Prep Smart for Situational Judgement Test: Tips and Techniques

Situational judgement tests are used by employers to screen job candidates. This guide will explain what this test is and show you how to succeed.

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What is a situational judgement test?

This isn’t merely a perception test; It is a way of assessing candidates’ critical thinking, decision making and judgment skills.

It provides a clear view of a candidate’s innate values, worldview and behavioural traits to establish their suitability for a given role.

Psychometric testing like this is often daunting for the candidate, but it’s here to stay.

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A situational judgement test will assess how you react and behave during a hypothetical work-based scenario.

situational judgment test

  • Can you handle conflict?
  • Can you problem-solve? Can you identify what’s relevant and what isn’t?
  • Can you mediate or resolve situations?
  • Are you a leader or a follower?

These are examples of some typical questions that a situational judgement tries to answer for the recruiter.

What’s included in a situational judgement test?

Key point: Situational judgement tests are not created equally. There is a vast range of tests and they vary based on the role, company, and sector.

Does a nurse need to answer questions about banking? Probably not, but who knows? Maybe? It depends on the specific role requirements.

Most judgment tests are based on the position that the candidate has applied for and the business in which that role exists.

For example in a firefighting assessment test, the candidate can expect questions related to fire & related emergency situations. In the 911 Dispatcher test, the candidates can expect questions related to decision-making and quick judgment skills.

situational judgement test

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What’s the format of a situational judgement test?

Situational judgment tests usually use the multiple-choice format. (They are not role-playing.)

  • You will be given several work-based situations and asked to choose the most appropriate action or solution from the choices provided to you.
  • You may have to choose one answer, or rank them all from most likely or effective, to least.

How do I pass a situational judgement test?

The best way to pass this test is to prepare for it.

Here’s a hard truth: Successful candidates are always better prepared than unsuccessful ones.

There are several ways you can prepare for your  test…

The all-conquering importance of practice

Nothing will boost your confidence and competence more than repeated practice.

The questions may not be related to your field of work but by practising you will get a ‘feel’ for the flow and timings of the test and also why certain questions have a preferred outcome. Good practice packages (like this one) will tell you the answer and the reason why.

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Know the role you have applied for

This goes without saying, surely?

If you are going to be faced with situations that could occur daily in your desired role, you need to make sure you know what the role involves. Research the role. What skills do you need to carry out the job? What are the core competencies of the role?

  • Action point: Contact the employer and ask for a copy of the ‘full job description and core competencies, this will give you a checklist you can use for your preparation. (This is gold-dust information.)

Get online and do some research. Find out what you may face on a day-to-day basis.

Lastly, spend some time learning about the employer/company. You need to know how the company operates and what it values.


How to pass a situational judgement test

Here’s a simple framework you can use for each judgement test question:

Diagnose the problem. When faced with any situation, establish what the problem is.  What’s the issue, specifically? What’s the specific element of the scenario that needs addressing? When you know this, you will find it much easier to choose the most effective solution.

Read carefully. Make sure you understand the scenario. There is nothing worse than knowing the answer but getting it wrong because you rushed through or didn’t quite understand the question. Some of the questions are deliberately unclear in their phrasing. Be careful and diligent in understanding the issue/problem before you rush to a conclusion.

Manage your time effectively. You will have many questions to answer.  Allocate your time wisely and know when to move on.


Stop worrying! Download a 12-step assessment day cheatsheet & be perfectly prepared.

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Video tips for situational judgement tests

Here’s a useful video from CareerVidz Youtube Channel:

Situational judgement test – Example question

Here’s an example of a real situational judgement test question:

You are working in a call centre when a customer calls, to complain. The customer advises you that they have not yet received their goods that they purchased online, despite paying for next-day delivery. The customer is angry and is talking with a raised voice.

Indicate below which would be the most effective resolution:

  1. You apologise to the customer, tell them you’ll look into it, and hang up. You re-arrange the delivery and call the customer back with the new delivery date.
  2. Advise the customer that the company is very busy and that their goods will be with them as soon as possible.
  3. Agree with the customer: The service is terrible.
  4. Advise the customer to stay on the line, whilst you speak to the delivery driver and get a time slot for delivery.

For this employer, the most effective response would be number 4.  This response allows you to gain back control and provide the customer with the information that they require.  It would also allow you to calm the customer and provide a resolution – making you available for further incoming calls quicker.

Related Study Guide

Situational judgement practice tests

Nothing will boost your confidence and competence more than repeated practice.

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Do you have to take a numerical or verbal test?

Learn to pass other types of aptitude tests with our free expert guides: Numerical | Verbal | Logical

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