Situational judgment tests – are they a fancy term for personality tests?


If you're applying for or advertising employment opportunities, you may have heard of the relatively new trend in recruitment: situational judgment tests. Although they have been around for about 60 years, many organizations are only just now adding them to their recruitment strategies. But what exactly are these tests?

Time spent on hiring is time well spent. - Robert Half

Situational judgment tests

Situational judgment tests (commonly known as SJTs) are a type of aptitude test that is focused on psychology and the judgment that is required in work-related situations. They give prospective job candidates the chance to see how they would fare when presented with challenging and hypothetical situations that they could encounter at work. SJTs are developed to reflect realistic situations that the candidate would find in the role. The test works by offering responses to candidates and actions that they could take when faced with the specific problem. Depending on the variations of the SJTs, candidates may either select the most appropriate response to solve the issue for them, or may classify each potential action on a Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree scale. Similarly to aptitude tests, SJTs are typically in a multiple choice format.

What skills do SJTs test?

SJTs test the candidate's ability in certain areas:

  • Teamwork skills
  • Communication skills
  • Decision making skills
  • People skills
  • Management skills

Personality tests

In general, aptitude tests, including SJTs, are unrelated to personality. Indeed, candidates with differing personality traits can all do equally well in terms of their performance on SJTs. Simply put, while one's personality does have a lot to do with how they respond in certain situations, it is not the only key factor in one's judgment and performance. SJTs analyze a person's performance on tasks related to the desired work, such as management, something which is not assessed in personality tests.

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