Situational Judgement Test: Free Practice Questions & Tips
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This type of test presents candidates with hypothetical and challenging situations that employees might encounter at work, and may involve working with others as part of a team, interacting with others, and dealing with workplace problems.
The key is that an SJT should reflect things that you will actually encounter during your job.
In response to each situation, candidates are presented with several possible actions (in multiple-choice format) that could be taken when dealing with the problem described.
Situational judgement tests are typically designed for the specific company, rather than for generic situations. This makes any situational judgement test you take feel relevant to the role, which helps you as a candidate tackle it and helps the employer feel more confident about the results.
Situational judgement tests are looking to see how you would respond to workplace scenarios.
Situational judgement tests, or SJTs, have been used for over 70 years, and date back to the 1940s. They have become increasingly popular as tools for recruitment because they can assess job-related skills other assessments are unable to measure, such as problem-solving, decision making and interpersonal skills.
SJTs are also useful for assessing soft skills and non-academic, practical intelligence. They are often used in combination with a knowledge-based test to give a better overall picture of a candidate's aptitude for a particular job.
Another advantage of SJTs for employers is that they are an effective way of sifting candidates from a large pool, so you will more frequently encounter them with large companies than small ones.
Sometimes the SJT is combined with an in-tray exercise to form a work scenario the employer considers realistic to the job role being recruited for.
Companies that use situational judgement tests as part of their application process include the Big Four business services firms (PwC, KPMG, Deloitte and EY), the Civil Service Fast Stream, John Lewis, Waitrose, Herbert Smith Freehills and Sony.
Broadly speaking, situational judgement tests are looking to get a sense of the candidate's ability in each of these four competencies:
Communication skills. How persuasive are you? Can you select the best means to communicate on someone's level and empathise with them?
Teamwork. Are you willing to prioritise the needs of a team above an individual? Are you capable of encouraging team members effectively?
Decision making. Can you exercise discretion and solid judgement when a situation requires action to be resolved?
People skills. How do you approach customer feedback? How do you demonstrate leadership?
Essentially, what SJTs are measuring is your ability to perform your role well not in terms of the competencies needed, but in terms of the environment.
Someone could be an excellent project leader in a small company with small teams and lots of freedom but struggle at the same role in a larger company with bigger teams and more layers of management to go through.
The SJT will, therefore, assess how suited you are to the environment that surrounds your job. Who are you dealing with? How fast-paced is it? How much initiative do you need to take, versus how much prior planning needs to be conducted? What kind of teams will you be working in?
It’s crucial for both you and the company to be sure that, regardless of how good you are at the nuts and bolts of your job, you’ll be working in an environment that allows you to thrive.
Most commonly, your task on a situational judgement test will be to select both the most effective and the least effective response to the situation described, from a choice of 4 or 5 possible actions. However, some tests may ask you to pick only the most effective response or to list the responses in order of effectiveness.
Unlike most psychological tests, SJTs are not usually acquired 'off-the-shelf', but are designed as a bespoke tool, tailor-made to suit individual job role requirements. For this reason, and also because situational judgement tests are produced by a number of different firms, tests may differ slightly from one another in terms of length, format and structure.
The format of SJTs still varies widely: most are digital, though a few are still paper-based. Some now use video clips or digital animation to provide a more realistic setting to the tests.
Situational judgement tests usually consist of a series of work-based scenarios that could be faced by someone working in the position you have applied for. Scenarios may range from ethical dilemmas to difficulties with colleagues or clients, to common everyday problems.
SJTs usually assess the key competencies companies believe are essential for employees to possess to be successful in the particular job role applied for. In each scenario, one or more of the competences from the job description is likely to be tested.
The test will usually consist of between 25 to 50 short descriptions of problem situations. Each description is usually followed by one, two or three questions, which will ask you to select either: the most effective and the least effective responses available; just the most effective response available, or; to rank all the responses in order of effectiveness. Situational judgement tests are always multiple choice.
One curious aspect of situational judgement tests is that they usually don't have a time limit. The idea is that you should answer the questions relatively promptly, basing your answers to some extent on instinct, but you shouldn't be pressured into rushing into a response.
Generally speaking you will be given around a minute per question as a guideline (as in the free sample test below).
Each answer is worth one mark. Your score will be the total number of correct answers.
If you would like to practise a simulation SJT, please try the one below, which was created by JobTestPrep in association with psychometric experts, and is closely modelled on real tests.
The test consists of 5 questions to be answered in 5 minutes approx (although there is no timer on the test itself). You need to get 80% correct (4 out of 5) to pass the test. You can take the test as many times as you like. Click the 'Take test' link below to get started.
Situational Judgement Test
Situational Judgement tests assess your ability at solving problems in work-related situations. Try these five practice questions, designed to be similar to those used by major graduate employers.
|Time Limit||5 min|
Once you complete your SJT, the results are usually scored automatically. But, being a soft skills test, the answers aren’t always clear-cut.
Sometimes there are several decent answers, and sometimes there are none that seem good.
Typically, the employer will rank the answers of each question. The computer will then assign your answers scores based on these rankings, and add them up to a final score.
The employer will be shown your final score, but they might also receive extra information.
If the questions were divided into types of questions that target specific competencies, then they might receive a breakdown of your score by competency. This will show the employer where you are strongest and where you are weakest.
It’s also likely that your results will be presented in comparison to all other candidates’ test scores. This gives the employer vital context, as an easier test may have a higher average score.
Knowing how an employer might be analysing your answers can help. It can be a useful way of thinking about a difficult question from a new angle.
For example, you can take each question and think “What would the employer consider to be the best answer here?”.
No special training, knowledge or experience is required to take this type of test. A candidate's answers should draw on general knowledge and life experience only.
That said, candidates will benefit from practising similar questions, such as those above.
Apart from anything else, practice helps to make you more comfortable with the test and its format, reducing some of those nerves and allowing you to focus more clearly.
It would also be useful to familiarise yourself with the key competencies your prospective employer is looking for from candidates, as it is these competencies that are likely to be tested in the situational judgement test.
During the test, it is important that you read each scenario and each possible response, before answering the question or assigning rankings. The first option available may seem very sensible, but it is important to avoid assigning any rankings until you have considered each option carefully. For example, the last option available may be an even more sensible option and the most effective response.
Bear in mind that you are not being asked to judge if an option is right or wrong, just to evaluate which is the best (and worst) option available to you from those provided.
For questions that ask you to rank responses in number order, it is important to note that the ranking is relative. All the available options may be effective, or they may all be ineffective. It is your job to decide on the relative rank, rather than to decide if each option is right or wrong.
Use only the information provided in the question. Do not make assumptions during the SJT.
A situational judgment test is an assessment that is often used as part of the pre-employment screening process for several roles, although they are also used to help with training and development decisions.
Situational judgment tests are psychometric aptitude assessments designed to evaluate how candidates make decisions in work-related situations. By providing questions based on hypothetical yet realistic scenarios that could occur in the workplace, the recruitment team will be able to see how the applicant makes decisions, deals with problems, and interacts with both colleagues and customers.
The scenarios have multiple-choice options, with several possible actions that could be taken. Some situational judgment tests require you to choose the most useful course of action, in others, you might need to choose the best and the worst action, or you might need to rank the answers in order of the best to the worst.
Each test tends to be bespoke and created specifically for the company and the role that is being recruited for. Some might have scenarios that are in written form, while others might have video scenes or animations to provide the context for the questions. In most cases, the situational judgment test is not timed, but you would usually complete it at home under exam conditions.
The situational judgment test is used in recruitment because it assesses job-related skills that are not picked up in other aptitude tests or through reading an applicant’s CV. These so-called soft skills are often essential to success in certain roles, so by putting a candidate into a real work scenario and seeing how they would act, the recruiter can tell whether the applicant has the right competencies.
Some of the skills assessed by the situational judgment test include:
- Decision making
- Critical thinking
- Working under pressure
- Following directions
- Interpersonal skills
- Practical intelligence
- Ability to learn
- Reaction speed and work rate
They are also useful tools in assessing whether a candidate would be suitable for the work environment – whether they will blossom in a busy global business collaborating with an international team, or whether they would be comfortable working in an environment where they would not have much contact with other employees. This culture fit is almost as important as soft skills in deciding whether the role is suitable for the personality traits and work behavior of the candidate.
One of the most challenging facets of the situational judgment test is that there are likely to be a few of the possible courses of action that could be correct, so deciding on the right one to choose is tricky.
However, there is an answer that is considered correct on the test, so it is possible to fail if you don’t choose the answers that the recruiters want to see.
To combat this, answer honestly and with your instincts – try and think how you would deal with that situation in the workplace if you were faced with it – but keep in mind the values of the business as well as the key competencies and skills that the role requires when considering the options.
As with other pre-employment screening assessments, the situational judgment test is designed to be hard enough to filter applicants based on their competencies, skills and abilities relating to the role for which they have applied.
With this in mind, the structure and the content of the situational judgment test are quite straightforward – a problem or scenario based on something that you might encounter in the workplace, with several courses of action to take to deal with the issue or solve the problem.
What makes the situational judgment test challenging is deciding between actions that might seem to be as valid as each other and thinking critically about how best to deal with the given scenario. Making the choice based on what you would do while bearing in mind what the business values and the core competencies of the role suggests you do can make for a difficult balancing act.
The questions that are asked in a situational judgment test are designed to be realistic work-based scenarios that are like issues that you might face if you were to get the job. There are benefits of having questions that are related to the work you will be carrying out in the future for you as the applicant and for the recruitment team, because you can both get an idea of how you would deal with problems, what your preferred working style is, and whether you are a good fit for the organizational environment and the workplace culture.
Although almost all situational judgment tests are bespoke, created specifically for each employer with questions that are role relevant, there are some similarities across the tests that can help you get prepared.
The questions are fictional yet realistic examples of problems that might arise in your role. They might include customer complaints, staff disagreements, ethical dilemmas or dealing with leadership problems. They might include machinery breakdowns or problems with technology.
Each question in the situational judgment test is provided as a scenario, with a description of the problem or issue that might be written, or in video or animation form. Afterward, there will be several possible courses of action listed, and you will have to either decide which would be the most effective course of action, choose the best and worst course of action, or rank the actions according to how suitable they are for dealing with the problem.
Situational judgment tests tend not to be timed, but you should aim to answer them quickly, relying on instinct rather than detailed analysis to complete the assessment.
Situational judgment tests are usually created for the business that you have applied for, which means that the questions are specific for the company and the role in particular. However, there are some ways that you can prepare for the situational judgment test so that you can perform at your best.
Firstly, practice makes perfect. You can find situational judgment practice tests online, and most are free. Whether they are the same as the test you will be taking in terms of content or not, the structure of the assessment and the general competencies that are being evaluated are broadly similar.
Take practice tests to see how you would react in some work-based scenarios and use them to think about what recruiters are looking for in terms of the role you have applied for.
To learn about the requirements for your role (and get some ideas of how best to answer situational judgment questions), you should complete some research before you get started. You will find that there is a lot of useful information on the company website, especially if they have a careers page – listed here will be basic qualification requirements and skills that the business needs, but there is also likely to be a section dedicated to the business values which they want to see employees demonstrate.
Aside from this, you should read the job description thoroughly. This part of your research will tell you exactly what the recruitment team is looking for – education, qualifications, and experience but more importantly competencies and skills that you can demonstrate when you are giving your answers in the situational judgment test.
Situational judgment tests are usually bespoke, which means that they can be a somewhat costly addition to the recruitment process – and that is why you are much more likely to come across them when you apply for a role in a larger company.
In the financial and business services sector, you will find variations on the situational judgment test at the Big Four accounting firms (PwC, KPMG, Deloitte, and EY) as well as some slightly smaller banks and institutions like HSBC.
The situational judgment test is an important part of the selection process for the NHS and the Police as well as the Civil Service.
You are more likely to take a situational judgment test if you are applying for a role that is customer-facing or will have some leadership elements – especially if you need to be able to think critically to make important decisions.
In most cases, the situational judgment test is untimed, so you do not have to rush your answers. With this being said, the best way to answer the questions is to go with your gut instinct.
The situational judgment test is about the way you make decisions in the workplace, and when faced with a problem once you have been hired you are not necessarily going to be able to ponder over what to do for several minutes.
In most cases, candidates usually spend about 30-45 minutes on a situational judgment test.
Answering scenario-based questions like a situational judgment test might be unfamiliar territory for you when you are applying for a role, but there are lots of resources available that can help you be more prepared.
Firstly, articles like this Wikijob feature have lots of detailed information about what to expect and how to answer the test for the best result, with example tests and questions to help.
If you want to get some more practice in, you will find free practice situational judgment tests at JobTestPrep, which also includes some from different publishers so you can get a wider frame of reference for your assessment. You will also find the Prep Packs available at a small cost offer not only practice tests, but revision materials and tips to help you ace the test.
You might be able to find out more on the company’s website, too. In the careers section, there is often more details about the recruitment process and what to expect at each stage, and along with the research you will complete about the role, the business, and the wider industry of the company you want to work for, the careers page should give you some really useful details.
If you prefer your revision on paper, then there are several books – including workbooks – available online and in shops. You might be able to find books designed specifically for the type of test you are facing, such as the CASPer, the FPAS or the Police Situational Judgment Test.
There are several ways of approaching the situational judgment test, but there is no ‘right way’ of answering other than what the recruitment team is looking for. It is not often that you will know exactly what the team wants from you in the test, but there are some clues you might pick up in your research.
In the job description, there might be mention of ‘integrity,’ which means that if your situational judgment test has a scenario about an employee stealing, you need to demonstrate that you have integrity by choosing the action that condemns the theft as the most appropriate answer, for example.
Alongside this, you will need to answer with your instincts and your gut feeling about how you really would deal with the scenario if it happened to you at work. In an ideal world, these instincts would match with the values and competencies that the business wants to see in their employees and you would move seamlessly to the next round.
However, if you don’t get past the situational judgment test in your application, it could be a blessing in disguise – as part of the assessment is for the way you will fit in the workplace environment and be comfortable in the office culture, so if you are not a match, you might be unhappy at work in the future.
The right way of answering a situational judgment test, then, is to be honest and go with your instinct – but bear in mind what the recruitment team is looking for in a candidate.
For a business, a bespoke situational judgment test can be a costly addition to the interview process, but the savings in the time of the recruitment team and the monetary costs of wrong hires make it worth it, especially for bigger businesses who need more filters to reduce large candidate pools.
There is no cost to the applicant to take the situational judgment test as part of their job application.
The CASPer (Computer-based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics) is a situational judgment test that is used as part of the entry assessments for medical schools in the US.
The questions on the CASPer are related to scenarios, but they are rarely medically based (unlike other situational judgment tests which have questions based on realistic situations that a candidate would face in the role.
The questions that are asked in the CASPer are based on the presented scenarios, but the answers are not about finding the best course of action – instead, they are more related to how you would behave and what your reaction would be.
In a typical situational judgment test, you would be presented with a work-related scenario based on a realistic situation and asked to identify the best course of action to deal with the problem from the multiple-choice options given.
A situational judgment test is a pre-employment screening assessment that is used to discover whether an applicant has the required soft skills like problem-solving and communication to be successful in the role while considering their work behavior and personality traits.
Each question is based on a realistic workplace scenario or problem, with several courses of action that could be taken to deal with the issue.
You might be asked to choose the most effective course of action from the multiple-choice options or choose both the best and the worst course of action. In some cases, you might be asked to rank the courses of action based on how effective you think they would be.
Marking of the situational judgment test is simple – you will receive a mark for a correct answer, and you will need to achieve a minimum score to be successful and be taken further in the recruitment process.