Cognitive or Skills-based Assessments

Should I Use Cognitive or Skills-Based Assessments for New Hires?

It’s no surprise that in an age where there are often many candidates applying for any given job, many hiring managers are using pre-employment assessments to review applicants. Using assessments can help a company find new employees who are the best fit for its company culture and for the position. There are several kinds to choose from; picking the right one for your needs depends a lot on the organization and the type of job being filled.

Cognitive Assessments

These assessments test a person’s ability to process information or thoughts. These tests are similar to IQ tests. They can measure memory, numerical and reading comprehension, speech, the ability to learn and even problem solving capabilities. Hiring managers may use these tests to help determine if the candidate is likely able to meet the performance requirements for a job. By doing this, the new hire and team will be more efficient and this productivity can lead to reduced employee turnover. While pre-employment testing should never make up all of a hiring manager’s employment decision for a candidate, assessments can certainly contribute to around 25-30% of the decision.

Job Skills Tests

These are tests based on a specific job skill that is required for a position. The skills in question might be very broad or very specific. Broad examples include general math, Excel, customer service or grammar skills. More specific examples of these tests might include automotive technology, light industrial math, accounting software, legal terminology or medical billing. As you probably can guess, this type of assessment can be useful in many types of industries. If you need to fill a position that requires proficiency in Excel, than you want to make sure the candidate is up to speed on this software – the skills test would be perfect for this situation. Also, skill-based tests can be useful when hiring for a lot of job openings at once – jobs that require particular skills. You can rank the many candidates based on their scores and do comparisons.

Behavioral Pre-Employment Testing

Assessments that test the behavioral traits of an applicant, especially when combined with cognitive or job skill tests, are also useful. Behavioral traits are sometimes referred to as “soft skills,” but are still very important, especially to job fit and one’s potential to assimilate well into a company’s culture. Just a few examples of the kinds of traits tested include: independence, energy level, assertiveness, sociability, objective thinking and decisiveness. Knowing how the candidate is hard-wired to think and respond to situations is just as important as knowing if one has the skills or IQ to do the job. This type of assessment can help ensure that an applicant is more likely to mesh with the team, department and/or overall organization.

Depending on budget, you may not be able to give assessments to each and every applicant for all open jobs. However, in the long run you may opt to use any one of these (or two depending on the type of role involved) to make sure you make the right hire for your company – especially for the positions that are particularly difficult to fill and/or that experience relatively high turnover.

Selecting a partner to help you administer validated, job-relevant pre-employment testing can prevent you from making a bad hiring decision, as well as save you time, money and frustration! ExactHire offers options in all of these assessment categories and can even assist in building customized job pattern models to establish targeted performance ranges for your organization – these models are invaluable when analyzing candidate results.

For more information about our products, please contact ExactHire.

Image credit: Exam by Alberto G. (contact)

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