Difference between NDA SSB and CDS SSB | NDA SSB Interview vs CDS SSB Interview

NDA SSB vs CDS SSB : Being a SSB Aspirant you must have wondered what is the difference between NDA SSB Interview and CDS SSB Interview. In this article , we shall discuss the difference between these two selection process.

Difference between NDA SSB and CDS SSB ( CDS SSB vs NDA SSB)

The Service Selection Board (SSB) Interview is a method used to choose individuals suitable to become officers. It lasts for five days and includes Screening, Personal Interview (PI), Group Testing Officer (GTO) tasks, Psychology assessments, and a conference.

The SSB process for NDA and CDS is quite similar, but the number of candidates varies because of different entry requirements.

Educational Qualification

CDS (Combined Defence Service) SSB is for people who have graduated or are in the process of graduating, while NDA (National Defence Academy) SSB is for those who have completed or are currently in their 12th grade.

Training Duration

Even though the goal of training is the same for both CDS and NDA, the duration of training differs. CDS training lasts approximately 1 to 1.5 years at institutions like IMA, OTA, INA, and AFA. On the other hand, NDA training spans three years, which includes obtaining a degree from JNU in Pune. After completing the graduation, there is an additional 1-year training period at IMA, NA, and AFA.

What is SSB Interview ?

SSB Interview stands for “Services Selection Board Interview,” and it is a crucial part of the selection process for candidates aspiring to join the Indian Armed Forces, including the Army, Navy, and Air Force. The SSB Interview is designed to assess a candidate’s suitability for a career in the armed forces, particularly for officer-level positions. It aims to evaluate various aspects of a candidate’s personality, character, intelligence, and leadership potential.

Here’s a detailed explanation of the SSB Interview process:

  1. Screening Test: The first day of the SSB Interview typically involves a screening test that includes an Officer Intelligence Rating (OIR) test and a Picture Perception and Description Test (PPDT). The OIR test assesses the candidate’s cognitive abilities, while the PPDT assesses their ability to analyze and narrate a story based on a given picture.
  2. Psychological Testing: This phase consists of several psychological tests, including the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT), Word Association Test (WAT), and Situation Reaction Test (SRT). These tests are designed to analyze the candidate’s thought process, attitudes, and reactions to various situations.
  3. Group Testing Officer (GTO) Tasks: The GTO tasks take place over several days and assess the candidate’s ability to work as part of a team, leadership skills, and problem-solving abilities. These tasks include group discussions, group planning exercises, group obstacle races, and command tasks.
  4. Personal Interview: Each candidate faces a personal interview with an interviewing officer. During this interview, the candidate’s background, interests, motivations, and personal qualities are explored. The interview is a critical component as it provides insights into the candidate’s personality and suitability for a career in the armed forces.
  5. Conference: In the final stage, a conference is held with all the assessing officers. They discuss and evaluate the performance of each candidate based on their performance in the screening, psychological tests, GTO tasks, and personal interview. The conference aims to reach a consensus on whether the candidate should be recommended for selection.
  6. Medical Examination: Candidates who receive a recommendation from the SSB undergo a comprehensive medical examination to ensure they meet the medical standards required for military service. This includes a physical fitness assessment, laboratory tests, and a detailed medical examination.
  7. Merit List: Based on the assessment in all the above stages, a merit list is prepared. Candidates who make it to the merit list are then selected for training at their respective academies, such as the Indian Military Academy (IMA), Naval Academy (NAVAC), or Air Force Academy (AFA).

It’s important to note that the SSB Interview is not just about academic knowledge or physical fitness; it focuses heavily on assessing the candidate’s personality traits, including leadership potential, communication skills, problem-solving abilities, and the ability to work effectively as part of a team. Therefore, candidates are advised to prepare not only academically but also mentally and physically to excel in the SSB Interview and increase their chances of being selected for a career in the armed forces.

READ HERE – 10 Things You should never do during SSB Interview


In the CDSE SSB interviews, many candidates are not chosen because they prefer younger, capable individuals.

The SSB wants CDSE candidates to have lots of good qualities. During the 5-6 day interview, they look for these qualities in the candidate’s personality.

In NDA SSB, younger candidates with just a bit of potential get selected easily. Young people can be trained even if they only show some good qualities. But in CDSE, candidates are almost adults, and it’s hard to change their traits at that point.

Also, CDSE candidates are expected to be more capable than NDA candidates since they are graduates. So, they expect more in terms of intelligence, fitness, behavior, attitude, and overall personality from CDSE candidates.

Because it’s tough to change traits after selection, they are very careful when choosing CDSE candidates.

CDSE has fewer job openings compared to NDA. This affects the selection rate. In a CDSE SSB batch of 100 candidates, usually only 2-5 are selected, although there can be exceptions where more or no candidates are selected.

Frequently Asked Questions :-

  1. What is the SSB Interview?
    • Answer: The SSB Interview is a selection process conducted by the Indian Armed Forces to assess and select candidates for officer-level positions. It evaluates their suitability, personality, and leadership potential.
  2. How can I apply for the SSB Interview?
    • Answer: You can apply for the SSB Interview by first clearing the written examination for the respective entry (e.g., NDA, CDSE) and then receiving an interview call based on your exam performance.
  3. What are OLQs in the SSB Interview?
    • Answer: OLQs, or Officer-Like Qualities, refer to the desirable qualities such as leadership, communication skills, teamwork, initiative, and determination, which SSB assessors look for in candidates.
  4. What happens during the SSB Interview process?
    • Answer: The SSB Interview process involves stages like screening, psychological testing, group tasks, a personal interview, a conference, and a medical examination. These stages assess various aspects of a candidate’s personality.
  5. How should I prepare for the Service Selection Board Interview?
    • Answer: Preparation should include improving your general awareness, communication skills, physical fitness, and practicing psychological tests. Mock interviews and group discussions can also be beneficial.
  6. What is the difference between NDA and CDSE Service Selection Board Interviews?
    • Answer: NDA (National Defence Academy) recruits candidates after 10+2, while CDSE (Combined Defence Services Examination) recruits graduates. CDSE candidates are expected to demonstrate a higher level of maturity and intellect.
  7. Is there any age limit for Service Selection Board Interview candidates?
    • Answer: Yes, there is an age limit for different entry schemes. It varies depending on the armed force and entry type. Generally, candidates should be between 16 and 19 years old for the NDA and around 19 to 24 for CDSE.
  8. What if I fail the Service Selection Board Interview? Can I reapply?
    • Answer: Yes, you can reapply. Failing once doesn’t disqualify you from future attempts. In fact, many successful candidates undergo the Service Selection Board Interview process multiple times before getting selected.
  9. What should I wear to the Service Selection Board Interview?
    • Answer: Candidates should wear neat and appropriate attire. For men, formal shirts and trousers are recommended, while women can opt for formal attire like salwar kameez or western business attire.
  10. How are candidates selected in the Service Selection Board Interview?
    • Answer: Candidates are selected based on their performance in various stages of the interview process. The final selection is made through a merit list, taking into account their performance in the interview, medical examination, and written test (if applicable).
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