Simply put, situational judgement tests assess your understanding and reasoning around solving problems in work-related situations. Alexandra Toma explains
In this series, you can expect to learn more about: Psychometric testing, situational testing, verbal reasoning, numerical reasoning and what to do if you fail?
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Nonetheless, it may even be considered more difficult than cognitive assessment tests, because the SJT exam evaluates your instinctive decision-making abilities and personality traits that influence how you face everyday challenges.
STJs often occur early in the application process and can serve to reject many applicants, so take it seriously! It might be completed online, or as part of the application form. Every now and then, employers might ask you to take this on-site during the interview in the traditional paper-based style. Most recently, companies have started to use video clips or digital animation to provide a more realistic setting to the tests, which makes the whole process more entertaining for you as a candidate.
The format of the test is quite simple: a number of statements or situations and it is your task is to
- indicate whether you agree or disagree with the sentiment or situation described
- select both the most effective and the least effective response to the situation described, from a choice of 4 or 5 possible actions.
Scenarios may range from ethical dilemmas to difficulties with colleagues or clients, to common everyday problems, assessing different competencies.
The typical categories of behaviour are:
- your approach to decision making
- communicating with others
- your approach to planning
- managing people and resources
- motivating yourself
- features of your ideal role
- your attitude towards risk
- appropriate responses in work
- situational awareness
How can you prepare?
1. Understand the company
The first step is to understand the company you are applying for. Organisational culture plays an important role in hiring, so it is crucial that you familiarise yourself with the values, mission and the way the organisation functions. The rise of Twitter and LinkedIn has made it easier than ever to do research on the employee experience even if you’ve never met anyone who works there. I recommend searching LinkedIn for first- or second-degree connections who have worked at the company you are considering—asking for a quick discussion or phone call on their experience. Then, when answering the questions, think about those values and the qualities of your specific role will require and answer accordingly.
2. Get test wise
It is really important that you understand what the test you face involves. You will be astonished at how many people attempt an STJ test not knowing what to expect. Don’t make this mistake. You need to know the nature of the challenge as soon as possible. The organisation which you have applied to should have sent you, or directed you, to a site where you can find a description of the type of questions and the format of the test. If not, then have a look at their website to see if they describe the test there – or phone them and ask them to describe the test. Sometimes, it might be useful to visit student forums or websites such as glassdoor.com to learn from other students’ experiences. Armed with this information you can now find similar practice questions.
3. The winning mindset
Doing well in psychometric testing, in general, takes practice, but also the right mental approach. The winning candidate looks forward to the test. You have long ago left any sense of resentment or irritation. Instead, they treat the test as an opportunity to show just how good they have become. Any negative thoughts need to be put aside. Decide how much you want that opportunity and resolve to set about getting it.
And remember, there is no conflict between giving an honest response and presenting yourself in the best possible light. It is perfectly reasonable that you should stress some parts of your personality over others in response to your understanding of the organisation’s culture and preferred way of working.
- You can find some practice the tests here and here
- Assessment Day – KCL student access here.
- E-Book: ‘How to Pass Graduate Psychometric Tests’, by Mike Byron access here.