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Job Suitability Tests: Are They Worth Considering?

Nikki Dale
Nikki Dale June 28, 2021
Job Suitability Tests

If you are looking for a way to improve hiring processes, job suitability tests should come under consideration.

There are several valid ways that you can screen and assess applicants for a role. These can include CV screening, thorough application forms, phone, video and face-to-face interviews, and a range of aptitude tests.

When deciding which stages of screening to use, there are a few things to consider – and one of the criteria should be whether these options will have a benefit for your process.

This consideration is especially important when it comes to job suitability tests.

What Are Job Suitability Tests?

Job Suitability Tests

Job suitability tests are assessments that are used to screen applicants during the recruitment process. They are often taken online via an email link, and when completed the employer is provided with a report of the score.

This is often given as a percentile against a 'norm group', and allows recruitment teams to take forward the highest-scoring candidates to the next stages of the process.

These tests can assess certain soft skills, like learning ability, problem-solving and communication, as well as personality and behavioural traits.

Some pre-employment assessments can also be used to test skill level in proficiencies needed for the advertised role, like coding, typing and error checking.

What all these tests have in common is that they allow employers to assess each candidate in a standardised way that removes unconscious bias, and tests for aptitudes and traits that predict success.

The results are matched to 'ideal candidate profiles', allowing selection of those candidates that are more likely to succeed in the role.

What Do Job Suitability Tests Tell You?

Job suitability tests can provide standardised assessment of candidates and their inherent abilities. The right test can provide insight to be used alongside other criteria like education, experience and qualification to ensure the best fit for the advertised role.

Through reports that can directly compare the results of candidates with each other and with a control group, sometimes based on the aptitudes and traits of employees already in the role who are successful, recruiters and employers can choose the applicants to take to the next stage.

The right job suitability tests are scalable and can be delivered at volume, reducing a potential applicant pool from thousands into a number much more manageable for interviewing purposes.

Can Job Suitability Tests Predict Success?

Job Suitability Tests

According to research, aptitude testing is much more reliable as a predictor of job success than other stages of the application process. Tests are up to twice as good as interviews, three times as good as experience, and up to four times as good as qualifications. That is because they gauge potential and give value to the learning ability of the candidate.

Cognitive abilities – skills such as learning, problem solving, and critical thinking – are not something that you can learn as a person. These skills are inherent, part of the unique construction of each candidate, and while they can be improved with practice, they cannot be taught.

It is these inherent skills that are an essential part of any job description, feeding into many other characteristics and traits that employers find desirable.

This is particularly true in mid- to high-level roles like team leaders and managers, as well as top-level roles in big corporations. The aptitudes that are measured are well known to be drivers of success in these roles, which is why job suitability and aptitude tests work as predictors of future job role success.

It is worth noting, however, that for more low-level roles such as those that involve a lot of routine and repetitive work, aptitude testing does not appear to be a good predictor of job success. Here, other assessments like skills testing might be more appropriate.

Types of Job Suitability Tests

Job Suitability Tests

1. Verbal

Verbal reasoning tests assess a candidate on their ability to quickly read, understand and analyse some information presented as text, in order to be able to correctly answer a multiple-choice question under time pressure.

In this test, recruiters can learn more about the candidate's ability to make decisions, use logical thinking and deal with pressure, as well as assess the way they handle written information and their proficiency with more formal language.

The skills involved in extracting meaning from written information is something that is useful in almost all job sectors, so verbal reasoning tests are one of the most common psychometric tests used in pre-employment screening.

2. Numerical

Numerical reasoning assessments are not about testing the skills of the candidates in terms of their mathematical ability, but more about how they deal with data presented in tables and graphs. Numerical reasoning tests assess the candidate on their ability to read, understand and manipulate data under time pressure.

There is some mathematical knowledge needed, but it is usually basic school level information like percentages and ratios as well as simple operations. The logical deductions and attention to detail that can be assessed through numerical reasoning tests helps illuminate the candidate's ability to problem solve and make decisions.

Numerical reasoning assessments are obviously found in industry sectors that deal with numbers, like financial companies such as banks, but they are also one of the more popular types of assessments that are used across all industries.

3. Situational

Situational judgement tests assess a candidate on their work-based behaviour and decision making skills under time pressure and often with limited information. In a situational judgement test, the candidate will be presented with a realistic work-based scenario, and then have to select the best course of action to take from a number of possible options.

The answers in the situational judgement tests can all be considered 'correct', but there will be a preferred course of action that reflects the work personality and behavioural traits that the recruiter or company is interested in.

Situational judgement assessments can be found across a number of industries, and are most often found in the application process for roles that deal directly with customers or for leadership positions.

4. Cognitive

Cognitive ability is an umbrella term covering a number of facets of aptitude, and cognitive ability tests are sometimes used to judge a person on their mental agility and intelligence.

Cognitive ability tests can be presented in the form of exam-style pre-employment assessments, much like the traditional verbal and numerical reasoning tests, but they can also be gamified.

Cognitive ability assessments are considered to be a reasonably reliable method of testing general intelligence, including reasoning and logic. These assessments tend to be used in recruitment processes for top-level roles and those that rely on high levels of learning and intelligence, like the legal and medical sector.

5. Abstract Reasoning

This is an assessment that is often the least familiar to candidates as it is not something that they actively use every day (unlike reading or decision-making), but it does show how logical they are.

In an abstract reasoning assessment, candidates are asked to complete a sequence of images, shapes or numbers by finding the pattern that governs the sequence. This is usually multiple choice, and the candidate needs to use logic to reach the correct answer according to the rule presented.

Logical ability is necessary to help with decision making and problem solving, and abstract reasoning tests assess how a candidate can infer the right information and make a logical deduction of what the right answer is.

Abstract reasoning is useful in application testing for legal and most business industries.

6. Personality

Personality tests are best considered not as predictors of future job success, but indicators of culture fit. The personality traits and characteristics indicated by these tests can help describe a candidate's motivations and stressors, helping recruiters understand whether they are a good fit for the culture and type of role.

Common personality tests used in pre-employment screening include Myers-Briggs, DISC and Enneagram. Each of these are designed to offer different insight into the work personality of the candidate.

The information given in these tests can be useful across all industries, indicating the behavioural tendencies and preferences of the applicant. This data can be compared to a norm group or an 'ideal candidate profile' to assess whether the candidate would be a good fit in the company.

Nikki Dale
Nikki Dale June 28, 2021

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