Psychometric testing: a focus on aptitude tests

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Man taking testIn a previous blog we discussed the use of personality testing in recruitment and selection.  This blog discuses aptitude tests and explores why they should be viewed as critical in any recruitment process. It discusses Psychometric testing: a focus on aptitude tests.

When you recruit a new member of staff you want to select the best person for the job.  But how do you do this?  You’d be part way there if you just recruited on the basis of intelligence alone!

Intelligence relates to the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. A high level of general intelligence (termed ‘g’) means that people to tend to do well in most tasks they take on.  People with higher than average intelligence (compared to others in a role) tend to learn that role easier.

And people with higher intelligence tend to be able to reason easier, hence making better decisions. Because they have higher intelligence, they have higher aptitude.

Aptitude comes in different forms. Aptitude can be tested for.

General Mental Ability

The general ability model can be divided into four specific abilities. These are mechanical, verbal, numerical  and spatial.

Mechanical reasoning: this type of test is useful for recruits being assessed for technical roles. It assesses the candidate’s ability to understand mechanical principles and to apply their knowledge.

Verbal reasoning:   this type of test assesses the ability to use words in a logical way. It measures the ability to perceive and understand ideas and concepts expressed through words.

Numerical reasoning:  this type of test assesses the ability to use numbers in a logical and rational manner. It is normally made up of numerical patterns and questions requiring numerical computation.

Spatial reasoning:  this type of test is also referred to as abstract reasoning.   The test assesses the ability to see patterns of 3D shapes when presented with a two-dimensional drawing.  Spatial reasoning tests assess the ability to understand and assimilate new information may not have been encountered previously.

Determining Tests to Use

When deciding which ability test to use it as important first to determine the need.   Without this it would be possible to use the wrong test for the wrong reason, and as a result the organisation could face a tribunal claim for discrimination and for running an unfair selection process.

So how do you determine what is needed in the selection process? 

An unfair selection process can be avoided by objectively determining the competencies and behaviours needed to do the job. These are determined when building the job description and person specification.  Without an effective job description and person specification candidates are effectively measured against the manager’s views. ‘Views’ are biassed and it’s easy to run an unfair process.

Choosing the Right Tool

Under the aptitude types discussed above there are a great many tools to choose from. There are generic mechanical reasoning tests and there are specific tests that can be used for specific industries. For example someone recruiting an IT technician may want to test candidates’ abilities and knowledge of .NET environments. There are specific tools to do this. 

And there are specific ability tests  that can be used in the recruitment of accounts staff where accounts payable and accounts receivable scenarios can be run and scored.  Likewise there are specific tests for administration staff, secretarial staff, customer services staff, sales staff and the list goes on.

Testing Managers

Whilst the standard ability tests could be used to determine how effective managers will be, there are specific tests designed to assess managerial judgement. This type of test offers scenarios that managers are likely to find themselves in. Having read the scenario the manager is then invited to choose from a series of answers the response that best matches how they should deal with the situation.

Manager aptitude is testable.

In Conclusion

Aptitude tests are an important part of the manager’s selection toolkit.   It is important to determine, before the interviews begin, which tests are appropriate to that specific job. There is likely to be a mix of work sample testing; structured or semistructured interviews; personality and aptitude testing. When combined properly these tools can help predict how well a candidate is likely to do in the role. By using appropriate tools the selection process is going to be fair, able to stand scrutiny and is going to determine the best candidate for the role.

TimelessTime has the relevant qualifications to offer both aptitude and personality testing  as part of a total recruitment package.  To find out how to make your recruitment more effective please give us a call on  +44 (0) 1444 810454 or +44 (0) 203 700 3014. Alternatively email

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