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AREAS OF INTEREST ( Observed during SSB )


1.         The Mind.   The mind plays a vital role in the selection criteria.  In an army officer, we need a person who has an inquisitive, enquiring and analytical mind.  He should be able to view issues in their totality, possess a good grasp and be able to identify the core of an issue expeditiously.  He should be capable of utilizing resources optimally, improvise where necessary and produce desired results in the face of odds.  He should be methodical, systematic and last but not the least possess an effective expression that is clear and concise with no ambiguity. 


2.         The Heart.   The army is a social organization.  Our efficiency depends upon the efficiency of the team.  As such we are seeking people who are friendly, warm, compassionate and considerate candidates who are comfortable in all social circles and circumstances.  You all appreciate that a man who is uncomfortable can not begin to perform as long as he is uncomfortable and beset with problems.  As we demand a high degree of perfection in performance, there is no room for a person who is abrasive, critical or incapable of rapid adjustments.  As performance is the corner stone of the entire selection process we need a person who possesses a responsible attitude.


3.         Social Effectiveness.   In any social organization, an individual can enjoy one of three roles.  He could be a superior, a peer or a subordinate. In the army an officer plays all three roles simultaneously.  It is vital to the organization that he be effective in all three roles.  We are not looking for ready made leaders as is the common conception.  We make leaders.  All that we desire is that the individual irrespective of what role he plays, is able to contribute positively towards the team goal.


4.         Dynamism.   This aspect deals with the latent force in a person.  The driving force, the fire in him.  His ability to forge forward in the face of adversity.




1.         Over the five days you are examined by a battery of three assessors, each of whom is a professional in his field.  That is, an Interviewing Officer, a GTO and Psychologist.  Each of the three assessors examines 15 qualities that you possess.  The qualities examined in all three techniques are the same.  The difference lies in their approach.  They study you from three different angles.  Finally at the final conference, we will put these three parts together and examine you in totality and then arrive at a decision as to whether you have, or lack the potential to make an Army Officer.  Now what are these 15 qualities?  I   shall take them one at a time under the four areas I have just explained.


The Mind


(a)       Practical Intelligence.  Contrary to popular belief your academic performance in school and college does not matter materially to us.  That is your basic intelligence.  What we are looking for is how well you apply that same basic intelligence in dealing with your normal day to day problems on the ground.  This requires an agile mind with a realistic approach that possesses a good grasp and is able to arrive at the essentials expeditiously.







(b)       Reasoning Ability.  Whenever a person is faced with a contentious issue, one tends to reason and rationalize and thereby resolve the issue.  With some people, one or two obvious reasons are sufficient to satisfy him, while with others, they seek a more detailed and in depth analysis.  This is a quality that is habit forming.  A person who analyses an issue threadbare is a person who will invariably possess a good grasp and a person who can evolve alternatives.


(d)       Organizing Ability.   As the term suggests, organizing ability is  the ability one has for arranging events.  Some people are basically very organized, capable and systematic in every thing they attempt, while some people are unsystematic, haphazard and superficial.  We need  people who are meticulous in their planning with a lot of attention to detail.


(e)       Power of Expression.   What we need is a person who can convey his ideas with absolute clarity, and no ambiguity in the minimum possible words.  Proficiency in a language alone is not the issue.  It also implies clarity of thoughts.   


The Heart 


(a)       Adaptability.   Some people are gregarious by nature, they enjoy the company of people and generally feel comfortable under any circumstances.  On the other end of the scale you have people who avoid the company of others, and are unhappy under circumstances that are unfamiliar.  Such a man will be a misfit in a social and dynamic organization.


(b)       Cooperation.   Quite literally this means how much one is prepared to extend of his own self for some one else.  You may be familiar with the cliché, “The battle of waterloo was won on the play fields of Eton”.   This is what the Duke of Wellington had to say after the Battle of Waterloo.  Well it holds good even today.  In the army, cooperation is the cornerstone to efficiency and success.  The play fields are the cradles for developing cooperation.


(c)        Responsibility.   We are seeking people who can shoulder the mantle of responsibility.  Responsibility is the urge to do things that need to be done, without awaiting instructions.  This requires a degree of involvement with the organization one is serving.  There are some people who not only seeks but demand responsibility, however they are unable to perform there after.  This too is an undesirable quality.


Social Effectiveness


(a)       Initiative.   This can be likened to what a fuse is to a fire cracker.  In society you need people to start an action.  There after, others get involved and ensure that it leads to a desirable conclusion.  In our case however we are not only seeking starters, we are also seeking candidates who can sustain the momentum after starting it.











(b)       Self Confidence.   We are looking for candidates who have a belief in themselves.  Candidates who are convinced that they are capable.  Self confidence is a quality that grows with time and achievements.  Self confidence is an aura that radiates from a person who has got used to acting in a positive manner and it is reinforced with frequent success.


(c)        Speed of Decision.  We need decisive officers.  All actions undertaken by the army are of a critical nature, where, time is of essence.  A correct decision even if found wanting in execution has a good chance of succeeding.  A wrong decision executed with determination and courage might still give you success.  But no decision can only guarantee failure.  The bottom line is that results are the consequences of our actions and decision is an action.


(d)       Ability to Influence the Group.   The efficiency of the army depends upon the efficiency of the team.  We have no place for individual brilliance.  So first and foremost you need to be a team member.  Secondly as an officer you need to be an effective member of the team.  You must have noticed that in a group some people talk and others listen, while in some instances people talk and no one listens.  There are a number of ways in which a group can be influenced.  Yet influencing only begins when there is a genuine desire in you to convince the group.  Unless the interest and involvement in the group aim is genuine it is unlikely that you can influence the group.


(e)       Liveliness.   Liveliness has two facets to it.  Firstly it is the ability of a person to retain his cheer under stress.  If as a leader you loose your composure under stress, the team will loose confidence in your ability to lead them to success.  It is unlikely that they will repose their faith in you thereafter.  Another facet of liveliness is involvement.  For instance, let us consider two candidates, one with plenty of hobbies, and the others with no hobbies.  How do they react when they have free time?  The one with hobbies will immediately indulge himself in a hobby, an action that is constructive and productive.  He is a man who appreciates time and makes maximum use of it.  Take the candidate with no hobbies.  He will in all probability sleep, or put his legs up and fantasize.  He is an unproductive man.  Frankly speaking an officer needs 36h in a 24h cycle if he has to do his job to his satisfaction.  This demands a heightened sense of involvement.     




(a)       Determination.   This is a “Do or Die” attitude.  Being a martial organization we need candidates who are assertive and have no tolerance for defeat.  It should not however be confused with stubbornness.


(b)       Courage.   The profession of arms is fraught with risk.  Risk to life and limb and also risk to your honour and self respect.  We are looking for people who are prepared to take sensible and calculated risks without being foolhardily.  We are also looking for people with a high degree of moral courage.


(c)        Stamina.   This is a tolerance for adversity.  The army operates under extreme conditions such as enemy action, restrictions imposed by the nature of the task allotted, climate weather or limited resources.  We need people who take adversity in their stride and are able to forge ahead without succumbing.


Vishal Jain

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