Assessment

Introduction to situational judgement tests

Ettie Holland By Ettie Holland on 09.01.2020
Graduate programme-blueprint

What is a situational judgement test?

Situational judgement tests – SJTs – have been a mainstay of the recruitment world since the 1940s. In this short article, we’ll show you what an SJT is and why they’re a valuable tool in your assessment arsenal.

Read on.

What are situational judgement tests?

Situational judgement tests are a type of psychometric test (typically multiple-choice) designed around a hypothetical scenario. Candidates are typically asked to select or rank the responses they believe would be most effective, or that they’d choose in real life.

As the name implies, situational judgement tests are all about testing candidates’ judgement in relevant situations. There might be no right and wrong answer. Rather, SJTs can help you understand whether someone’s way of thinking and behaving is aligned with your business.

For example, an SJT might outline a customer complaint scenario. There could be several effective ways to handle the situation – like escalating to a manager versus calmly taking down all the details and calling back.

But the answer you’ll prefer depends on whether you’re looking for someone who’s comfortable with strict hierarchical processes or someone who’ll take the initiative to handle problems solo.

Situational judgement tests are typically bespoke to your business, rather than designed around generic situations. By presenting candidates with a situation they might actually experience while working with you, you get a more accurate picture of candidates’ real-world performance.

Which in turn, increases the likelihood of hiring the best people for the job. And all the fabulous things that come with that, like increased productivity, faster time-to-productivity, lower new hire turnover, and so on.

Why are situational judgement tests valuable?

Situational judgement tests are a handy tool to have in your recruitment arsenal because they assess skills other assessments might not. There’s also an implication for the candidate experience, as candidates tend to rate SJTs highly.

SJTs give you answers like these:

  • How do candidates solve problems?
  • How do they make decisions?
  • Do candidates naturally show good professional judgement?
  • How do candidates work in a team?
  • What sort of team environment are candidates best suited to?
  • How do candidates cope with interpersonal challenges?
  • Do candidates demonstrate leadership potential?
  • What communication skills do candidates have?
  • What are candidates’ main strengths?

Crucially SJTs assess skills in the context of your business environment. That matters because a candidate might have an excellent portfolio of skills but still struggle to thrive in your unique environment. Or vice versa.

For example, a candidate might be an excellent leader but only within structured teams where roles are clearly defined. That’s invaluable information. Otherwise you might’ve hired them for their excellent leadership skills – but if your business is primarily small teams in a flat hierarchy where everyone pitches in, maybe they’d have struggled. Demoralising for them, costly for you.

Knowing how to spot great ‘environment fit’ empowers you to make better hires, who add more value to your workforce.

That’s why situational judgement tests are valuable. To find out which businesses benefit most from using SJTs, check out: When should you use situational judgement tests?

Tazio help businesses recruit, hire and engage their people more easily, with less stress. We’re always happy to have an informal chat and share some recommendations to improve your recruitment processes or overcome any bottlenecks – let’s talk?

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