Situational Judgment Test

  • A situational judgment test (SJT) is a tactic used by employers to test a candidate’s behavior in hypothetical workplace scenarios.
  • While there are no right or wrong answers in an SJT, successful candidates choose responses that reflect knowledge of the employer’s core values and the competencies of the role in question.
  • Preparing for an SJT is half the battle. To improve the likelihood of success, the candidate should familiarise themselves with the industry, position, and employer. They should also read test instructions carefully, identify the problem the question wants them to solve, and analyze each response on its merits.

Understanding situational judgment tests

A situational judgment test is a tactic used by employers to test a candidate’s behavior in hypothetical workplace scenarios.

Situational judgment tests (SJTs) are used by recruiters to determine how a potential employee would react in various workplace situations. They are a form of psychometric analysis most often used in a recruitment process with a high volume of applicants.

SJTs assess the candidate’s ability to understand real-world situations, identify important contributing factors, and respond appropriately. The specific situations that may comprise an SJT depend on the position and experience level of the employee.

While SJTs vary from one company to the next, most present the candidate with an overview of a workplace scenario and several possible responses that they must rank or select. There are no right or wrong answers as such, but successful candidates tend to choose responses that reflect knowledge of the employer’s core values and the competencies of the role in question.

How to prepare for a situational judgment test

The best way to pass a situational judgment test is to prepare for it. Here are a few ways you can do exactly that:

  1. Familiarisation – before attending a job interview, brush up on the format of an SJT and understand what is expected of you. Research the industry and position to identify the skills or personality traits deemed the most important. 
  2. Understand the company – as we touched on above, the candidates most likely to receive job offers are those that understand the employer’s mission, vision, and values. To make it easier, these elements are often reflected in a role’s core competencies.
  3. Read the instructions – some SJTs will require you to provide the most and least effective responses while others will ask you to rank a list of responses or choose the one you believe is most appropriate. Since most SJTs do not impose strict time limits, there is no excuse to not read the instructions carefully. 
  4. Identify the problem – before rushing into providing an answer, clarify the specific issue the company wants you to solve. Those who skim-read scenarios will be less informed and find themselves in a weaker position to provide a solution.
  5. Consider your options – in a similar vein, ensure you only consider the responses that are listed. If the course of action you would take in a situation is not listed, do not become distracted. Analyze each response based on its perceived effectiveness and appropriateness and never make assumptions about information that is (or isn’t) included in the scenario description.

SJT scenario example

To conclude, let’s briefly look at a scenario example and some possible responses.


You’ve been working on a project that, while interesting, has proven to be time-consuming and somewhat challenging. Some of these difficulties have arisen because of an inexperienced team member who needed extra support to realize their potential. 

While this situation has presented many obstacles, both of you have been able to overcome them together and make progress. Despite a substantial amount of work left to do on the current project, your superior then asks you to lead another project involving staff from another department whom you are unfamiliar with.

How do you respond?

Possible responses:

  • Honestly explain to the manager that the current project and inexperienced co-worker need support until completion. You’d rather not abandon the individual and risk the project failing.
  • Take on the second project and work overtime to ensure sufficient attention can be devoted to each. This way, the less experienced co-worker will not be abandoned and there is less chance the first project will fail.
  • Inform the manager that you’d love to take on another project with assurances that both will be delivered successfully. You also tell the manager that the co-worker will be given more autonomy but that you’ll be around the office to offer guidance if needed.
  • Agree to the second project and liaise with the inexperienced co-worker while they work on the first project. In this way, you’ll be able to keep one eye on the first project while you manage the second.

Read Next: OKRSMART Goals.

Related Management Concepts


Andy Grove, helped Intel become among the most valuable companies by 1997. In his years at Intel, he conceived a management and goal-setting system, called OKR, standing for “objectives and key results.” Venture capitalist and early investor in Google, John Doerr, systematized in the book “Measure What Matters.”

Smart Goals

A SMART goal is any goal with a carefully planned, concise, and trackable objective. To be such a goal needs to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based. Bringing structure and trackability to goal setting increases the chances goals will be achieved, and it helps align the organization around those goals.


Micromanagement is about tightly controlling or observing employees’ work. Although this management style might be understood in some cases, especially for small-scale projects, generally speaking, micromanagement has a negative connotation mainly because it shows a lack of trust and freedom in the workplace, which leads to adverse outcomes.

Delegative Leadership

Developed by business consultants Kenneth Blanchard and Paul Hersey in the 1960s, delegative leadership is a leadership style where authority figures empower subordinates to exercise autonomy. For this reason, it is also called laissez-faire leadership. In some cases, this leadership type can lead to increased work quality and decision-making. In a few other cases, this type of leadership needs to be balanced out to prevent a lack of direction and cohesiveness in the team.

Agile Leadership

Agile leadership is the embodiment of agile manifesto principles by a manager or management team. Agile leadership impacts two important levels of a business. The structural level defines the roles, responsibilities, and key performance indicators. The behavioral level describes the actions leaders exhibit to others based on agile principles. 

Active Listening

Active listening is the process of listening attentively while someone speaks and displaying understanding through verbal and non-verbal techniques. Active listening is a fundamental part of good communication, fostering a positive connection and building trust between individuals.

Adaptive Leadership

Adaptive leadership is a model used by leaders to help individuals adapt to complex or rapidly changing environments. Adaptive leadership is defined by three core components (precious or expendable, experimentation and smart risks, disciplined assessment). Growth occurs when an organization discards ineffective ways of operating. Then, active leaders implement new initiatives and monitor their impact.

RASCI Matrix

A RASCI matrix is used to assign and then display the various roles and responsibilities in a project, service, or process. It is sometimes called a RASCI Responsibility Matrix. The RASCI matrix is essentially a project management tool that provides important clarification for organizations involved in complex projects.

Flat Organizational Structure

In a flat organizational structure, there is little to no middle management between employees and executives. Therefore it reduces the space between employees and executives to enable an effective communication flow within the organization, thus being faster and leaner.

Tactical Management

Tactical management involves choosing an appropriate course of action to achieve a strategic plan or objective. Therefore, tactical management comprises the set of daily operations that support long strategy delivery. It may involve risk management, regular meetings, conflict resolution, and problem-solving.

High-Performance Management

High-performance management involves the implementation of HR practices that are internally consistent and aligned with organizational strategy. Importantly, high-performance management is a continual process where several different but integrated activities create a performance management cycle. It is not a process that should be performed once a year and then hidden in a filing cabinet.

Scientific Management

Scientific Management Theory was created by Frederick Winslow Taylor in 1911 to encourage industrial companies to switch to mass production. With a background in mechanical engineering, he applied engineering principles to workplace productivity on the factory floor. Scientific Management Theory seeks to find the most efficient way to perform a workplace job.

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