Situational Judgement Test (SJT)

Situational Judgement Test (SJT) - Toolshero

Situational Judgement Test: this article explains the Situational Judgement Test (SJT) in a practical way.The article starts with the general meaning and definition of SJT, follwed by information about the development of the test and practical tips and example to start practicing with this method. In this article you will also find an example questionnaire to practice yourself with the type of questions you will receive during the test. Enjoy reading!

What is the Situational Judgement Test (SJT)?

The Situational Judgement Test (SJT) is a psychological test in which the person in question is presented with hypothetical, realistic scenarios in which this person must give the most appropriate response.

The SJT is a psychometric instrument, which also includes personality tests and cognitive tests. SJTs are presented to the test taker in a variety of formats, including booklets, movies, or audio recordings.

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The situational stress test is also popular with the human resource management department within organizations, more specifically in the recruitment selection of new candidates and the training of already hired persons.

Unlike, for example, a personality test for recruitment and selection, the SJT is not a ready-made instrument that can be used. Instead, it is used as a method to custom design a test for a specific function.

Development of the Situational Judgement Test

The Situational Judgment Test has been around for several decades. The first versions developed and documented were the How Supervise and the Cardall Practical Judegment Test.

In 1958, the Supervisory Practice Test, developed by Bruce and Learner, appeared. It was not until the 1990s that the test really took off and was applied in the field of employment.

Today, the SJT is also promoted by consulting firms. However, there is also criticism of the method. For example, the method would encourage bias against low-income individuals and mainly men would request the test.

Example situation SJT

Below is a brief example. Later in the article you will find an example SJT test, consisting of four scenarios + possible answers.

Imagine that you work for a call center for a large telecommunications company from Amsterdam. You receive a call from a customer stating that he waited 2 hours for a technician, but the technician did not show up within the scheduled time frame. The customer is not at all satisfied and from time to time raises his voice in the telephone conversation.

Indicate which of the following possible answers is most effective and which is least effective.

  1. Apologize and propose to reschedule
  2. Explain that the technician has a very busy schedule and that delays are likely to occur. It is therefore difficult to always be on time, but you can be sure that the technician will be there shortly.
  3. Listen to the customer’s story and tell him that you understand why he is not happy and that it must be a very unpleasant experience for him.
  4. Ask the customer to wait while you contact the technician to find out what time the technician expects to be there. After you have contacted you know whether the customer can wait or whether it is better to make a new appointment.

There are really no right or wrong answers to choose from. It can also happen that your instinctive response is not among the choices. You therefore use your experience and knowledge to select the answer you think is right.

In general, these types of scenarios mainly look at:

  • Communication skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Relationship management
  • Teamwork
  • Commercial awareness

If it concerns a management position, other competencies are important, for example:

  • Motivation
  • Strategy
  • Result Orientation
  • Long term planning

Tips for Preparing for a Situational Judgement Test (SJT)

Below are some tips to help you better prepare for taking a Situational Judgment Test.

Familiarize yourself with the tests

Before taking any test, it’s important to know what to expect. The same goes for the SJT. Familiarize yourself with the format by conducting practice tests and cases on the Internet. This is important to be able to navigate through the questions efficiently without wasting too much time.

Understand the job requirements

As noted earlier, there is not always a uniformly correct response to a situation. You must therefore have a good understanding of the industry and the role you are applying for. Some personality traits and skills are very important in one industry, but not in others.

Situational Judgement Test (SJT) sample test

While there is no standard SJT test, as it is tailored to the specific function, it is important to familiarize yourself with the concept. Below you will find 2 described hypothetical situations. Below each situation you will find several answers. Choose the answer that you think is most appropriate. Also choose the answer that you think is the least suitable. There are no right or wrong answers.

Situation 1: training a new colleague and work delegation

You have been working hard on a customer project for the past few months. The project is challenging and takes a lot of time. You did this together with a new colleague, who obviously has much less experience and still needs guidance. Although there were some challenges in working together, overall you are satisfied and the new colleague has made enough progress and her confidence has grown.

At a certain point, the manager will ask you if you want to get a new project off the ground. This means that you have to drop the current project and have it completed by the new, less experienced colleague.

How do you react?

  1. Be honest with the manager. Explain that the current project must continue and that your input is needed until the end of the project. Explain that you don’t want to completely delegate the project and then see the project fail.
  2. Accept the new project and tell the manager that you will be working extra hours in the evenings and weekends to provide sufficient support to the new colleague. This ensures that she does not feel alone and that you can start a new project at the same time.
  3. Tell the manager that you are happy to take on the new project and assure him that you will successfully complete both projects by giving the less experienced colleague more autonomy. You will regularly follow up with her, and make extra appointments for new challenges.
  4. Accept the new project and say that you will be in daily contact with the new colleague to make sure everything is going well.

Situation 2: working in a team

As a student, you are working on a project in which you design a new product line, including the branding strategy. As you progress, it appears that the rest of the project members prefer a somewhat unusual approach. You think they don’t know exactly how it works to launch a product line. Other team members become frustrated with their approach and see the chosen path as wasted time.

You start a meeting, but the meeting doesn’t run smoothly and you decide that someone needs to take charge and make decisions.

How do you react?

  1. Tactfully explain that the group should focus on the product line they have already started because there is no time left to launch a whole new product line. This ensures that the project group can focus and be productive again.
  2. Suggest that the project group can draw up a list of criteria against which all suggestions made can be assessed. This ensures that all options will be assessed fairly.
  3. Suggest that the group split into 2 and that each subgroup continues to develop its own product line.
  4. Ask each member of the group which option they think is best. Indicate that you as a mediator want to weigh all options. Once everyone has given their input, you can move on to a group discussion in which everyone focuses on arriving at a solution.

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It’s Your Turn

What do you think? Do you recognize the explanation about the Situational Judgment Test (SJT)? Do you have experience completing such a test? What tips can you share to prepare for this test? What questions do you miss in the questionnaire shared in this article? Do you have other tips or comments?

Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.

More information

  1. Webster, E. S., Paton, L. W., Crampton, P. E., & Tiffin, P. A. (2020). Situational judgement test validity for selection: A systematic review and meta‐analysis. Medical education, 54(10), 888-902.
  2. Patterson, F., Ashworth, V., Zibarras, L., Coan, P., Kerrin, M., & O’Neill, P. (2012). Evaluations of situational judgement tests to assess non‐academic attributes in selection. Medical education, 46(9), 850-868.
  3. Schubert, S., Ortwein, H., Dumitsch, A., Schwantes, U., Wilhelm, O., Kiessling, C., … & Kiessling, C. (2008). A situational judgement test of professional behaviour: development and validation. Medical teacher, 30(5), 528-533.
  4. Sorrel, M. A., Olea, J., Abad, F. J., de la Torre, J., Aguado, D., & Lievens, F. (2016). Validity and reliability of situational judgement test scores: A new approach based on cognitive diagnosis models. Organizational Research Methods, 19(3), 506-532.

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Published on: 05/11/2022 | Last update: 10/23/2023

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Ben Janse
Article by:

Ben Janse

Ben Janse is a young professional working at ToolsHero as Content Manager. He is also an International Business student at Rotterdam Business School where he focusses on analyzing and developing management models. Thanks to his theoretical and practical knowledge, he knows how to distinguish main- and side issues and to make the essence of each article clearly visible.


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