The Services Selection Board

The 1.4 million strong Indian defence forces need leaders to lead the men into battle. Do you aspire to lead the finest, battle hardened men to victory? Do you have it in you? Do you see pride in the eyes of the people who don the uniform? Do you see a swagger in their walk? Do you get goosebumps while watching the marching contingents parading down the Rajpath? Do you believe there is honour in defending our motherland? Are you willing to lead a life less ordinary? Or would you be happy with your 9-5 job sitting behind a desk and clicking away on your computer? (Remember, I was Global Head Hiring with an IT company. I know).

I had a dream. Some eons back, I wanted to join the forces. Back then competition was intense. The defence forces always appealed to the "Man" in you. National pride drove very many of us (including me) to the hallowed portals of Indian Military Academy. The adventurous life, the responsibility to lead men to battle, the regimen, physical fitness, sports and games were enticing.

First things first. We appeared for the CDS (Combined Defence Service) exam conducted by UPSC. Successful candidates were called for SSB (Services Selection Board). This is a five day process where aspirants are put through psychological tests, group tasks and the final interview. Once you clear this you are put through a medical test. A merit list is drawn of the successful candidates and they join the academy for training.

The SSB has always been a tough nut to crack. (For those of you, appearing these days, without any preparation, is like going to battle ill-equipped. You can't go to battle with toothpicks!). The psychological tests put you through an array of picture association, word association, situation reaction and thematic apperception tests. The Group Testing officer (GTO) assesses you for OLQ (officer like qualities) in a group. Whether you have a workable plans? Do you think things through? How do you cope with sudden change of plans? Do you get along with your team members? and so on. You are assessed for 15 qualities.

The Interviewing officer then looks at your overall personality, any ambiguity in your personality, dichotomy if any and basic intelligence. He has a 30 to 45 minutes of interaction and is experienced to make a good judgement. Rarely have the three failed!

The evaluation of all the three officers will go into 'Recommending' you for the forces. I was able to crack the SSB in my very first attempt and passed out from the Indian Military Academy to join an infantry battalion. My finest hour.

I am proud to have put in 25 years in the uniform, culminating into the Command of the battalion I got commissioned into. I was awarded by the President of India for the exemplary leadership displayed during my Command.

Defense forces Adventurous life

About the author

Col Prabir Sengupta, VSM

Trainer, Motivational Speaker & YOUth mentor


A seasoned professional with 34+ years of experience in leadership, management, business strategy, administration, recruitment and consultancy in Indian Army, IT, core and education domain.

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