Situational Judgement Tests - Guide & Tips |

Situational reasoning tests are designed to assess your soft skills and non academic competencies. They are designed to understand how a candidate will respond to specific or generic workplace situations and assess if that behaviour is deemed appropriate or important.

Situational Judgement Tests (SJTs) are specific to each organisation as work will vary between businesses, and they have been commonly used by global enterprises to help identify candidates in the first round of recruitment. 

In this guide we will look at what a situational judgement test looks like, why they are used by employers, how you can prepare for one and some practice questions of an SJT.

What is a Situational Judgement Test? 

Situational Judgement Tests (SJTs) are designed to understand how you will respond to a workplace situation. Tailored to the company, they are checking answers based on reasoning, behaviour and attitudes to common workplace scenarios. 

If you could test how someone responds in a typical workplace scenario, would you? The answer should be, yes, especially if you’re creating a team environment that's dependent on having a good balance and people who react in specific ways to common day-to-day situations. For example, if you could discover that your potential employee doesn’t handle stress well in a stressful situation, would you hire them? 

Taken on a computer, an SJT is traditionally set up to include multiple choice answers that are based on a set number of scenarios or descriptions. You are expected to work through each scenario quickly and instinctively. Traditionally, each correct answer is worth one mark. 

Each scenario is followed by a question and then multiple choice answers. All the information you need to know is contained in the question. Commonly, you will be asked to do one of two things, either choose the most or least effective response or, rank the options given. 

Examples of this style of testing can be found below. 

Why are Situational Judgement Tests used by employers?

Situational Judgement Tests are used by many employers who specifically like to recruit for graduate scheme positions and/or where there is a high volume of applicants. 

Employers like to turn to SJTs when candidates have very similar academic results and are looking to filter the pool of talent in other ways. As this is one of the first tests in the recruitment process it can help identify candidate behaviours in a situational environment quickly. 

Situational tests are also very specific to the business. You may have scenarios where you need to understand how someone will react. By modelling questions around specific situations, an employer can have an understanding of how the candidate will behave in relation to that business or problem. 

Finally, a situational test is looking for the softer skills and non-academic competencies of a candidate. How well would they respond to a constantly shifting work environment? How would they cope with colleagues who are competitive? What action would they take if they heard a colleague berate a client over the phone? This insight goes beyond academia and can help build a better understanding of the applicant.

Tips for preparing for Situational Judgement Tests 

Practice makes perfect as they say, and practicing for Situational Judgement Tests is always of benefit. If you have never done one, or did in the past but found it difficult, you can always learn about them and develop your understanding by simply practising. There are of course some handy tips you can take with you. 

Firstly, understand the business and role you're applying to/for. What are they asking from the job role? What core competencies are they looking for in their ideal candidate? Once you understand that, you can reason in line with the kinds of questions that are going to be asked. If they premise themselves as being a “highly ethical organisation”, then answers which show that you may not be, will inevitably be less well received. 

Secondly, be sure to read everything carefully. Don’t skim, don’t skip over the words, you want to take the time to make sure that you have read and understood the scenario and that when you’re answering, you know what you’re answering. 

Thirdly, understand the mechanics of these questions in practices. In another way, think about what they’re trying to discover about you. Are you someone that lends yourself to better team playing or are you someone that is more attune to working solo? By understanding how the questions work and what your common answers are, you can adjust your responses in real life test conditions. 

Situational Judgement Tests examples

Example question: Problem solving

When an upset customer is describing a problem, which action should be avoided?

A. Spending too much time listening to the customer’s description of the problem

B. Gently asking the customer to calm down so that you can help them

C. Suggesting that the customer speak to the manager

D. Trying to focus the customer on their original need

E. Promising to follow up on the problem resolution

Answer: B

In answer choice B you are asking the customer to calm down, instead of helping them to do so. The request itself could sound impatient (demonstrating a lack of self-control) and rude.


When interacting with angry customers, you want to show empathy at first, then as quickly as possible direct the conversation to problem-solving. Empathy makes the customer feel cared for and removes some of the heat. Now, when your customer is less emotional, you can take the conversation in a more rational direction and focus on solving the problem.

Answer choice A involves listening to the customer, which shows empathy.

Answer choice C is not the best response in this situation as it seems as if you are handing the problem to your manager because you don’t want to handle it yourself, or don’t feel competent enough. However, it’s not harmful to call the manager and in some situations, it could be a good response.

Answer choice D is a good response to this situation as it focuses the conversation on problem-solving.

Answer choice E is also good as it shows proactivity and responsibility in problem-solving.

Example question: Teamwork

Read the passage and select how you would most likely and least likely respond:

You are taking part in an internally run course for the current graduates. You are participating in an exercise with a mixture of three close colleagues from your own area and two others who work in a different part of the business.

The goal is to come up with a new product line and the associated branding. It becomes clear quite quickly that the two people you do not know have a somewhat unconventional view of how the new product line might work. Your close colleagues are getting increasingly frustrated with their suggestions as they appear to be unworkable and a waste of time.

There is limited time for the exercise, and you have a lot to get through in one morning. An hour into the discussion little progress has been made and you recognise that someone needs to take the lead in trying to move the group forwards. What would you do?

A. Tactfully suggest the group should focus on the suggestions that are more in keeping with the current product lines. This will give the group more focus and will get them moving on to the next stage more effectively.

B. Suggest that as a group you create a series of criteria against which to review all of the suggestions made so far. This will ensure that all suggestions get a fair hearing.

C. Suggest that the group splits into three so that each pair can quickly work up a project plan for their favoured suggestion. Encourage your less conventional team members a chance to work up a plan that they can share with the rest of the group to demonstrate a way of making their ideas work.

D. Ask each member of the group which of the suggested product lines they think will be more successful and why. Offer to act as secretary and record all opinions. Once everyone has put their point forward, encourage a debate that focuses on coming to agreement based on the pros and cons of the solutions offered.


D. is the most likely. By asking everyone to make a decision about their favoured option and to also back this up with reasoned arguments it is encouraging debate and open communication. Everyone has to listen to everyone else’s views and this will encourage the team to work more cohesively.

A. is the least likely. This approach may well encourage the group to progress to the next stage but it fails to recognise that diverse views can be harnessed to give a real advantage in a team situation. Sometimes it is too easy to stick with what we know rather than capitalising on diversity within a team, even if it takes you outside of your comfort zone.

Example question: Communication

Choose only the most effective response from a list of four.

At the end of a busy day at work, you accidentally send an e-mail containing an attachment with some confidential client information to the wrong person.

Which of the following would be the best thing to do?

A. Decide to leave the office and deal with any problems tomorrow

B. Decide to overlook your error, send the e-mail to the correct person and leave things like that

C. Immediately send a follow-up email to the 'wrong' person, or if possible telephone them explaining your mistake. Then send the email to the correct person

D. Find your manager, explain what has happened to them and let them deal with any problems

Answer: C


A. This is the least effective decision. In this scenario, you would have sent the wrong person the important email, but not have sent the correct individual the email.

B. This is not an effective decision. Although you do send the email to the correct person, you do not rectify the error you have made, which you must do.

C. This is the most effective decision. In this scenario, you explain your mistake to your colleague and send the email to the correct person.

D. This is not an effective decision. If the contents of your email are very confidential then it would be a good idea to explain your mistake to your manager. However, it is not necessary to pass this type of issue to your boss to deal with, when you could quite easily deal with this yourself.

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