Armed Forces Officer selection procedure explained – How to join the armed forces?


Once you are done with your graduation or post-graduation, you have plenty of career options be it in the engineering fields, management, corporate sectors or be it any field as the list is never-ending. But, there is a career option which is totally different from the rest, the most respected and challenging one which is the armed forces. It is the dream of every person to work for his/her motherland, among the thundering guns, mighty ships, and the supersonic aircraft. The life of an armed forces officer is full of challenges, adventures, and sacrifice towards the nation and its citizens.

On the basis of rank, armed force personnel are categorized in following two ways:

  1. Officers.
  2. Non-Officers(Sailors/Airmen/JCOs).

In this article, our main focus would be on officers. In order to become an officer in the armed forces, be it any service(Army/Navy/Air Force), you must pass the following four procedures namely:

  1. Qualifying Written tests/Cut-offs.
  2. Service Selection Boards Interview(SSB Interview).
  3. Medical FItness
  4. Merit List Clearance

Armed Forces Officers Selection Procedure

Qualifying Written tests/Cut-offs.

For officer entry in the armed forces, there are two modes to apply:

  1. Written Exams: You can apply for all the three tri-services collectively(except for AFCAT) through written exams like National Defence Academy(NDA) and Combined Defence Services Exam(CDSE). The exam of Air Force Common Admission Test(AFCAT) is only for vacancies in the Air Force. Each and every exam has a certain set of eligibility which needs to be fulfilled regarding age, gender, educational qualifications, marital status etc. For eg, the eligibility criteria for NDA is age limit between 16.5-19.5 years, either class 12 appearing or passed out whereas, in CDSE and AFCAT, the age limit is 19-24 years either studying in the final year of engineering or having a graduation/post-graduation degree. You have to pay a certain amount of fee in order to appear for the exams(special concessions for reserved categories/defense personnel).
  2. Direct entry: In these entries, you don’t need to appear for an exam. You are required to fill the application forms with all your personal, educational details online along with submitting your end sems CGPA/percentage. The defense headquarters decide a cut-off percentage/CGPA based on the applications received. Applicants having a higher CGPA/percentage than the cut-off meeting the eligibility criteria of the entry are called for SSB Interview. You don’t need to pay any fee for submitting your application. Some of the direct entries are  10+2 Technical Entry Scheme(TES), Technical Graduate Scheme, Pilot/Observer/NAIC entry etc.

Service Selection Boards Interview.

This is an interview which is totally different from the job interviews or interviews in the school/college. This interview is to test your mental as well as physical endurance. It is all about the right fit, not the best fit which means that if you have the officer like qualities in you then you will a part of the forces soon. It is a 5-day procedure conducted at various SSB centers spread across the nation. The following are the 5-day procedures conducted in a stretch namely:

  1. Screening Test(only candidates clearing this test will be retained for further testing).
  2. Psychological Tests.
  3. Group Task Obstacles.
  4. Interview.
  5. Board Conference.

After the board conference, the results are out. Recommended candidates are required to stay further for medical tests. Boarding and lodging facilities are provided by the board. Even rail/air to and fro fare is paid to the candidates appearing for the first time for the interview be it any service of the armed forces.

Medical Fitness and Merit.

Getting recommended doesn’t ensure your selection to become a future officer. Your final selection is subject to the medical standards of the services and final merit list based on the number of vacancies available. Your merit status is decided by your written exam marks along with SSB Interview marks(Written paper entry) or simply SSB Marks(Direct Entry).

So, congratulations on clearing all the selection procedures. Now what you are left with is a rigorous training for a particular tenure in the institutions like National Defence Academy, Indian Military Academy, Air Force Academy or the Indian Naval Academy. Once you complete the training, you are awarded ranks and you are posted to various field areas to safeguard the frontiers. You will be facing most difficult situations during your training and even after training which will bring out the true soldier in you. So, be brave and face all situations with your best. Wish you all a very best life ahead.