Situational Judgement Tests (SJTs) are a type of psychometric test used to assess candidates’ responses to work-related situations. SJTs provide a simple way to measure skills such as problem-solving, decision making and interpersonal skills. They may be used in combination with knowledge-based tests or job simulations to develop a fuller picture of a candidate’s suitability for a particular job.

Many employers use SJTs as part of the recruitment process. SJTs may be used on their own as a sifting tool or an organisation may include SJT questions in a realistic job simulation, which might also include an in-tray exercise and/or case study analysis. SJTs can incorporate various media such as video, animation and written text. Employers use these to try and create as realistic a situation as possible to test how the candidate will respond to the ‘real’ demands of the job.

An effective SJT will present each candidate with a range of scenarios they may experience in that job.

For each scenario the candidate is offered a range of actions they could take if faced with that situation and asked to rank the possible answers in a particular order, for example from “most effective” to the “least effective” solution.

It is important that the scenarios reflect the role, and the competencies expected in the candidate. The SJT must not test for unneeded skills or abilities that might exclude suitable candidates. Therefore, SJTs need to be carefully selected to ensure their value. While tests can be bought off-the-shelf, for example to measure basic managerial, or client handling competencies, they are more frequently designed for a particular job role.

In practice, SJTs are usually computer-based and used either as part of an assessment centre (link) or as part of a virtual assessment centre (link). The scenarios may be presented as text questions, or as a video or animation. They can be timed or untimed, but the expectation is that they will be completed quickly and demonstrate the instinctive answers of the candidate.

Once the test is completed it is scored automatically. The result might be used as a simple pass/fail for early candidate screening or split into individual competency scores to inform later stages of the recruitment process.

Why Use Situational Judgement Tests

 SJTs assess a candidate’s ability to solve challenging work-related situations. SJTs offer many advantages including:

  • SJTs offer more relevance in content than other psychometric tests so may have increased face validity and higher acceptance from test-takers, are useful for the assessment of values, and can be used in combination with other types of tools including personality and cognitive ability tests to provide an overall picture of a candidate’s suitability for a particular job
  • SJTs provide a cost-effective, powerful, and convenient way to select potential strong performers from a large group of candidates. Typically, organisations are more likely to use an SJT where they have a high volume of candidates applying for a role or position and if they recruit for this position on a regular basis. For example, the recruitment process for a graduate training scheme or internship programme is a likely place to find an SJT
  • In our experience deploying specific SJTs can add significant value to the assessment and selection of middle and senior managers, as they provide a quick way to identify managerial judgement which can be probed further during the interview.

ODRL provides innovative and evidence-based services to help organisations improve their effectiveness and performance. If you would like to discuss the issues raised in this article, please contact Dr Kay Sahdev (