This post is part of an ongoing series about assessment testing best practices. Click here to view other posts in the series.

Throughout our childhood many of the tests we take in school measure little more than our ability to memorize information. But, optimal job performance is dependent on various factors, many of which are far more important than our memorization skills.

Two of the most important factors for predicting whether or not an applicant will be a good fit for the job are (1) mental ability and (2) personality.

So, which type of test should be used when separating great candidates from mediocre ones? A test that measures mental ability or a personality test?

Measuring mental ability (also referred to as cognitive aptitude) is an outstanding strategy for anticipating a job applicant’s skill level in a number of areas, such as:

  • Problem solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Language abilities
  • Memory
  • Reaction speed

Personality tests, on the other hand, are good predictors of work-related behaviors that employers might look for. These tests help anticipate things like:

  • Dependability
  • Optimism
  • Ability to work well in teams
  • Introversion vs. Extraversion (Hint: Which one of these is preferable will partially depend on the duties of the intended position.)
  • Potential for advancement/managerial qualities (e.g. task structuring, human relations, visionary leadership)

So, which type of test should you use?

Obviously, here at Resource Associates we’re real big on personality tests.

But, be honest, no single test is going to tell you everything you need to know about a candidate. So, depending on the situation we actually often recommend both.

Mental ability or cognitive aptitude tests do a great job of predicting potential maximum performance, or in other words, how good of an employee the candidate could be.


Personality tests do a great job of predicting typical performance, or in other words, how good of an employee the candidate probably will be depending on the behaviors the job requires.

Both of these factors are important to take into consideration.

If you’re interested in learning more about the high-quality, reasonably priced personality and cognitive aptitude tests that Resource Associates offers, then click here now to shop from our job test catalog.