Unlocking The Candidate - Situational Tests

Unlocking The Candidate - Situational Tests


So now we’ve brought the long list down to a short, concise list.

  • We know the they have they have the skills for the role.
  • We know they have the intent to work.
  • We know they have the ability to do the role.

All that leaves us with, will they fit into the team?

Honestly speaking, there's no real answer to this. We can go about doing test after test to learn about the team, then learn about the candidate and see if that aligns. But there's just so many variables, that something as qualitative as a relationship between people isn’t something we can perfectly test for. It’s got to be observed.

What does that really mean?

We try our best to observe the candidate actually doing the job as long as possible, while still maintaining candidate experience and viability of the pipeline. This is where probation periods come from. For the remainder of the unknown part, we end up accepting mishires as a natural consequence of hiring.


As told by Michael Page, a situational judgement test (SJT) is a type of aptitude test designed to test your ability to problem solve in the work place. Employers further emphasise this last part by having you do this in their office, as realistic a setting as possible. What can we then gain from SJTs?

Among these, there are different levels of depth adopted by companies:

  1. Simple interview questions
  2. Take home assignments
  3. Paid multi-day take home assessments
  4. Paid short term internal projects to gauge performance
  5. Or like a certain MNC in the Oil & Gas industry, taking management trainees to an island somewhere and assessing them over a period of 3 days. (This is potentially the most effective way to do it but let’s be honest, scaling this is going to burn a hole in your wallets.)



While a lot else in the recruitment process is generic, the best SJT’s are designed to emulate a situation you’re likely to encounter in the position you’re applying to. Hiring managers have the ability to structure these in any way they like to simulate daily working conditions.

Minority goals

What cements the case for SJT’s in the hiring process is landmark findings of research by the Ghent University showing that SJT’s are less skewed against candidates form minority backgrounds than other forms of aptitude tests.

A window into cultural fit

Something we strongly believe in, is the only true way to get to know a person is by spending a significant amount of time with them. Only after working with a person for a few months, do we actually know enough about that person to be able to make a good decision about whether they’ll fit into a role or not. There are tons of research to back this up. SJT’s are the shortest version of this we can possibly get, giving us time to work alongside, and get a quick sense of whether this person would integrate into the team or throw the dynamic of the team way off.

The Pitfall

Situational tests constitute the best form of identification. The actual ability to see a candidate perform in a simulated, (or in some cases even real life) environment. Companies swear by it, and statically, has the best results. The biggest issue here however, is scale and costs. It’s great, and necessary to validate the last few candidates. This cost-value conundrum is something that has affected recruiters and hiring managers for decades. Is there a better way to find out who a candidate really is and how they work? Stay tuned for our next article, The Unseens.