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How are Interpersonal Competence and Clinical Competence SJTs different?

Posted by Meredith Juengel on March 8, 2016 at 3:17 PM

compare-and-contrast-300x225.jpgSimilar in name – yet vastly different in purpose.  Let’s dive in to differentiating between Prophecy’s Interpersonal Competence and Clinical Competence Situational Judgement Tests (SJTs).

Interpersonal Competence SJT


The first patient simulation videos launched into Prophecy’s assessment library were for Interpersonal Competence.  Filmed in an acute care facility, this SJT is appropriate to administer to all staff RNs providing care in an acute care setting.  The purpose of this assessment is to measure the nurse’s soft skills in dealing with nurses, patients, peers, physicians, and others during challenging situations.

Who is the intended audience?

Since there is no specificity to specialty in this assessment, all staff nurses can demonstrate their response to challenging scenarios commonly experienced in the acute care setting.

Which skills are assessed?

To give you a better feel for what are considered “soft skills,” here is a list of performance dimensions that the assessment predicts with 99% confidence:

  • Verbal Communication
  • Assertiveness
  • Critical Thinking
  • Problem Solving
  • Report Transitioning
  • Calm and Competent Patient Care
  • Developing Patient Relationships
  • Patient Customer Service
  • Delegating / Managing Patient Care

The Interpersonal Competence also predicts these performance dimensions with 95% confidence:

  • Change Adaptation
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Multi-tasking
  • Continuous Observation
  • Patient Care Plan Management
  • New Technique Application

Clinical Competence SJTs

To contrast the Interpersonal Competence, the clinical competence video SJT boasts specificity, meaning that the competencies being assessed are highly specific to a particular patient care arena.

The advanced video situational judgment tests are a great follow up to the original ‘Situational’ video test.  They allow organizations to probe more deeply into the decision-making abilities of their applicants, incumbents and candidates in a more-advanced job context,” said Michael Callen, VP of Products with Biddle Consultant Group, Inc.

Who is the intended audience?

Currently there are over 65 video vignettes covering three nursing specialties:

  • Medical/Surgical RN
  • Intensive Care Unit RN
  • Labor & Delivery RN

Not for the faint of heart, these videos parallel actual scenarios and environments in which nurses in these specialties interact with patients every day.

When to send Clinical Competence SJTs?


The patient simulation series’ aid hiring managers in understanding how candidates among a group compare to each other.  Combining the Prophecy Clinical job knowledge exams with the video-based situational clinical competence assessment provides a more holistic view of each candidate/applicant.  Our multiple choice Clinical Assessments are intended to be used as pass/fail, not for ranking test takers.  If you are assessing multiple candidates for the same nursing position (Med/Surg, ICU or L&D) then sending the Clinical Competence SJT assessment, in conjunction with the Clinical Assessment for that specialty, will provide a method for ranking scoring.

Which skills are assessed?

The score breakdown for the Clinical Competence SJTs focus on the job knowledge, skills and abilities in conjunction with critical thinking components of the nurses in those specialties.

For exam, the content outline and score breakdown for the Clinical Competence Medical/Surgical assessment includes:

  • Cardiovascular & Pulmonary Systems
  • Communication
  • Critical Thinking
  • Endocrine
  • GI/GU Systems
  • Med-Surg Pharmacology
  • Neurological & Integumentary Systems

Characteristics such as body language, tone of voice, and environmental factors, parallel the actual scenarios and environments in which nurses interact with patients every day.

Additional Client FAQs


any-questions-185x180.jpegQ:  Should the Clinical Competence scenarios be given in place of the clinical job knowledge assessment?

A:  No.  Prophecy recommends that each applicant be given the assessment in accordance with their specialty (e.g. General ICU RN should be given the General ICU A exam).  The Clinical Competence scenarios can be administered as an additional item, giving the employer a more holistic view of the candidate’s clinical competence.

Q: Should the Clinical Competence scenarios be given in place of the situational interpersonal competence assessment?

A: No.  Prophecy recommends that each RN applicant be given the Situational Interpersonal Competence assessment as these two types of assessments measure completely different components of the applicant. Clinical Competence scenarios measure clinical job knowledge by presenting clinical scenarios that RNs frequently encounter during a typical work day.  The Situational Interpersonal Competence scenarios measure interpersonal communication skills between the nurse, patients, peers, physicians, and others during difficult situations they encounter while on the job.

Q:  Are the Clinical Competence scenarios part of the Prophecy One Score?

A:  No.  The three assessments that make up the Prophecy One Score are the Behavioral, Situational – Interpersonal Competence, and Clinical assessments.

Q:  Do the Clinical Competence scenarios have a pass/fail cutoff?

A:   There is no pass/fail cutoff.  Based upon the test taker’s obtained overall score, they are placed in either Band A, B, C, D, E, or Fail.  Each band provides an overall likelihood that the candidate will exceed job performance expectations related to the specialty.

Q:  Can these be given to an LPN/LVN applicant?

A:  No, these scenarios were created upon competencies required of the RN only.

Q:  What should I do if the applicant failed the clinical job knowledge assessment, but scores in the A band of the Clinical Competence scenarios?

A:  You should always consider the clinical job knowledge assessment result first.  If an applicant does not meet the pass/fail cutoff, regardless of how well they perform on the advanced scenarios, we recommend that they be given the “B” version of the clinical assessment (with a passing score), before moving forward in the hiring process.

Q:  Can the Clinical Competence scenarios be used for measuring competency with incumbent nursing staff?

A:  Absolutely!  The Clinical Competence scenarios may even be useful as part of your annual competency process for the ICU, Med/Surg, and Labor & Delivery specialty areas.

Q:  Are the Clinical Competence scenarios validated?

A:  Yes, they were validated through a content-validity study, where a panel of over 100 RN’s helped create and identify the correct answer choices, in addition to other plausible distractors.



We hope this helps clarify the differences between the Clinical Competence and Interpersonal Competence SJTs.  But, please don’t hesitate to reach out in the comments section below or to a clinical team member with any additional questions!  We are always happy to help!

Topics: healthcare hiring tool, pre-hire healthcare assessments, Situational Judgement Tests