The Complete Supervisory Test Battery Guide [2024]

What Is the Supervisory Test Battery (STB)?

The Supervisory Test Battery was designed to evaluate applicants for civil service supervisor positions. The STB is a work simulation. To apply, you must meet your state's basic requirements.

The STB includes 120 questions and has a duration of 2 hours and 30 minutes. Test scores are given immediately after completion.

Candidates who receive high scores on the STB are placed at the top of the eligibility list, giving them a better chance of getting the position they've applied for. Preparing for the test will bring you one step closer to the position you want and deserve.

For each question, you will be presented with a work-related scenario, and required to choose a course of action. Each option provided after a question is measured by how well it addresses the situation. Becoming familiar with the types of questions found on the test will enable you to choose the answer that is the best fit for the question.

The STB is not divided into categories, but questions mostly focus on several management skills. Let's take a closer look at some of the STB major competency areas:

  • Interpersonal Communication Skills- Measures your ability to interact efficiently with diverse coworkers, and solve conflicts in the best way possible.
  • Problem-Solving and Conflict-Resolution Aptitude- Measures your problem solving by focusing on understanding the needs of others and the important elements of a given situation.
  • Decision-Making Aptitude- Measures your self-reflction and ability to make decisions.
  • Leadership Ability- Measures your leadership and motivation skills; Can you empower your subordinates to act of their own free will?
  • General Communication Aptitude- Measures your ability to communicate in a clear manner using written communication with accuracy.
  • Human Resource Management Aptitude- Measures your management skills, personnel selection and training, and ability to coordinate your team.

Supervisory Test Battery Sample Questions

Try solving each question in 75 seconds- that's how long you'll have during the real test for the average question.

 STB Sample Question #1

You receive a call from a customer who complains about the poor service he received from one of your employees. This employee has been problematic before, but you have spent time providing feedback and training him and you feel that in the last 4 months, a significant change has been made.
What should you do?

A. Apologize to the customer. However, the employee doesn't need to know about this- he has made an impressive change and probably had a bad day.
B. Apologize to the customer, then talk to the employee and ask him what happened.
C. Discipline your employee. Your customers deserve excellent service, and your employees should provide it.
D. Ask the employee to call the customer and apologize.
Correct Answer
Incorrect Answer

The correct answer is B.

Best response: B
Primary competency
supervising and monitoring staff performance
Secondary competencies
discipline, fostering excellent customer service

Explanation: In this scenario, you receive a complaint about one of your employees. You have a double interest – on the one hand, you want to implement excellent customer service; on the other hand, you believe in your employee’s improved.

Response A takes responsibility for the customer’s feelings. You don’t want to discourage your employee; however not even talking to him about what happened is extreme. Moreover, doing this prevents your employee from receiving the customer’s feedback, from which he can learn.

In response B you take responsibility for the customer’s feelings, while supervising the employee’s performance. You give the employee a chance to explain his side – thus showing respect for his point of view. This is an important first step before taking a disciplinary action.

This response would have been even better if it would mention that such conversation can be used as an opportunity for further training for this employee. This way, your employee benefits from the customer’s feedback (encouraging employee development).

Disciplining the employee (response C) is an appropriate response, but before deciding to do so you should hear your employee’s side of the story. Another thing that this answer choice lacks is an apology or a compensation for the offended customer; this response focuses on the employee and neglects correcting the situation with the customer.

In asking the employee to call the customer (response D), similarly to response C, you fail to ask the employee for his side of the story. In addition, you don’t take responsibility for your employees’ behavior by apologizing yourself. At the moment, the customer is speaking to you – finishing the conversation and then having the employee call him seems like a humiliating disciplinary action. In addition, since the employee and the customer have had a bad interaction before, it may be better if you don’t create an additional interaction between them. Receiving the apology from someone with higher authority – you – should be enough.


STB Sample Question #2

 While going to lunch, you overhear two of your team members speaking. They seem to be making fun of a person who complained yesterday about the service he received from one of them.
What should you do?

A. Nothing. Employees who work with the public can get frustrated over time and need the opportunity to vent with their friends.
B. Step in and tell them that they need to take complaints seriously, and that you expect not to hear such mockery again.
C. Gather the team tommorow and discuss the best ways to handle complaints, and how they can make work easier.
D. Send them an email describing what you heard and telling them that you expect better from them.
Correct Answer
Incorrect Answer

The correct answer is C.

Best response: C
Core competency: 
fostering excellent customer service
Secondary competencies: 
effective communication, influencing others

Explanation: This is a question about service, and more specifically – customer or public complaints. You want to foster high quality service in your team, and in this question you are asked about the best strategy to do so. The presented situation is a bit sensitive – you overheard a private conversation.

While it may be true that your employees need to vent once in a while (response A), you don’t know if this is the case or if this attitude is broader. Doing nothing won’t allow you to understand the situation better or to improve your team’s service.

A general tip: some SJT questions include a passive response, which means doing nothing. These responses will rarely be the best response to the situation. Supervisors are expected to be active, to lead changes and take action for short and long term improvements. Notice that here the answer choice openly says “doing nothing,” but this won’t always be the case – sometimes the answer would be phrased in a way that sounds active, but in fact the implications of the answer choice would be passive, “doing nothing.”

Stepping in and reprimanding the employees (response B) is the other extreme. As said in response A, employees sometimes need to vent. In this response you don’t allow the employees a chance to explain themselves (you don’t allow your employees the benefit of the doubt), and aggressively stepping into a private conversation doesn’t show respect. 

Response C suggests a balance between ignoring the situation and reprimanding the employees without giving them a chance to explain. This response allows effective communication (allowing discussion) and is more likely to influence the team – you explain the importance of the matter and show your employees how it would eventually benefit them as well. We chose this response as best because it’s balanced. However, a better response would include a more direct discussion with the employees about what happened. Some SJT questions don’t include a perfect response, and you would need to choose the best of the given options.

Sending an email (response D) is more direct – you address the relevant employees and openly say what happened. However, this response also fails in allowing the employees a chance to respond or to explain themselves before you reprimand them.


STB Sample Question #3

You notice that Ron, one of your employees, is working slower this week. He seems unfocused and is less productive than usual. When you speak to him about it, he says that he is having a hard week due to personal problems.

 What are the best and worst responses in this situation?

A. Talk with Ron; discuss ways that can make work hours easier and help him focus.

B. Show empathy for Ron’s feelings, and remind him that he still has to make sure that he completes his responsibilities.

C. Refer Ron to the HR department. You are responsible for work productivity; they are the people who are qualified to handle the situation and help him get back to working as usual.

D. Let this week slide. Everyone has bad days, be patient and it will probably pass.

Click here to see the best and worst responses

Best response: A.

Worst response: C.
Core competency: 
responsibility for subordinates
Secondary competencies:
 building and maintaining relationships, respect for employees, flexibility and adaptability, creative problem solving

Explanation: This is a question about handling employees’ personal needs. Like everyone else, your employees have personal lives and they could sometimes affect their work. Employees’ personal matters should be handled with sensitivity – you want to be caring and helping as much as possible, without giving an inquisitive feeling.

Discussing ways to help the employee (response A) shows understanding of your employee’s situation and willingness to help. You use creative problem solving and adapt to your employee’s needs. This also shows understanding that work affects employees’ personal lives just as much as their personal lives affect their work (responsibility for subordinates). This is the best response.

Response B shows less adaptability, yet it’s still appropriate. In some positions and situations you don’t have the option to be as flexible as in response A. However, since you are taking a test you are asked to consider a general situation. Response A represents important competencies which response B doesn’t.

Response C seems cold. It creates the impression that your function is only to supervise your employees’ productivity, and neglects your responsibility for them. Notice that the action itself – referring the employee to the HR department – is not bad in itself, but the rationale behind it, as presented in the answer choice, doesn’t show empathy and respect for your employee and lacks any consideration of your relationship with him. We chose this response as the worst.

Response D is another response that could be appropriate in some situations, but generally it’s not ideal. Most importantly, in the test context what this response actually says is “do nothing”. This response doesn’t show any competency. As response C creates damage (it hurts your relationship with your employee), while response D seems to not have any particular effect at this point, we chose response C as the worst.

 You can, and should, prepare for the test before taking it. The STB PrepPack™ includes timed tests and study guides to help you get ready. The practice tests also feature detailed explanations of the answers. By practicing, you increase your chances of achieving a high score on the test. A high score not only ensures that you pass the exam, but it also gives you a better chance of gaining employment over the other test takers.


Very Good Exam Prep Package

"Very good prep of the type of questions that might potentially be asked on the supervisor exam.

Sharon L. On Civil Service Supervisor Exam Practice


Related Links

New Jersey Civil Service Exam Civil Service Federal Exams
Civil Service Exams by State Civil Service Exam Prep
Probation Officer Exam USPS Practice Test


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