Nature and Scope of ISSB Self-Story and Self-Appraisal

In Self Story and Self Appraisal a person is asked to give a brief account of himself , lasting for a few minutes, bringing out all he considers good and bad about himself. Such a description could then be checked against information available regarding the individual. Another variation in this technique is to get the person to write two descriptions of himself one as his best friend would write about him, and an others his worst enemy would write about him.

The elements of self-story are also present when the candidate is asked to write on the following.

  • Why he wants to join the Armed forces or the particular service for which he is applying, i.e., Army, Navy or Air Force?
  • The happiest experience in his life.
  • The most sorrowful or sad event in his experience.
  • An incident, which he considers to be most memorable in his life.
  • What he wants to be in life and why?


The self-story writing or self-appraisal exercise, as a task proper is generally give to the candidate as the last item in filling the questionnaires. The time given is about 3 to 5 minutes. In some instances the candidate may be allowed to write even for a couple of minutes more. The exercise, as already mentioned may be given in a direct form. Asking, the candidate to give a brief account of himself till the time he has presented himself before the Board. Alternative, the indirect form may be applied and two descriptions of the individual asked for — one as his best friend would have written and another as his worst enemy would have painted him. The indirect from in effect amount to self-appraisal.

In a secondary manner the candidate will he asked to write something about himself in the questionnaire. Further, during the interview, the candidate may be asked verbally to tell his life history, or why he wishes to join the service.

Importance self-story or self-appraisal

In the first place, this task provides valuable information regarding the candidate to the Psychologist and to the Interviewing Officer. The Psychologist may assess and evaluate the individual on the basis of the details obtained by this technique. Secondly, he would use these particulars to obtain confirmation for his findings, by seeking corroboration. The interviewing Officer will use this information to ask various questions of the candidate during the Interview.

In either case, it creates an impression of the candidate on the minds of these two examiners, without himself being seen by them physically in the first instance. The achievements, ambitions, attitudes and character of the candidate are conveyed to these two examiners by this method. They come to know of his strong and weak points as well as his ability to analyse himself impartially and objectively. This is bound to make an impact on their minds about the candidate. Thus, as this exercise unconsciously leads to the forming of a mental impression, perhaps on the minds of two out of the three examiners, it assumes great importance. We all know how difficult it is to change one’s first impression. It requires a lot of sustained effort on the part of the candidate concerned to bring about such a change on the part of the examiners. Hence the candidate must go all out, prepare himself well and give a good account of himself in this important exercise.