Pre-employment tests, when used judiciously, can provide a variety of predictive information about a candidate’s fit for the job and potential for success. For instance, personality tests provide evidence that helps hiring managers predict how an applicant might behave within a particular role using their personality trait scores as a guide.

Aptitude tests, conversely, measure a job applicant’s mental capacity and ability to acquire and apply new information of various types to meet task requirements. These test types are most often used in employment and educational contexts.

Importantly, aptitude tests are not a measurement of how well an individual has already learned a task, nor are they tests of acquired knowledge. Rather, aptitude tests are predictors of how well a jobseeker can process information and problem-solve.

What Types of Attributes Do Aptitude Tests Measure?

Aptitude tests are psychometric tests that measure a number of characteristics that can relate to job performance. Measures of one’s proficiency with language, math or mechanical principles may be less or more important, depending on the needs of the job.  Ways in which an aptitude test measures a candidate’s overall ability to learn quickly, think intuitively or approach problems in a creative way include logic, verbal, numerical, and abstract reasoning tests. Test questions that focus on logic and reasoning factors are typically evaluated in general cognitive aptitude or “IQ” tests.

Which Test to Choose?

There are a number of generalized aptitude tests on the market, such as Resource Associates’ General Cognitive Aptitude Test, designed to provide a quick and highly-reliable test of general mental agility. Because they assess overall mental ability, these types of tests can help predict performance in any job.

Other tests measure a candidate’s likelihood of success in a specific work context, gauging their potential to understand and apply specific concepts, such as RA’s Mechanical Reasoning Test. This test is helpful to determine how well a candidate will execute tasks typically found in technical jobs; working with large equipment, troubleshooting system failure, or performing maintenance on machinery.

Still other tests measure a candidate’s ability relevant to jobs such as warehouse worker. An aptitude test like RA’s Inventory Stocking Aptitude Test might assess specific skills such as the ability to quickly and accurately locate stock numbers from inventory, making few mistakes.

Additional examples of aptitude tests contextualized to specific roles are bank teller math, clerical speed and accuracy, Excel proficiency, and filing aptitude, among others. These examples can apply to a variety of positions, but are more focused on a narrow selection of jobs as opposed to general aptitude tests.


Is Aptitude Testing Enough?

Cognitive aptitude tests are some of the best predictors of job performance available that is both cost effective and easy to administer. Standardized aptitude test scores provide valuable information about a candidate’s chance of success in any given job, from entry level to leadership positions.

However, a word of caution when using aptitude testing as the sole pre-employment test screening criteria. When aptitude tests are used in isolation, important information about a candidate’s personality traits, values and job satisfaction criteria and how well they will fit into an organization’s culture or manage relationships with clients and coworkers may be missed.  These personal characteristics are an equally important part of the hiring equation. Considering the addition of these types of tests as companions to the right choice of aptitude test for the job you seek to fill will yield better predictive power.

The Right Aptitude Test is a Worthwhile Investment for Employers

It’s easy to see why aptitude tests are useful to employers. They are a quick, convenient, and cost-effective way for employers to get an objective assessment of jobseekers’ potential without being overly swayed by subjective data such as an applicant’s interview style, resume, credentials or stated experience. Having an unbiased measure of an applicant’s suitability for a position and their potential to grow in the role helps sort the possibilities from the non-starters and is a valuable tool in deciding between applicants as the pool narrows.

It is important to carefully research, select and administer the right aptitude test for the job, but if you’re uncertain, a test of general cognitive ability will likely be a solid predictor of performance for any role.