Situational judgement test

Situational judgement test

Situational Judgement Tests (SJTs) or Inventories (SJIs) are a type of psychological test which present the test-taker with realistic, hypothetical scenarios and ask them to identify an appropriate response.cite web|title=Situational Judgement Tests: Are they just measures of cognitive ability?|publisher=Human Assets|url=
] These are generally in a multiple choice format, but represent a distinct psychometric approach from the common knowledge-based multiple choice item.cite web|last=McDaniel |first=Michael A.|coauthors=Whetzel, Deborah L. |title=Situational Judgment Tests. An IPMAAC Workshop|publisher=IPMA-HR Assessment Council|url= |format=PDF|accessdate=2007-08-07] They are often used in industrial-organizational psychology applications such as personnel selection.

Unlike most psychological tests SJTs are not acquired ‘off-the-shelf’, but are in fact designed as a bespoke tool, tailor-made to suit the individual role requirements. This is because SJTs are not a type of test with respect to their content, but are a method of designing tests.


The earliest judgement test was a scale in the George Washington University Social Intelligence Test published in 1926.

Situational judgement tests then went on to be used in World War II by psychologists in the US military.

Today, SJTs are used in many organisations, are promoted by various consulting firms, and are researched by many.


Everyone in your work group has received a new computer except you. What would you do?

A. Assume it was a mistake and speak to your supervisor.
B. Confront your supervisor regarding why you are being treated unfairly.
C. Take a new computer from a co-worker’s desk.
D. Complain to human resources.
E. Quit.

Advantages over other measures

* They show reduced levels of adverse impact, by gender and ethnicity, (Hoare, Day & Smith, ref harvard|hoare.1998|1998|none) compared to cognitive ability tests.cite web|title=Technical Information|publisher=Harcourt Assessment|url=

* They use measures that directly assess job relevant behaviours.

* They can be administered in bulk, either via pen and paper or on-line.

* The SJT design process results in higher relevance of content than other psychometric assessments (e.g. Motowildo, Hansen & Crafts, ref harvard|motowildo.1997|1997|none). They are therefore more acceptable and engaging to candidates compared to cognitive ability tests since scenarios are based on real incidents

* It is unlikely that practice will enhance candidate performance as the answers cannot be arrived at logically – a response to a situation may be appropriate in one organisation and inappropriate in another.

* They can tap into a variety of constructs – ranging from problem solving and decision making to interpersonal skills. Traditional psychometric tests do not account for the interaction between ability, personality and other traits.

* They can be used in combination with a knowledge based test to give a better overall picture of a candidate's aptitude for a certain job. [cite web|last=Rahman |first=Mahibur |title=Tackling situational judgment tests|publisher=BMJ Publishing Group Ltd|url=


* The scenarios in many SJTs tend to be brief; therefore candidates do not become fully immersed in the scenario. This removes some of the intended realism of the scenario and reduces the quality and depth of assessment that can be obtained.

* SJI responses can be transparent, providing more of an index of best practice knowledge in some cases and therefore failing to discriminate between candidates’ work-related performance.

* The response formats in some SJIs do not present a full enough range of responses to the scenario. Candidates can be forced to select actions or responses that do not necessarily fit their behaviour. They can find this frustrating and this can affect the validity of such measures (e.g. Chan & Schmitt, ref harvard|chan.2005|2005|none; Ployhart & Harold, ref harvard|ployhart.2004|2004|none; Schmit & Ryan, ref harvard|schmit.1992|1992|none).


Other References

*Hoare, S., Day, A., & Smith, M. (1998). The development and evaluation of situations inventories. Selection & Development Review, 14(6), 3-8.
*Motowildo, S.J., Hanson, M.A., & Crafts, J.L. (1997). Low fidelity simulations. In D.L. Whetzel & G.R. Wheaton (Eds.), Applied Measurement in industrial Psychology. Palo Alto, CA: Davies-Black.
*Chan, D., & Schmitt, N. (2005). An agenda for future research on applicants’ reactions to selection procedures: A construct-orientated approach. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 12, 9-23.
*Ployhart, R.E., & Harold, C.M. (2004). The applicant attribution-reaction theory (AART): An integrative approach of applicant attributional processing. International Journal of Selection & Assessment, 12, 84-98.
*Schmit, M.J., & Ryan, A.M. (1992). Test-taking dispositions: A missing link? Journal of Applied Psychology, 77, 629-637.

See also

* Objective test
* Employment testing
* Projective test
* Psychological testing

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