They aim to replicate the ambiguity that is often found within the workplace and explore how you respond to it.
There are a number of generic tests (such as ‘IRIS’ by TalentLens or ‘Dilemmas’ by A&DC) but SJTs are often bespoke to a particular organisation as this allows the scenarios to be more closely tailored to the situations the potential employee is likely to encounter.
How Do Situational Judgement Tests Work?
Situational Judgements Tests present you with scenarios that you might be expected to encounter within the workplace and they assess how you respond.
These scenarios are based around specific competencies (knowledge, skills or behaviours necessary for success in the workplace).
A number of difference competencies will be assessed and each competency will be assessed a number of times.
How Are SJTs Assessed?
SJTs are usually designed around the input of job experts – people who have been identified as exemplifying the desired competencies in the workplace.
These experts tell the test developers what they would do in the situations and their responses are used to create a number of courses of action with different degrees of appropriateness.
An individual candidate’s performance on a SJTs is then assessed against the experts’ performance; the more closely their responses mirror the responses of the experts the better the candidate is seen to have performed.
The candidate may receive a number of different results: an overall score compared to the ideal performance, a score per competency, or a norm-referenced score where their level of performance relative to the ideal performance is compared to that of a group of similar individuals (i.e. people of the same age group, in similar roles or at similar stages in their career).
What to Expect in These Tests
In a SJT you will typically be presented with a realistic workplace scenario and asked to respond to it. This scenario may be presented to you in writing, as an animation or even as a film clip.
Typically you will be given a number of different potential courses of action and asked to identify what is, and what is not, appropriate.
There are a number of different formats you may encounter.
Have a look at the following four example situational judgement test questions and answers.
Example Question One: Identifying the Most and Least Appropriate Responses
Your organisation has implemented a new performance management system which explicitly links your performance to your pay.
Your progression up the pay scale now relies on your proving you have achieved particular levels of performance.
Please state which of these potential course of action is most and least appropriate.
|Most Appropriate||Least Appropriate|
|Complain to your peers that the new system is unfair but make sure you participate fully in your performance reviews.|
|Seek out a copy of the performance framework and use this to critically evaluate your performance and development areas, and then use this information to create a personal development plan.|
|Make a note of everything you do which you think might demonstrate your performance.|
|Spend your performance reviews complaining to your manager that the new system is unfair, and refuse to participate in any discussions relating to it.|
Example Question Two: Evaluating the Appropriateness of a Number of Potential Responses
You are running late for an important meeting where you will be presenting your team’s proposal for a new software system to the Board members responsible for allocating the funding.
Rate how appropriate you feel each of the follow actions would be:
|Very Appropriate||Slightly Appropriate||Slightly Inappropriate||Very Inappropriate|
|Drive quicker and hope you manage to make it in time.|
|Call ahead and warn the meeting participants you are running late.|
|Arrange for someone else from your team to step in and lead the proposal until you can get there.|
|Pretend you have a family emergency and ask to re-schedule the meeting.|
|Call the meeting Chair and ask whether there is any chance of rearranging the agenda.|
Example Question Three: Ranking the Appropriateness of a Number of Potential Responses
You answer the phone to an irate customer who claims that she has been overcharged.
Although you have checked her account and cannot find any problems she remains convinced there has been a mistake and is becoming increasingly angry.
Please rank these potential actions in order of appropriateness with 1 being most appropriate and 4 being least appropriate.
|Least likely to do||Most likely to do|
|Walk out of the toilets and leave them to it.|
|Go and find your manager and let them manage the situation.|
|Ask if they are ok and whether there is anything you can do to help.|
|Go and give them a big hug and tell them that everything will be ok.|
Example Question Four: Identifying How Likely You Are to Complete Each of the Potential Responses
These questions are slightly different from the others in that they ask you what you would do rather than what you think might be the best course of action.
You find a colleague crying in the toilets.
|Hang up on the customer, you’ve done your best and it is inappropriate for her to behave in that way.|
|Transfer their call to another department and let them try to solve it.|
|Explain the situation to your manager and ask them what they think you should do.|
|Take down all of the details of the problem and tell the customer you will fully investigate the problem and get back to her with a response. Fully investigate the issue and then call them back.|
How to Prepare for a Situational Judgement Test
It can be hard to prepare for a SJT as they are based on your judgements of particular situations. There are, however, a few useful exercises you might like to consider:
- It can be useful to understand perspectives from another person’s perspective as they may see things very differently to you. Consider discussing a situation or scenario with your family or friends to see how different people might approach it.
- Research the organisation you are applying to work with. What are their values? By understanding what is important to the organisation in question you may be able to identify some courses of action that may be more in line with that than others.
- Is there someone you admire in the workplace? Ask yourself how they might approach particular situations.
- Get a good understanding of competencies. If you are able to find out in advance what competencies the SJT will be testing you can research what good and poor performance on these competencies might look like. Whilst there are always differences between competency frameworks there are also often similarities and themes which can be useful.
- It can be useful to complete some practice tests in order to familiarise yourself with the type of questions that you might encounter.
Taking Practice SJT Tests
It is important to practice taking Situational Judgement Tests for preparation and experience before you take an official test provided by an employer.