Your most important hiring tool: the cognitive ability test

There are some important key questions that simply can’t be answered from a single interview. If you want to know whether your candidate is an effective decision maker, is a skilled problem solver, or is flexible enough to manage the pace of change in their role, you should consider integrating cognitive ability tests into your hiring toolbox.

Cognitive ability tests, sometimes known as mental agility tests, measure certain aspects of general intelligence that are known to contribute to success across an array of employment fields and jobs.


These aspects include mental agility (or speed of thought), fast learning, analytical thinking, numeracy and superior verbal reasoning skills. Your candidate’s performance on these measures will tell you how well they’ll be able to apply their mental abilities to solving work-related problems, or to acquiring new knowledge.

When they’re administered and reviewed by trained professionals, cognitive ability tests are accurate predictors of a candidate’s future performance in a new job role. With ease of use and surprising accuracy, cognitive ability tests offer a number of benefits that make them the essential tool for your recruitment toolbox.




The accuracy of the prediction

Cognitive ability tests are powerful predictors of future job performance. They’re based on sound psychological research, and deliver impressive accuracy in predicting job success, especially when compared against other measures of choosing the right candidate for your job vacancy.

A correlation coefficient measures the accuracy of any given test. A correlation coefficient of 1.0 would mean perfect prediction 100% of the time—and perhaps one day there will be tests this accurate, but to date there’s no single device that can achieve it. However, cognitive ability tests have a very respectable correlation coefficient of 0.51, which means they convincingly outperform unstructured interviews (0.18), reference checks (0.36), years of experience (0.18), and years of education (0.10) in accuracy of predicting job performance.

Cognitive ability tests are a very useful tool on their own; but when combined with behavioural testing or pre-employment personality testing, they can achieve a 0.67 correlation coefficient, and serve as a powerful predictor of a candidate’s future success. Like any other cognitive test, they’re best used together with other methods of assessment; but they’re often largely responsible for the success of the best screening programs and the most rewarding recruitments.


How to administer the tests

As with any pre-employment testing tool, it’s important to establish a baseline or target that you can compare your candidate’s results with. It’s a good idea to test the high performers you already have working in similar roles, or who have previously worked in that particular role, and use the data as a benchmark to measure your new candidate against.

Once you’ve established your goal or standards, you can assign a test to all of the candidates you’ve short-listed. You can compare their results to the benchmark you’ve outlined, and gather an understanding of what their score will mean for their future job performance.

If your candidates are close to the benchmark, there’s a good chance they’ve got what it takes to succeed in the role, and they’re likely to be a safe bet for recruitment.

If your candidates score poorly or don’t seem to be a good match, you should still perform follow-up interviews and reference checking.

Just like any other skills and abilities testing, cognitive ability testing shouldn’t be the sole determiner of a candidate’s inclusion or exclusion—use it as one source of information, in conjunction with other psychometric testing or behavioural assessments, to assist you in making your decision.



Fast and easy testing

One of the best reasons to use cognitive ability tests is how easy they are to administer. There’s not a lot of hard work involved for the level of accuracy you can reach in predicting the future performance of your candidates, and the positive outcomes you can achieve for your business with this information. They’re more than a worthwhile expenditure, and they can save your business and team a lot of heartache down the track by giving you the information necessary for making the right choice from your group of candidates.

But it does depend on the test, and knowing how to administer it properly. To ensure that your cognitive ability tests are accurate, you can rely on Rogers Group’s considerable experience in employment tests and training. We can help you to improve your chances of accurately predicting your candidates’ future success with a combination of cognitive and aptitude testing and the McQuaig Psychometric Assessments. You will improve your recruitment processes and long-term staff retention too. We’ve also got a range of other helpful solutions for ensuring the best possible hires, including the McQuaig Interpreter Training to help you get the most from your psychometric tests, so contact us anytime for more information.