Department for work and pensions

DWP Situational Judgement Test – How to Prepare?

Last Updated on June 21, 2022

A career with the DWP, or the Department for Work and Pensions, can be varied and demanding. DWP roles carry a high level of social responsibility, and therefore the department is keen to recruit the most suitable candidates for such a position.

The DWP application process can be tricky, including several different assessment tests and interviews. One of the most bewildering parts for many applicants is the Situational Judgement Test (SJT).

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The SJT is a test most people are not familiar with from school, and therefore it can be daunting to take. But with a little practice, you can easily prepare yourself for the DWP Situational Judgement Test.

We will take you through all you need to know. Job Test Prep can provide the necessary resources to help you prepare for your application.

Let’s get started.

What does the application process for DWP entail?

The civil service uses various processes to ascertain whether a person meets the requirements of a specific job or role. These include:

  • Application form
  • Interview
  • Evidence of technical skills
  • Psychometric testing

The use of tests can enable applicants to demonstrate their unique strengths and skillsets. Recruiters will collect objective assessment data in line with the set of criteria relevant for the role. It may also be an opportunity for employers to understand how candidates could develop their skills in the future.

The tests are a ‘fair’ way to evaluate future employees. They offer a level playing field in terms of robust and effective measurements, and educational qualifications or work experience often provide little additional advantage. How a candidate performs in the initial assessments may also provide insight into their performance in later stages of the selection process.

Being prepared for these assessments, through the resources provided by Job Test Prep, and knowing what you may expect will provide you with the best possible advantage.

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What is a Situational Judgement Test?

This online test is designed to measure your judgement and decision-making abilities in certain hypothetical workplace scenarios. These scenarios will relate directly to the behaviours deemed important for success in your chosen job with the DWP.

Behaviours is one of the elements of the Success Profile Framework, a flexible framework introduced to drive up performance, improve diversity and inclusivity and attract and retain people of talent and experience from all sectors and walks of life. The other elements include; Experience, Ability, Technical and Strengths.

What is the structure of the DWP SJT?

The test is divided into two parts:

Part One

You will answer questions about your typical behaviour and preferences at work. You will need to assign a rating to traits such as; ambition, motivation, and flexibility in the workplace.

This part of the test makes up 15% of your overall score and is based on self-assessment. It is important to answer the questions honestly as you may be asked about them further at the interview. It could be difficult to remember if you have been untruthful. However, it is worth remembering to align yourself with the DWPs values.

If you are asked a question about your honesty and integrity, for example, the organisation will be looking for candidates who are honest. Declaring yourself a dishonest or untrustworthy person is unlikely to help you succeed!

Part Two

In this section, you will receive a range of possible workplace scenarios and a range of possible actions. You will be required to read the scenario and then rate the given actions in order of effectiveness.

The scenarios you are given will be relevant to the job for which you are applying.

There are four possible options when rating your action responses:

  • Counterproductive – An unacceptable action that will make the situation worse
  • Ineffective – A poor action that will not have a helpful impact
  • Fairly effective – A useful action that will be of some help in the situation
  • Effective – A good action that will help to resolve the situation favorably

For each of the behaviours in the Success Profile Framework (Behaviour, Experience, Technical, Ability, Strengths), there are three given scenarios and four possible actions for each of those scenarios. You will be asked to rate each of those actions accordingly. It is important to remember that more than one action may be effective or ineffective – you can allocate the same rating to different actions.

The scenarios may be presented to you in various ways depending on which job you are applying for. You may see video scenarios, text scenarios or a combination of the two. The test has no time limit, but, on average, people take around 2-4 minutes to answer each scenario.

There are some practice questions at the beginning of each test – although it is wise not to leave your practice until the assessment day. You do not need specialist knowledge or prior experience.

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Steps to take the DWP SJT

Receive an invite

You will receive an invitation to complete the test online and instructions on how to proceed. You can take the test on most digital devices such as PC, smartphone or tablet, although it is recommended that you use a device with a larger screen for your comfort and ease.

Take the test

In some cases, you will be asked to complete the test under supervised conditions as your employer is keen to ensure that the answers you give are entirely your own. You will be told whether your test will be supervised or not if you are invited to attend an interview.

It is best not to close your browser whilst taking the test as you can only re-open the test twice once you have started. Similarly, if your internet connection fails, you will be able to rejoin the test at the point you left.

In the case of questions presented in video form, subtitles will be available and British Sign Language translations of included speech. You can replay videos as necessary, and alternative dialogue transcripts are also available if appropriate.

How can I prepare for my SJT?

It is a good idea to take the test as soon as possible after receiving the invite. This will mean that you have time to resolve any technical issues before the deadline, should they occur. You must submit any queries or requests for help two working days before the deadline. You will need to leave enough time to receive a response and take action.

The following test conditions are advisable:

  • Work in a quiet space where you will not be disturbed or distracted.
  • Read all of the assessment instructions carefully and do not rush.
  • Answer all questions
  • Make sure your internet connection is stable.
  • Although you may feel a little nervous, try to take the test when you are as calm and relaxed as possible -anxiety or nerves can affect your judgement.
  • Allow at least one hour to complete the test.

You can check out Job Test Prep’s materials to prepare specifically for Situational Judgement Tests here.

DWP Situational Judgement Test Practice Questions

Having some practice to complete a few psychometric tests can give you a real advantage over fellow applicants. This way, you will know what to expect and the style and format of the questions you are likely to encounter. As mentioned previously, there are practice questions on the actual assessment paper, but it is inadvisable to leave your preparation until the day of your actual test.

Use these tailored Job Test Prep resources for the DWP application process to familiarise yourself with test questions.

How is the DWP Situational Judgement Test scored?

Your test score will be ascertained based on the number and difficulty of the questions in your assessment. Your final score will be compared to a representative applicant group who have also undertaken the test. Your score will be recorded as a percentile — a score of 66 will indicate that you have performed better than 66% of the comparison group.

Once you have completed your test, you will receive automatically generated feedback.

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Additional Tests

Depending upon the role for which you have applied, you may be required to take additional assessments such as:

Numerical Reasoning

This tests how well you understand and apply numerical information and data to your everyday work. You will be given information in table or graph form and asked to choose the correct answer from a list that matches your calculations.

Verbal Reasoning

This tests your understanding of written information. You will be asked to read a passage of text and answer questions about what you have read. These tests can be stressful as they are timed. You may only have a short time to select the correct answer – they may be presented in a true, false, can’t say format.

DWP Interview

The final stage of the application process — provided you are successful in the online tests — is a panel interview with 2-3 interviewers. The interview will test your communication skills and competencies.

It is vital to read the competencies required by the DWP, along with the job description, prior to your interview. This will give you time to prepare example answers that showcase where and when you have made use of these competencies in your work, home, education or voluntary work life.

For each competency, you should use the STAR method: situation, task, action, result. The interviewers will want you to give detailed answers to their questions. For that reason alone, you must be well prepared. It is almost impossible to think of detailed examples spontaneously, especially in a pressured situation.

You will be allowed to take some notes to your interview, but it is advisable to know your answers off by heart, having practised in a ‘mock’ situation to appear fluent and well versed.

The DWP will interview all suitable candidates before making any job offers, so do not be surprised if there is some delay between your interview and receiving communication from them. The DWP recruitment process is highly specific and thoroughly focused on enrolling the best applicants for a role.

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What is the DWP?

The DWP is the Department for Work and Pensions and is responsible for policy relating to welfare, pensions and child maintenance. It is the UK’s largest public service department and delivers a range of benefits to around 20 million claimants. These include state pensions, benefits for qualifying working-age individuals, and benefits for those suffering from a disability or ill health.

These services are provided through several departments such as The Pensions Service, Job Centre Plus, The Child Maintenance Service, and partner organisations.

 

What does a career with the DWP entail?

Some of the DWP responsibilities include:

  • Understanding the causes of poverty, not just the associated symptoms
  • Encouraging people to work and to make work pay for them
  • Encouraging people with ill health or a disability to be independent and to engage in appropriate work
  • Promoting the concept of saving for retirement and providing a decent income for people of pensionable age
  • Reducing serious injuries and work-related deaths in the workplace

Their priorities include:

  • Providing assistance and guidance to enable people to achieve financial independence through employment and an effective welfare system
  • Increasing security in later life through saving
  • Creating a fair and affordable welfare system that improves the life chances of children
  • Delivering outstanding customer service
  • Delivering with efficiency, including reducing costs

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In summary

In summary, Job Test Prep aims to help job seekers secure their ideal role. They do this by providing many quality resources and practice assessments for the DWP to keep you in the loop with employers’ hiring processes. Being well prepared, calm and confident will enable you to stand head and shoulders above your competitors in the current climate and land your perfect job.

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Written by Karen Stanley

​​Karen is a former teacher of 20 years and ten times published author. She writes content for educational organisations and businesses, nationally and internationally. She coaches new and budding writers through to publication and is passionate about creativity; she runs creative writing workshops in schools and fostering agencies.

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