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Post by : BRIG SANDEEP RAWAT Post on : 21.07.2020


Dear Friends,

A very warm Namaste and a resounding Jai Hind!

In some of my previous posts, I have attempted to acquaint you with the Service Selection Boards, who play such a crucial role in identifying the right candidates for the Indian Armed Forces.  We have also seen the way the SSB process is carried out.

If I were to summaries, the job of the SSB is to gauge the personality of each candidate and assess whether the personality is suited for a life in the Armed Forces.  Now each personality is different and very complex, and gauging it in depth, in a short span of time, is a challenge for the lay person.  The subject of personality, and what goes into making it and how to assess it, is a vast and complex one.  I think, I will leave it for discussion at a later date.

Coming back to brass tacks: what is it that the selectors at the SSB see in the candidates that helps them to decide upon the suitability of the candidate?  How do they decide whether a personality is suitable?  After all, it cannot be left to each assessor to make an assessment based on his whims and fancies!

Well, as it happens, there is indeed a very elaborate process, wherein three different assessors, using three different techniques, gauge each individual on a set of specific parameters or traits, which we may call Officer Like Qualities (OLQ).  It is the particular mix of traits in each individual which makes him or her unique.

The OLQ, 15 in all, are grouped into ‘Factors”.  Based on Factorial studies, and the qualities encompassed in each factor, it was found that these qualities devolve around those required in a good worker, a good soldier, a good communicator & organizer and a good leader.  Loosely, they could be looked at depending upon their association with the qualities of the mind, heart, limbs or, body.  Let’s have a brief look at each OLQ.

Factor I: Planning and Organizing.  This factor includes four qualities which are associated with the mental aspects of a person.

  • Effective Intelligence. This is the ability of a person to evolve solutions to practical problems. It is different from basic intelligence which is measured using the intelligence tests (Verbal and Non-Verbal). In EI the assessor wants to see if you can solve day to day problems and cope with minor difficulties of daily life.
  • Reasoning Ability. It is the ability of a person to grasp a given situation and arrive at a conclusion by rational thinking. In RA the assessors are looking for your receptivity, inquiring attitude, logical reasoning and the ability to see the essentials of a problem.
  • Organizing Ability. It is the ability to use the resources systematically to produce effective results. In OA, the assessors are interested in seeing how you use the various resources to produce results.
  • Power of Expression. It is the ability to put across one’s ideas adequately and with ease and clarity.

Factor II: Social Adjustment.  This factor includes three qualities which are associated with the heart/conscience of the person.

  • Social Adaptability. It is the ability of a person to adapt himself to the social environment and adjust well with persons and social groups. The assessor is interested in your abilities to adapt to the members of the group, how you interact with them, with the assessor, are you tactful in your dealings with others etc.
  • Cooperation. It is the attitude of an individual to participate willingly and in harmony with others in a group achieving the group goal. It is important to be a team player and one must not be selfish. The group aim and objectives should be most important as compared to individual aims and objectives. The assessors will be keen in seeing your team attitude.
  • Sense of Responsibility It is the thorough understanding of the values of duty, social standard, and of what is expected of an individual and then giving it his energy and attention on own accord. The assessor is keen on knowing if you understand your duty as a child/student/citizen of a country and do you have a right sense of what is the social standard and know what is expected of you as an individual, and then do you give your best energy and attention towards it without anybody having to remind you or tell you. For example, if as a student you have not done well in school/college and do not have a valid reason for poor performance it will be interpreted as low sense of responsibility. Because, as a student your duty is to study hard, and if you have failed to do that it will obviously mean that your sense of responsibility is low.

Factor III: Social Effectiveness.  This factor includes five qualities which are an outcome of the dynamic interaction of the above two factors, i.e. head and the heart.

  • Initiative. It is the ability to originate an action. The assessors see if you take the lead in the right direction and sustain it till the result is achieved.
  • Self Confidence. It is the faith in your own abilities to meet stressful and unfamiliar situations.
  • Speed of Decision. It is the ability to arrive at a workable decision quickly. There are two components of this namely, appropriateness of the decision and quickness in arriving at the decision.
  • Ability to Influence the Group. It is the ability of a person to influence others in the group to achieve the objectives set by him/her. What is seen is, if you can convince others to do things willingly that you want them to do without use of any force.
  • Liveliness. It is the capacity of a person to remain calm and cheerful when faced with difficulties, and bring about a cheerful atmosphere in the group. What is seen is, if you get unduly worried or disturbed when faced with difficult situations.

Factor IV: Dynamic.  This factor includes three qualities which are associated with the limbs or the coordination between the mind and the body.

  • Determination. It is the ability to put in sustained efforts to achieve objectives in spite of obstacles and setbacks. The assessors see whether you are focused, able to concentrate on the task and continuously work towards achieving the objectives.
  • Courage. It is the ability to appreciate and take purposive risks. What is important is to take risks only where required and that too after careful thought. Some candidates tend to take rash decisions which may endanger the life of subordinates and that is undesirable. Hence, what is important is ‘calculated risks when required’.
  • Stamina. It is the capacity to withstand protracted physical and mental strain. It includes both physical and mental endurance.

Marks and Recommendations

Each assessor, using his own technique and tools assesses each candidate for each OLQ, while rating each OLQ on a scale of 1 to 10.  Each assessor, ie, the IO, the GTO and the Psychologist gives marks out of a total of 225 (each assessor) and candidates who score 90 marks or more in a technique are recommended in that technique (IO / Psy / GTO).  Each assessor also gives a grading, which is known as Overall Present Rating but this rating is not final. The trainability of the candidate also needs to be factored in.  Trainability would generally be higher the youngera candidate is and the longer the training period.  Thus, trainability marks for NDA and TES entries would be higher than for direct entry (IMA / OTA / AFCAT) and would be the least for service candidates.

Trainability.  From trainability point of view, the OLQ may also be classified as deep rooted qualities, trainable qualities and less trainable qualities.

Deep Rooted Qualities.  Effective intelligence, Reasoning ability, Cooperation, Sense of responsibility, Stamina (mental stamina).

Trainable Qualities.  Organizing ability, Power of expression, Initiative, Self confidence, Ability to influence a group, Stamina (physical stamina).

Less Trainable Qualities.  Courage, Liveliness, Social adaptability.

So, do you have it in you?!!

Let me put your mind at rest – a successful candidate is not expected to have all the 15 qualities filled to the brim.  After all, as I have pointed out earlier in this post, it is that particular mix of traits which a person possesses that makes his / her personality unique.  However, do carry out a self appraisal to see where you stand in respect to each quality.  Is there something you would like to improve in yourself?  How should one go about it?  Do write to me if there is a doubt / question in your mind.

What are the different techniques that are used to assess the personality of the candidates?  Well, that is what I propose to discuss in some later blog posts.

Till then, Farewell.



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