Situational Judgement Tests: Tips and Tricks, 20 October 2021 recording

Psychometric testing can feel like a huge unknown. Listen in as Anna, a recruiter on the NGDP team, and Georgia, a current trainee on the programme, discuss how a situational judgement test operates, along with their top tips to succeed.


Transcript 

Anna Buttenshaw: So, good morning. My name is Anna Buttenshaw. I work at the Local Government Association on the National Graduate Development Programme for local government. It's a bit of a mouthful, which is why we call it the NGDP for short. I'm joined today by Ed or Eduardo, who is a current trainee on the NGDP, based at Bradford Metropolitan District Council. So, Ed, do you want to give us a quick 'hello'? 

Eduardo: Yeah, hi there. Nice to see so many of you interested in the programme. Yeah, I'm Ed. So, I'll just give you a brief introduction. So, I'll-, yeah, so I work at Bradford Council. I went to uni in Leeds and, at the moment, my placement is in Children's Services, supporting lack of commissioner review into Bradford Council's children services. 

Anna Buttenshaw: Fab. Thanks Ed and that sounds fascinating. What are we doing here today? Well, we're here to take you through the NGDP's Situational Judgement Test. Now, as we both have an experience directly connected to the NGDP, most of what I'm saying today is going to be specific to our programme. However, I know that many of you joining us might be doing multiple psychometric tests in this autumn period, so I'll try and make some general observations as well, that might be useful to you, particularly if you're completing multiple tests at this time. But do be aware, in terms of the questions, my expertise is mainly limited to our situational judgement test. So, saying that, why are we here today? Well, from myself, I've worked on the NGDP for just over seven years, which might feel like a lifetime. And one of the things I've noticed in that time, which is around the time that we've been using psychometric testing, is that situational judgement tests can get a pretty bad rap. They can sound like a huge unknown, they can be really off-putting to people on first look. But actually, when you start getting into our situational judgement test, how it's been written, how it's marked an the experience that it gives you, then we begin to find that, actually, it's a really fantastic tool and a brilliant way to give you a preview of what life on the programme might be like. 
 
So, I'm really passionate about breaking down some of the myths around situational judgement and equipping everyone, no matter what experiences you've had, in work or education or application processes, that everyone is fairly and equally equipped to succeed in our situational judgement test. So, that's why I'm here today. Now, Ed, my question to you is, why did you volunteer to help me with this workshop? So, Ed's giving up his time this morning to speak to us about your experience of the SJT. What motivated you to say, 'Yes.' Ed? 

Eduardo: Yeah. So, I guess, personally, like you said, Anna, they get-, they do get a bad rap and I think it is one of those things that, as a graduate and as someone applying for graduate schemes, regardless of which ones you apply for, like you said, they're just a part of every job application these days. So, I felt-, I did feel bad that I have memories of when I was trying to do it and other grad schemes or other jobs I'd applied for and they were difficult. So I thought definitely something-, definitely worth taking some time out of my day to help some people with it because I can understand how people can be nervous or, sort of, sceptical about how they work. 

Anna Buttenshaw: Fab and so, I should say, if you, when you're listening in, have any questions, particularly for Ed, do just pop those into the chat as well and make it clear that you'd like to hear Ed's thoughts on something, rather than mine. So, what we're gonna be be, going to look at this morning, we're gonna really quickly whizz through, what is an SJT, or a situational judgement test? Why do we use this form of testing? What does it measure? How can you prepare? And then we're going to go through a set of sample questions, which are real questions we've extracted from previous versions of our assessment and I've put in a bit of an explanation as to what they're measuring and, of course, revealing to you the correct answer. So, stay tuned for that practice piece at the end. So, jumping straight into it, what is an SJT? Well, an SJT or a situational judgement test, is a psychometric test. So, what that means is, it's trying to evaluate how you think. Now, this might sound quite creepy, but the basic premise is that everyone is coming to our graduate application or other graduate applications with really different life experiences, work experiences, educational experiences. For ourselves on the NGDP, we don't require any specific degree background, we do not require any work experience and so we're a-, and we're a really generalist scheme, so there's no need to define a specific direction of career on applying for the scheme either. 
 
And that openness is a great opportunity, but it makes evaluating people coming from really different backgrounds quite challenging and one of the ways we can do that is by trying to bring everybody into the same work based context through the SJT and imagine how you might behave in a particular role. So, my first tip, really, is to understand the context of the role. So, and this is where situational judgement tests can get quite tricky in my view, as compared to other forms of psychometric assessment that might be measuring, say, verbal reasoning or numerical reasoning. They're very generalist and there's a set skill to, you know, doing mathematical functions or looking for certain problems in a, in a worded paragraph. Whereas, an SJT is really contextual. So, to perform well in a Situational Judgement Test, the first place you want to start is, actually, what is the work context that this test is based in? And we'll come onto that a little bit more as we progress through the workshop this morning. Coming to some of the myths around SJTs, what is one of the main advantages of using a situational judgement test? Well, for our organisation, contrary to the, sort of, some of the myths that are around about SJTs, we have found it to be one of the least discriminatory recruitment tools that we have tried and we have tried a range over the period of time. Fairness and equality is incredibly important to us on the graduate programme and so, when you're filling in an application for us, you'll be asked for equality and diversity information around eight protected characteristics. 
 
And what we do is, through our assessment processes, we are monitoring that equality and diversity information, it's completely anonymous, it's not tied to your direct name or scores or application. But what it allows us to do is to make sure that, when we're drawing a pass mark for an assessment, there is no adverse impact being had across those eight characteristics. Now, not every graduate scheme will do this. Some will pre-set a pass mark and then they live with the consequences but for quite a few in the public sector, this is fairly common practice and it certainly has been for us, for a number of years. And so, you can have confidence that, no matter your background, that this is a tool which we've found to be really fair and equal. What's a disadvantage to this test, I would say that, if you have absolutely zero work experience and that you have very little knowledge of professional workplace context, then it can, initially, be hard to connect with some of this material. And I would say that a lot of the generic tests that are available on the internet are really hard to use because, see tip number one, it's all about the work based context. So, something that puts you, say, in a car dealership, for example, which was a practice test that I sat once, when we were looking at SJTs, is-, it didn't prepare me at all or would not have prepared me at all to sit the NGDP test, because the work context and the expectations of you are so radically different. 
 
So, how do we fight against this disadvantage? Well, we're gonna come into that in a minute. I just wanna pause there for a minute and come to Ed, and just ask you, Ed, when you were initially looking at our application process and, perhaps, other graduate application processes, how did you feel? What was your, sort of, first impression of being asked to do an SJT? 

Eduardo: I, for me, because it was-, I was still at uni when I applied for this, I just thought it was a normal part of, sort of, applying for jobs. So, I was, kind of-, I didn't really think too much about it, but I did recognise that, you know, this was quite a common thing to do and I studied law and I had a lot of friends who, like, had to essentially work for, like, solicitors firms, they had to do very similar lots of psychometric tests. The Watson Glaser is a very famous one. And so, I was, kind of, a bit nervous because I didn't have this experience that we're having now, in terms of someone talking through how it all worked. So, it was, it was a bit-, I felt a bit nervous to begin with, but I think the more you do, and I'm sure we'll touch on that later, the more you do and the more you understand about the context of the work, the easier it does become. 

Anna Buttenshaw: Fab, thank you. And it's really interesting that you mention sitting this test alongside multiple other ones. We've just had a question in the chat from Louise, asking, 'How does our test compare to tests particularly used by the civil service?' Now, I don't have proprietary knowledge of the civil service assessment and so I can't make a really specific comment on that front, but what I can say is that there'll be a lot of similarity across some public sector organisations in the types of scenarios that you would face and, also, in the types of-, as it's a, sort of, similar workplace and you might come across some similar issues. Well, where the difference is at is how you would be evaluated and so the civil service will have their own evaluation matrix, which is based on their key-, what their key recruitment criteria are and I'm pretty sure they work off of a set of key skills and behaviours or traits that they're looking for. Ed, you've got your hand up, so you might've actually done this one yourself. 

Eduardo: Yes. 

Anna Buttenshaw: And so, they'll just be different for us and this is something we'll come onto. They're on our website, but the evaluation criteria will be different. Ed, did you do the civil service Fast Stream test? 

Eduardo: Yeah, I did do the civil service Fast Stream tests. They're probably some of the hardest that I've ever done. I don't know if they make it so hard because they have such-, you know, they have thousands, like, I mean, the NGDP does, but I'd imagine-, I mean, the civil service Fast Stream, a lot of people say it's the hardest graduate scheme in the country to get into. You know, it has applications from, literally-, because they take international applications, you know, people all over the world so, I mean, in relation to that, they go quite hard on theirs and it's quite long, quite extensive. I wouldn't say the NGDPs is any easier or harder, but it's definitely not as long. But I think, like Anna said, the same-, they are testing the similar things and if you're doing both, there will be overlaps that you'll be able to see. 

Anna Buttenshaw: Fantastic. Thanks for that insight, Ed. We've had a couple more questions, one of which asks about practice questions and says that you're not given answers. Ours will show you the answer to the question. So, we'll come onto that in this presentation and they're listed on our website as well. I personally don't really see the point of putting you through the practice of giving you practice questions without answers because you're completely right, how do you then know whether you've got it right or not? So, for us, we will be giving you the correct answers. So, you'll be seeing that in the second half of today's webinar. Someone's asked a question about the difference between working for the NGDP and the civil service. I'm gonna pick that one up as we come into some of the sample questions at the end. So, stay tuned for my insight on that one. So, just to quickly touch on the material I've got on the slide that's in front of us, so why do we as an employer use an SJT? Well, as I've said, we know, for us, it's a non-discriminatory tool and so my tip number two is, no matter what your background is, I would say please don't look at the name of an assessment or things you've heard about a type of assessment and rule yourself out. We have seen, historically, sometimes, disproportionate drop out rates amongst people who identify under certain protected characteristics. 
 
So, that's not people who are failing the assessment, that is people who are, sort of, opting out. Now, there could be a huge range of reasons for that, but I would say, if you see that SJT name, please don't see the type of assessment and feel like it's automatically not for you. The test is for everyone. It is far and equal. So, that's just my plea. Please give it a go. And as Ed says, it's not as terrible as some of the other ones out there. It's sixteen questions and we'll come onto a bit more around that in a minute. My colleague Elise has posted in the chat, a link to, actually, where the, our practice questions are on the website. So, don't all hop there now, because I'm gonna give you an even better version here, but that's in the chat for your reference afterwards. I'd say, another advantage to the SJT, which I've also touched on is, it gives you a great idea of what the job is like, day to day. And Ed can correct me if I'm wrong, maybe he-, you feel, Ed, that your job is really different to the situations in the SJT, but generally, I hear from trainees that they say, 'Yeah, I've actually faced quite similar situations on the ground.' Or, 'When I sat the test afterwards, I felt that I, I was more prepared for things like the video interview and the assessment centre that came next, because it eases you into that workplace context, introducing you to some of the main topics or issues or types of expectations that you might face on the job.' 
 
And since we've been using the SJT, we have seen higher levels of applicant performance in the later stages. So, that tells me that it is a successful tool in giving you the skills you need, to perform throughout the assessment process as well. So, that's my big encouragement to give it a go. So, what does an SJT measure? And this is where generic advice becomes really difficult to give, because it will be different for every test provider. And this is the point I was making about the difference between our test and, say, the civil service Fast Stream. So, for our test, I can tell you that there is no mystery about what we are marking you on, it's all very clear, it's all on our website. Every single stage of our assessment process is measuring our key skills and behaviours. I've pasted them here on this slide and then next, they are fully accessible on our website when you're looking at the NGDP application, then the link to the application is followed by a whole load of information, which includes the key skills and behaviours. These are the eight criteria for us, that sit behind. One of these sits behind every single question on the SJT and when you get into the video interview, each of the questions you will be asked, will be measuring all of these criteria as well. And when you get to our assessment centre, the exercises are measuring these criteria as well. So, this is the only thing we mark you on in the entire process. 
 
Nothing else counts, so this is the best place to start, when you're looking to prepare for our situational judgement test. And I would say that, if you're looking to do other situational judgement tests, then this is the first thing to look for. Ask an employer what they are marking you on. It should be obvious. You shouldn't have to ask the question, hopefully, but if, if it does all seem a bit mysterious that might be-, for me, it would be a bit of a red flag, but I would always ask the question, you know, what is this test marking? Can I see the, the core criteria that I'm being marked on? And so, I will flick you through those and, and as I say, these are all available on our website. Now, Ed, moment of truth. Did you look at the key skills and behaviours before you sat the situational judgement test? 

Eduardo: I think I did. I can't quite remember because it was probably coming up to, yeah, two, two years ago that I was doing this, but I think I-, just because it is so important to know because otherwise, you are just a bit lost navigating through the questions, really. And like you said, the-, you're always gonna know-, it's important to know what they're marking you on because that's, they want you to demonstrate, you know. So, it, it just makes sense, really, to make sure that you know what they're being assessed on so you can demonstrate that knowledge the best. 

Anna Buttenshaw: Thanks so much, Ed. I had a really interesting question, the last time we ran one of these workshops, where the person asked, 'What is a better approach to this test, to honestly answer the questions in how I would respond to that situation, or to do what you're telling me to do and study these criteria and practice and try to give what seems to be the correct answer?' Now, that's obviously a very telling question, and my answer at the time was that, if you are-, if you study these core criteria, these key skills and behaviours and you sit some of our practice questions and you find that every single time you would go to answer a practice question, you disagree with what the correct answer is, then I would suggest to you that you might not actually like to do the job that we are hiring for. And that's a great way that the test can be a self-selection tool. So, if you feel that you vehemently disagree with every answer to the practice questions, then I would say you might not actually enjoy working on our programme. What I would say is that it's a combination the rest of the time. Obviously, we are looking for your personal judgement and your fit with the programme and with the sector and we believe these questions will be indicative of that. However, coming back to my very first point around life experiences, knowledge of professional environment and knowledge of, say, what it's like to work in the public sector, you know, not everybody is going to have that to hand. 
 
And having an understanding of our key skills and behaviours, having a bit of an understanding of what it's like to work in the sector and other tips that I'll give you during this workshop, then I believe that they don't change your opinions or your behaviour on a fundamental level. But by having a greater understanding, you might actually make a different choice to what might be your gut reaction to the question, without having done any preparatory work. So, I'm not asking you to do this test and to be insincere as you're doing the test. But I am saying that doing the preparation can actually better equip you to succeed and could actually be more reflective of how you'd behave in the workplace than just sitting it out of the blue with a, kind of, gut reaction. Because, actually, in the workplace, you would be picking up cues and signals, talking to colleagues, getting guidance from line managers. You would have all of these levels of influence going on at the time and so we're just trying to replicate that, in doing the preparation for today. So, that's my answer to that tricky question. So, into the really interesting bit, how can you prepare? Well, coming back to tip number 1 about how you put that assessment framework into context. So you're reading those key skills and behaviours and you think, 'Great. These are really interesting. There's a little bit of a paragraph that defines it but what does this actually mean?' 
 
Well, some ways to begin fleshing that out a little bit more, making it relevant to yourself and broadening your own understanding and your own confidence, really, are ways that you can develop an organisational understanding. Or, for us, it would be a broader understanding of what it's like to work in local government and the wider public sector. So, you're starting with the values and sometimes called competencies in other organisations. You might want to, if you have very little knowledge of local government, you might want to go find out what your local council is, have a little look around their website, what services do they offer? Do they have a five year plan that they've linked to? If you're applying to a generic job or for us, we've got a whole support team, you know. If you've got a question, ask the question. Don't sit in silence wondering with uncertainty, 'What does this role involve?' Or, 'What does this test involve?' For us, we've got some videos on our website which are a really fantastic use of five minutes of your time, to listen to some of our trainees talking about their motivation for working in local government. Some of the roles that they've had on the scheme and the impact they've been able to make, the importance of equality and diversity to us on the programme, just to name a few. So, five minutes here, five minutes there, you're building that broader understanding and beginning to put that list of key skills and behaviours into a workplace context. 
 
Another fantastic resource, particularly for us and many other graduate schemes, is the archive of case studies that's on our website. So, if you're wondering, 'What does the job actually involve?' Or, 'What scenarios might be coming up, in terms of a workplace scenario?' Then have a look at some of those case studies and you'll begin to see examples of the workplace coming to life. So, it shouldn't be a shot in the dark, there are loads of resources out there. It's not massively time consuming. I know those of you who are currently doing your studies are under enormous pressure to deliver results for your universities. Some of you might be working or have caring responsibilities. So, we're not naïve about the number of things that you're trying to juggle in your life, perhaps a combination of all three. So, what I'm saying is, five minutes here, five minutes there, you're building that broader understanding, which will really give you confidence to succeed. And Ed's placed his email address in the chat, so it anyone has any particular questions about-, especially about what it's like to work in a council or those types of roles, then you can get in touch with Ed for more information. So, into tip number four, this is my biggest one and, you guessed it, really tedious sometimes, but it's the practice questions. Now, we're gonna come onto this in just a minute, but I'm gonna pause there and I'm gonna ask Ed. 
 
I've been over some real basics here Ed, was there anything else you did? I know, reaching back two years, is there anything else that you did to prepare for the SJT or, maybe, having reflected on what it was like to sit the test, is there anything that you would advise other people to do before they, sort of, click the 'begin' button on the assessment? 

Eduardo: I would say, I mean, I think they're, tip one and four, definitely the most important things you can do. I probably should've done more, to be honest, of, especially, that tip number one. I think that is really crucial. But I think just, like, a slightly softer preparation skill as well, is when you're doing things like that, make sure that you're, you know, you're in a good mood, you've had something to eat, something to drink. You know, I did a lot of these just, sort of, on a whim, sort of, randomly. Like, just when I was, sort of, just flicking through grad schemes but, you know, it's quite important, especially if it's the grad scheme that you want. So, you know, make sure you're, like, in a good mood, you've got people, like, you've got your friends, like, maybe do something with your friends afterwards or, you know. Something that, just, anywhere, just something. I don't know how to explain it, really, you know, but just, like, those, sort of, softer elements of just feeling good about yourself, being in a good state of mind. Because that'll help you so much. Because if you're feeling stressed or anxious about other things, you'll, you'll probably panic on the questions. So, don't forget just to take a deep breath, be hydrated, yeah, have something to eat, before tackling these, not, sort of, after a night out, some morning. 

Anna Buttenshaw: And do you know what, Ed? That's, I need to put this in my slides because it's absolutely also one of my number one tips, when it comes to sitting, sitting a test and, particularly, this situational judgement test. So, this is a great moment for me to mention that our situational judgement test is not timed. So, that's really important to us. You have the time, from our end, to open the test at a moment which is convenient for you. As Ed says, people sometimes say, 'Should I do it early? Should I do it late?' We don't look at what date you sat the test, what time you sat the test. We don't look at how long you took to do the test. None of that matters to us. What we look at is your score. Obviously, if you leave the test open, you try and do it over the span of a couple of days, the system is not going to-, is not going to work. But if you wanna take twenty minutes to do the test, that's great. If you want to take an hour to do the test, that's also great. There's no pressure on our end. What we're really interested in, is having you take the test at a time that suits you, when you're under the least amount of pressure that you can manage in life, so you might wanna have a look at your schedule between now and 5th January when we close and say, 'Actually, when in this next, you know, two months, am I going to have a time where my other life commitments are at a bit of an ebb and I know that I can set aside an hour?' 
 
You know, maybe you're a morning person, maybe you're a night owl. You wanna make sure that you've got a strong Wi-Fi connection and that no one is gonna walk in on you, ideally, just to help you keep that focus. If you're about to start the test and you just feel unwell or really anxious then, again, if you've planned it in, you have time to say, 'Do you know what? It's not right now. I'm gonna take a break first and come back to it later.' Before you press that start button. So, Ed's completely right. Cut yourself some slack. Find a time that works for you and your performance will really benefit from that, definitely. So, let's jump into some sample questions, which is probably what quite a few of you are here for this morning. We'll go through a number of sample questions and, then, if you've got any questions, you can pop those into the chat. If you wanna have a go at guessing the answer, you can also pop that into the chat. There's no pressure to do so. I won't be asking anyone to come off mute., but if you wanna have a go then do feel free to use the chat box for that. I'll keep an eye on it as we go through. So, question number one, and these are the same questions that Elise has linked to in the chat, which are on our website. 'Alongside other graduates, you are presenting back a report at the end of a project. This is to a leadership team. They're asking difficult questions, suggesting that you have not thought about some aspects of the report. You don't have any immediate answers. How do you respond?' 
 
So, our test will give you three options, to respond to each scenario and your job is to rank those from most likely to least likely and your test will be scored according to that ranking order. Now, this is a good moment to point out that every situational judgement test will be marked in a slightly different way, but it should be evident if you ask the organisation who are running the test, either directly or they may direct you to the company that is supplying their test. So, for us, this is a test that we've had written by occupational psychologists, but it runs on our own website, so there's no third party. So, any questions about it would come to us, but some companies do outsource their testing processes and so you might have a different point of contact if you've got a query. But before you start, make sure you understand how the assessment is structured and what's expected of you as you're going through. I'm seeing some answers, yes, so I'm seeing a really common set of answers is to go with B as the correct answer, 'State they're making some good points. Listen to their feedback and questions.' And then, I think, common middle answer, so second, would be answer A, would be your middle option. 'To repeat the information back, reinforce your messages.' And then the least preferred option that's coming up the chat is to, 'Be clear that you've thought your report through in depth and the criticism isn't directly relevant.' 
 
And this is a great moment, also, for me just to point out that, for these practice questions, I've actually put what the criteria is that this question is measuring. When you sit the live test, this won't be there, but for many of these questions, if you've looked at the key skills and behaviours, it might be immediately obvious what it's measuring. If it isn't immediately obvious, the values do overlap and I've got a favourite question that shows this later on, where it could be measuring any of three of our key skills and behaviours. But the same set of answers would still come in the correct order, because the values are synonymous with one another. So, those of you who hit up the chat, you're completely right. The correct answer is B, the okay answer is A and the poor answer is C, and just a couple of things I've highlighted as indicators for you here. Please note, this is, you are a graduate and you're presenting to a leadership team. So, you are presenting to some quite senior members of the organisation and you don't have any immediate answers and, do you know what, we don't expect you to. It's a graduate training programme and I don't know, Ed, actually, if you've had any moments like this, where you've been presenting your work, you've done a good job but, you know what? You've missed something somewhere, as all people do. And have you had an experience like this, Ed, in your time? And, and how have you found the response to be from senior managers that you've worked with? 

Eduardo: Yeah, yeah, definitely. I think it's something that everyone goes through, isn't it? And, yeah, obviously the senior leadership team, they do know the most at the end of the day and it's their organisation, in a way, that they're running and you're just trying to help them at the end of the day. So, I can definitely relate to this question, for sure, and I think that the answers, B, A, C, I mean, now, having worked in it, that seems very logical, but I can see why, maybe, some people might get A and B, maybe, mixed around, just because of what they think is right, maybe. But at the end of the day, yeah, those key bits you highlighted are quite important, you know. They're the leadership team, you don't have answers. So, you just have to listen to their feedback, take it all on board. I mean, just generally, a quick point, in a lot of these-, well, not these questions necessarily, but in SJTs and the NGDP one, you don't wanna seek confrontation or create issues, is a good tip, I think. So, you know, you need to remember that you'd just be a graduate and you'd be dealing with, pretty much everyone in the organisation is your senior. So, always remember to, like, yeah, not seek confrontation, try and be as positive-, sort of, maintain a good rapport with people. And I think the B, A, C, pretty much, represents that. 

Anna Buttenshaw: Yeah, thanks Ed. And I think, when you look at our values, and this is why I say, you know, go beyond just seeing a list of values, like, say, 'working with others' and 'leadership potential'. Those two are incredibly common and, particularly-, I mean, in any role, but particularly in, say, a graduate assessment you would find criteria like that if you were applying to a law firm or a banking firm or a public sector organisation. But actually, what those organisations would define as 'leadership potential', what behaviour-, what behaviour looks like a leadership potential to a bank or a law firm might actually be quite different to what leadership potential looks like for us and in the public sector. And some of those themes that Ed is pulling up around confrontation, willingness to make mistakes, willingness to learn, you know, a lot of those come down to organisational culture and that's why I say, read the paragraph underneath the subheading to understand what 'leadership' actually means. What does 'working with others' actually mean to us? See in some of these sample questions, you know, here, it's okay to make mistakes. What we want to see is openness and a desire to learn and to work well with others. So, hopefully, you'll get a bit of a gist of that as we go along with some of the other samples. So, here's our question that goes for 'working with others' and you'll see the little caption below, which is on our website. 
 
Question, 'You are working with a local museum that you know is about to be restructured. You're visiting the museum one day when several employees approach you to ask how the restructure will impact them. You don't know for certain, but you have a strong idea who will be impacted. How do you respond?' So, again, if you want to have a go in the chat at putting these into ranking order, pop that up now. I won't mention your name, but if you wanna have a little go, then I'll give you a minute to look at this and then we'll move into explaining what the correct answer is here. Let's see. So, we've got a couple of A, B, C responses and A, C, B, also quite popular. A whole range here. So this one is a really interesting one. We're seeing a, a, a much wider range of responses for this one. Let me take you to the correct answer, which is here. So, the correct answer is A, for those of you who chose A, 'Tell them that you do now know much, but you will speak to your manager and try to provide new information.' Then we do have B, 'Avoid talking with them on the subject, as there's a real risk of providing false information.' And then the poor answer here for us is C, 'Speak to each employee one on one, explain the situation and how it will impact them.' Now, I've highlighted, because I do think this-, a lot of this, again, comes down to what our criteria mean and what we're expecting of you and the culture of the organisation. 
 
So, big hints here, the words, 'You know is about to be restructured.' So, you're not running this project, you're not even working on it directly, you're certainly not managing it, but you've picked up what we might call, proprietary knowledge, or a rumour or something you've overheard. Probably, something you've been told confidentially. So, confidential information in the workplace, this is not information you've been given the authority to share and that's the hint, right here, in the start of this question. And we reinforce it again for you, 'You do not know for certain.' So, this is information that you've heard and it's not information that you've been given the authority to hand out and you're not even completely certain about it. So, when people are coming to you, you're in a position of authority or people are perceiving you in a position of authority. I know that Ed said, 'You're just the graduate, everyone's above you.' But, you know, in another context, graduate trainees are leading on projects during their time on the scheme and so, from very early days, you could be in a position that is managerial to there people, possibly people who've been working in local government for a really long time. And you have to remember that these are people's real lives, these are people's real jobs, this is people being worried about being unemployed and, sort of, stirring the pot, giving them wrong information, making them feel uncertain or confused is the biggest thing we want to avoid here. 
 
And that, sort of, why B, which might not usually seem like a right answer, avoid talking to someone, actually comes in the middle ranking. But, as we see, A, the correct answer. You don't know much but you've promised to follow it up and then you would actually want to follow that up, if this was in real life. Coming into question number three, this is around persuasive communication. So, our question is, 'You're working on some data analysis related to local population numbers. You have asked the data team for appropriate information but they say it's not readily available and it'd be difficult for them to get hold of. How do you respond?' So, again, if you wanna have a go in the chat, feel free. Option A, 'Work with what you already-, work with what you have already instead, using estimates where needed, to run your analysis'. Option B, 'involve relevant senior stakeholders immediately to ensure you can start your analysis quickly', or option C, 'emphasise that you need the data. You're sorry for the inconvenience it will cause'. Any thoughts in the chat? A little bit quieter on this one. I'll bring us through to the correct answer here. So, you are working on data analysis, is the first clue in this question. So, you're doing a task and it is-, the entire task is around the data. Now, it's quite a generic question, but to give you a few examples of what this could mean, let's say that you've been given a set of data around local population numbers relating to how the local population are engaging with health services. So, I was talking with one of our trainees this week and one of the projects she's currently working on is using data around how women from different minority groups are taking up the council's offers of healths services, and she's been able to use that data to identify specific groups who are not taking up councils services. 
 
And to then liaise with them and run outreach programmes to get-, to figure out what are the issues here, how can we meet you, what services should we be designing and providing and outreaching to you. So, this data can seem, you know, just like a list of numbers, for example, when you're reading this question but it's important to remember that this has a real impact on how the council delivers real life changing services for it's community and it's really important. So, it's going to be difficult for them to get a hold of. It's not readily available. The correct answer here is C. You really do need the correct data. You're sorry for the inconvenience. You can be polite about it, but you really do need to put your foot down a little bit and communicate in a friendly but effective and firm way, 'Please, I can't do this piece of work without the correct information,' and that's why, B, is the next, the, sort of, middle option. Usually, we wouldn't recommend escalating what might seem like quite a minor issue to senior stakeholders, but if it's critical for you to actually do the piece of work, you're unable to do the piece of work without the data, if yo have to get someone else involved to make it happen, that's okay. The poor answer here is just to fudge it and to run with estimates, because, as I say, again, even though this question is measuring your communication skills, obviously, if you just run with some estimates you haven't even tried to communicate with anyone, but it does also tie into some of those other criteria like your motivation for learning, your desire to work in local government and to make a difference. All of those factors are coming into play here. 

Eduardo: Anna, could I jump in? Sorry. 

Anna Buttenshaw: Yes. 

Eduardo: Can I jump in? 

Anna Buttenshaw: Yes (talking over each other 44.10). 

Eduardo: Just another question from the chat relating to something I wanted to talk about. This question. Is that okay? 

Anna Buttenshaw: (talking over each other 44.17) yes, I've just seen it. You take that one on the head, Ed. 

Eduardo: Because it's interesting that-, thank you for your question there, Elliot, because that's something that-, when I actually saw these and I tested myself on them, I-, this one was the one that I-, the one that I got wrong, because I, I thought it could be big as well and I think from your point I-, and what, like,- what Anna touched upon, it's strange because sometimes, I think in certain, sort of, circumstances, you're totally right. You just-, You know straight way to escalate it, or you know that someone might be difficult-, so you just think, you know, 'It's not worth me asking. I'm just going to escalate it straight away and I'll get there first,' but I think the first point of call would always be C, and I think, B, is more of a back up, and-, but I think, in my head I just thought, B. That's the fastest so we get the job done, but you wouldn't normally, like, Anna said, like, trouble people that are too senior unless you really, really needed it, and that's something that, I think, I do in certain circumstances. I do do it immediately, because I know, sort of, that that job requires me to do that in this very particular circumstance, but, generally, you would always, you know, just send an email, phone, (mw 45.36) phoning them if you need, and then, escalate. So, I think that's why it goes, C, B, A, because it's, sort of, in the order of what you would do. Thanks Anna, sorry. 

Anna Buttenshaw: No, that's fantastic, Ed. I'm having a slight trouble with my slide, so sometimes I can't see the chat when I'm on my slide, I'm transitioning, so great. Do jump in when, when you need to. I'm having a little question. So, someone's asked, 'How do you deal with not overthinking these questions?' And, yeah, I think, obviously, that can be a really big concern, and perhaps, it's something that, for some people who are sitting the test, the fact that it isn't timed. This might be more of a worry for you, actually. 'I've got all this time to consider-,' what I can say is, we've not made it untimed because we've made the questions so cryptic, that we want you to spend, you know, an hour trying to work out-, hopefully by showing you some of these sample questions, the more you look at the key skills and behaviours, you know, if you wanted to have those to hand on your device, you know, have a look through them when you're doing the practice questions on the website and be thinking, 'How do these match up?' The more that you go through the practice, hopefully, the more obvious that the answers will become to you and if you have one, kind of like Ed was saying, where he thought, 'Oh,' this was a question where even having the work experience, he got a little bit stuck. Do you know what? That's okay, because what Ed did was mix up, maybe, answers one and two on his first read, but-, there's a question around what the correct answer is. Let me go back to that slide. So-, but, when he'd thought about it and reflected on it, then he was like, 'Yes, I do see, and in real life I would usually just drop an email first. Make that first phone call, etc. 
 
So, I would say that a lot of this comes down to preparation. I think the more that you've been able to do the preparation, then, hopefully, the less that you'll get tied up with trying to overthink some of the questions and answers and, you know, if you find it difficult, just keep on going through the practice questions and see that correlation between question and answer, and do remember, with the ranking order is, it's not putting you into a really black and white scenario where you're having to say, this is, you know, this is-, there is one fully, completely, only option, you know, as Ed saying, if you were sitting this live, he might have got-, lost one point by slothing (ph 48.20) his first and his middle options, but, you know, he didn't put the last one first and it was only one of the questions. So, you know, no one is going to do an absolutely perfect job. There's always a little bit of a variance, but I think, if you put the time in, you do the preparation, you run through the sample questions, then you will give yourself confidence that you're able to see the right answer as you go through. So, I think that's my best stab at that one. Let's go onto, I think, what's our last question here which is commitment to local government. So, you've been working hard on creating some written content for use by a local library. As you approach completion a colleague asks you if they can be involved. They've raised several questions that would cause you to rework what you've done so far. How do you respond? And, so, A, you could listen to their ideas. Consider how you could incorporate them and also explain the benefits of your own approach. 
 
B, you could explain your almost finished. You'll take their ideas on board for future projects, but not this one, or C, you can incorporate all of their ideas to help benefit the project and ask them to become involved. So, I see-, eye on the time, I'm going to flick us straight through to the answer on this one. So, key things to notice about this question when you look at it. You're coming to the end of the project and the person you're speaking to has raised several ideas. So, those are the first things that jump out at me and lead me to correct answer A. Listen to their ideas. It's fantastic, but other-, another colleague in the sector with their own knowledge and experience is coming to you with some ideas, and consider, have a think about how you could incorporate them, but you've also-, you're coming to the end of this project. This is something you've worked hard on that you've put the time in. Have some confidence in your own work, your own thinking and your own approach and feel free to explain that back to this colleague. The okay answer here is to, sort of, take all of their ideas, get them involved in the project, ask for their help. It might be a lot more work for you to put in at this stage because you're nearing the end to bring loads of new ideas in, but it does show the right kind of attitude. The poor answer here is just to say, I'm almost near the finish line and I'm not listening to any new ideas because I can't be bothered to do anymore work on this. 
 
I know that-, thinking of when I was at university, you know, if I'd been working on an essay and I was getting near the end and then someone offered to proofread it for me, sometimes I just said, 'No,' because I just couldn't bear the thought of someone coming back to me with more corrections to do when I just really didn't want to see the piece of work anymore, but, you know what, I never benefited from taking that approach. Having someone look at it and give you some ideas. You don't have to take them all on board, but it can, sometimes, draw out some really important things that are going to improve the quality of your work. So, I think, this one, when you start thinking of, maybe, some examples from your own life, instead of experiences, then I do think this is a really relatable situation. I've got one more leadership potential, but I've really have an eye on the time. This is on our website, so I'm just going to show you again. This is a nice mirror question actually to that question around the local museum we took at the start where you knew some information but you shouldn't really be sharing it because it wasn't your project. This question is taking you into a scenario where you are leading a team. You are in charge and your the one with the information and how to deal with it and how to disseminate that information amongst a team, and a lot of this comes to the difference in what leadership means to us on the NGDP versus what it might mean in a different kind of environment or a different sector. So, it's all about being a positive leader, engaging with people, equipping people to perform their best. 
 
We're not about naming and shaming people publicly, which would be answer A, here. So, with that I will just check-, I know we've had lots of questions as we've been going on, but if you do have a question about anything that we've discussed so far this morning from myself or for Ed, please do feel free to pop that into the chat box now and just as we give people a minute to do that, then, I'm just going to pop up a slide which shows our general email. So, this is if you've got any questions about the programme itself. What is it like to be on the programme? If you've got questions about, maybe, what councils might be involved, etc. The most important email to highlight here is ngdp.support@local.gov.uk which is this second one here, and that's a team of HR professionals who can respond to specific questions about your application. Something goes wrong with the IT system. You're not sure if you have filled in a piece of information correctly. If you require any reasonable adjustments, I just want to highlight, please get in touch with us as early on in the process, you might not feel like you need it at stage one, but it's always worth a conversation. We take reasonable adjustments really seriously. We're really passionate about equipping everyone to succeed to their full potential, so it's not in anyway a mark against your name and that information is completely confidential. So, please do get in touch with us. Any application related questions, any questions about right to work in the UK, degree of study, etc, they all go to ngdp.support. 
 
If you are on Twitter, you can follow us there and there's alink to our website right at the end. Now, I haven't seen anything pop up. There is some things in the chat. So, someone has said, 'What external practice sites would you recommend to prepare for the NGDP SJT?' I wouldn't, actually, recommend any external practice sites. There might be some out there which are generically useful, but I would just recommend that you do the practice questions on our website. They are questions which were in previous versions of the SJT, so, they're the best indication of what the test is actually going to be like, and it is very contextual to us, so they are the resource that I would recommend. 'How are the SJT scored in terms of grading?' So, I think I touched on this briefly, but there is a point value allocated to choosing the correct answer, the middle answer, and, obviously, no points for the least correct answer. I don't work on that side of the programme, so I don't want to perjure myself by saying it's two points, one points, no points, or-, etc, but the grading is allocated based on the ranking order that you put your responses in. So, do take the time not just to think about what the number one answer is, but also, what the least and what the middle options are. Someone else has asked about scoring, so, hopefully-, yes, so, hopefully I've answered that. 
 
Someone's saying, 'If I get the first and the last wrong, if you know, is, if, one out of the three is correct and I've muddled two up,' you would still have point values, so you don't have to get the three in the exact order to get your points, and my understanding is that each of the three ranked options have a point allocation, and so, as I say, have a careful think when you're doing the test about which order to put things in and you can still get partial points for each question. It's just not completely right or completely wrong. Someone has said, 'Can we get a copy of this recording?' So, it should be posted on our website. We send recordings out to be fully transcribed and captioned, so there's a bit of a delay, but we've done this workshop before so you wouldn't see Ed's face, but we had a current trainee called Georgia and that recording, I think, is going on the website later today. So, there'll be a similar version on the website soon, and this version should, hopefully, be on line within the next week, and if you go to our website, and then go to events, then that's where all the links to our virtual workshops-, those that are coming up and those that have been recorded, that's where they'll be. So, someone has asked, 'Is each question just based on one key skill or behaviour. So, for the SJT, yes. It's the simplest way for us. So, there are eight key skills and behaviours and my understanding is that there'll be two questions for each one so it's, kind of, even Steven as we say, when it comes to the marking. When we come into, say, the video interview in the assessment centre, then they're usually measuring more than one key skill and behaviour in each question just to make sure that they're able to assess you across the key skills and behaviours at each stage. 
 
There is a question about interviews and assessment centres. So, we usually run some assessment centre for preparation for people who are approaching that stage of the process. It's not until March for us, so it's a little further afield. I am doing a session on video interviews on the 3rd November. I think it's on the website. It's a Tuesday, so have a look on your website and if you want to pop along to the video interview session, then that's the next workshop that I'm covering, and someone was asking about the session which we actually ran yesterday which was an SJT workshop for students and graduates who identify as BAME. So, the recording, for the first half of the workshop will be on our website for the next week. For the second half, what we did, is just go through the same practice questions, but in small groups that were led by members of the BAME network. You can find their email address on our website. They're really passionate about having conversations with other people from a BAME background who might be considering applying to this scheme and they like to offer a lot of encouragement and support, so if you look at our website, then you'll find their email address. Just drop them a line. They'd love to have a chat with you about anything that you feel you may have missed out on at the workshop session, and then, someone's asked about starting and ending dates which my colleague Alisa's (ph 59.26) answered in the chat. Let me see. I don't think I've missed anything. If I have missed your question, would you mind just popping it back in the chat. 
 
Sorry, there was a bit of flurry there. I don't want to-, I want to make sure I haven't missed anything. So, if you do have a question. A new question or one that I haven't-, Nessa (ph 59.46) said, 'Do we get the results of the SJT quickly?' And I'm afraid, the answer to this is, no, but the reason is a really important one. So, some graduate schemes will pre-set their pass marks. So, before you even sit the test, they have decided what the exact pass mark is, and that way, when you've sat it, you can get an immediate yes or no. For our graduate scheme, coming back to that point I made around the importance of equality and diversity, then, it's really important for us, even though these tests are written by professionals and when we add new questions we test them externally first. We want to be a 100 percent certain that the test is not having an adverse impact on any groups, and so, we wait until after applications have closed. When everybody has sat the test we look at the results compared to the anonymous equality and diversity information, and we make sure that the pass mark that we have in mind is not going to have an adverse impact on anyone. So, it's just really important for us to do that stage, but it does mean that you won't get a result until applications have closed. Don't let that put you off doing the application earlier. Kind of coming back to point Ed made is to say, now is a good time for you. You're not under a lot of pressure in your life or you've got the time to prepare, then, great. Sit the test now. 
 
I know it's going to be a long wait, but it's worth doing it at time when you're under the least amount of pressure so that you can prepare and sit the test at your best, now, and then you'll find out in, sort of, the-, it's around the second week of January, once we've had time to review all the data. So, based on previous years, someone has asked, 'What is the percentage of candidates making it through the SJT stage?' This is usually between 20 and 25 percent of people who sit the test. Now, I will say that the main difference is, in previous years, we've also used verbal and numerical reasoning tests. We didn't use them, ever, to cut large numbers of people out. We've always used the SJT as our primary measuring tool, but we've decided not to use them anymore. We just weren't confident that they were the best form of assessment. We weren't confident that they were completely fair and equal for everyone and we found that they were quite off-putting to candidates, so the value for us of actually winnowing anyone out on that basis was pretty limited, and that's why we just using the SJT, so it may be slightly different this year as it's a first year for us figuring out how-, what the percentages will be like, and it does depend, a little bit, on application numbers as well, but roughly one in four would be my, kind of-, one in four, one in five, would be my ball park figure on that one. Someone's asked if we sponsor visas. So, no, unfortunately. 
 
To come onto the programme, our only two requirements are that you'll have your undergraduate degree at a level of a 2:2 or above by July 2022 and that you have the right to work in the UK already. We're working with between 50 and 80 different partner councils every year on this scheme and we can't guarantee that every single one of those will be able to sponsor a visa. So, unfortunately, that's why we're unable to do that. Ed has given-, responded to a question about, 'Is there a guaranteed job at the end of the programme?' And he's given a really great outline, so if that's a question you've got, have a look in the chat. What we find, and, statistically, is between 85 and 90 percent of people are employed by their host council when they finish the scheme, but the remaining percentage of people usually leave to work for a different council or another part of the public sector. So, there is a lot of freedom for people. Jobs come up at a different rate. Some people will leave early to take on a position that they're really passionate about. Some people will stay on with their council a little bit longer. Some people will transition to working for a partner authority, but what I can say is we're not seeing huge numbers of people being completely unemployed at the end. It's usually that they're, sort of, spoilt for choice. 'What's the percentage of people that make it through to the interview stage?' Someone's asked. Do you know what I've never worked that out from original applications to interview stage. Roughly speaking, it's one in four at the first stage and then it varies, but it's roughly about 50 percent at video interview, about 50 percent at assessment centre stage. 
 
So, someone with better maths than me can figure it-, figure out what that translates to, but we're really doing our best. It depends, slightly, on how many people apply and how competitive the programme is and how people are matching the, sort of, ideal standard that we have in mind as well. Someone's asked, if they are doing a masters degree currently that they won't have finished yet, but they already have an undergraduate degree, can they still apply? Yes, absolutely. You'd have a crazy first month on the job, but it's definitely been done by multiple people who've come n the programme before, so if it's not a worry for you, it's not a worry for us. Let me see if there are nay other questions I've missed. 

Eduardo: Anna. 

Anna Buttenshaw: Yes. 

Eduardo: There's this question about the difference between The Civil Service (talking over each other 01.05.28) 

Anna Buttenshaw: Yes. 

Eduardo: Local government. 

Anna Buttenshaw: Yes. (mw 01.05.31) do you have any thoughts on this, Ed, if you had any colleagues who have gone on to work in the civil service versus working in a local council? 

Eduardo: Yeah, I do, but in terms of the grad scheme itself, there are some differences in terms of, like, the length. I mean, you know, the Fast Stream, I think, is like, four or five years in some cases. You know, you don't have six month placements.That's quite different, but generally, as well, it's quite-, there's different challenges in both. Yes, I think that's, probably, what I would say is the main thing, you know. A lot of the work could be seen as similar but at the end of the day, local councils deal with quite unique challenges that the things that they don't-, the things that councils don't do, they rely on Westminster and Civil Service to sort out, and then, vice versa. If you're working in Civil Service, you're not going to be involved with children's services or waste collection in your local authority because that's devolved. So, I think my-, what I've seen is, I would research the difference and what work gets done by The Civil Service and by local government and then decide which is more interesting for you, and obviously, in many-, just-, sorry, just the last point, is that there's obviously a difference in location as well. Every part of the UK has got local government, but not every part of the UK has got Civil Service ops in it. So, like, I live in Bradford. They're recently built a HMRC building in Leeds, so if you're from Leeds and you want to work in HMRC, that's great, but, you know, you won't-, you probably end up in London, is what I'm trying to say (mw 01.07.12). 

Anna Buttenshaw: Yes, thanks, Ed. I think you've raised some really fantastic points there, and I would say, from our perspective yes, so our scheme is a two year scheme and with a rotation of placements. The Civil Service Fast Stream is a four year scheme with a rotation of placements. They tend to rotate because they're working across The Civil Service, they have set dates where everybody moves, so it's quite a rigid rotation of placements, usually. Whereas, there's often quite a lot more flexibility when you're working with a local council. Sometimes they're employing one trainee, sometimes up to, maybe, ten or twelve, is about the maximum, and so, there's usually a fair bit of conversation, especially as you get into this scheme about areas your interested in working or want to build some skills in, whereas, that does happen in The Civil Service but it's part of a much bigger, sort of, machine that's rotating a very high number of people around a very high number of placements at set intervals. So, from a development perspective, there's a lot of difference, and then, just to reiterate the point that Ed made around the issues that you would be working on. So, we find the biggest difference really comes down to, are you really driven by a desire to see the tangible impact of your work, to be able to design a policy, for example, and then, maybe, to go and meet with some community partners and see how that policy is working. Is it working? Would you change it? How could you make things better? Are you, in fact, making people's lives better through this piece of work that your doing? 
 
Sometimes, that level of engagement with the real-life on the ground community situation can be a lot harder to have in The Civil Service, and so, people who aren't bothered by that who are just really interested in, say, designing policy, on a meta-level, then there might be a bit more appeal in The Civil Service, but if you want to be able to work on managed projects and design policies where you're able to work directly with people in the community or to see the impact of your work in the community then I would say you would get that much more within a local government sector. So, those are just a few thoughts from me on it, but please do your research on that one, and yes, there's some, some further comments in the chat, kind of, on that discussion. I think what I'll do, because we've gone past our time, and Ed, I know you've probably got a lot else in your day, is to finish this off there and to say a big thank you to Ed for Joining us and sharing from your own experiences today. 

Eduardo: Thank you for having me. 

Anna Buttenshaw: It's a real pleasure. If people had to listen to me for over an hour I think you might-, you might have been rather bored, so it's fantastic to have you with us this morning, Ed, and as I say, if you've got any questions or concerns don't be a stranger. Pop us a line along. We'd love to hear from you, and again, if you're thinking of applying and you think that you might need some reasonable adjustments, please can I just reiterate, please get in touch with us via ngdp.support and we'd love to have a conversation about how to support you though the application process. Fantastic. Alright, well, I will say goodbye and if you're interested in joining our video interview workshop, you'll find a link for that on our website. Take care everyone. 

Eduardo: (inaudible 01.10.53) bye.