Situational Judgment

Situation-based judgment is the process of applying the five Socratic principles of critical distance, uncertainty, ambiguity, erring only on the side of more information, and paying attention to less. The ultimate aim of situational judgment examination questions is to assess the candidate’s judgment based on his current position in the situation. It has been found that most candidates have no problem with critical distance or limited information. However, many are highly skilled with uncertainty, ambiguity, and erring to the side of information. The candidate who exhibits these skills can be expected to win the position.

Several studies have shown that the majority of subject matter experts in business are skilled at paying attention to less information. However, most are not skilled at critically looking at their own choices. Thus, when they are asked to assess the value of information, most are highly skilled with information-limited choice situations but have difficulty evaluating their own judgment based on critical information.

In the case of a job applicant seeking a teaching position, the situation-specific examination questions would have to include such topics as the following: “What types of situations can you identify with?” “What are the implications of this situation for your future career plans?”

For the most part, most of the subject matter experts (not the job applicant) know exactly what the situation is and the implications it carries for their future career. This means that the job applicant must be able to evaluate this judgment by having to face it in the presence of the situation, without the benefit of knowing the answers.

Many real life examples illustrate the concept. If a candidate is hired by a large corporation for an executive position, he may be asked to make a decision about hiring a new employee based on a few hours of training and a short period of testing.

He may have no idea what the real life situations are. At the beginning of the training, he will be given a set of scenarios, which are supposed to help him evaluate the person he is about to hire.

He will then be required to consider all the scenarios and select the one that is more likely to suit his needs. The job applicant will be required to make a decision based upon his own judgment and experience. However, he is likely to over-estimate the importance of being able to evaluate situations that are not relevant to his job role.

When he has completed his training, he will have to make a judgment on the spot based upon his understanding of situations using the Critical Distance technique. He may believe that a hypothetical situation with a high probability of success is critical and that a hypothetical situation with a low probability of success is irrelevant. He does not realize that this judgment will help him make a better decision.

The concept of the Critical Distance is based on the assumption that the more time a person can spend thinking about a situation, the more likely he is to make an accurate judgment. To measure the effectiveness of an organization’s training programs, managers must make judgment calls. These judgments should be based on experiences, not on theoretical reasoning.

They must use judgment when they make a decision about hiring an officer or about promoting a department head or deciding whether to buy a company’s products. They must also be able to make judgments about hiring and firing a supervisor.

When making decisions about hiring or firing employees, executive’s judgment requires the ability to evaluate the behavior of people. While the executive is in the presence of the situation, he can judge the situation using a critical distance and can evaluate the situation by observing a person’s behavior. By doing so, he can assess the skills of a potential employee or the behavior of a potential supervisor. If a certain behavior is consistent with the job duties, the employee can be placed on probation while the employee is working.

Executive’s judgment requires judgment to choose a particular candidate, to choose the best choice, and to make the right decision after the training is complete. This judgment must be used to make important decisions in both the short and long term.

Situational Judgment
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