Situational Judgement Tests (SJT): Why and How to Prepare

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So, What is a Situational Judgement Test (SJT)?

Situational Judgement Tests (or SJTs) are a popular form of assessment used by employers to assess behavioural competencies to help determine if an individual is suitable for a role.

Situational Judgement Tests can either be ‘traditional’ or they can be more interactive, perhaps even in a game-based format. An increasing number of employers are using a “storyline” approach which presents a ‘day-in-the-life’ experience such as Jaguar Land Rover, many even with Verbal and Numerical type questions too. Regardless of their format, all SJTs will look for evidence of a small group of competencies. Graduates First SJTs cover the most common types, so when preparing put particular focus on the competencies in your SJT report that are relevant to your desired job role.

Unsure of the competencies employers look for? Use the GF Question Identifier Tool (QIT) to build competencies and questions for your job role. The QIT report also comes with suggested answers for each interview question you might face.

Typically, completing an SJT will take you no longer than 30 minutes, although it is likely that you will not be timed. You will most commonly be asked to choose from 4 potential responses to the scenario that you are presented with. You must choose one that you feel is the ‘best’ and one that is the ‘worst’ response to the situation. The remaining two options are neutral responses, that if picked will not help to improve your SJT score. Some SJTs may also ask you to rank the 4 options from ‘best’ to ‘worst’ as an alternative, and others such as Ernest & Young have dynamic questions that change depending on answers given, so watch out for these.

As with most assessments, the more you get correct, the higher your score. With an SJT, you should also remember that each question is looking at your competence. If you do well in the questions assessing the “Leading” competency, for example, your resulting report will put you further along the “Leading” dimension.

Here is an example of a Graduates First Practise SJT. Register to practice for FREE as an Aston student!

Which Companies Use Situational Judgement Tests (SJT)?

Situational Judgment Tests are used by many employers worldwide, with only the top employers seeming to opt for a more interactive format. Common sectors or positions that will require an SJT are Consultancy, Business Administration, Management, Customer Service, call centres, financial services, and the public sector.

Some of the employers that use an SJT Assessment are:

  • NHS
  • Ernest & Young
  • PricewaterhouseCooper
  • HSBC
  • Deloitte
  • GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)
  • … and many more. Check out GF’s Employer step-by-step guides

The sheer number of applications that many of the above companies receive, make SJT scores all the more vital in determining somebody who is suitable for a role.

What Do Situational Judgement Tests Measure?

Situational judgement tests are normally tailored to a company’s specific values and competencies that they are looking for in the best applicants. There are a few competencies that are the most common. Here at GF our practise situational judgement tests are based on the most common competencies used by employers worldwide.

As you can see when you look at your GF SJT report, you will be rated for your performance per competency. In the real thing, employers will receive something similar and will use this to help determine whether to progress to the next stage of the process.

How Can You Prepare for a Situational Judgement Test?

Due to their increasing popularity and wide use, it is vital that you know how you can give yourself every chance of passing the Situational Judgment Test and getting through to the next stage of your application. With this in mind, here are GF’s Pro Top Tips on how to prepare for your upcoming SJT:

Get familiar with GF

Practise industry-standard SJT assessments developed by the same Occupational Psychologists who have developed assessments for some of the biggest multinational employers. Begin to understand the sort of scenarios you are likely to face in the real thing.  This will allow you to stay calm and develop an eye for gauging the behaviours that you will be expected you to display. Use reports to develop your ability to identify competencies in a statement, and in turn will help inform your response.

You can take FREE practice Situational Judgement Tests with Graduates First as an Aston University student.

Do not guess

When taking an SJT, it is important to remember that they can be negatively marked. This means that if you choose the best option as the worst option or vice versa, this will be marked against you for that competency. It is best to only answer if you are certain that your answer is at least one of the two neutral options given to you. Equally, don’t be put off finishing the SJT as it is beneficial for you and your employer by finding a fit to the role. Instead, as mentioned in the first tip, reduce SJT anxiety by getting familiar with the test-style beforehand.

Do your research

To understand the sort of behaviours that will be assessed in an SJT, it helps to understand the company’s key values. You can look for these on the company’s website or their social media. Think about how these competencies will be useful in the role you are applying for. Also, check out employee reviews on sites such as Glassdoor to learn more about the company’s culture and behaviours. If you can identify behaviours beforehand, it will assist when faced with similar scenarios in your SJT.

Know yourself

As well as understanding the company, understanding yourself – both your strengths and weaknesses – is important. This will help you to strengthen those weaknesses in time for the SJT, as well as the eventual competency-based interview in which you will likely be asked to explain where you have displayed certain competencies.

To better understand this, why not take a look at the GF report that will be generated once you have completed a practice Situational Judgement Test? Consider how you can improve and discover competencies that you may not have considered before.

Be yourself – use your instinct

As an extension to the previous tip, it is vital that you are honest and put into practise all that you have learnt about yourself from your previous experiences. This is beneficial for two reasons.

  • Firstly, it allows the employer to get a true picture of your suitability to the role, whether you would thrive as a person, and as an effective employee.
  • Secondly, if you are not being honest and perhaps cheat, this may be detrimental to the latter stages of the application process such as an Interview if these qualities arise and you have little or nothing to say for them. 

We hope this has helped you learn more about Situational Judgement Tests. Best of luck!


Written by Peter Thornton MA, and Abdul Wahaab MSc MBPsS from GF, Job Assessment Experts