How to prepare for service selection board (SSB) interviews

Appearing for SSB interviews? Get free guidance for SSB interview preparation from this article. Every year UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) conducts the NDA and CDS examinations and interviews twice, to select candidates as officers in the armed forces. Defense services is considered the prestigious service in India. Are you dreaming for getting into this prestigious service? Check out this article for the best tips and guidance to appear before the SSB Interview Board.


The selection rate in Service Selection Board (SSB) Interview is very, very less because the interview board looks for officers like qualities in the candidates and those qualities are rarely found in the candidates. So what are the qualities required to become a defense officer? And how to prepare for this interview? To know that, read on...

Candidates selected through this examination go through rigorous training. After training they are posted into various defense units and establishments to serve their motherland. Apart from National Defense Academy (NDA) and Combined Defence Services(CDS), there are some more defense examinations which require SSB interview for the appointment such as AFCAT - engineers are selected through this test followed by SSB interview. Ground duty officers (GDOC), legal officers, pilots, commissioning for departmental candidates, entry for any commissioned officer post in defense forces is possible only after passing the SSB interview.

Eligibility conditions

A candidate must be intermediate for NDA (National Defense Academy). Appearing candidates can also apply for this examination. However some posts require graduation and post-graduation, such as the posts of doctors, engineers ground duty officers, legal officers, commissioning for departmental candidates. Age should be minimum 16 years and maximum 19 for NDA. For combined defense service (CDS) candidate must be graduate in any subject. For detailed eligibility conditions please visit and see the notification when it is out.

Applying for the examination

Notification comes in March and October every year. Candidates should read the notification carefully. First register yourself then fill application, upload photo and signature. Take out the print of filled application and keep it for record purpose (see the instructions for filling the application on website). For the entry of doctors, engineers ground duty officers, legal officers, newspaper advertisement is also given. Candidates should read the advt. carefully then apply. After two three months candidates get an interview call letter mentioning dates, reporting time, and the selection board. Candidates should prepare well and give your best during interview. Service Selection Board interview centers—SSB centers are at Mysore, Coimbatore, Bangalore, Bhopal, Dehradun, Varanasi, Allahabad,

Process of interview

The complete process takes 5-6 days. First day there will be document verification, Intelligence test (consists of two papers 40 question each and 30 minutes time). The candidates passing the IQ test called for (picture perception and discussion test (PPDT). Details of PPDT is given below.

PPDT (Picture Perception and Discussion Test)

In PPDT test, A vague/hazy picture is shown on the screen for 30 seconds. Candidates should look carefully at the picture on the screen and write a story on that picture in 4 minutes. You are required also to write in a rectangle, the gender, age and face expression of the person/persons seen in that picture. After writing the story candidates (group of 8-10 people) are told to tell their story one by one and discuss to choose the best story from the group. How to handle PPDT the tips are:
  1. Write the gender male always if you are a male candidate and female always if you are a female candidate.

  2. Write the age of the person nearing your age, so let it be old man in the picture and always write '+'expression of the person in the box. After that you can make a good story on that picture/scene. Tell your story confidently without reading the paper and take active part in discussion. Do not feel shy to enter into the discussion and support the good story and choose a team leader to present the best story before the board members.

The PPDT result will be declared on the spot, and the candidates passed go for detailed interview for 5 days. The candidates who do not make it will be routed back on the same day.

Scheme of test

There will be 3 tests, 1. Psychological test, 2. GTO test 3.The Interview

Office like qualities (OLQ) required in the candidates

What is the purpose of 5 days test? What for the board members are looking in the candidates? The board is searching for 14 qualities in the candidates. What are those qualities? These qualities can be categories into 4 main categories and those qualities are as follows:

Reasoning qualities

It is the ability to reason out the things or happenings, putting thoughts in a proper reasonable manner.

Leadership qualities

Leaders can motivate the subordinates and get the work done. At the time of war one needs exceptional leadership qualities.

Social skill

Defense officers have to live in a group. They have to perform in a team. So there should not be any anti-social habit/attitude in the candidates otherwise it be very difficult to survive in armed forces. Suppose a candidate is an introvert but the requirement is extrovert candidate to live in such environment.

Dynamic and courageous

If candidates are not courageous and dynamic, they are not good for armed forces. At the time of war an officer's BP will rise, pressure will mount, fear will command him, he will fail and run away from the war.

All three interviewers are looking for these qualities in candidates, separately and with different methods. Your all tests should match for qualities and should confirm to these qualities in all the tests. Be original - things should come out from your inner self. If a candidate has the required qualities he will be recommended otherwise he will not be recommended.

A candidate may be very intelligent, very knowledgeable and still may not be recommended. He should not let his morale down. He should try in such a field where his core competency is required. One day he will be a star in some organization.

Psychological test

This test consists of 3 tests: 1. Word association test 2. Story writing on pictures/scene 3. Situation reaction test.

Word association test

There will be 60 words and 15 seconds time to write the sentence on each word. Each word will be displayed for 15 seconds, candidate has to see the word on the screen and write a short sentence by using that word within 15 seconds only. For example, I am making some sentences for better understanding.
Courage-The courage shown by the soldier was appreciable.
Confidence-Self-confidence is good.
Value-Value education help in character building.
Kill-Mercy is better virtue.
Cut-Plant more trees.
Problem-Solve the problem
Coward-Be brave
Enemy-Enmity is not good.
Friend-A friend in need is a friend indeed.
Money-Banks do the money business.
Film-Children saw a good film.
Corruption-Be honest.
Honesty-Honesty is rewarded.
Superior-We must listen to our superiors.
Subordinate-Good relation between superior and subordinate is desirable.

Story writing

This includes: 10 stories, 4 min time for each story including watching the screen for 30 second.

You will be shown one picture for 30 seconds. You have to observe the picture and its background carefully and click one story plot into your mind immediately. Start writing the story in such a manner so that it looks a complete story. For example I am writing some stories for you. Story should have 3 parts: introduction, body, conclusion and overall should be a complete story.

Story 1

Plot/scene on the screen - A road accident scene in the city.
When Mohan was going to his college, he saw a crowd near the roadside. He stopped and went there to see the scene. Two motorists were lying on the road in a fainted condition. He rang 108 ambulance service and also 100 to call the police assistance vehicle. He picked up the youth and kept them in the ambulance with the help of some people who were standing on the spot and rushed them to nearby hospital. He admitted the patients to emergency, and rang up their family members to reach the hospital. After that he came back and went to his college. He was feeling very happy and satisfied by helping the youth.

Story 2

Plot/scene on the screen — some boys are running behind a girl on the roadSunita Rani is a college girl. She is very much interested in sports and especially in running. She is a good runner and represented India at many occasions. She has been selected for 2020 Tokyo Olympics in the ten thousand meter race event. She is practicing with her coach and male athletes for the event. She has improved her stamina and running skills up to the extent that now running ahead of the male atheletes. I am hopeful that she will surely bring some medal for the country.

Situation reactions

There will be 60 situation reaction on the paper, candidates get 30 minutes to write the responses to the situation reaction. Your responses should be the best. There is no hard and fast rule to write the responses. It is your personality test, your responses should be yours not mine. Otherwise there will be personality mismatch. I am giving some examples to make you clear.

SR-You see in your kitchen, there is a fire in the cooking oil in the pan kept on the gas oven. What will be your response?
Response- I will close the cylinder's tab, fire will automatically go off after few seconds.
SR-You are walking on the road, an accident happens. What will you do?
Response-I will dial 108 and 100 for help and send the patient to hospital.
SR-You see there is a snake in the park. What will you do?
Response-I will kill the snake and bury it in the earth.
SR-Your leave is not granted to attend your sister's marriage. Your response will be?
Response-I will continue my duty and the same will be communicated to the family. I will go later.
SR-You are passing through the jungle, you listen some sounds. Your response will be?
Response-I will continue through the jungle and reach the destination.

Group Training Officer (GTO) task

Here are some GTO tasks which are to be performed by the candidate on the field. Individual obstacles and military planning are to be done alone. Group discussion, Progressive Group Tasks, Half Group Tasks, Command Task, Final Group Task are to be done in a group of six to eight people. To see the obstacles visit nearby army ground and do some practice. To see the photographs of GTO tasks please search in google" Mysore SSB GTO Pictures" and watch carefully to understand the GTO task. For vedio of GTO task, Visit http:/// for GTO video.

Personal Interview

You have to submit your filled in bio-data to the interview officer before the interview. It contains maximum information about yourself. Maximum questions will be asked from the bio-data only. So prepare the answers of those questions. Apart from this, some questions will be asked from current affairs such as burning/controversial issues. Some tricky questions like this may be asked. Why do you want to join armed forces? Ans.-I have deep interest in armed forces. I belong to military family. My father/grandfather was in the defense forces. I got motivation from them since my childhood. I want to serve my country as a soldier, so I want to join this prestigious service. Answer should be on these lines and not the exactly same. What will you do if not selected this time? Ans- I will prepare well and come again and again till not selected (do not say I will not show my face to this board again)

Board interview/conference

Last day all the board members and the President sit together in a conference hall to decide the fate of candidates. Candidates are called one by one to appear before the board. Some two three general questions are asked and, as the candidate goes out, all three assessors tell the marks of a candidate to president. If the candidate is passed in all the three test (Psychological,GTO, and Interview) separately he is recommended. If has less marks in any one of the three, president asks the concerned assessor whether we can recommend this candidate. If the assessor says yes, he is recommended otherwise not recommended.


By reading this article candidates will get an understanding about what the qualities board is looking for in you.They are looking for the 14 qualities which I have mentioned above. Your psychological test should not reveal any anti-social or any serious weakness such as foolhardiness, cowardliness, low self-esteem, suicidal tendencies, greed and corruption. So practice for the test before the interview. Face the interviewers confidently and get selected.

This article is dedicated to the poor and those students who do not have guidance and money to take coaching. God bless you!

Article by NK SHARMA
I am Mechanical engineer with MBA and M Phil degree. I have a passion for reading and writing. I enjoy in sharing knowledge with people.

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Author: Partha K.06 Sep 2016 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 3

A very detailed analysis on Service Selection Board (SSB) interview! Many young men and women would thank the author for such detailed analysis of SSB interview, which is unique in nature spanning 5 days. Incidentally I also wrote an article on the same subject, the link of which is given below for reference:-
Practical tips to clear Service Selection Board (SSB) interview.
Incidentally, the Service Selection Boards are located at Allahabad, Bhopal, Bengaluru and Kapurthala (for Army).

Author: NK SHARMA06 Sep 2016 Member Level: Gold   Points : 0

Thank you Partha da for reading and appreciation.Please read my recent articles,how to prepare for civil services interview and The menace of rape in indian societies.

Author: Juana19 Sep 2016 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 15

This is a detailed and informative article that can help aspiring candidates to ace the SSB. However, there are a few flaws present.

Members on the Board have instructions to look for specific qualities in the candidates. The presence of mind is one of them. Most of the time a soldier has to think on his feet. Decisions have sometimes to be made in a split second. Making the wrong decision can prove disastrous for him, his men and their equipment. So, responses of candidates must be in sync with reality and as close to a positive solution, as possible.

Someone aspiring to join the officers’ cadre must be capable of gauging the situation and acting in a manner that promises success. Remember, there is no scope for error – there is often no second chance for a soldier fighting a war or in a crisis situation. An officer must be intellectually smart – responses to questions are a way to judge this quality. It is important for candidates to read the questions properly before responding.

In the ‘Situation reactions’ segment, for instance, a number of the answers provided as ‘examples’ are weak. It would have helped if proper answers were suggested.

“…close the cylinder's tab, fire will automatically go off...”

Turning off the gas supply will not put the fire out in seconds. Remember, the fire is in the pan – it can be extinguished by cutting out the oxygen supply. Using tongs to place a lid over the pan would have been a better answer. If that is not possible then disconnecting and removing the cylinder as well as all inflammable material from the scene and letting the oil burn itself out, could be an answer.

“…kill the snake and bury...”

Killing snakes is a non-bailable offence and punishable under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 .

Walking away slowly, without disturbing the creature could have been an answer. Alerting others in the park about the snake’s presence could also be deemed a correct response.

Author: NK SHARMA20 Sep 2016 Member Level: Gold   Points : 3

There is only 15 seconds to read and write the response, so the candidate does not have time to think and write long answers. If a candidate indulges in this practice, he is not going to complete the test and many of his questions will be left. The response should be instantaneously and original. There is no good and bad answers to this test. It is the reflection of your personality and not of someone else. The snake in the park is near you, it is a danger to yourself and the other children playing in the park. You can kill the snake in self defense and for the protection of children in the park. Please Juana understand this is a psychological test & not one of intelligence and general knowledge test. If you walk away from the snake, your personality will be considered cowardice.

Author: Juana20 Sep 2016 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 10

A candidate has 60 questions to answer in ½ hour. Yes, it is a psychological test, but it also tests common sense. How do I know that? Well, I have inside information.

Instantaneous and original responses are what the Board looks for, but that does not mean a candidate should not aim to give appropriate responses. Since it is a psychological test, a candidate must be extra careful when penning his views. This is why a presence of mind is essential while writing this test.

A snake in the park could be a harmless one – like a non-venomous water snake or rat snake. A response that suggests killing it would reflect that the person acts in haste, without thinking. That is how that response would be analysed. The candidate would not be deemed suitable for serving in the military. Men in uniform should be able to quickly gauge situations before reacting and not make silly decisions.

Since the aim should be to help aspiring candidates, by providing them correct guidance, that is what I intended. I stand by my response.

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