10 tips for taking a situational judgement test
Situational judgement tests (SJTs, behavioral tests, psychological tests or situational cases) are a popular assessment tool among HR agencies and large business. Managerial positions, sales, customer support and administrative jobs require good interpersonal skills and the ability to find effective solutions in any work situation. Situational judgement tests are the most convenient tool to assess candidates for having these and other competencies.
Scenarios of SJTs usually show realistic work situations and conflicts that may have place on your position, and have 4-5 suggested answer options that you are to evaluate for effectiveness. You either need to find the correct answer, or the first answer, or the 2 best and worst answer, or you may need to range the answers be their effectiveness.
Why employers use SJTs?
Applicants have situational judgement tests with other psychometric tests like aptitude tests for intellectual abilities. These are such as numerical reasoning tests, verbal reasoning tests and abstract reasoning tests. The purpose of all these psychometric tests is not to evaluate your “quality”, but rather to determine how you are suitable for the job you are applying for, for example, to determine your professional suitability for leadership positions or for working with clients.
SJTs are designed in such a way that they provide the candidate with a realistic scenario, emotionally involving him/her in the situation and provoking a spontaneous response. The time limit is also aimed at spontaneous response. Their goal is to obtain the most honest answers from the candidate and draw up his or her most realistic psychological portrait when acting in a difficult working situation.
The tricks of SJTs
If you have not taken situational judgement tests earlier, then you will most likely fall for this trick. After all, the first spontaneous answer is most often the wrong answer. It may seem to you absolutely correct and not to be doubted, but if you carefully analyze the actions and their consequences from the rest of the answers, taking into account the context of the situation and those professional qualities that are the object in this test, you may find that the first and most obvious answer has flaws.
It’s worth it that we repeat: situational judgement tests are called upon to receive a spontaneous, emotionally colored answer from you. And most applicants who are unfamiliar with this feature of situational tests succumb to this “provocation” and get a low score on them. For this reason, job seekers often do not like pre-employment SJTs.
Below you find an example, which was once very widely known. During a job interview with SJTs for a top managerial position in a large Western financial company, a candidate was asked the following scenario: you are the head of a large family and the father of four children aged 2 to 15 years. There was a road accident on a car trip with your youngest child, your car fell into the sea from a cliff, and you are in mortal danger. The car is being quickly filled with water, the doors are jammed, the air is quickly running out, you are injured, and your strength is leaving you. You are in a situation of choice: either die yourself, but save the child or save yourself, but you cannot save the child. What will you do?
Like any adequate father, this candidate, without hesitation, chose the first option – save the child, but die himself. And he was not approved for the position exactly because of this answer. The explanation of the test said that you, as the father of a large family, cannot leave it without a single breadwinner and father, even in such a situation. If you survive, you can still have children, but if you die, you will leave the family in need, without support. Without you, your children will not be able to get a good education, they will not be able to grow into successful people. The test assessed the skills of managing a team in crisis, when painful strategic changes and redundancies were needed in order to save the company, and the correct answer was to save yourself at any cost.
We sincerely hope that you will never have to answer the questions of such a difficult ethical choice. But we cited this example just in order to demonstrate the importance of a calm critical analysis of all the given scenario information and each of the answer options in situational judgement tests. It is extremely important with SJTs to keep a cool head and complete composure to take into account all the details of the scenario and the answers.
10 tips for situational judgement tests preparation
We made a list of 10 tips from our HR consultants to prepare for situational judgement tests:
- Find and practice as many situational judgement tests as you can before the actual testing. This will allow you to quickly learn the basic formats of questions and types of answers and immediately jump to the core of the question.
- Carefully study the explanation of all practice questions that you take. Aptitude-Tests-Practice.com offers a detailed explanation of all the tests and strategies for SJTs. You can get detailed explanation for each answer after each question.
- Try to identify patterns in your answers and, accordingly, your own individual inclinations. Are you a team player who likes to know the opinion of the whole team before making a decision, or are you a leader who makes decisions with the conviction that he/she is right? These are types of personal qualities that are assessed by situational judgement tests, therefore, by practicing them in advance, you can learn valuable lessons and avoid obvious mistakes in real testing.
- Find and practice SJTs written by qualified psychologists. Professional HR psychologists create tests for all major test developers. By practicing SJTs written by these experts, you will get a real idea of what the real tests will be. Practice questions by authors outside large companies are usually not the best choice, as they can differ significantly from the SJ questions actually used by employers. All test questions on Aptitude-Tests-Practice.com were developed by qualified professional psychologists, so you can be sure that you will receive quality training on our website.
- Conduct a preliminary analysis of the employer and the position you are applying for. Try to understand what kind of specialist the company is looking for. Situational judgement tests are usually tailored to the organization that uses them. This way analyzing what kind of person they need can help you predict the types of questions you will have at your SJ test. For example, if you contact an audit firm and you have questions about teamwork, this probably implies that the auditors work in teams, and it’s important for the employer to hire candidates who have strong teamwork skills.
- Be yourself. Psychometric tests are a two-way process. The company that hires you wants you to suit them, but they also want that you enjoy working with them. It’s important to honestly answer questions, and not try to change yourself for a particular place. In some SJ tests, you will not be able to give a “wrong” answer since all of them will be fine and just show your inclinations. You need to carefully analyze all the answers in a given context, but respond truthfully. This will help the employer to use your strengths and choose for you a position in which you will be the perfect employee.
- Watch the time. At the beginning of testing, find out how many questions you need to solve and how much time you have. Do not waste too much time on any question.
- Talk to the HR department of the company. Most often, you will be able to get some sample tests or other help regarding the tests or the whole application process.
- Try to practice SJTs in different formats. On our website you can find four different types of situational judgement tests. The preliminary practice of test questions in different formats means that you will be more prepared for real testing.
- Practice, practice, practice. There is simply no alternative to practice. Practice sole can give you the necessary experience and confidence. Use the time before the interview as efficiently as possible, start effective targeted training without losing a minute.
On Aptitude-Tests-Practice.com you will find a large number of situational judgement tests. See free examples on the Situational Judgement Tests page and in our articles:
When practicing the SJTs, try to learn from each question, and remember: the tests and scenarios on the real test will be new. The most important thing in training is to learn all possible test tyoes in order to demonstrate your abilities to the future employer from the best side.