Though some experts define it as an acquired instinct or “gut feeling,” there’s more to situational judgment than first meets the eye. In the workplace, there are various situational judgment skills, and they are all important for different reasons.
Why exactly are situational judgment skills important? Who requires top situational judgment skills? In addition to these two points, we have covered the following in this article:
- What situational judgment skills are
- The vital habits that contribute to good situational judgment in a candidate
- The essential ways situational judgment skills can affect your organization
- Why leaders require exceptional situational judgment skills
- The particular roles that also need top situational judgment skills
- How you can find out if your candidates have the right skills for the role
- The advantages of using skills tests for assessing candidates’ situational judgment skills
What is meant by situational judgment?
In the opening paragraph, we mentioned that there’s more to situational judgment skills than first meets the eye. This is because, when we define situational judgment, other factors are also important. Harvard Business Review defines situational judgment as "the combination of personal aptitudes and knowledge to make a decision".
If you are on the hunt for a candidate who has strong situational judgment, the process can become complicated because there are many different types of situational judgment skills.
From business judgment to time management, to leadership and people management, to business ethics and compliance judgment, there are several different important situational judgment skills that you may be looking for in your candidate search.
The type of situational judgment skills you’re searching for will depend largely on the particular role you are hiring for. If you’re hiring for a business leader, the situational judgment skills specific to this role will likely differ from the situational judgment skills required for a teacher or a firefighter.
Before we take a look at these roles, we’ve explored the habits that might indicate a candidate has good situational judgment skills.
Which habits indicate that a candidate has top situational judgment skills?
Certain habits can be a sign that your candidates have exceptional situational judgment skills. Consider business leaders, for instance. Not only should they be active listeners and try to maintain the habit of listening carefully to employees or other entrepreneurs, but they should also be conscious and attentive readers.
What this means for you as an HR professional is that you can figure out which candidates have top situational judgment skills in the interview by asking about their reading habits. You may also ask particular questions that relate to their management style. Look for signs that they are active listeners, which will indicate that they have good situational judgment skills.
Why leaders require exceptional situational judgment skills
There are various reasons why leaders require top situational judgment skills. They might be in a position where they have to select the ideal employee for a task or project. Perhaps they may have to quickly discern how to encourage team members to complete tasks more efficiently. They might also have to create solutions that tackle specific problems, including the challenge of aligning two workers who work inefficiently together or reshuffling the team.
As well as these scenarios, situational judgment skills are required for two additional reasons. Leaders need to show they can avoid subjective barriers standing in the way of good decisions. They also need to make consistent decisions that can drive productivity.
Good situational judgment is a critical ingredient of good leadership, as is the ability to uncloak the emotional shrouds surrounding a situation to discover the underlying logic behind a scenario, as business leader Karthik Chandrashekar puts it in his LinkedIn article.
In other words, exceptional situational judgment is a skill that enables leaders to put their emotions to one side and use reason and logic to make critical decisions.
The particular roles that also need top situational judgment skills
Below, we’ve covered some of the more common roles for which you will need to source candidates who have great situational judgment skills.
Teachers and educational roles
If you are hiring a teacher or an educational leader, there’s no question that the candidates you attract will need exceptional situational judgment skills. Whether the chosen candidate needs to gauge a student’s knowledge level or interact with other staff members to resolve an issue, they will require good situational judgment to perform well in the role.
Situational judgment, in this case, can also extend to how your successful candidate coordinates with their students’ parents, and how they handle challenging situations, such as how to proceed if a student is being bullied.
Top candidates for a teacher or educational role should therefore be confident in handling difficult interactions using their knowledge, logic, and situational judgment skills to make tough decisions.
HR professionals and managers
Are you looking to hire an HR professional or manager for your recruitment team? You will know that the candidates you attract should have top situational judgment skills. They will use this aptitude to analyze their candidates’ skills in interviews that inform the hiring process, just as you do.
HR professionals will also need to use situational judgment skills to rule out candidates from their organization. They will need to think as a leader would to ensure their chosen candidates are the ideal choices for their company.
Managers need top situational judgment skills to understand how employees work best, and how to get the maximum productivity from their team. They will need to think logically and make shrewd decisions based on the facts they have for each situation.
Customer service positions
Is the customer always right? This question (which you might use when interviewing customer service candidates) should play in your customer service candidates’ minds. It’s directly related to top situational judgment skills in a range of ways.
For example, say your business creates particular apps and they suddenly receive a complaint from a customer about glitches and bugs. How would your customer service candidate handle this situation? Not only should they be able to use their business knowledge, including company policies that may affect the customer in this situation, they should also be able to use situational judgment to resolve the issue amicably for all parties involved.
Retail staff roles
Whether a client wants to return a dress or swap an item of clothing without a receipt, there is always an ideal way to handle the situation. And, you guessed it, retail staff candidates also need top situational judgment skills to handle situations like this the right way.
In this context, situational judgment is not only about the retail business. It also relates to its clients and staff. How your retail candidates use the information available from the situation to solve daily challenges like these will depend on how they interact with staff and clients, while using a high level of situational judgment to help them.
How to find out if your candidates have the right skills for the role
You will need a method to figure out if your candidates have exceptional situational judgment. You will need to know if their situational judgment skills will drive their productivity and enhance the smooth running of the business.
There is a simple way to discover whether your candidates have the right situational judgment skills for the role, and it doesn’t involve hours of resume screening. No, searching through piles of resumes isn’t required. Instead, you can use skill tests to ensure that you make the right hiring decisions for your organization.
There is a range of situational judgment skills test types available, which can be used for a huge range of roles. Take a look at our list below.
Business judgment skills tests
If you are hiring for a business executive, the business judgment skills test is what you’ll need to make the best choice. Are your candidates able to think strategically and bring innovative solutions to the table? Are they capable of enhancing the performance of their team with good business judgment? And how do they use their business judgment when it comes to mergers, acquisitions, sales, and marketing?
The business judgment skills test will assess all of these areas in the context of good situational judgment. It is ideal, not only for business executives but for business analysts and strategy consultants as well.
Business negotiation skills tests
When you are trying to evaluate the situational judgment skills of your negotiators, take a look at the negotiation skills test to make your job easier. The negotiation test will dig deeper into your candidates’ abilities to drive conversations and negotiation discussions using situational judgment skills, influence others, use emotional intelligence, and leverage the psychology of the counterparty.
The negotiation skills test is ideal for a whole range of job roles in which a negotiator is required, whether they will be negotiating with suppliers, customers, or business partners.
Leadership and people management skills tests
We mentioned that HR personnel and managers will need top situational judgment skills. The leadership and people management skills test is the ideal way to assess your leader candidates' aptitudes for leadership and their situational judgment.
Are your candidates able to delegate authority and task responsibility? Will they competently be able to provide prompt feedback and guidance for their team members? Are they up to the task of supporting other team members’ development, and can they make plans that are supported by the entire team? These are the areas that can be tested with the leadership and people management skills test.
In addition to team leaders and HR personnel managers, these tests are perfect for any leadership role.
Business ethics and compliance skills tests
Situational judgment is also required by candidates who can make business decisions based on business ethics. The business ethics and compliance skills tests are just what you will require to test your candidates’ situational judgment in this context.
As well as testing candidates’ ability to understand and avoid conflicts of interest, this skills test is also ideal for assessing your candidates’ understanding of the impact of ethical issues on a business or personal reputation, legal violations, and how well they understand anti-discriminatory policies.
In addition to senior management members, this test is best used for business directors. But keep in mind that the business ethics and compliance skills test isn’t recommended for sub-managerial level employees.
Good judgment in the context of time management is critical to a range of roles. The time management skills test will help you to determine whether your candidates have good time management skills and whether they can prioritize tasks efficiently.
Can your candidate plan effectively? Are they able to execute tasks proficiently while considering deadlines? How confidently can they reflect on projects and optimize their time management better for future tasks? You will be able to find out if your candidate has top situational judgment skills and time management aptitudes with this skills test.
How skills tests are useful when evaluating situational judgment skills
Skills tests are useful for evaluating your candidates’ situational judgment skills for several reasons. In addition to helping you filter out unsuitable candidates who don’t have the right situational judgment skills for the vacancy, using a skills test has five crucial benefits.
- Improve the time it takes to hire a candidate with good situational judgment. A traditional resume screening approach can mean your hiring process lasts up to four months, especially if all your candidates claim to have good situational judgment skills. Reduce your time to hire by instantly filtering the candidates who don’t have the required or adequate situational judgment skills for your vacancy.
- Test a range of candidates for situational judgment who have different seniority levels. You might be hiring for a manager with situational judgment skills. You might be hiring for an HR staff member. Skills testing platforms can be used to test a range of seniority levels within your company, and hire candidates who have exceptional situational judgment skills for various vacancies.
- Test specific situational judgment skills. There is a range of specific skills tests available for different aptitudes. For example, testing situational judgment might mean testing time management or business judgment. This is simple with skills tests, as they offer a vast selection of tests for the situational judgment skills category.
- Reduce bias during the hiring process when hiring a candidate with situational judgment skills. If you want to widen your candidate pool and hire a candidate with the best situational judgment, objectively, skills tests are the way forward. You can base your entire hiring decision on their skills and aptitudes, including whether they have top situational judgment skills. The results of the test will do the talking and help you avoid making the wrong hire due to bias.
- Ensure your candidates’ situational judgment skills are reflected in the interview stage. Some candidates might claim to have top situational judgment skills when they do not. Pre-employment skills tests can be used to verify that your candidates genuinely have the situational judgment skills they claim.
Hire candidates with top situational judgment skills with reliable skills tests
Hiring candidates who have top situational judgment skills is crucial for certain roles, but it’s not always simple to find them. There are various types of situational judgment skills that you’ll need to look out for. But with a skills test you will be able to:
- Verify whether your candidates have the situational judgment skills they claim
- Test for specific situational judgment skills – such as time or business management
- Test different seniority levels with specific tests when evaluating situational judgment skills