What is a SSB Interview?

Donn Saylor

An SSB interview is a series of tests and question and answer sessions conducted to determine an applicant's suitability for the Indian armed forces. The interview is performed by the Services Selection Board (SSB) and lasts five days. During these five days, potential recruits are tested in two areas — intelligence and personality — and the findings from these interviews and tests are used to analyze an applicant's appropriateness for service in the Armed Forces of India. Passing an SSB interview demands mental focus, solid powers of logic and reasoning, strong social skills, and moral integrity.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

The armed forces interview conducted by the SSB was first utilized during World War I. During initial combat, large numbers of troops were killed, prompting military officials to enlist the aid of psychologists in finding suitable candidates for positions within the Indian military. The test is largely a psychological assessment, though a small portion of the interview is dedicated to intelligence and skill evaluation.

The services selection interview is comprised of two stages. In the first stage, candidates are brought to the testing headquarters and are officially logged in as applicants. They are then given a series of forms, including a Personal Information Questionnaire (PIQ) to fill out. The following day, the testing process begins, and applicants are given an intelligence test that includes both written and oral sections. Next, they take a Picture Perception Test — which requires candidates to write a story based on a picture shown to the group — followed by a class discussion.

At this point, the first stage of the SSB interview is complete. Applicants are notified who will proceed to the second stage of the testing process. Those passing into stage two undergo more rigorous evaluation over the course of the next four days. Among the tests administered are the Self Description Test (SD), the Situation Reaction Test (SRT), and the Word Association Test (WAT); these are followed by a series of outdoor tests, including the Military or Group Planning Exercise and the "Snake Race," also called the Group Obstacles Race. These tests help gather a clear picture of a candidate's personality, psychological makeup, and intelligence level.

The final step in the second stage is a personal interview, which is conducted by a team of interviewing officers. Before stage two is officially complete, the applicant must also be interviewed by the entire Board of Examiners. Approximately one-half hour after the completion of stage two, the results are announced. Those passing the SSB interview are required to stay on for an additional round of medical testing.

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