Situational judgement tests - a quick guide

Tom Stroud By Tom Stroud on 12.07.2016
A man taking a situational judgement test on a laptop

The situational judgement test (SJT) can trace its roots back to the U.S. Civil Service in 1873. In recent years the use of situational judgement tests for recruitment purposes has increased significantly. Moving from paper-based tests to online tests has massively improved their accessibility. Here's our 'quick guide to the situational judgement test:

How is a situational judgement test different to other online tests?

A situational judgement test is designed to assess a candidate's judgement in tackling work related scenarios. Whereas online aptitude tests measure a candidate's cognitive ability, such as verbal or numerical reasoning.

Situational judgement tests can also assess a candidate's match with your organisation's values and culture, giving you greater insight into a candidate's 'fit'.

The benefits of situational judgement tests in recruitment

Situational judgement tests are an efficient and cost-effective option for screening high volumes of candidates. Being automated they save you money by reducing the number of hours spent manually sifting candidates. They give you more objective recruitment data and are also fairer when considering diversity issues.

Using a well designed situational judgement test you can efficiently sift out those candidates not matched to your organisation and the role. You also quickly identify those aligned to your way of doing things.

A situational judgement test can also give candidates a realistic job preview. If this doesn't match their expectations, they can self-select out. Realistic job previews are shown to improve employee retention, especially in the first few months.

Off the shelf vs bespoke?

There are a variety of situational judgement tests available for recruitment. Off the shelf situational judgement tests will be more generic, but are ready to use immediately. Similar to aptitude tests, such as verbal reasoning, you typically pay per candidate, or you can licence the test and save money for high volume roles.

These situational judgement tests are an efficient sifting mechanism. However, they will only tell you a candidate's ability to judge general work based situations. Also, they don't provide the candidate with a preview of the role, or what it's like to work at your organisation.

A bespoke situational judgement test can add more value to your recruitment process. By including aspects of your culture, values and 'the way, you do things' the test is more effective at measuring what's important to you.

Finally, with a bespoke situational judgement test you only pay once to have it designed, you then own it and don't have to pay per candidate. For high volume campaigns, this makes them better value.

Bring to life with video

Using simple text versions of situational judgement tests are still a conventional method. The candidate is presented with a written statement followed with a choice of the most and least effective actions.

Although plain text tests are cheaper, quicker to produce and easier to roll out, they are not particularly engaging.

Video is an excellent way to bring the scenarios in a situational judgment test to life. Using actors or existing employees to represent typical situations the candidate may face in the role, is more engaging and realistic.


In summary, situational judgement tests are an efficient way of sifting high volumes of candidates. They are cost effective, especially for volume recruitment.

Using a situational judgement test will help you stand out from your competitors as well as improve the candidate experience.

You also want to make sure your test is accessible via mobile devices, allowing candidates to complete them on their tablets or mobile phones.

To arrange an informal chat to find out how situational judgement tests could improve your recruitment process, click below to schedule a call.

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