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Understanding Situational Judgement Tests

This is the last of a six-part series of Police Promotion articles, ?b? the best you can be, provided by
Published - 22/09/2017 By - Ben Ewart and Neil James

In this series directors Ben Ewart and Neil James take you through their pattern of promotion success, covering Situational Judgement Tests (SJT’s.

Over the series we have covered the different assessment types, the key elements of a high scoring answer, the importance of delivery and in-tray exercises. All of the articles in this series can be found at or

Why Are They Used?

SJTs are a very cost effective and convenient way to select the potential strong performers from a large group of candidates.

Organisations or employers will therefore be more likely to use them if they have a high volume of candidates applying for a role, position or rank and need to fairly reduce numbers to a more manageable level, alongside other assessment exercises.

The tests try to create as realistic a situation as possible for the employer to test how the candidate will respond to the ‘real’ demands of the job that can be then used to help predict actual performance in role.

General Information

SJTs present you with a range of different situations that you may experience in the job or rank for which you are applying and ask you to make a decision on how you would act if presented with that scenario.

For each situation, a number of possible actions are suggested (usually around four or five but this can vary). You are required to choose between these possible options and judge which is the most effective course of action to take, and therefore which action you would actually take if faced with this situation.

The answers for SJTs are always multiple-choice, so you cannot chose an option that is not already given. Wherever possible, the situations try to reflect real-life aspects of the job.

Situational Judgement Tests can be presented in a variety of different ways and have different ways for you to respond to the situations presented. They can be:

  • paper-based
  • computer-based
  • text only
  • video clips to present the situation, with written response options animation and computer-generated avatars to enact the situation, with written response options.

Example Question & Types of Response

So, let’s look at a possible situation that you could be faced with and the possible ways in which you may be asked to respond.

You are a sergeant within a new team. You have just overheard an officer in your team on the phone telling a member of the public that they are over-reacting and they needed to 'get some serious help'. You are not sure what the call was about but the call has now finished and you have a chance to speak to the officer.

Most and least effective option

The situation is presented with four or five possible responses and you are asked to indicate which is ‘most’ and which is ‘least’ effective in your judgement.

  Most effective Least effctive 
Tell the officer you have no option but to recommend their dismissal    
Tell the officer you will work with them to improve their performance over three months    
Tell the officer to do it again     
Ignore the officer's behaviour and hope they won't repeat their mistakes on another occasion     


Rated responses option

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