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Medical Education 2012: 46: 850–868

Objectives  This paper presents a systematic review of the emerging international research evidence for the use of situational judgement tests (SJTs) for testing important non-academic attributes (such as empathy, integrity and resilience) in selection processes.

Methods  Several databases (e.g. MEDLINE, PsycINFO, Web of Science) were searched to retrieve empirical studies relating to SJTs published between 1990 and 2010. Personal contact with experts in the field was made to identify any unpublished research or work in progress to obtain the most current material. Finally, reference lists were checked to access other relevant journal articles and further research. All research studies were required to meet specific inclusion criteria selected by two independent reviewers.

Results  Over 1000 citations were identified during the initial literature search; following the review of abstracts, full-text copies of 76 articles were retrieved and evaluated. A total of 39 articles that adequately met the inclusion criteria were included in the final review. The research evidence shows that, compared with personality and IQ tests, SJTs have good levels of reliability, predictive validity and incremental validity for testing a range of professional attributes, such as empathy and integrity.

Conclusions  SJTs can be designed to test a broad range of non-academic constructs depending on the selection context. As a relatively low-fidelity assessment, SJTs are a cost-efficient methodology compared with high-fidelity assessments of non-academic attributes, such as those used in objective structured clinical examinations. In general, SJTs are found to demonstrate less adverse impact than IQ tests and are positively received by candidates. Further research is required to explore theoretical developments and the underlying construct validity of SJTs.