Why Aptitude Tests Should be in Every Recruiters Toolbox

Back in 1998 Frank L.Schmidt and John E.Hunter published “The Validity and Utility of Selection Methods in Personnel Psychology.” Based on their extensive research and analysis they presented three primary conclusions:

  1. The best predictors of performance are cognitive ability, work sample tests, personality tests, and structured interviews
  2. Of these, cognitive ability (aptitude) is the #1 predictor of performance
  3. Selection methods drastically impact business outcomes

They noted that a candidate’s experience and education, generally noted on their CV, have very low correlation with job performance and are therefore defined as “unlikely to be useful” when predicting future performance. Whereas General Mental Ability (GMA), or cognitive ability, is a far more reliable indicator of predicted on-the-job performance.

What is the Purpose of Aptitude Tests?

Aptitude tests provide a consistent way to evaluate an individual’s cognitive skills and general mental ability. Insightful results derived from aptitude tests provide an accurate view of a candidate’s aptitudes and their potential.

The purpose of an aptitude test is to equip recruiters with predictive insights into a candidate’s potential future job performance. Analysis should highlight their strengths and weaknesses along with areas in which they are likely to excel. Various aptitude tests are designed to examine problem-solving skills, logical reasoning capability, verbal comprehension, decision-making skills and more.

Types of Aptitude Tests

A number of aptitude test types or cognitive tests are typically used. Here are some of those which are most common – but there are more.

Abstract reasoning tests assess an individual’s ability to identify patterns and analyse complex problems. These tests will assess a person’s ability to derive logical connections, their creativity and ability to solve problems.

Numerical reasoning tests are commonly used psychometric assessment tests that provide a useful assessment of a candidate’s general numerical aptitude.

Verbal reasoning tests are used to assess a person’s ability to understand and derive conclusions from written information. Verbal reasoning tests examine comprehension and communication skills.

Inductive reasoning tests are another commonly used psychometric assessment. They provide evaluation of a candidate’s problem-solving abilities and a measure of a candidate’s ability to work flexibly, find solutions and deal with unfamiliar information.

Spatial reasoning tests, also called spatial awareness tests, assess a person’s mental ability to visualise and analyse unique two and three dimensional shapes and objects.

Logical reasoning tests are used to assess an individual’s ability to derive sensible conclusions from the information available to them. Tests assess a person’s decision making skills.

Situational judgement tests are used to gauge a candidate’s judgement skills in a given workplace scenario. These tests are used to determine problem solving skills related to real work situations they may encounter.

Benefits of Aptitude Tests in Recruitment

It should be clear how the variety of aptitude test types provide much more valuable candidate insight than the information generally presented in a CV or learned from face to face interviews. The primary benefit in using aptitude testing early in the recruitment process is this insight is what’s needed to make the best hiring decisions.

Another key advantage provided by well designed aptitude tests is they evaluate competencies specific to various job roles. Tests provide reliable assessment metrics that indicate how well a candidate is likely to perform in a specific position.

Aptitude tests not only present a measure of a person’s strengths they also indicate areas of weakness where development is likely to be beneficial. This is great for determining training and personal development needs.

For recruiters, aptitude tests facilitate objective candidate comparisons. For example, testing existing employees provides a benchmark against which new applicants can be compared.

Importantly, aptitude testing saves time and money. Aptitude testing is accurate and reliable with no opportunity for candidates to cheat. This minimises the amount of time needed to screen and assess job applicants and increases the likelihood of recruiting ideal candidates.

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