Hello! My name is Neha and I got recommended for 24 SSB Bangalore for NCC 34 Special Entry (W) Oct 2013 course. My merit ranking was 8th and the vacancies were 4, so I didn’t make it to the academy. However, this article is a result of an old promise I made to myself to share my experience for aspirants who need all the tips and help they can get and who keep searching the internet for the same; like I was doing some months back.
Officer Intelligence Rating: There’s a lot of data available which you can use for practice. Practice whenever you can, try and attempt all. I read somewhere that a good OIR score helps you later in your career.
Picture Perception and Description Test: The hazy picture was a women-oriented one. I wrote a story which included some community welfare, innovation, helpfulness, initiative etc. During the discussion, I realized that my story isn’t similar to others’ so I didn’t bother too much with pushing my story but just ensured that I make important inputs in the group story. In any case, I went ahead with my plan which was- 1. Speak at least 4 times 2. Make sure everybody listens to you when you speak (for this to happen, you need to make sense) 3. Be very co-operative, don’t fight for bandwidth and do agree to people’s inputs in the story. 4. Girls, please make sure you don’t sound too gentle and feminine; speak with a loud voice and lots of confidence.
I am a creative writer by profession so making up stories comes easily to me. 😉 However, psychology is a great technique to do well in. Just practice from the data you get online. Work on your speed, positive thought process, handwriting and focus. Try and finish all the WAT words, SRT situations and stories (I attempted everything). My blank story was about an NGO’s role in disaster- relief (the Heroine was the director of this NGO). Self description is the easiest part because you just have to appreciate yourself. The only and most important thing you have to remember here is- Don’t simply mention qualities which you don’t possess. Because when you attend your interview, the IO will ask you the same question in a different manner. If the qualities you have mentioned in the test don’t match the qualities you tell your IO, it’s a problem. Be honest and think of qualities through some self- introspection, 4-5 good qualities are enough; just stick by them. If the psychologist asks you to jot down negative qualities, write one or two. Write qualities which can be worked upon and changed easily.
Group Discussion: It’s your first chance to make an impression on the officer. Please utilize it well. Remember these things: 1. Speak with confidence and in regular intervals. 2. Introduce new points and dimensions to the discussion. 3. Show faith in your country, system, governance when you are speaking on international topics. 4. Be a good listener, positive, cooperative, cheerful and make sense.
Group Planning Exercise: Time to show your brains! Read it properly with a lot of focus, prioritize well and take active part in the discussion which follows. I would recommend some practicing for this. (I am blaming my goof-up in GPE for my merit ranking; I forgot to write a solution for one of the tasks)
Progressive Group Task: Be in the thick of things! Be the one to either say the ideas out loud or the one who directly acts on the idea. Be active, do not stand and sulk because ‘you are not getting a chance’. Grab your chance; this is one task I have noticed where some dominance is allowed. However, don’t be rude outright. Dominating the task while being co-operative is an art (which I and some of you don’t possess, so shy people like us just have to give our best shot and do extra well in the half-group task)
Half Group Task: I am told that this task and tasks after this are all from the confirmatory series, the officer must have already made a preliminary evaluation about you. In any case, it’s the same as PGT, give ideas, or act on your own ideas. Be cooperative; utilize this task optimally if you feel you weren’t very active in PGT. I did well in the HGT than in PGT, gave major ideas.
Group Obstacle Race: Have fun here! Be a team guy, help others, smile, observe rules, motivate.
Lecturette: My topic was communal divides in politics (or something of that sort). I spoke for 2 and half minutes. Just read in advance on varied topics for this task. Choose a moderately difficult or difficult topic. Try and speak for the whole 3 minutes.
Individual Obstacles: What matters is courage, resilience and determination. Show that and you are through this task.
Final Group Task: This one was super-easy for our group. It got over in 2 minutes. If you are not the one putting the plank, at least be the one to help others cross, or the one to ensure all the loads have been crossed over. Just participate somehow.
My interview happened before the GTO tests. Just one thing got me through this interview- Honesty. The IO asked me questions based on my PIQ and on the supporting statements that I was making. I think the interview lasted for 45-50 minutes. I will list down a few of the questions I was asked- Why I want to quit my current job and join the army. Lots of questions about my current job. Rapid-fire regarding my education. Who I am close to in my family. Since I said I am close to my grandmother, do I know what medicines she takes. Whether I drink. What’s the biggest mistake of my life. What’s the most courageous thing I have done. He asked me two secrets which I have told my best friend. Whether I have attended coaching for SSB etc. I was honest throughout and it seemed like the IO sensed it. For you aspirants, the only interview related advice I would give is- Nothing from your past is unmentionable as long as you have a logical explanation for it. Nobody has a perfect life so don’t try to hide yours. Just show the IO your sincerity and determination in joining by not lying in any manner, being confident and logical reasoning. It’s easier that way. He asked me questions about current affairs; I personally love reading news so it helped me a lot. That’s about it.
My IO asked me to tell him good eat-out places in Bangalore (since I live in Bangalore). He asked me whether I was satisfied with my performance. He asked me whether I had any suggestions.
I have attempted the AFSB interview for flying branch twice before this. I was conferenced out in the first attempt and screened out in the second. My greatest learning out of all these three attempts is- If you somehow know that you have it in you, and if it is true, you will get recommended someday. You just need to maintain that level of confidence in yourself throughout. The officers sense that confidence more than anything. The lack of confidence messed up my 2 earlier attempts and its presence brought me so much closer to my dream this time. I personally also believe in being knowledgeable, well-read, being a little intelligent and honestly respecting the Indian Armed Forces and the way this institution functions. In any case, just keep working hard and even if you never make it, know that you died trying. 😉
PS: Any questions? Shoot in the comments section below.
About Author: Neha Salkar
My name is Neha and I got recommended for 24 SSB Bangalore for NCC 34 Special Entry (W) Oct 2013 course. My merit ranking was 8th and the vacancies were 4, so I didn’t make it to the academy.