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What Is A Situational Judgement Test?

14 August 2019
Zara Woodcock
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What Is The Test?

The Situational Judgement tests are a popular psychological tool used by assessment companies, employers, and organisations to evaluate applicants’ behavioural and cognitive abilities. It was made to reveal different personality aspects and social skills of the applicant. Like all psychometric tests, the SJT evaluates your compatibility to the company. There is no specific format and every company has different criteria.

What Are The SJT Question Types

The skills the SJT calculates are formally termed as ‘Competencies’. They divide into two different groups: Core Competencies and Secondary Competencies. The core competencies include:

  • Cognitive ability
  • Social intelligence
  • Specific job-related skills and knowledge
  • In managerial SJT leadership skills are also examined

Secondary competencies are essentially practical skills, abilities and personality traits that are linked to certain core competencies shown in the diagram below.

Each scenario on the test assesses you on one core competency while examing one secondary competency. Your answer should reflect both a secondary competency and a core one.

The general format is made up of 3 questions types:

  • Scenarios – Faced with a hypothetical problem in a work environment
  • Responses – Faced with 4 alternative courses of action that require you to exercise judgement in evaluating their desirability
  • Instructions – Differs between companies. There are two sub-types: behavioural tendency and knowledge. The first one involves identifying how would behave in a given situation and the second one involves evaluating the effectiveness of possible responses to give situations.

Luckily, there is also no time limit as your answers are more important than snap responses.

FAQs About SJTs

  • How Many Scenarios Can I Expect to Encounter in the SJT?

There will be between 25-50 scenarios on any given SJT. The scenarios are usually challenging. After you are presented with a scenario you will have to either find the most or least suitable response to the scenario given or rate the responses in order of effectiveness.

  • How To Select the Correct Response in the SJT

Read every scenario carefully before answering. One answer might seem appropriate, there may be one which is more suitable. If the questions ask you to rank the responses, compare them to each other before ranking them. Bear in mind that there may be a chance that all options may be ineffective or vice versa

  • Why Are Situational Judgement Tests Used?

It is a popular pre-employment psychological test which allows employers to assess your judgement and decision-making abilities. Being quick and efficient is a highly sought-out skill for many roles. You can begin to practise graduate, customer service, administrative positions, management, MI5 and police for success.

  • Which Employers use Situational Judgement Tests?

The test is commonly used by entry-level corporate jobs, especially for graduates. Corporate managerial positions are screened by SJTs along with specific jobs such as marketing, medical, sales and customer service. Government jobs in the police and MI5 are also in this category.

  • What Are Employers Looking For?

They search for those who can compare to an ideal candidate based on their core competencies. The test helps make sure employers are hiring individuals who know how to problem-solve.

  • What Is The Pass Mark?

It’s obvious that it is best to achieve good results. Anything over 80 per cent is ideal. Your overall score will also be compared to other job candidates. These scores will be compared to the company’s core values so studying the values is a must when applying for jobs.

  • What are the Question Styles in an SJT Test?

The scenarios given on Situational Judgement Tests ask for a resolution of a conflict which sometimes represents realistic situations that occur in a workplace. You are asked to choose a preferred method of action out of many possible options. You are encouraged to choose your responses spontaneously, based on intuition.

  • What are the Difficulties you can Face when Taking an SJT Test?

Companies giving the test want candidates to answer spontaneously. This is because when employees ask for decisions, you answer with intuition. You don’t get to wait 10 minutes and go through options. You definitely should be answering with though, but it should be quick. There are some questions in the test that are designed to catch you out, so be careful.

Understanding Your Results

Results depend on the company you are applying for. We recommend you look at your potential company and compare their core values with your practise questions. The results will tell you where you stand in comparison to other test takers. This is measured on a great number of people and the score you receive reflects the place (or percentile) where your results fall on the distribution curve.

Here is an example of a candidate’s feedback report adapted from TalentLens

Overall performance – your score is as follows:

Your responses were scored, and your result was compared with that of other UK graduate and junior managers. In comparison with this group, your test score suggests your awareness to judge the appropriateness of responses to situations is average. Your percentile score means you equal to or greater than 36% of UK graduates and junior managers.

Situational Judgement Test – Graduate Level

Global corporate companies, law firms, government organisations, finance companies, and many others use situational judgement tests to find the perfect candidate. If you have been informed that you will be sitting the assessment as part of your application process, it is highly recommended to practice for it. The principles are an indispensable part of your day-to-day work. Our partner’s practise pack covers all of these elements and provides you with professional insight into questions and topics arising from the test.

To make life a little bit easier, our partner has created a wide range of PrepPacks™ to cater to your needs. This way,  you can focus your skillsets on Situational Judgement Test questions you likely will experience during your interview. If you cannot see the specific SJT you need, take the generic one.

The Science Behind The Packs

These packs have been carefully created by psychologists and experts in the specific fields to give you accurate information. Research on the actual exams is conducted and reviewed in order to ensure you receive the help you deserve.

What Is Even In The Test?

Unlike the psychometric personality tests, the scenarios used in SJTs always ask for a resolution of a conflict. Although hypothetical, it will rely on realistic situations that occur in the workplace. Conflicts will involve supervisor-subordinate relationships, disagreement between work colleagues and more. You would be asked to choose a preferred method of action out of a number of possible options. The situations used in the test will depend on the role you are applying for. For example, police officers and administrative workers are likely to receive different scenarios as they will be evaluated for specific traits.

What Is The Question Format?

The tests come in a few formats. One of them is multiple-choice where there is only one correct answer. Another is a most-least table in which more than one option must be chosen on a certain scale, etc. Usually, each scenario is accompanied by a short video scene simulating the situation.

Which Employers Use This Test?

Many reputable employers, including law firms, global financial firms, banks, governmental organisations and armed forces, use the situational judgement tests are part of the selection process. The financial services company, KPMG, also uses the test.