Situational Judgement Tests: The Basics

quiz-1373314_960_720A situational judgement test (SJT) forms part of the recruitment process for many graduate schemes. From an employer’s perspective, they are an efficient way to sift through high volumes of candidates. Candidates are presented with a multiple choice test that consists of short descriptions of job-related situations, and for each, several actions are listed that could be taken in response.

The task could include:

~ ranking a list of 4 or 5 responses in order of merit

~ choosing the best answer from several possibilities

~ deciding on the most effective and least effective answers

The tests measure your ability to make the right decision in a difficult situation and scenarios may range from ethical dilemmas to difficulties with workload, colleagues or clients. See WikiJob for some example questions, with explanations for each answer. For some detailed information about each question type and what they look like, see this excellent resource from Assessment Day. You can also find a free situational judgement test to practise.

When you are choosing your response:

  • Think about the qualities and skills the employer has said they are looking for. Which response demonstrates these?
  • Make sure you read each response carefully before choosing, so that you have understood the full information. Don’t panic and rush into answering.
  • Think about the long term consequences of each of the actions. Which would lead to the best outcomes for the organisation in the long run?
  • Consider how actions would affect different stakeholders, and which stakeholders are most important. For example, if you have to let someone down or miss a deadline, it is probably better to let a colleague down than a client.

Where can you practise?


Useful tools to practise psychometric tests and interviews

We’ve spoken to lots of students this week who are looking for ways to practise psychometric tests and interviews. 

Psychometric tests:

These often form part of the recruitment process for many graduate schemes and are typically timed multiple choice tests that are to be completed independently by applicants. Employers may use these tests to filter down the number of candidates that they invite to interview, or to benchmark a candidate’s attributes against those who have been successful in that role. There are many different types of tests, including:

  • Numerical reasoning – testing your ability to analyse data in the form of ratios, percentages, graphs and tables.
  • Verbal reasoning – a test of logic, from a given written statement. You might be asked whether a statement is true, false, or if there’s not enough information to draw a conclusion.
  • Critical thinking – tests a candidate’s ability to solve new and complex tasks – closely related to verbal reasoning.
  • Situational Judgement Test – tests how you might approach a variety of scenarios in the workplace – giving you options of how you might best respond (usually you’ll need to rank options).
  • Diagrammatic reasoning – tests that assess visual problem solving and processing skills.

So how can you practise?

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Psychometric Testing: Preparation

The term psychometric testing can sound a bit daunting. This is partly because it has become a catch-all phrase applied to any kind of assessment activity used to evaluate skills, knowledge, abilities, personality traits, and attitudes.

Many companies who require you to complete some form of psychometric testing will make practice tests available to you via their website or in links sent directly to test candidates. If you are given the opportunity to practice the specific company style of test don’t pass it up. Different companies will use different types of tests from different providers, so don’t only practice one brand of test and hope it will prepare you for them all!

Aptitude Tests

These are, most commonly, numeracy and literacy tests, and/or verbal and logical reasoning tests.

Verbal reasoning
For verbal reasoning tests practice reading sections of text from a range of newspaper articles and websites (200-300 words) that deal with content for the relevant industry. Then summarise your reading. This will enhance your vocabulary and reading speed.

Numerical reasoning
Refresh your memory of a range of mental arithmetic calculations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, percentages and ratios.

Look at charts, graphs, and data tables on relevant content. Then have a go at interpreting the data before you read the accompanying explanatory information. Think about trends and patterns in the data.

Inductive or logical reasoning
These tests vary across industries but it is likely that you will be asked to analyse a series of linked images and predict the next in the series.

You will need to work out the ‘rule’ or ‘rules’ that govern the pattern linking the shapes or other objects.

Useful things to consider include, are the objects changing in colour or shading? What type, shape and size are the images? Are they rotating?

Personality Tests

The most important thing to remember, particularly when it comes to tests focused on behavior and personality, is that you cannot cheat or second guess these questions. This will produce an inconsistent profile and be ultimately unhelpful to you.

Work style preference
As mentioned above you can’t practice for these tests but you can reflect critically on the sorts of thinking and behaviours that the job role is likely to require.

You can then turn your attention to your own past experience and working style. Try to relate these reflections to the position you are now applying for.

Situational judgment
 These are designed to test how you would deal with work placed situations in a variety of interpersonal scenarios: with peers, managers and customers. You will rely on your personal experience, knowledge and reasoning.

Prepare by considering a variety of conflict and problem solving scenarios.

 Leadership and motivational
Such questions test for qualities such as accountability, responsibility, and team-working abilities. They will be considering your decision-making, risk management and interpersonal skills. Unilever (for example) consider positive and realistic competitiveness to be an attribute of a capable leader.

Prepare by researching the kind of qualities generally accepted to be the sign of a good leader and then relate these to your own experiences.

Practice full length numerical, verbal, inductive, logical and diagrammatic tests online, with downloadable answer sheets that explain the solutions to each question. Register at using your @qmul email address.

Visit and type the work ‘psychometric’ to access a list of resources including advice and sample tests.

Tips to improve your numerical test score

The short answer is practice. The long answer is… more practice.

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That might sound simple enough, but getting the right type of practice is key to effective preparation that will hopefully ultimately boost your test score.

Careers & Enterprise have a subscription to full length psychometric tests, which provides feedback on your performance with tips on how to improve. An answer sheet is also available if you want to see the workings out for any questions you didn’t get right. Register using your @qmul email address at

I need to improve my maths:

Word and number puzzles like Sudoku are great ways to help build on your verbal and numerical skills. The BBC bitesize and skillswise websites are useful for revising basic maths and comprehension for example. There are also lots of videos and tutorials online.
For finance roles, study the charts and tables in the business pages of newspapers and do some basic calculations to familiarise yourself with this type of data.

I need to improve my exam technique:

Trying example questions will help to improve your exam technique and will familiarise you with the way the questions are phrased. Reading the question thoroughly is important. Often they are phrased in a way that can catch you out if you are not careful. Remember also that

  • Speed and accuracy are important, so work as quickly and accurately as you can.
  • Do not spend too long on any one question – if you are stuck, leave it and move on. You can always return to it later if you have time. Sometimes a quick estimate can help to rule out some of the options, but avoid guessing.

I need to control my nerves:

The countdown clock doesn’t help if you are already feeling nervous. Do not worry if you do not finish all the questions – these tests are meant to push you. The more sample questions you do, the more used you will be to the technology and the calculations you could be asked to do, which will help you feel more in control of the situation.


The Basics: Psychometric Tests

Psychometric tests – one of those things that your parents probably never had to worry about when they were applying for work. But now it looks like you can’t get a job without acing one of these tests. But what exactly are they and how do you do well on them?

What are they?

Psychometric tests (also referred to as aptitude tests) are used by many larger recruiters.These are typically timed multiple choice tests that are to be completed independently by applicants. Different employers might use these tests for different reasons – whether to objectively filter down the number of candidates that they invite to interview, or to benchmark a candidate’s attributes against those who have been successful in that role.

There are a number of different test providers, such as Watson Glaser, and within those providers, there are many different test types, including:

  • Numerical Reasoning – deducing an outcome from data in the form of ratios, percentages, graphs and tables.
  • Verbal Reasoning – A test of logic, from a given written statement. Typically candidates might be asked whether a statement is true, false, or if there’s not enough information to draw such a conclusion.
  • Critical thinking – tests a candidate’s ability to solve new and complex tasks – closely related to verbal reasoning.
  • Situational Judgement Test – tests how you might approach a variety of scenarios in the workplace – giving you options of how you might best respond.
  • Diagrammatic reasoning – tests that assess visual problem solving and processing skills.

The type of tests you are asked to do will likely depend on the nature of the role. For example, if you are applying for an engineering role, you will more likely be faced with a diagrammatic reasoning test, than if you were applying for a law graduate scheme – where you might more likely face a situational judgement test, along with verbal and critical reasoning.

They sound scary!

Many students feel anxious about psychometric tests. Some might feel they are impersonal and don’t reflect their abilities, while others feel they oughtn’t prepare for them since employers should already be able to deduce that they have good problem solving skills from their CVs and experience.

Psychometric tests are nothing to be scared of. There are definite ways to improve your likelihood of a positive outcome (discussed further below), and employers aren’t trying to trip you up.

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How are they scored?

Typically, tests are not scored in terms of getting more than x% means you have passed. Instead, psychometric testing bodies test people who have been successful in their chosen career areas, and used these scores to benchmark applicants against. Therefore, there’s nothing to say that achieving 40% won’t mean you progress – it all depends on the benchmark – and this is something we cannot know. It’s always a good idea to do your best!

Ok, so how can I best prepare?

You can do a lot to increase your likelihood of scoring well. Familiarity & confidence have been shown to positively impact psychometric test scoring by up to 30%.

Do the test on the last day you can to give yourself time to best prepare. Typically you will be given a 3-7 day window in which to complete the test. Use those intervening days to try as many of the following tips as possible.

Practice intelligently – if the test requires you to do 30 questions in 30 minutes, it’s potentially a really good idea to do many of the practice tests under no time conditions at all. Many candidates have reported doing really well after taking 10 minutes to answer 1 question in practice – in order to understand the different ways in which they might approach the question, and also try to understand how the test writers are operating. In this way, candidates can better appreciate their favoured method of answering certain question types, and so can save time in the real test as they already know how, for example, they’ll approach a question relating to ratios.

In this way, let the speed build naturally.

Find out what kind of psychometric test the employer might be using: websites such as Glassdoor, Wikijob and Studentroom might help, or failing that, phone up and ask the graduate recruitment team! Use this information to ensure you’re practising on the right kind of tests.

Check out the QMUL Careers & Enterprise website – we have some terrific resources there which tell you all about psychometric test and you can have a practice using the Assessment Day website which we have a subscription for.

Always read the instructions of the tests – specifically around possible negative marking for incorrect answers.

Lastly – be fully rested, and find a room where you won’t be disturbed for the test.

The team at QM Careers are completely behind you, and wish you the best of luck!

Are your Maths skills ready for employment?

Like it or not, many employers now include numeracy tests in their recruitment procedures. Jobs which you may not think require good knowledge of Maths will still ask you to sit basic numeracy tests. And for those of us who haven’t done Maths since our GCSEs, this may prove a challenge.

The Maths Centre at Loughborough University has a free online course, starting next month, which will give you basic numeracy skills for employment. It starts on 15th June and last for three weeks, taking only a few hours a week of your time. You can find out more here: Sounds like a pain-free way of getting those Maths skills you’ll need for job hunting!

maths course




Psychometric tests – what are they and how can I do well?

What are they?

Otherwise known as aptitude tests, you will be asked to answer a number of questions within a given time limit. These questions could be used to measure your numerical, verbal, or critical thinking skills for example, and are another way (in addition to application forms and interviews) for employers to see whether you are right for the job.

What do they look for?

High scores! It is important here to balance speed and accuracy. You need to make sure you don’t spend too long on each question, but you also need to spend long enough so that your answers are correct! The time limit also puts pressure on you, so be aware of this too.

How do I do well? 

Well, as the saying goes, practice makes perfect. Trying both sample questions and full-length psychometric tests before you sit the real thing will give you an insight into what to expect, will boost your confidence and will help you improve your exam technique. It will also give you a sense of where to focus your revision if there are certain types of questions that catch you off your guard.
Register here using your qmul email address to access a range of sample tests and their answers. You can also visit and use the tag ‘psychometric tests’ to find more practice questions.

What to avoid? 

Spending too long on one question, leaving questions unanswered and leaving your preparation to the last minute. If you are applying for graduate schemes you can almost guarantee that you will be given a psychometric test during the process, so try and put aside some time every week to practice.