What does Services Selection Board (SSB) look for?
As discussed in my earlier blogs, what Services Selection Board (SSB) is an individual who knows him/her self, his/her needs, aspirations and his/her surroundings well and is able to perform in any conflicting situations that can happen around him/her without much ado about them. In short, SSB is looking for young independent men and women who can lead their life in specific set up where they may have to receive orders from superiors and pass them on in the same spirit to their subordinates without diluting their importance. Hence SSB depends on a selection process which assesses an individual’s personality through three media: thoughts/feelings, words and actions.
That is, the Psychological tests are designed to understand the unspoken thoughts and feelings of an individual under stressful circumstances; the personal interview is designed to understand the individual’s personality through his/her consciousness and spoken word and lastly, the Group tasks are designed to test an individual’s worth individually and in a group through his/her physical and mental actions.
Where does Self Description Test fit in SSB?
Self Description Test is part of the Psychological Tests that take place on Day II of SSB. All SSB aspirants who clear the first level screening on Day I, go ahead and attempt the Psychological Tests, which include:
- Word Appreciation Test (WAT)
- Situation Reaction Test (SRT)
- Thematic Apperception Test (TAT)
- Self- description Test (SDT)
How is Self Description Test administered in SSB?
All Psychological Tests are administered on the second day manually by the psychologist. That means, every SSB aspirant has to take these tests individually along with all the screened -in candidates. Answers for tall the tests, including Self Description Test have to be handwritten by the aspirants. A fact worth keeping in mind is that answers to all the Psychological tests are assessed by the Psychologist in accordance with the Personal Information Questionnaire (PIQ). That also means, the answers to any one test will not be assessed in isolation, instead, all the answers will be interpreted together to look for presence of suitable behaviour traits and absence of unwanted behaviour traits.
What are the various questions asked in Self Description Test in SSB?
There are total 05-06 questions which are asked in the Self- Description Test which will remain the same, irrespective of the Type of entry, Center and Arm of service opted for:
- What do your Parents and siblings think about you?
- What do your Teachers think about you?
- What do your Friends think about you?
- What do your Colleagues think about you?
- What do you think about yourself?
- What do you want to achieve in your life?
What is the purpose of asking candidates to undergo Self Description Test?
A military leader would be able to perform well if and only if s/he is aware of his/her personality: what drives him/her towards excellence, what hinders his/her growth and what s/he does to overcome the limitations. A self aware individual will feel comfortable talking about himself/herself as well. By asking candidates to write about themselves through the opinions of others around them, the Psychologist tries to match the “imaginative” as well as the “real” self of a candidate. In other Psychological test, the method of Projection is utilised in order to let the candidate’s “hidden self” come to fore. In case of Self Description, it is a direct submission/confession which is sought from the candidate.
Through this sequence of tests, the “real self” of the candidate comes to fore and it becomes clear to the Psychologist what the candidate’s perspective about the world and people around him/her is. To simplify this, I will further draw readers’ attention towards how the answers are written for various tests; such as, in WAT, candidates are expected to write answers in third person perspective, (although this is again highly subjective as whatever is in the candidate’s mind will get projected now and then but still broadly speaking an objective perspective is desirable) similarly in SRT and TAT too the answers are written in third person perspective; it is only in the Self Description Test that the candidates are given an opportunity to speak in First Person Perspective, that is: I feel/My parents feel I am….. and so on and so forth.
What are the points a candidate needs to remember while answering a Self Description Test?
While answering Self Description Test, candidates need to write answers in a Paragraph of 100-150 words for each answer. Remember, the answers need to be in a narrative form. Hence, instead of cryptic points or bullets, it will be better to write 08-10 sentences of 08 to 10 words each. The answers should clearly cover the following points,
- Strengths: What are the behavioural virtues possessed by the candidate?
- Examples explaining the virtues described from real life
- limitations/ weaknesses: What are the physical/ behavioural limitations of the candidate?
- Strategies to improve the limitations/weaknesses.
How can a candidate improve his/her performance in Self Description Test in SSB?
Self Description Test is one of the few Psychological Tests for which candidates can prepare prior to attending the actual SSB interview. The ideal way of writing accurate answers in Self-Description is to ask one’s parents, siblings, teachers and friends/colleagues what they think about you. Their honest opinion may give the candidates an insight into what others feel about them. Based on what they tell, candidates can choose the best possible strengths, limitations and strategies suggested by them to overcome those limitations. The answers nee to then be matched with what the candidates feel about themselves and then they can be finalised. After few practices the candidates can confirm their answers and write the same in the final SSB interview.
The points to remember are:
- One needs to know one’s true self.
- Accept your true self.
- Inculcate the appropriate behavioural traits to become a military leader.
- Try to amend the unwanted behavioural traits in one’s personality
- Be the exact same self in the actual SSB interview.