Employers are increasingly using bespoke situational judgement tests (where the candidate is presented with scenarios and asked to select the best and the worst thing to do next) as a way to learn more about their character and attitudes to work.
Situation judgment trends in 2018
Graduate recruitment trends in 2018
The increase in the number of graduate courses and the career benefits of having a degree have driven a huge increase in the number of graduates. There remains a limited number of vacancies each year on graduate trainee schemes. During the recent years of recession, the number of graduate entry roles became even more restricted; making graduate recruitment even more competitive. Microsoft, for example, received 15,000 job applications for each of its 150 graduate position in 2009. That year, the success ratio of applications to job offers was 1:100 at Microsoft.
This has created a “bottleneck” between the high number of recent graduates and the considerably lower number who are successfully placed on graduate entry schemes. Clearly, there are severe implications of such a challenging job market for graduates. For employers too, there is a “war on talent” to find and sign-up the best possible graduates in the marketplace. It is a recruiters’ market, however most recruiters want to recruit the top echelon of high-performing graduates who are showing the best leadership potential, the most effective ability to work in teams, the highest levels of motivation and drive etc. SJTs offer an effective means of measuring each of these abilities and attributes.
Situational judgment tests in the news
On BBC Radio 2, in February 2014, Dr Almuth McDowell referred to the benefits of situational judgement tests and one of the SJT example items developed by Rob Williams Assessment Ltd.
The same interview on SJT benefits also featured in The Times on 4th Feb, Dr Almuth McDowell, a lecturer at the University of Surrey, says psychometric testing has an important role to play, but only in conjunction with other measures, not least because it is possible to cheat.
Additional situational judgment test tips are available in Rob Williams Assessment Ltd’s latest Career Builder article entitled “How to succeed at management interview tests”.
Example of situational judgement tests
You mention in passing to a colleague that you believe there are some financial risks associated with a financial product that’s about to be launched to customers. In a team meeting later that week, your colleague shares this information with your manager – without mentioning your name. How do you react?
You are then asked to select your most preferred and least preferred responses
(a) Apologise on your colleague’s behalf for their poor explanation.
(b) Suggest that your colleague does their own research.
(c) Ask your colleague to also include you in future.
(d) Check that your manager understands the risk involved.
By using real life scenarios, the idea is that employers will get a better understanding of how you might operate in the work place.
Branching situational judgement tests
As psychometric tests have become more commonplace, the bigger users have commissioned their own bespoke situational judgement tests. Rob Williams Assessment has worked on several such projects for High Street banks and for the European Union. Another recent innovation of test developers has been online adaptive tests. With these tests, if you are doing well, you will find that the questions get progressively harder. That can feel like a challenge since you are pushed until you reach the most challenging level you can. This is the level at which you – just like other candidates with your level of verbal reasoning – start to get questions wrong.
The innovative design of shorter and more efficient tests was driven by an increasingly aware of the immediacy of the Internet and our increasing use of emails and social media in short, sharp bursts. This discourages test takers from spending 30-40 minutes online doing the same questionnaire. Its better for everyone to keep test takers engaged when being tested – not bored!
So what will adaptive tests mean for you as a prospective test taker? The biggest difference is the shortness of the test. The second major difference is that you will find an adaptive test more challenging. Without getting into their highly technical make-up, the test adapts to your ability level. More specifically it adapts to find the most challenging question that you can answer correctly.
In the past you may have found questions on a test fluctuating in difficulty or generally becoming more and more difficult the further on you get in the test. Consider a test of twenty questions with the first the easiest and the twentieth the most difficult.
Knowledge-based situational judgement tests
Some or all of the scenarios presented in an SJT can test specific job knowledge. For example, a retail marketing SJT may ask questions about the 3Ps (price, position, promotion) of product marketing. Alternatively both an SJT measuring generic decision-making skills may be used alongside a knowledge-based test.
Video based Situational judgment tests in 2018
Simulated situational judgement tests are increasingly common as recruitment sifts. Adding 2D or 3D workplace scenario graphics brings the situational judgment test scenarios to life. This can only promote the company brand and make employers using simulated situational judgment tests more desirable employers.
UK and US psychometric test publishers have produced both video-based and animated SJT scenarios. Animated SJTs are easier – and therefore cheaper – for global companies to develop.
Situational judgement test research 2010 – 2018
Becker’s development and validation of a situational judgment test of employee integrity.
Bergman’s scoring situational judgment tests: Once you get the data, your troubles begin.
Bledlow’s situational judgment test of personal initiative and its relationship to performance.
Campion’s state of research on situational judgment tests: A content analysis and directions for future research.
Catano, V. M., Brochu, A. & Lamerson, C. D. (2012). Assessing the reliability of situational judgment tests used in high_stakes situations. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 20(3), 333–346.
Chan’s situational judgment and job performance.
Guenole’s are situational judgment tests precise enough for feedback in leadership development?
Houston’s development of the enlisted computer adaptive personality scales.
Krumm’s how “situational” is judgment in situational judgment tests?
McDaniel;s towards an understanding of situational judgment item validity and group differences.
McDaniel’s situational judgment tests.
Mumford’s development and validation of a team role knowledge situational judgment test.
Peus’ situation-based measurement of the full range of leadership model. Development and validation of a situational judgment test.
Rockstuh’s putting judging situations into situational judgment tests: Evidence from intercultural multimedia situational judgement tests.
Sharma’s development and validation of a situational judgment test of emotional intelligence.