In conjunction with interviews, a number of different types of tests can be used to choose new recruits for organisations. A whole range of different types of tests can be used including personality inventories, intelligence tests, career choice questionnaires, and aptitude tests.
These are the most widely used types of tests for recruitment. Aptitude tests, rather than measuring what a candidate already knows, attempt to predict what the candidate is capable of achieving with training – rather than testing them on existing skills and knowledge. Aptitude tests look at your innate cognitive abilities and are designed to measure your fluid and crystallised intelligence.
Fluid intelligence – the ability to think abstractly and problem-solve, independent of past experiences, education, and learning. Often relates to an ability to learn new things quickly, solve problems efficiently and assimilate new information.
Crystallised intelligence – the ability to apply what has been learnt in past experience, learning and education to a new situation. This is relevant in how people can understand and operate in a new work environment, bringing with them existing skills and knowledge that can be applied to novel situations.
Aptitude tests may be specific or general. General tests are often used at the outset of testing. A couple of examples follow:
Thurstone Test of Mental Alertness
This is used to try and determine an individual's ability to adjust to new situations, to be flexible and quickly learn new skills. As well as providing an overall score, the test provides scores for quantitative (derived from test items assessing numerical series problems and arithmetic), and linguistic (derived from test items relating to same-opposite word meanings and definitions). The outcomes provide information concerning general intelligence and work outcomes. It is arguably the most reliable test for predicting job performance of individuals and is therefore valuable for choosing new recruits or placing existing employees into new positions.
Wonderlic Cognitive Ability Test
This test can be used to assess learning and problem-solving abilities of potential employees in a range of careers. It is a relatively quick test to administer with just 12 minutes allocated for completion. An overall score is derived from the test which provides a measure of intelligence comparable to IQ. Recent versions are available which may be completed online as well as by traditional pen and paper.
The types of qualities that may be tested in an aptitude test include:
Verbal Reasoning – these tests assess your ability to use reasoning with words. They test the candidate's comprehension of words and may also test their ability to identify important information from written texts, critically evaluate it, and come to logical conclusions. In the workplace, this may identify a candidate's ability to gain information from written work, communicate clearly to colleagues and clients, and produce written reports.
Abstract Reasoning - also known as diagrammatical or logical reasoning, these tests utilise abstract shapes, symbols and diagrams organised using logical rules. This tests the candidate's fluid intelligence. Correct answers show the candidate's ability to identify patterns and apply the rules to solve a problem. In a work environment, this may predict ways in which a candidate may be able to learn and integrate new information, think strategically, and solve problems.
Numerical Reasoning – lower level numerical reasoning tests examine the candidate’s ability to understand and complete arithmetic equations. Higher end tests will assess the candidate’s higher-order mathematical reasoning and ability to evaluate quantitative data. In the workplace this identifies an ability to work with numerical data, both in analysing, as well as presenting.
Spatial Reasoning – these tests examine the candidate’s ability to mentally compare, identify or manipulate 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional objects. In a workplace this may identify how well a candidate can solve technical problems, identify hazards, and manage and organise a space. These skills may be particularly important in professions such as design, construction, architecture and engineering.
Mechanical Reasoning – identifies the candidate's ability to understand mechanical concepts, and solve mechanical problems.
Manual Dexterity – measures hand-eye coordination, and focuses on testing the ability to complete manual tasks, looking at speed and precision.
General aptitude tests are more widely used than specific ones. Specific tests of aptitude are engineered to assess a much narrower segment of an individual's ability. Whilst it is sometimes argued that the more specific a job role is, the more specific an aptitude test should be - this assertion does not necessarily hold true. In fact, a higher score on an aptitude test designed for a specific job role can often be generalised to other roles.
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