Everything You Need to Know about Situational Judgement Tests

Topic: Assessment, Staffing
Publication: Human Resource Management Review (SEP 2009)
Article: Situational judgment tests: An overview of current research
Authors: Whetzel, D. L., & McDaniel, M.A.
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger

Situational Judgment Tests (SJTs): you may have heard of them, may have used them, may have taken them, and may swear by them, but unless you spend every waking moment thinking about SJTs (You nerd!), then you may want to read on. In a recent issue of the Human Resource Management Review, Whetzel and McDaniel (2009) provide a thorough overview of the current research on SJTs.

SJTs are typically used for employee selection and present job applicants with a number of realistic work situations. Each item then requires applicants to…you guessed it, make judgments! More specifically, when presented with a work situation, applicants either choose from a list of possible courses of action or rate each option’s likelihood of success. Now to the point, what conclusions can we draw from Whetzel and McDaniel’s review? For the sake of brevity, I only present their major conclusions and recommendations for practice.

·   SJTs are valid predictors of job performance, have less adverse impact than paper-pencil cognitive ability tests, and are face valid (measure what they appear to measure).

·   SJTs can measure personality, cognitive ability, and can be tailored to measure other specific abilities and skills (cross-cultural intelligence).

·   Whetzel and McDaniel recommend having applicants rate the effectiveness of several options as opposed to choosing a single course of action (gives more useful information). They also suggest that the rating scales be in Likert format (1 = “very ineffective” – 4 = “very effective”) and avoid fine distinctions such as 1 = “extremely ineffective” while 2 = “very ineffective” (because what the heck is the difference anyway and how would you explain this away in court?).

Overall, SJTs are a great personnel selection tool that will continue to be widely researched in the future.

Whetzel, D.L., & McDaniel, M. A. (2009). Situational judgment tests: An overview of
current research. Human Resource Management Review, 19, 188-202.