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Situational Judgement Tests

“Organisation can never replace good judgement” – Louis D. Brandeis

What is managerial judgement? Is there really a right answer to the question of how to deal with critical incidents at work such as an underperforming team?

What are Situational Judgement Tests?

Known as SJTs, these tests measure managerial judgement, looking at how individuals would respond to certain scenarios. This can be further broken down to: Managing objectives, people management and reputation or corporate management.

You can buy off-the-shelf SJTs that will measure candidates’ responses against a set of pre-determined ‘best practice’ answers. Quite often though, companies require something more specifically designed to their own context and ways of working.

What value do they add?

Management of budgets, people and performance is a challenge to all new managers. We know that five years’ management experience does not necessarily make a good manager. SJTs allow you to test how someone would deal with the kind of issues common to business management. Or if you create a bespoke test, you can measure directly how someone would deal with your specific issues.

As with all psychometric tests, the value-add is in saving time. By using an off-the-shelf or investing in a bespoke SJT, you find out quickly how someone would deal with issues, rather than having to go through lengthy interviews. It is how we deal with these critical incidents that defines our success as managers, so you could do with knowing how well a candidate will match your needs – before it’s too late.

It’s not the only thing that matters, but most businesses face those times when management judgement makes all the difference. Are you recruiting people that shine at those critical moments?

What’s the downside?

SJTs can be expensive to design for an organisation, as they need to be tested for psychometric fairness with a pilot group – involving time and money. If you are therefore more likely to use an off-the-shelf SJT, it is wise for you to check that the scenarios used in the test are relevant for the role you are recruiting for. Make sure you get the right test to measure the right thing.

As with all psychometric tests, the main risk involved is that recruiting managers focus only on one aspect of success. Every psychometric test should be used as part of a wider process to ensure all priority aspects of a role are tested in recruitment.

How to gain maximum value

  • Analyse the needs of the role to fully understand what needs to be measured
  • If judgement and decision-making are key to success in the role, gather information on the kinds of decisions that make a difference and the contexts and scenarios managers deal with
  • Based on this information, review the off-the-shelf SJTs available for suitability – and if nothing is right, speak to a business psychologist about having a test designed for you (and if this turns out to be too costly, ask their advice on how else you might measure what you need)