What Does Being an Introvert Mean in the SSB Interview by Dr. Cdr. N.K Natarajan

Recently, a candidate called on me for guidance. He is a son of a serving Colonel and had been rejected twice already. Like all candidate, he felt that he had done very well in all the tests and yet was not recommended. This lead to a long conversation as usual and this is what emerged. Describing the candidate, he is fairly intelligent and had done his engineering from SRM University. He had done well academically and had taken part in some individual games like Chess, Table Tennis etc. and had minimal participation in extra-curricular activities. My first impression was that he is a shy and reserved kind of a candidate.

Interview – As we talked about interview, he said everything went well except one part towards the end where the interviewing officer asked him whether he is an introvert or an extrovert, and he answered that he is in between the two. During the first barrage of question where one is required to talk about friends, he said he had few friends and he moved around with them mostly. To this he was asked, where all did you go with your friends and who had arranged these trips. His answer was mostly friends planned and organized it and he accompanied them.

GTO – In the GTO, he was a late entrant into the discussions but says contributed some points. In GPE, he did well and contributed to some extent. In the practical tasks, he was at the start line most of the time and only gave ideas from there as the ones who entered could not crack the obstacles. Even when the GTO asked to exchange places, he did not go in. His lecturette and IO were good and got a simple Command Task.

Let’s understand these manifestations. Here is a clear introvert candidate who otherwise bright has not been able to mix freely and work with the team. Introverts are people with restricted ability to mix freely with people. This kind of behaviour is often seen among children who have been brought up under protected environment. In the instant case, this candidate was sickly all through his childhood and his parents never allowed him to go out much. His health prevented him from taking part in group games and other co-curricular activities. Thus, he only participated in games like table tennis and chess. He developed under confidence and finds himself different from others and hence doesn’t open out easily.

Implications for the Armed Forces

Armed Forces are looking for a leader who can lead a team of people with confidence. He/she must be a go getter and win a situation through dynamism. For this the most essential ingredient is being extrovert coupled with intelligence and dash. Thus, any candidate who remains tentative is never the right candidate for recommendation. This brings us to the importance of sports and extra-curricular activities. The Interviewing Officer banks heavily on participation in sports and extracurricular activities to make interpretation about the candidate. It’s believed that candidates who have played group games, taken part in co-curricular activities and have a large friend circle are likely to be extroverts and team players. But remember, if you project yourself wrongly, you are likely to be caught as he is not going to take your response on the face value and will ask you several corroborative questions to ascertain the facts.

In the instant case, in all likelihood this candidate must have been marked low in Factors 2, 3 & 4 and finally rejected.

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