What’s a Situational Judgement Test, and how do I pass one?

Person looking at a laptop

There will be lots of students and recent graduates applying for graduate schemes, internships and placements at the moment, which means that many will soon be asked to complete Situational Judgement Tests (SJTs).

SJTs are online tests designed to simulate scenarios that you might come up against at work. Often there isn’t one right way to do something, but there is a way that is most in-keeping with how the organisation runs, i.e. a way that fits their work culture.

The situation could be anything, depending on the job you are applying for, but an example could be something like, “You have just told a potential customer how much it would cost them for one year’s access to your software package. It’s a standard price and your company has a policy of never giving discounts. They tell you that that is too much, and ask you what kind of deal can be done for someone who is a friend of your company’s Chairman.”

The system will then give you 3 or 4 options – you may have to rank them all from best to worst, or identify the one you’d do, or choose the best and the worst. All the options could be OK to some organisations, and some people, but not others.

In the example above, the answers given could be:

  1. Tell them that you’ll check with the Chairman to see what you can do.
  2. Politely state that the company’s policy is never to offer discounts.
  3. Offer them the chance to speak to your manager about the request.
  4. Tell them that you are sure that something can be done, but you’ll need a couple of days to check.

So, given that potentially all the answers are correct, how do you ensure that you give the right answer?

Well, there’s two things for you to bear in mind:

  1. What feels right to you, given what you’ve done in the past and what you know about yourself?

This requires you to have some self-knowledge and experiences to draw on – that’s why you so often hear people telling you to try things, to get involved, to give it a go. It doesn’t need to be anything like your post-Uni career, just experiences that helped you learn about yourself and how you interact with others or perform under pressure.

  1. What do you know about the organisation, and what does that tell you about how they like to operate?

While this requires you to have done some research into the organisation – have you spoken to their employees, or heard them talk about what it’s like working there? What are their organisational values and what competencies are they looking for? How would these affect the way they operate?

If you are confident with both 1 and 2, you can select the option that fits both you and them – the sweet spot in the Venn diagram.  If there is no overlap, then maybe they are the wrong company for you. In the question above, it says that the company never offers discounts, so if you are a natural born deal-maker you’ll be wanting to give a discount to secure the business – and quickly become very frustrated working in that particular organisation.

If you’d like to learn more about how an organisation’s outlook affects the ‘right’ answer in an SJT, have a watch of the video provided by the Local Government’s National Graduate Development Programme. Between 19 and 40 minutes they talk through their view of the SJT, as well as 4 example questions and what they see as the ‘correct’ answers.

For a different take, the law firm, Allen and Overy, also have information about their view of SJTs on their website.

For wider information about SJTs, you can watch these 5 short videos from Graduate First, and then take a practise test on their website (while current UoR students have free access to Graduates First, alumni can reactivate their account for up to 24 months after their course ends).

And finally, if you want to discuss SJTs, maybe to explore how your knowledge of yourself might impact your answers, book an appointment with a Careers Consultant via MyJobsOnline.