Understanding OLQs (officer like qualities) for SSb interview

To join Indian Armed forces one has to go through a comprehensive and strict selection process. The process starts with a written exam (NDA/CDS/AFCAT) conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) of India. Once the candidate qualifies the written exam they have to undergo a stringent Interview process conducted by Service Selection Board. In short, the process is generally referred to as SSB interview or simply SSB.

Only the very few candidates who pass all stages of SSB are recruited as commissioned officers in various arms of Indian Armed Forces. In our last article we discussed the Pros and Cons of SSB Coaching. Today we will discuss what SSB interview is all about. What are the evaluators looking for in the SSB Interview?

What are OLQs (Officer Like Qualities)

In a SSB interview each candidate is evaluated for passion of Officer Like Qualities or OLQs. Every candidate is assessed if he/she is adequate in the following qualities:

• Reasoning & Organizing Ability,
• Communication skills,
• Sociability,
• Leadership,
• Will power & Determination.

SSB looks for candidates who can be leaders. A real leader must be an agent for change, an inspirer and developer who is able to show the way forward, integrate people and ideas and be prepared to instigate rapidly the most effective option. Particularly, in times of tension or war, an effective leader will have to be able to bring both colleagues and subordinates along in a way that is at once identified as pragmatic, meaningful and militarily cost-effective.

Both basic and effective intelligence is gauged to see how candidates perform while coping with practical situation of varying complexity. It involves coming up with unique independent solutions of practical problems or situations with or without the help of improvisation of resources at hand. Candidates are evaluated for their reasoning ability and problem solving techniques. Organizing ability is tested by watching how candidates arrange the resources in a systematic way so as to produce effective results.

Communication Skills include variety of parameters which include power of expression, attitude, ability to put one’s ideas and thoughts in crisp and clear manner, and ability to influence others towards your point. The basic idea of assessment of communication skills is to see how easily one can put across his ideas in the mind of people.
Sociability or social adaptability is to see how the candidates adjust in different environments consisting of different kind of people and how well he/she can win the trust of the people. This factor is also a measure of the individual’s ability to effectively deal when part of social group and get the desired work done. Other parameters are sense of responsibility, sense of duty and discipline.

Leadership qualities are mix of several factors like self-confidence, ability to take initiative, and ability to influence a group. Candidates are tested for these qualities to assess if, under stressful unfamiliar and leaderless situations, they are able perform, take charge and control the situation.

Apart from above the candidates undergo various tests and exercises to assess their self-confidence, courage, stamina, drive and determination. They are tested if they can sustain an effort to achieve objectives in spite of obstacles and setbacks and have mental strength and drive towards the achievement of the object.

The candidates must have all of these qualities in sufficient amounts to be deemed suitable for defence services. Some of these qualities are part of person’s basic nature and personality. A lot of these qualities are gained with our day to day experiences. Some others can be inculcated by training and practice. One must keep these qualities in mind and perform accordingly to shop them during SSB interview testing.