To be successful in today’s economy, companies need to step up their recruitment skills. One way to do that is to use pre-employment evaluations. When done carefully, these tests can shed light on a candidate’s suitability and help you make better hiring decisions.
Knowledge tests are used to assess an applicant’s theoretical or technical mastery of specific areas. A web programmer, for example, may be asked about common coding languages and formulas. Knowledge exams commonly appear in multiple-choice question formats. Other formats include written essays, analogies, and fill-in-the-blank questions. These types of assessments are highly useful for professions that require specialized skills and knowledge.
Unfortunately, a job knowledge test fails to measure the candidate’s learning ability. A highly intelligent applicant may have difficulty adjusting to new concepts. On the other hand, a candidate with limited knowledge may prove to be a fast learner in the long run. In addition, while knowledge tests can rank applicants based on theoretical knowledge, knowing something in theory is still different from putting it into practice.
Cognitive ability tests
Cognitive ability tests offer insight into a candidate’s general mental ability which is directly linked to job performance. Classic cognitive tests measure the following areas:
- Numerical reasoning — determines the ability to analyze and interpret numerical and statistical data. Candidates are asked to compute percentages, complete a number series, and solve different types of arithmetic problems.
- Verbal reasoning — measures reading comprehension and critical analysis skills. It involves text passages with questions that are commonly in the ‘True, False, Cannot Say’ multiple-choice format.
- Abstract reasoning — tests the ability to understand abstract ideas. It often consists of questions related to visual diagrams and numerical sequences.
- Spatial awareness — makes use of patterns and shapes to assess a candidate’s problem-solving skills. Common questions involve visualizing 2D and 3D cubes, identifying mirror Images, connecting or adding shapes together, or analyzing different perspectives.
Like knowledge tests, cognitive assessments do not reflect the person’s learning ability and field performance. While intelligence is a prime predictor of a candidate’s performance, don’t base your hiring decisions on cognitive and knowledge tests alone. Time and practice can always improve a candidate’s scores.
An integrity test is designed to evaluate a candidate’s honesty and reliability. They can save companies from hiring disrespectful and irresponsible employees. A lack of integrity is often linked to undesirable behaviors including violence, theft, tardiness, and other disciplinary issues.
There are two common types of integrity tests: overt and covert. Overt tests consist of questions that explicitly ask a candidate’s involvement with illegal behavior (theft, drug use, fraud). Covert tests, on the other hand, assess a candidate’s diligence and commitment. When combined, both types can help you identify what kind of employee you’re dealing with and if they suit your company’s goals.
The downside is people don’t always tell the truth. The transparent nature of an integrity test makes it easy for applicants to choose the obviously correct answer, even if it does not apply to them. As such, the results should always be taken with a grain of salt. Instead of defining people by their past actions, employers should also consider the candidate’s ability to change.
Aptitude and personality tests for applicants are critical to the recruitment process. They can significantly narrow down your pool of candidates and save you a lot of time and energy. On the other hand, relying too much on scores can hinder you from hiring the best people. Your hiring decision should still be based on the complete sum of a candidate’s skills, personality, and adaptability.