How to Prepare for Situational Strengths Test? – Ultimate Preparation Guide
The hiring process is a long and extensive one for most employers. To shorten the list of potential candidates, employers often use different interviews and tests that distinguish competent candidates from unsuitable ones.
The Situational Strengths Test aims to check the candidate’s abilities, mindsets, and personal characteristics.
This article will tell you everything you need to know about the Situational Strengths Test. What it is, what it measures, what kinds of questions to expect, and more. We will also give some sample questions and answers.
Table of Contents
What Is the Situational Strengths Test?
The Situational Strengths Test (SST) is very similar to the Situational Judgment Test (SJT).
They both measure the same things, including:
- Behaviour in the workplace
The Situational Judgment Test measures how you rationalise things and draw conclusions about your further actions. The Situational Strengths Test also takes a look at your natural tendencies towards certain behaviours.
The test itself is adapted based on the position that the candidates apply for. So, a clerical position strengths test will measure abilities connected to organising tendencies, customer service, and the like.
For management-based positions, the test will measure the abilities of the candidate to manage systems, motivate individuals, delegate tasks, and handle complex customer care problems.
Without standardised material, the questions will be based on the set of skills that the candidate should possess to successfully fulfil the position’s duties.
The testing material itself is in the form of scenarios or simulations which portray a certain work “problem”. It’s the candidate’s job to decide which of the answers given fits best as a reaction to the presented problem.
What Is the Situational Strengths Test Used for?
The Situational Strengths test is a psychometric test, i.e. it measures mental capabilities, emotional and cognitive state, mindset, personal beliefs, and thus behaviours.
As part of the hiring process, it helps employers to shortlist their candidates and check which of them would be a good fit for the position. On some occasions, the test can be used to reevaluate and allocate professionals within a company to ensure the most productivity and satisfaction.
With a Situational Strengths test, employers can see if the candidate is compatible with the company’s culture, beliefs, visions, and values. But, the SST is also productive for the candidate itself. It shows applicants practical problems that might arise in the work position, making the candidate able to self-evaluate if they are suitable for the job offered.
How Is the Situational Strengths Test Used in the Hiring Process?
The Situational Strengths Test is given to job applicants during the hiring process.
It can be given early in the interview process to eliminate candidates that don’t possess the required abilities for the job position. This is usually the case if the employer values personal qualities, mindsets, and social capabilities more than (or the same as) professional expertise.
For example, a company that is dedicated to GMO-free, plastic-free, anti-animal cruelty products would highly apprechttp://interviewiate clerks who value and practice these aspects.
The Situational Strengths Test can also be given towards the end of the hiring process, i.e. only to the shortlisted professionals. This is mostly the case if the candidates are already chosen due to their knowledge and expertise, but the employer wants to ensure that they adhere to their values too.
What Is the Format of the Situational Strengths Test?
The Situational Strength Test can be done in a couple of different ways:
- Pen and Paper test in person
- Computer-based test
- Video call
The questions themselves can come in different formats too:
- Text-based scenarios with text-based answers
- Video clips with a scenario and text-based answers
- Animations and graphics that represent the scenario, with text-based answers
Depending on the job description and the nature of the job, the test can also be done in an audio format. In this case, a test representative might read you the scenarios and possible answers while you verbally give them the answers for them to record.
This testing format is usually given to job applicants that should be able to remember and organise information without writing, think and act fast and under pressure, or need to converse eloquently as part of their job tasks.
What Does the Situational Strengths Test Measure?
The SST, similar to SJT, is an umbrella term used to describe tests whose purpose is to measure personal qualities, competencies, and values. So, what a particular Situational Strengths Test will measure depends on the job position it is used for.
A person’s competency can be described as a set of abilities, skills, personality traits, and thinking patterns that comprise the candidate’s work attitude.
What Competencies Do Situational Strengths Tests Assess?
Naturally, the test doesn’t measure aspects that aren’t work-related. The process of coming up with the testing material starts with determining the nature of the job and the qualities that the employed professional should possess to successfully finish the job obligations.
From there, the questions are drawn and given to candidates to answer. The answers are then scored as overall performance and as sub-category scores.
The strengths or the competencies you need to show (and will be tested for) are usually broadly mentioned in the job description and the requirements. They do vary from position to position, but some broad aspects you should expect include:
- Your conversation styles
- The way you talk and behave towards people
- Ability to actively listen and understand
- Your tolerance levels
- Ability to relate to people and their “problems”
- Ability to speak and write with politeness and respect
- Clarity, persuasiveness, and negotiation skills
- Ability to prioritise
- Ability to look at a problem from different angles
- Ability to rationalise
- Ability to create, manage and organise systems
- Strategic thinking
- Ability to follow guidelines, protocols, and extensive procedures
- Ability to stay calm and steady under pressure
- Ability to repurpose and allocate tools, materials, and human resources based on needs
- Ability to come up with creative resolutions to problems
- Ability to adapt to new, unusual situations
- Ability to innovate, create, and improve systems, products, and services
- Ability to come up with new trends, products, or organisational improvements
- Levels of empathy and willingness to help
- Ability to cooperate and work together with people
- Ability to explain one’s point of view and understand others’ points of view
- Ability to work with diverse groups of people
- Ability to listen, understand and help
- Ability to motivate, persuade and lead people
- Managing schedules, systems, software, or human resources
- Delivering high-quality work in a timely fashion
- Regular updating and communication
- Ability to prioritise and adapt
- Working under pressure
- Systematic approach and ability to execute difficult tasks
- Conduct research and analysis of information, data, and facts
Brand and trend awareness
- Wish to know and understand current trends
- Conducting competitors research
- Ability to foresee trends and market movements
- Ability to locate weak spots and improve them
Please note that depending on the job position you apply for, some or all of these aspects can be tested through an SST. For example, a management position might require abilities in all of the previously mentioned sections.
Clerical positions, on the other hand, might require social and communication skills with organisational abilities, but would not require any brand and trend awareness abilities.
What Kind of Questions Are There on the Situational Strengths Test?
The Situational Strengths Test is done in the form of hypothetical scenarios. Usually, there will be a scenario created that portrays all the important aspects of the problem you need to know. These scenarios will be in connection to the job position you applied for, situations that you most likely will come in contact with in a specific position.
Based on the info given in the scenario, there will be questions you need to answer. The structure of the answers will be needed in one of these four forms — Most and Least effective solutions; Rating responses; Ranking responses, Only one answer. The next sections will get into more detail about each of these types of answers.
There are no right or wrong answers on the SST. All of them are possible ways to react to the scenario, but some of them are more suitable than others. Naturally, your decision to argue or belittle a complaining customer is less desirable than you listening to them and assuring them that you will do everything in your power to solve their problem.
Your way of answering the questions will show employers if you possess the strengths that they identify as needed for the job position you applied for.
Most Effective / Least Effective
In this type of answer, the scenario is followed by up to 5 possible responses or reactions to the scenario. All of them might be appropriate or inappropriate, but it will be your job to state the most effective and the least effective solution of the ones proposed.
With these types of answers, the SST will determine your natural tendencies to solve a problem or a situation in a certain way.
You might have an even better answer than the ones provided, but you would need to concentrate only on the given ones. In the latter section, called “Situational Strengths Test Sample Questions,” you can find a sample scenario and given answers.
In the rating response types of answers, you need to rate each of the answers given to you. You might need to rate them from:
- Best to worse
- Most effective to least effective
- Most productive to least productive
- Most suitable to least suitable
With these types of questions, the Situational Strengths Test will measure your ability to rationalise the situation and your behaviour.
Head over to the next section to see a sample of these kinds of questions.
For the ranking response type of questions and answers, you need to rate all the answers with numbers of probability or appropriateness. With that, you don’t only show your natural tendencies, your ability to rationalise, but also your ability to prioritise and rank behaviours.
One Answer Only
The one answer only types of questions will ask you to only select one of the options as the best one. They might all be good, but you do need to decide on one only. With this structure, the questions will measure your reasoning and ability to choose from multiple desired behaviours.
If done in person, you might be even asked to elaborate on the answer, so the testing representative can evaluate your inner reasoning process and ability to foresee outcomes.
Situational Strengths Test Sample Questions
To best explain the formats of the answers you need to give on the Situational Strengths Test, I’ve come up with a sample scenario. In the sections below, we will use the same scenario to look at the ways you might be asked to answer/ rate them. Take a look:
You just started a job as a front desk receptionist in a large company. You soon start to notice a particular team-leading employee that keeps getting late to work. Since you are new, you want your colleagues to like you, including the late-coming team leader.
But, you soon start to notice that because of him coming late, all of his team members start copying his behaviour and coming late to work.
Most Effective / Least Effective Solution Sample
In this type of answer, you will need to select the, in your opinion, most and least effective attitudes towards the situation.
Even though we all have different natural tendencies on how to answer this dilemma, the most desired answer to this question is:
Most Effective – A, i.e. going to the leader to have a chat. This answer is a middle ground between reporting the problem to the manager right away and being on the side of your colleagues by ignoring the problem. With it, you will give a chance to talk to the team leader (and the teammates) to better their behaviours.
Least Effective – D, i.e. not doing anything. As you might guess, this answer portrays someone who is not interested in the company and what goes on there.
Rating Responses Sample
In this type of answer, you need to rate the responses in the order you think is best — from most effective to least effective. The scale will have as many ratings as there are answers, so you can’t leave an option unrated.
As you might suppose, in this case, the answers are already named in the most productive to counter-productive order, i.e. the order recorded should be D, C, B, A.
Ranking Responses Sample
The Ranking responses type of answer is quite similar to the rating one, with the only difference being you rank the answers with numerical values instead of textual ones. Please note that the number values will have a particular meaning – a number 1 can be the best response or the worst response.
To understand this easier, take a look at the sample picture:
If we imagine that the numerical value is in the form of “points”, we would give the response D only one point since it is the least productive answer. Solution A will get a maximum, i.e. four points.
But, let’s imagine that the numbers are in the form of “gained place of productiveness.” In that case, response A will get a number one, as first place in productiveness. In this format, the answer D would get a four, i.e. fourth, last place in productiveness.
To ensure that you give the right numerical rankings, always carefully go through the Instructions section at the beginning of the test or the beginning of the question.
One Answer Only
This kind of answering to questions is quite straightforward. You only need to select the answer you most agree with as your reaction to the scenario.
Please note that sometimes, all of the answers could be suitable reactions. If that’s the case, the test likes to measure your natural tendency towards certain behaviour.
If you want to check some other questions that might be there on your Situational Strengths Test, you can take the free JobTest Prep sample test.
What Is a Good Score on the Situational Strengths Test?
Once you answer all of the questions, the results will be summarised and given to your employer. This process can be either automatical (i.e. a computer will generate the results) or manual (a test representative will manually go over the answers and rate them).
The process of reporting results is by comparing what you answered to what are the “best” answers having the job position in mind.
The scoring itself differs from company to company and from test designer to test designer. Some test designs might only rate the identical responses to what the designers pinned as the best answer. Other designs might give different numerical values to your answer depending on how suitable it is.
As an example, let’s say that on the rating response, you gave the best answer (A) a “Slightly Productive” value instead of the “Most Productive”. If the maximum points for this right answer are 5, you might be given only 4.
From the overall ending score you get, your employer might get all, or only one, kind of report:
- Individual Overall Score – This is the overall score on the test you gained, based on how closely you answered in the same way that the test designers think is appropriate for the job position.
- Multiple Competency Score in Sub-Categories – This is a more in-depth report in which your employer will not only get your overall score but also scores on sub-categories. Those sub-categories will be related to the workplace, i.e. communication, organisation, motivation, team spirit, etc.
- Percentile Score – This is a report that compares your results to the results of previous test-takers with similar test material. The percentile score can also be used if there are a lot of candidates. In this case, the percentile score will be based on all of the test takers at that particular test. The percentile report or table is a simple way to display and compare the results of different candidates.
How Many Questions Are There on the Situational Strengths Test?
Usually, the Situational Strengths Test is made up of 20 scenarios. Some of those scenarios might have one associated question, while others might have up to 5. On average, you can expect the test to have as few as 20 questions, or as many as 80. If there are 80 questions, they will be grouped in bulks of 4 for each of the 20 scenarios.
Furthermore, depending on the constructor of the test, you might encounter all of our previously mentioned types of answers or only one of those types. Nonetheless, you will be given a short brief before the start of the test with instructions about the way you should answer or what is expected from you.
If there is a test representative present during the testing period, you can also ask any questions you might have.
How Long Does the Situational Strengths Test Take?
Regardless of the number of questions, you will be able to answer all of the questions since, most of the time, the SSTs are not time-restricted. Some test publishers might have some suggestions about the duration of the test, around 20 to 30 minutes.
Most of the time, test takers are instructed to answer honestly and truthfully, not spending a lot of time thinking through the answers. This is done for the test to measure your natural tendencies and not your educated (rationalised) guesses.
If, by chance, there is a time limit for completion (maybe for measuring effectiveness abilities), you will be told upfront, so you can organise your time.
Can You Practice the Situational Strengths Test?
You don’t need to do any extensive training before taking the Situational Strengths Test. But, you can practice the test to get yourself comfortable with the answering structure. Furthermore, you can practice skills that might be needed for the job position you applied for.
Sometimes, the scenarios or the answers that are given might be tricky. The more you practice, the more you will know what is it that the question is trying to measure.
If you want to practice the Situational Strengths Test and the Situational Judgement Test, I propose the JobPrep Test practice tests. You can get their all-inclusive pack with management, customer service, administrative, supervision, and graduate-level practice materials.
If you don’t want to get all-inclusive, you can select the type of practice material that is more closely related to the job position you applied for.
If you want to read more about the Situational Strengths Test, feel free to take a look at their informative article about the topic.
The Situational Strength Test is designed to help employers measure competencies that different job applicants have. They might include but are not limited to social and communication skills, logical and creative thinking, organisational and management skills, etc.
With the help of JobTest Prep, you can practice the material and get familiar and comfortable with the system of solving the scenarios.
Written by Victoria Todorovska
Victoria (or Viki) is a Freelance Writer, Psychologist, and Gestalt Therapy Consultant. With years of experience in higher education as well as counselling others, she is well-placed to offer expert advice on guiding others up the career ladder.
Sarah is an accomplished educator, researcher and author in the field of testing and assessment. She has worked with various educational institutions and organisations to develop innovative evaluation methods and enhance student learning. Sarah has published numerous articles and books on assessment and learning. Her passion for promoting equity and fairness in the education system fuels her commitment to sharing insights and best practices with educators and policymakers around the world.