- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.