Conference Procedure – The Myth and Reality by Dr. Cdr. NK Natarajan

Most candidates carry myths about the conference procedure. I receive several questions based on all this and the intention of this blog is to clear all doubts pertaining to this. First and foremost is Conference is not a test. As you are aware, there are three assessors who assess you during the four days of testing namely Interviewing Officer, Psychologist and the GTO. As per protocol, these three officers are not supposed to interact during the testing. It’s only during the conference that they are supposed to interact.

What Happens During the Conference? Before the candidate is called in, the respective assessors declare their initial marks. All candidates who cross the threshold of 240 marks are cleared subject to the discussions. All those who score less than this threshold are declared failed and are not even discussed. Candidates who score 240 marks and beyond are normally cleared by 1, 2 or all the 3 assessors. In the case of candidates cleared by only 1 or 2 assessors, the assessor/s who failed the candidate is asked to explain his findings and there is a brief discussion that follows. If the dissenting assessor agrees to come up then the candidate is passed or else dropped. Point to note is that this discussion happens in a very democratic manner and the rank or designation of the officer does not play any role.

Why Questions are asked during the Conference? An assessor who had initially failed the candidate may want to resolve his doubts and may request the Interviewing Officer to ask certain questions or pose certain situations to the candidate to see how he responds. Depending upon the response of the candidate, the dissenting assessor may decide to pass or insist on failing the candidate. Thus, in most cases, the decision is already made before the candidate enters the conference room. It’s only in a few cases that specific questions are asked.

What kind of Questions are Asked? The questions/situations will purely depend on the quality/factor under doubt. Recently, one candidate called to say that he was asked about the number of friends he made in the SSB, who is his close friend and what are his bad qualities. This candidate told all the bad qualities of his friend very explicitly. Such questions are asked to candidate’s whose Factor II is under question. Obviously, by revealing the bad qualities explicitly, he exposed his best friend to the board. What does this mean? I want you to interpret this yourself. The candidate was rejected in the conference for reasons now clear to you.

What Customary Questions are asked to all Candidates? There are customary questions that are asked to all candidates such as, which all places he has seen during his stay, how were the administrative arrangements, any suggestions he has for improvement etc. While answering these questions, make sure you are not too critical about anything. You may share any constructive suggestions but being over critical may not be liked. I have seen candidates seeking permission to ask questions and when permitted ask silly questions like why the testing can’t be reduced to 3 days, what all is seen in the SSB etc. These are uncalled for exposure and I would advise you to avoid. Just be to the point and come out as soon as possible. Watch my video to know how you must prepare for the conference and how to present yourself during the conference.

Hope this clarifies…

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