Here are our top situational judgement test tips. Hope these prove useful to you. All of our test practice resources are free!
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Situational judgement test strategies
Situational judgement test tips – SJT format
Firstly, start with a crystal clear understanding of the test format. There are a few good psychometric test-taking principles to follow. Before starting the test, ensure that you fully understand the test format – particularly if you have never completed a situational judgement test before.
Situational judgement test tips – Best / Worst answers
Secondly, make a mental note of any differences with previous SJTs you’ve done. Typically you have to select which is the Best answer option, sometimes you also need to select the Worst option. Another common situational judgement test format is to choose which of the answer options are appropriate. For example, the situation judgement tests for Foundation Entry to become a doctor – the entire UKCAT application suite of tests also encompasses verbal reasoning, numerical reasoning, abstract reasoning and decision analysis sub-tests.
Situational judgement test tips – unique answers
Thirdly, look for unique answer options. Before answering, always read both the scenario and all the best possible answer options very carefully. The answer options are independent of each other. So if you do find two possible responses that are similar, you must study these and determine whether one is in fact a slightly better response than the other answer option. Always remember that it is the best available response required (from those shown). Also remember that you need to select what an individual Should do in the circumstances described. So, don’t answer with what you think is most likely to happen.
Situational judgement test tips – long term solutions
Fourth, avoid solutions that only work in the short-term. Although several of the options may appear valid in the short-term and it’s tempting to be biased towards taking immediate action… remember that it’s the Best response that’s needed. This is more likely to be a medium- to long-term solution that has lasting benefits and does not require the managers (or other team members) to revisit the problem and solve it at a later date.
Situational judgement test tips – Answer honestly
Fifth, focus on answering as the most honest and ethical person you can be. Be your best possible self, not just in terms of your most focused, high-performing self but equally as important is to answer as though you are the most ethical worker. Every correct answer must be founded on honesty, respect, patience and many other virtuous qualities.
Situational judgement test tips – what you should do
Remember specific instructions, such as answering what you should do. Remember that typically, situational judgement test instructions specify you to state what you should do. There may be a subtle difference on some situational judgement test questions between what you should and what you would do in that situational judgement test scenario.
Situational judgement test tips – remember role requirements
Reflect upon the job role’s core requirements. Consider the job role that you are applying for. The vast majority of jobs require effective teamwork so don’t give any situational judgement test question a Best answer that implies you have a poor understanding of collaborative working.
Situational judgement test tips – think of role’s limitations
Also, think through the
- Role’s main responsibilities.
- Limits of these responsibilities
- People and financial resources available to you
- What remedial actions could you realistically take?
Often an situational judgement test test poses questions to test your understanding of what you cannot do within the confines of the job role. For example, the UKCAT situational judgement test that must be passed to get into a UK medical school will pose situational judgement test questions about patient confidentiality. It would be unwise to answer any situational judgement test question that brought into doubt your (medical) ethics.
Situational judgement test tips – ignore the obviously incorrect
Plus, remove those answer options you know must be incorrect. With some psychometric tests, such as situational judgement tests, a useful test-taking strategy is to start by eliminating those answer options which are clearly inappropriate. Sometimes, rejecting several answer options may leave only the correct answer option for you to promptly select. Thereby saving you considerable test-taking time to use on other situational judgement test questions.
Situational judgement test tips – dealing with unethical answers
Also, always remember that any unethical answer options must be incorrect. Following on from situational judgement test Tip (9) there are particular actions which are highly unlikely to be the correct answer. These include:
– Non-compliance with organisational or industry rules / governance;
– Type of dishonesty;
– Challenging actions directed to your manager, or to those higher up the organisational ladder;
– Aggressive actions or intent;
– Hiding of errors or mistakes – particularly personal ones.
Situational judgement test tips – dealing with unethical answers
Plus, break the problem scenario down into the underlying constraints. Break down each situational judgement test scenario using logical analysis of the scenario’s components. You must establish the principle problem being set, plus any secondary constraints on the correct answer. Knowing the principle situational judgement test problem then allows you to dismiss any of the possible situational judgement test answer options that do not address the situational judgement test’s principle problem. Then – from the situational judgement test’s remaining answer options – you can select the correct one as being that situational judgement test answer option which also addresses the scenario’s secondary constraints.
Situational judgement test tips – similar answer options
Review the answer options to check if there are two answer options that are very similar. It’s then worth focusing on the other answer options. Here’s the logic for why you can ignore the two similar situational judgement test answer options. The two answer options may differ in the form of action proposed. However think realistically; is the actual outcome from selecting either of these two situational judgement test answer options going to be the same? If so, then neither of these two situational judgement test answer options can be the Best response. Or the Worst response to the situational judgement test scenario (by applying the same logical reasoning).
Situational judgment test tips – use your feedback
Effective feedback is the key to improving your overall performance. That means going through the answer explanations in detail. After each situational judgement test practice session, keep a record of how many questions you get right. Compare your performances so you can gauge your improvement over time.
Most tests are timed and you need to cultivate a focused and alert approach. Your first priority is to work accurately as there’s no benefit in getting situational judgment test questions wrong. But remember that the person sitting next to you could pass because they answered more questions than you did – even though they also got more questions wrong.
Situational judgement test tips – Review any careless mistakes
If you find yourself making too many careless mistakes you clearly need to slow down. Yes, you need to work at a brisk pace, but the key is to find the fastest pace that allows you to get situational judgment test questions right. It is also essential to read every word of every question very, very carefully to avoid sloppy mistakes.
Look for trends. Do you tend to make more mistakes at the beginning of your practice session? This could be a consequence of nerves. You need to work on achieving a high state of mental alertness immediately and giving the test 100 per cent focus as soon as you start work.
Are you making more mistakes near the end of your SJT practice session? This could be because you are rushing the last few situational judgement test questions. You need to work steadily and maintain concentration throughout any situational judgment test you take.
Are you clear on why you are getting certain situational judgement test questions wrong? This is key to improving – you need to learn from your mistakes. It’s vital to know where you need to improve most. If you are unaccustomed to a particular type of situational judgement question it makes sense to spend additional time getting comfortable with these questions. Don’t assume that you can pass without learning how to do that sort of situational judgment test question.
Situational judgement test tips – Developing strategies
SJTs are tricky with or without a strategy. The more specialised the role to which to you are applying for the more technical the SJT answer options will appear to you. In which case it really is a case of knowing the Best and the Worst options.
Situational judgment test tips – step-by-step approach
Try this step-by-step approach. Logically, the “Best” and “Worst” answers need to be distinct from the other answer options. Hence if two answer options seem very similar to you, it’s likely these are the “distractor” answer options and neither the best – or the worst – answer.
You are then asked to select your most preferred and least preferred responses:
(a) Work out what’s left to do and then prioritise the critical tasks for the time remaining.
(b) Focus on still doing a quality job even if you must miss a deadline.
(c) Speed up your remaining tasks so that you will still be able to meet both deadlines.
(d) Aim to achieve one deadline and to renegotiate the delivery date for the other.
In this instance, the best response is (a) Work out what’s left to do and then prioritise the critical tasks for the time remaining.
The worst response is (b) Focus on still doing a quality job even if you must miss a deadline. The best outcome is to meet the deadline after making a considered judgement call. Missing the important deadline is the worst outcome.
Other relevant practice
Bespoke situational judgement test design benefits
SJTs are designed to assess decision-making and judgment skills in specific workplace contexts. There is strong research evidence that the SJT format can be a highly valid and fair test of a range of professional skills.
High face validity and job relevance
The scenarios and answer options are more job-relevant than off-the-shelf psychometric tests (and even more face valid than many other tests which have also been adapted to suit a particular organisational context). This helps to ensure that even the most difficult situational judgement test is well-received by job applicants and is an engaging experience for them.
Reduced adverse impact
– Reduced adverse impact, especially compared to aptitude tests such as verbal reasoning tests with their high language loading.
– Scaleability allows situational judgement tests to be easily administered online to 1000’s if not 10,000’s of candidates if necessary.
Cost effective development time
– Relative to the time and cost requirements to develop aptitude tests, personality questionnaires and case study exercises, the design of a situational judgment test is a relatively cost effective testing solution.
Digital situational judgement test formats
Rob Williams Assessment Ltd have worked on many situational judgement tests including the different formats described above: ranking 4-6 response options, choosing the Best and/or the Worst response option, and producing video-based online situational judgement test simulations.Rob Williams Assessment Ltd have experience in developing situational judgement tests in the retail, graduate, healthcare and armed service sectors.
In particular we offer considerable experience in the most effective ways to write SJT scenarios and response options that work, as well as the most useful statistical analyses to conduct of your trial SJT data. This is crucial for ensuring the validity of the SJTs you are developing. Given our extensive experience in this area Situational judgment tests (SJTs) scenarios are written following extensive job analysis, typically using critical incidents.
Situational Judgement Test Advantages
SJTs advantages, in any suitable recruitment context, ae varies and numerous. The main ones that make SJTs particularly attractive, for example to sift out graduate applicants, are as follows:
– Easy to administer to large audience
– Relatively strong validity
– Can assess sample of the relevant KSA’s
– Refreshed items possible
– More difficult to fake responses
Further situational judgement test resources
Additional situational judgment test tips are available in Rob Williams Assessment Ltd’s latest Career Builder articles. You may find this article useful, What you need to know about situational judgement tests.