How to prepare for Situational Judgement Tests

This type of recruitment test may sound rather threatening, but in reality a situational judgement test is just a series of multiple choice questions based on the kind of situations that you might very well meet in the role you applied for.  Answers may not always be wholly right or wrong. The recruiter is looking to find candidates who are the right fit for the company.

We go through the type of questions you could come across, how research can help you prepare, and ways that you can practise including attending free events for University of Surrey students.

Situational judgement test participant checking their watch

Example situational judgement question

The following is entirely fictitious (and a little light-hearted!) but should give you some idea.

You are a Human Resources Manager and you notice one of your staff playing computer games during office hours. Do you:

  1. Ignore it because you know everyone needs a bit of relaxation while at work
  2. Warn them privately that this contravenes office policy and they are in breach of their contract
  3. Ask them what game they are playing as it looks like fun
  4. Reprimand them immediately in front of their colleagues in order to make sure everyone is reminded of the rules

The expected answer would be (2) but you might be tempted to take either of the two more lenient responses (1 or 3) or even the “I need to show them who is in charge” response (4).

Whilst your answers don’t guarantee how you would actually behave, they at least provide an indication.  In particular, if your answers are way off the preferred response, the employer could reasonably assume that you might behave inappropriately if faced with similar real-life situations.

How can I prepare for situational judgement tests?

Investigate the skills and values that are required for the role. The job descriptions and person specification will help with this. Also look at the employer’s website to explore their values and culture. This will help you understand the behaviours that are important. If your own values closely align to the employer’s already your natural answers are most likely to match their expected answers.

How can I choose the correct answer?

The recommended way to answer is to imagine yourself in the situation and respond honestly.  After all, even if you thought that alternative answers were more likely to be preferred by the employer you might still guess incorrectly.  In any case, would you really want a job where you were expected to behave in ways which made you feel uncomfortable?

What different types of situational judgement tests are there?

The example provided is possibly the simplest style you are likely to face.  Some tests probe a bit further by asking you to provide both most likely and least likely responses while others ask you to rank your answers.  In many SJTs the choices provided for each scenario are designed to be very similar which clearly makes the test much harder.  The apparent absence of an obvious answer demands careful analysis and consideration before reply.

Situational judgement test participant researching the company and making notes

How can I practise situational judgement tests?

These sites all provide free access to a number of aptitude test suitable for the recruitment process