Situational Judgement Test Designs. Man in box creating situational judgement scenario.

SJT Design

Situational judgement test design is one of our key psychometric test design specialities.

In addition to situational judgement test design, we also specialise in other forms of psychometric test design, such as personality test design and verbal reasoning test design.

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Strengths Assessment ~ Disability Assessment ~ Leadership Assessment ~ Situational Strengths ~  Intelligence Strengths Test ~ Skills test design / Psychometric.





Our other psychometric test design specialities

Our situational judgement test design

Rob Williams Assessment Ltd have considerable experience in situational judgement test designs. Our approach to situational judgement test designs is to always design bespoke situational judgement tests based upon a highly detailed role analysis.

Introduction to situational judgement tests

A situational judgment test presents realistic scenarios similar to those that would be encountered when doing a particular job. By using real life scenarios, the idea is that employers will get a better understanding of how you might operate in the work place. Typically, candidates must identify the best and the worst course of action from four multiple-choice options. In other words, you must make two “judgments” about what to do and what not to do next in the “situation” presented.

Example situational judgement test

You have two very important deadlines to meet by the end of your working day. However it is becoming clear in your final two hours of working that you are in danger of missing both deadlines?

Select your most preferred and least preferred responses:

(a) Work out what to do. 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.

Answer to situational judgement test example question

In this instance, the best response is (a) Whereas, 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.

Best practice SJT design

The SJTs we design follow these best practices in SJT design.

– Firstly, review existing role descriptions and competency framework literature.
– Secondly, conduct job analysis sessions (face-to-face or telephone-based) with a selection of subject matter experts.
– Thirdly, reate draft scenarios encompassing positive and negative behavioural responses
– And then write realistic responses to each draft scenario.
– Also, run a small trial of the draft SJT scenarios with a set of subject matter experts. This is primarily to agree the scoring key.
– And then analyse descriptive statistics for the first trial.
– Run a full trial of the draft SJT scenarios.
– Apply and check the scoring key against the trial SJT test results.
– Analyse descriptive statistics for this trial (mean, SD etc).

Ongoing situational test trends

Situational judgement tests (SJTs) have also become prevalent in graduate recruitment. These tests presents scenarios to applicants and asks them to select the best and the worst thing to do next. SJT’s are very popular in the United States due to their excellent record of fairness across different ethnic groups.

Bespoke situational judgement test design benefits

  • Strong research evidence – a highly valid and fair test of a range of professional skills.
  • High face validity and job relevance

  • Reduced adverse impact  – especially compared to aptitude tests such as verbal reasoning tests with their high language loading.
  • Cost effective development time – 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.

Situational Judgement Test Designs. Woman at interview

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

Situational Judgement Test Designs. Person at laptop with notepad.

SJT Design Projects

  • Lazard Brothers and AECOM graduate engineers. Situational judgement test validations
  • Citibank. Designing blended assessments for retail and call centre operations in American and Mexico. Managing item writing team for SJTs, ability tests, biodata questions etc.
  • Citibank telephony customer service agents (Mexico, Malaysia, India) and retail banking roles (North America): manager, assistant manager, bank teller, personal banker.
  • European Union. Development of project management and IT skills-based aptitude tests for the European Union.
  • British Airways cabin crew, British Airways customer service and call centre operatives.
  • BUPA Care Assistants 
  • Lazard Brothers SJT validation  and cut-off setting
  • AECOM graduate engineers SJT validation and cut-off setting
Beneficial SJT Design Project Outcomes
  • Best practice was followed throughout the design process in SJT design.
  • An SJT was produced which successfully incorporated a range of care home-specific scenarios.
  • The most suitable set of scenarios could be hand-picked at the SME panel meeting, as well as gaining buy-in and discussing implementation.
  • Providing some scenarios for telephone interview sifts.
  • Setting a suitable cut-off and validating the tool.

Situational judgement test applications

Increasingly online situational judgment tests are being used as a recruitment sift in place of a more traditional verbal reasoning test and/or personality questionnaire. Here are some of the advantages that situational judgement tests offer compared to more traditional psychometric tests:

– More efficient to use one psychometric combining elements of both reasoning and personality assessments

– Once a bespoke situational judgment test is developed, it is more cost effective

– Situational judgment tests excel at sifting out high volumes of poorer quality candidates whilst selecting in the high calibre candidates who have scored highly across the range of role competencies

– Fairer assessment in terms of diversity issues since there is minimal adverse impact due to gender or ethnic origin

– Situational judgment tests are particularly good at assessing cultural fit. A well designed situational judgment test can therefore assess organisational values – as well as an organisation’s competencies per role.

– Situational judgment tests (SJTs) can act as a realistic job preview since SJTs and RJPs (RJPs)  have the same test format. Candidates can sift themselves out of a recruitment process at an early stage – often even before applying if the realistic job preview sits freely available on the company website.

– You can purchase generic situational judgment tests from most UK psychometric test publishers. A bespoke SJT is a more effective sift even though it will be more expensive initially.

Situational judgement test design

Why use Situational Judgement Tests?

Candidates prefer SJTs compared to cognitive ability and personality tests.

Traditionally, selection into medical education professions has focused primarily upon academic ability alone.

There are mounting calls to widen access to medicine, to ensure that selection methods do not unfairly disadvantage individuals from specific groups (e.g. regarding ethnicity or socio-economic status) so that the future workforce adequately represents society as a whole.

What are Situational Judgement Tests?

Firstly, situational judgement tests (SJTs) assess individuals’ reactions to a number of hypothetical role-relevant scenarios, which reflect situations candidates are likely to encounter in the target role.

Secondly, in our opinion, SJTs measure pro-social Implicit Trait Policies (ITPs) – shaped by socialisation processes. For example, helping others in need), or disagreeable actions (e.g. advancing one’s own interest at others, expense).

SJTs have significant added value (incremental validity) over and above other selection methods such as knowledge tests, measures of cognitive ability, personality tests and application forms. SJTs have lower adverse impact compared to other selection methods, such as cognitive ability tests.

Are situational judgment tests valid?

Specifically, evidence consistently shows that SJTs used in medical selection has good reliability, and predict performance across a range of medical professions, including performance in general practice, in early years (foundation training as a junior doctor) and for medical school admissions.

SJTs have the benefit of being appropriate both for use in a selection where candidates are novices (i.e. have no prior role experience or knowledge such as in medical school admissions) as well as settings where candidates have substantial job knowledge and specific experience (as in postgraduate recruitment for more senior roles). An SJT specification (e.g. scenario content, response instructions and format) may differ depending on the level of job knowledge required.

Situational judgement test design

Background to situational judgement tests

Situational judgement test questions can be designed around a specific role. Because SJTs are bespoke, candidates rate them highly as a valid application stage.

In fact, there is a type of SJT called a realistic job preview which is used solely to give job applicants a realistic preview of a role.

In our opinion, situational judgment test presents realistic job scenarios. The idea is that employers will get a better understanding of how you might operate in the work place.

  • These measure those skills of judgment and evaluation which are vital to any managerial role. Role-specific competencies will be measured, typically customer service, communication and teamwork.
  • SJTs are a highly effective means of measuring an applicant’s competency behaviours – i.e., the characteristics that determine how they behave in certain areas.
  • SJTs are a fair test of how the candidate would solve a job’s daily challenges.

Situational judgment test design