture them. But nonetheless, candidates can work on these aspects to improve themselves.

Check CDS I 2018 Last Minute Preparation Tips

Factor 1: Planning and Organizing

Laziness and messiness are two negative traits. These qualities in a candidate will certainly not leave a positive impact on the recruiters. As Air Commodore O P Semwal said in an interview, “These traits show the mental aspect of the candidate. A lazy candidate is not ambitious and a messy candidate cannot be leader as they themselves cannot control their own mess, how will they control real-life threatening situations. These traits are not something that anyone can acquire in a day. And if someone thinks that these traits will not be noticed, let me remind you that candidates are monitored at all hours, so such traits will not be missed.” Planning and organizing factor includes primarily four qualities viz. Effective Intelligence, Reasoning Ability, Organizing Ability, and Power of expression.

(1) Effective Intelligence (EI): In this, the assessor wants to see the candidate’s ability to solve practical, day-to-day problems and cope with minor difficulties of daily life. It is different from basic intelligence which can measured using the intelligence tests (Verbal and Non-Verbal).

(2) Reasoning Ability (RA): Assessors look for candidates who have the ability to comprehend various situations and arrive at conclusion by rational thinking. Candidates are given positive points on their receptivity, inquiring attitude, logical reasoning and the ability to see the essentials of a problem.   

(3) Organizing Ability (OA): Assessors always look out for candidates who have the ability to use the resources systematically to produce effective results. It merely depends on how you use the various resources to produce results

(4) Power of Expression (POE): Assessors won’t select a candidate who are not able to articulate their ideas with ease and clarity. Power of expression or effective communication plays an important role in SSB. SSB is all about screening the overall personality of the candidate.

Factor II: Social Adjustment.

Adjustment and adaptability may not sound similar but are related to each other. Air Commodore O P Semwal shed some light on this during his interview “adaptability is as important as adjustment is. I remember when I got my first posting in Tamil Nadu. As I am from Uttarakhand, my parents asked only one question - ‘Will you be able to adapt to this new place?’ And my answer was always the same - Yes. As years went by, I started enjoying Tamil nadu’s culture, food and other things. I even learned their language. However, this quality does not only mean adjusting to a new place. This also means adjusting to situations, people and working without difficulties”. This factor includes three qualities which are associated with the heart/conscience of the person.

(5) Social Adaptability (SA):  Assessors monitor candidates on their ability to adapt themselves to the social environment and adjust well with the team and various social groups. The assessor is interested in candidate’s abilities to adapt with different the members of the group, how they interact with other members, are they tactful in their dealings with other comrades, etc.

(6) Cooperation (Co):  It is important to be a team player and one must not be selfish. The group’s aim and objective should be always prioritized as compared to individual aim and objectives. The assessors will be keen in seeing a candidate with the ability to maintain harmony with others in a group and accomplishing the overall group goal.           

(7) Sense of Responsibility (SOR):  Often candidates come for SSB only to secure a government job. Sense of responsibility is thorough understanding of the values of duty, social standard, and of what is expected of individual and then giving your job complete energy and attention on your own accord. The assessors are always keen in knowing if candidates understand their duty as a child/student/citizen of a country and do they have a right sense of what is the social standard and know what is expected of them without anybody actually reminding or telling them.

Factor III: Social Effectiveness. 

Social Effectiveness mean how you can inspire and lead others. This factor includes five qualities which are an outcome of the dynamic interaction of the above two factors i.e. head and the heart.

(8) Initiative (Inv):  It is the ability to originate an action or to take a risk. The assessors see if candidates can take the lead in the right direction and sustain it till the result is achieved. 

(9) Self Confidence (SC): It is the faith in candidates’ own abilities to meet stressful and unfamiliar situations. Candidate should know the difference between confidence and over-confidence for example confidence is “I can do this” and over-confidence is “only I can do this”. Over-confidence is a negative trait and can cost candidates their chances of success.

(10) Speed of Decision (SOD): It is the ability to arrive at practical decisions quickly. There are two components of this namely, appropriateness of the decision and time taken for arriving at the decision.

(11) Ability to Influence the Group (AIG): It is a very important aspect of a candidate’s personality which enables them to bring out willing effort of others in the group to achieve the objectives set by him/her. Candidates’ ability to persuade and take other into confidence to do things willingly is assessed by the panel of experts.

(12) Liveliness (Liv): It is the capacity of a person to remain buoyant / cheerful when faced with difficulties and bring about a cheerful atmosphere in the group. What is seen is, if candidates get unduly worried or disturbed when faced with difficult situations. Interviewers look for optimistic and practical candidates as this shows a lot about their leadership qualities. 

Factor IV: Dynamic.

Candidates often think that only determination, courage and stamina is needed to get selected in SSB. But as candidates can see these are not the only important traits needed to get into Armed forces. This factor includes 3 qualities which are associated with the coordination between the mind and the body.

(13) Determination (Det): It is the ability to put in sustained efforts to achieve objectives in spite of obstacles and setbacks. The assessors see whether candidates are focused, able to concentrate on the task and continuously work towards achieving the objectives.

(14) Courage (Cou): It is the ability to appreciate and take risks smartly. It is important to take risks only where required and that too after a careful consideration. Some candidates tend to take rash decisions which may endanger the life of subordinates and that is completely undesirable. Hence, what is important is ‘calculated risks when required’.

(15) Stamina (Sta):  It is the capacity to withstand protracted physical and mental strain. It includes both physical and mental endurance in candidates.

Preparation Tips for CDS SSB 2018

While the 15 qualities have been described, mere understanding of these is not sufficient to perform well at SSB. Candidates should know how to project these qualities. Some tips for candidates appearing in SSB are mentioned below.

  • Start preparing early for SSB - It is often seen that candidates won’t start preparing till they receive the call letter for SSB. If candidates think that they can prepare in one month, well it is a proven fact that candidates cannot crack SSB in a month. So, candidates are advised to start preparing as soon as they take CDS . There is no substitute for hard work
  • Practice as much as you can - Candidates are advised to practice psychology test as the tests are done under a very strict time constraint. So, if candidates practice these types of exam beforehand, it’ll help the candidate in managing time during the actual exam. 
  • Coaching- Candidates may feel that they need coaching for SSB. If any candidate think that they need guidance for group discussion and interview or are totally clueless about SSB process then they should opt for coaching. If any candidate has someone to mentor them, then there is no need for coaching. Candidates are advised to assess the coaching institute before committing to one
  • Don’t be nervous- This is one of the most common advice that candidates must have heard. But they usually don’t pay much attention to it. Candidates should keep in mind that SSB is a interview/selection process not a war. Also, interviewers can immediately make out when a candidate is nervous which may leave a negative impact.
  • Be friendly with your group- As suggested above, candidates cooperation and social adjustment is often assessed. Every candidate upon commencement of SSB procedure are assigned to a particular group. Try to be friendly to the groupmates as there are many tasks which a particular group has to perform together. Try to be appreciative of others’ efforts.
  • Appearance matters- Candidates appearance is important in leaving a good impression on others. Candidates have to be dressed appropriately at all times. There are guidelines available for both men and women on what all they can wear in SSB.
  • Value System at the Core- Values are not something that anyone can achieve or even falsely portray in SSB, these values are embedded since our early days particularly like the sense of right and wrong. A person with the right value system will know what is right and will stand by it. If any candidate tries to falsely portray these values, they will be rejected from SSB as assessors are highly trained professionals who can clearly see through the candidate.
  • Read newspaper everyday- Some Candidates don’t read newspaper everyday. But as soon as the SSB date comes near, they start reading newspaper. This kind of activity will surely be the reason of your failure. Candidates have to be aware about what is happening in the world as well as India. Superficial knowledge will not suffice as interviewers are experience and know hoe to grill the candidates. Also, candidates should have knowledge as well as strong view points towards the cases and be prepared for a healthy debate with the interviewer. Read newspaper regularly and do not miss even the minute details.
  • Communicate properly- Effective communication plays an important role in SSB Interview. SSB is about screening the personality of the candidate. Test is mainly done on 3 tests - psychological test, group testing and personal interview. In these 3 sections, candidates are required to project their personality through various forms of communication namely oral, written and body language. Try to read English newspaper, listen to English news, and try to converse with your family and friends in English.
  • Urge and Motivation- Often candidates appear at the SSB to keep defense forces as one of the options. There are others who apply for defense just to grab a government job and secure their future. Such candidates are of no use as they can’t exhibit and desire to serve the nation.  Hence, it is important for aspirants to project their utmost urge and motivation to be in the forces and their willingness to serve the cause of the nation.  
  • Physical fitness- Though SSB is not entirely a physical procedure as discussed at length earlier above but there are some tasks that are very enduring which will be mentally and physically tiring and exhausting. Candidates will be continuously monitored on the way they walk and sit. Lazy candidates are obviously given negative points. It is advised to do some light running/ exercise regularly
  • BE YOURSELF- Last tip is be yourself. It’s often said, “One requires more intelligence to tell a lie and get away with it”. Don’t try to emulate others. It is okay to project yourself slightly different (better version of yourself) but to feign before the assessors is certainly not suggested.

References for CDS SSB 2018

It is well established that students need certain qualities and these qualities cannot be acquired within a day. But still, candidates are advised to refer to books for practice verbal and non-verbal, aptitude exam, picture description etc. Mentioned below are some books that candidates can refer to:

Book Author
Let’s Crack SSB Interview
SSB: What? How? And Why? by J.B. Mall
Modern SSB Interviews Col. Kuldip S. Dosanjh
Pathfinder CDS: Combined Defence Services Entrance Examination Arihant
Pathfinder for NDA & NA Entrance Examination by PK Mittal, OP Bisht, Neetika Goyal
How to Prepare For AFCAT: Air Force Common Admission Test Complete Book by Chandresh Agrawal’s
A Modern Approach to Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning by R. S. Aggarwal
How to Crack the SSB Ujjwal Chugh
Get Success in SSB Interviews 1st Edition Arihant Experts
Personality Development and Soft Skills Barun K Mitra
SSB Interview: The Complete Guide DR N K Natrajan

*The article might have information for the previous academic years, please refer the official website of the exam.