Hi all, I am Rohit Shende. I cleared SSB interview (AIR – 25) in 1st attempt; joining Indian army through NCC special entry 46. Jai Hind to all, before I start with my story, I would like to thank my PARENTS efforts & sacrifices they made behind the scenes that helped me to climb this mountain of Success. And also, I would give credit to Dr CDR N.K. Natarajan sir, the founder of (AFPA) because through their GUIDANCE I got to know what right APPROACH for cracking SSB interview is.
Okay, I’ll begin with little BACKGROUND & INTRODUCTION;
As Sainik school pass-out, I was well aware of all the entries that I could avail to get the STARS ON SHOULDERS. I gave NDA exams but didn’t qualify for SSB; also, CDS exams didn’t get me in. Then I decided to join NCC, as it provides an opportunity to appear directly for SSB! I decided to take BSC (PCM) with NCC Airwing as extra-curricular activity (More than that it was my TICKET to become officer).
And then my planned journey started, after Sainik school, NCC got me closer to Armed forces. I took every opportunity in NCC that could benefit me in achieving my aim. Did Few national camps and completed ‘C’ certificate as Senior Under Officer with A grade.
Now, after a lot of commitment and hard work; finally, I will appear for my FIRST SSB interview. As I heard 1st SSB attempt is GOLDEN CHANCE, I decided to make my final attempt, by PERFORMING my best. One of my friend (who was already in INA), suggested me to Go through Dr. CMD N k Natarajan sir’s books (related to SSB) through their GUIDANCE I got to know numerous things. But I would HIGHLIGHT these two: 1st is, how to PROJECT myself before the accessors because I believe that Presentation skills matter a lot; 2nd is, Apart from OLQ’s how PRESENCE OF MIND plays a vital role in SSB. Even after reading the books and a few online tutorials, I felt I wasn’t completely READY for SSB. But I knew my strength lies in giving ON THE SPOT PERFORMANCE, and that’s what they say ” Be yourself “. My parents always told me to TRUST my preparations and not to bother about the PRIZE.!
Fast-forwarding to my reporting for SSB; as it was NCC entry, around 240 candidates reported in my batch! The environment for 1st timers feels quite horrifying but remember to keep CONFIDENCE from 1st day itself. Till the end of the day, Documentation was done, and we were allotted chest numbers for screening, I was (35). After settling down, I revised last moment Notes for PPDT (according to me once you clear ppdt, you have cleared 50% of chances for recommendations), NOTES in a sense some do’s and don’ts e.g., (attempting maximum verbal and nonverbal QTS, writing story depicting details given in pic, loud & clear narration, etc). During the narration, I completed my story, which wasn’t done while writing. During the discussion, I was carefully listening to everyone’s story [Please listen to everyone’s story & try to remember them, it helps a lot]. Later as the discussion proceeded, I tried to keep forth logical points based on observation [Therefore, it is important to observe picture carefully & remember it] Think Logically, Perform Freely. Have logical reasons to justify your statements; Do not hesitate in putting forward your points or speaking up/discussing. If you remain silent, the assessors cannot evaluate your OLQs. I spoke in a total of 3 times with valid points. End of the day. Out of 240 candidates, 30 were screened in. (I had a sigh of relief). That day I went back to the accommodation, you’ll find new people (even if you’re introvert I’ll suggest you start interacting with them, trust me in the due process it helps a lot)
The Psych Tests were scheduled for Day-2;
(Remember what I told you earlier, the NOTES, yes, I did that prior to every test). We were told to report at 6 am. (Don’t forget to enjoy the BREAKFAST) as Psych tests will be exhaustive for the brain! So, make sure you have the required energy (lol)]. I performed freely, and I avoided all the don’ts and showed my honest self. I wrote all the stories related to my life, even the blank one. (A Little tip here, try to write whatever comes to your mind once you see the picture. If you try to add more quality, you’ll run out of time, so let it be as SILLY, grounded as possible but try to provide a strong message through it). I could not manage the required number of 60 SRT; I could only do 38, be crisp and short (the best way to tackle SRT’s is to place yourself in that situation & don’t try to involve external technological help, e.g., using the phone to solve problems). I wrote 60 Wats’ (be fast enough).
The SSB expects you to be spontaneous, so I tried to be spontaneous. In SD again, I was spontaneous. Being spontaneous does not mean being careless or negative, I always kept in mind the guidelines like: be realistic, be positive, project your strengths, let them know how you are working on your weaknesses.
GTO Day -3; (side by side interview conducted according to chest numbers on the same day, I had chest no 12 after screened in)
(In GTO, you cannot prepare anything and come because the tasks/obstacles would be requiring different ideas, or I would say common sense). The candidates from coaching academies have a fair idea related to that, but I remember some lessons that I learnt from N k Natarajan sirs (video lecture series). GTO part is fairly simple & easy. You will be good in GD if you are well rounded with current affairs. For GPE think logically, perform freely. Try to give an organised plan in your answer sheet by clearly mentioning your AIM, RESOURCES, SITUATIONS TO BE TACKLED IN PRIORITY. Individual Obstacles are simple if you have had a good practice (as I was from Sainik school, NCC it was a cakewalk for me, I did all ten and repeated 6). During obstacles, GTO (we had lady officer) will give some instructions, try to amend those carefully while performing (e.g. she told to shout our favourite actress name while doing commando walk).
In CT, I was called seven times by my team, and I was given two tasks to tackle (actually even 3rd task was lined up for me as I did first two very quickly, but she [GTO] said, okay Commander. Leave) lol. For lecture even if you don’t talk for 3 minutes trying to give more Data at that time. Overall, the whole GTO task was meant to have FUN and sense of COOPERATION. GTO Day-4 (Few GTO tasks like, FGT, HGT, etc. were conducted on this day, and I had an interview on the same day.)
Interview: – Day -4
This was the test I was worried before coming to SSB, but after performing so far so good, I went for an interview with above-average CONFIDENCE. My interview was taken by the deputy president. (During interview try to remember following points 😉
1. Always have a pleasant smile (Because the person taking your interview should get mindset that, interview going to be interactive)
2. Wait and answer (as chess player try to think what he can ask back related to your answer. So, answer in such a way that you possess plenty of knowledge regarding that ‘answer ‘ then the interview will turn according to you)
3. Go with a lot of GK (current affairs) (my interview was 80% GK, he made me run all around the globe, asked questions related to various defence deals, events, around the World and a LOT that I could not type here 😉
Do not lie in the interview; these guys are very experienced; they are trained to detect a lie and keep smiling. You won’t even know what they may have found out about you. The man on the other side of the desk is trained & smarter than you, accept that before you enter the room. Prepare for the interview like you would prepare for any job interview know deeply and in detail about the organisation, it’s assets, etc. And one question that will definitely appear is,
” Why you wanna join defence forces …?”
Well, answer to this is subjective and might differ from person to person. (but I would suggest, don’t only say for the sake of PATRIOTISM, or LOVE FOR UNIFORM you want to join!) Try something ” NEW ” …and I’ll explain what that new was in conference.
Yes, the D-Day (Conference):
Among 30 people, all were to go inside the conference hall number wise. (here few candidates have the ability to tell your FORTUNE, 😉 as they do that by the time taken by assessors with candidate inside the hall. lol) each had waiting time: 5-6 minutes (waiting outside the hall) and conference time: 5-6 minutes (inside the hall).
My turn came, I was waiting outside around 15 minutes, and I entered the room (Trust me your eyes will glitter by seeing the ROYALTY of the place … Adrenalin rush will take place automatically.) The board president was of MJ Gen rank. 1ST question he asked was ” what were you thinking while you were waiting outside the hall.”? I waited and replied (” I was thinking how should I best perform academy “)
Thank god! That brought a smile to President’s face. The whole environment was delighted. Then he went on asking which questions you didn’t answer in an interview; can you list which questions you didn’t answer. I gave few questions, e.g. (1) Iran nuclear deal 2) president of Sri Lanka 3) capital of Syria 4) terrorist organisation around World (trust me there were lot high-level questions asked by the interviewer, these 1-4 I was knowing, but you should sound smarter than interviewer).
Okay, the President said okay Rohit, now tell me answers of this in reverse order! Lol 🙂
I answered confidently (went library that day that helped).
And finally, he asked, ” Why you wanna join defence forces.”? Can you recall above I told you to come up with something ‘ NEW’ to this question…! Yes. I replied with all those daily answers like patriotism, Sainik school dream, passion. But he wasn’t satisfied. He nodded his head and asked again the same. I replied (“who gets to wear sunglasses while working “.! Lol) and again there was a happy environment in the hall. I felt I did my part! And the conference was done.
Finally, I would conclude SSB experience,
Don’t forget to enjoy the process; don’t take the burden of EXPECTATIONS. And most importantly, we all possess the OLQ’s in some way or other. But PRESENCE OF MIND is key to crack SSB interview; it doesn’t matter if it’s your 1st or last SSB appearance all that Matters is CONFIDENCE.
I HOPE THIS EXPERIENCE WILL HELP YOU.
ALL THE BEST.