What is a Situational Judgement Test?

Leo Rolf

Posted 18/09/2017
by Leo Rolf

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What is a Situational Judgement Test?

Often abbreviated to “SJTs”, a Situational Judgement Test is a type of psychological test which measures an individual’s behaviour and attitudes to work-related scenarios. It also assess how they approach situations encountered in the workplace.

These scenarios are reflective of a real-life aspect of a job. They require a candidate to judge which is the most effective course of action to take if faced with the situation from the possible actions suggested.

What does a Situational Judgement Test measure?

As the name suggests, an SJT isn’t usually knowledge based at all. It's about the candidate applying their experience to make a judgement call. Situational Judgement Tests measure the skills and behaviours of individuals in work-related situations such as their soft-skills, common sense, non-academic behaviours and practical intelligence.

With SJTs, recruiters can measure the following dimensions:

Decision making: in all jobs, employees are forced to take decisions. Sometimes, it can be difficult decisions, often under time pressure and/or stress. Employers need to know that the people they hire are competent enough to make good decisions in all situations.

Problem solving: ability to accurately assess a problem and effectively arrive at an effective solution: solve problems, find solutions or identify creative ideas. Employers are looking for analytical skills, critical thinking.

Interpersonal skills: ability to get on with other people and work with them efficiently is considered as a key competency. Most jobs require employees to work in a team and/or have interactions with other people.

Organisation skills: ability to organise the work depending on certain constraints (time, results, objectives, money, resources).

Example Situational Judgement Test question

You have just had your monthly review. Your line manager has praised you for your work and you feel happy with the outcome of the review.  You are also delighted that they have not noticed that you are still unable to use one of the IT applications required for your role.  Up until now, you have been able to ask a colleague to do this for you. You know that this must improve but you only have another six weeks in this placement. What action would you take?

  1. Be delighted for the praise & agree with the positive feedback from your manager.  After the meeting, arrange with your colleague to give you the training you need so that you will be able to complete all aspects of the role efficiently.
  2. Recognise that you are using up other people’s time & being dishonest with yourself and your line manager. Set aside time for self-development to build these skills.
  3. Focus on your line manager’s praise & plan to avoid future roles where the areas you are less capable might be exposed.
  4. Tell your line manager that you are grateful for the praise but you feel as though you need more training on the IT systems.

What are the benefits of a Situational Judgement Test

Sift out 50 – 70% of applicants by utilising a Situational Judgement Test as a recruitment selection tool.

By using real life work scenarios gives you a better understanding of how the candidate might operate in the work place and you can gain an insight into their behavioural tendencies.

This is an especially good selection method for those with little or no work experience such as Graduates as they provide an effective measure of their potential work performance and ethics.

  • The candidate’s “opinion” on specific scenarios
  • Evidence of the candidate’s decision patterns
  • The candidate’s thought process and approach to solve problems

Why do firms use Situational Judgement Testing in recruitment?

For employers, this style of testing is a very cost-effective way to select the potential strong performers from a large group of candidates. This gives you a quick “snapshot” of an individual’s potential working performance and ethic so you can quickly filter out those deemed unsuitable..

Lots of employers use situational judgement tests during their recruitment process, particularly at Graduate level. They are particularly common if an employer has a high volume of candidates applying for a position or if they recruit for that position on a regular basis.

For further information

If you’re an HR or Recruitment professional looking to improve your company’s recruitment selection process, contact us on +44 (0)203 693 2201 or email us.

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