The Best Predictor of Job Performance: 5 Types of Cognitive Ability Tests

When it comes to hiring people, it might feel like you’re looking for a needle in a haystack when you’re trying to locate the ideal applicant. When it comes to accurately forecasting future employment performance, the traditional practice of evaluating applicants solely based on their resumes frequently falls short. However, there is a method that is more accurate and is based on evidence, and that method is the use of cognitive ability tests. In this post, we will discuss what cognitive ability tests are, why they are such good predictors of work success, and go deeper into five particular types of cognitive tests that may assist you in making better informed hiring decisions.

What Are Cognitive Ability Tests?

Cognitive ability exams, which are also sometimes referred to as pre-employment examinations, are evaluations that are intended to examine a variety of mental and cognitive capabilities. A candidate’s ability to solve problems, spatial reasoning, numerical reasoning, and other forms of thinking are evaluated with the use of these exams. Cognitive aptitude tests, despite the fact that they are beneficial for all professions, can be especially helpful for senior positions, evaluating one’s capacity for decision-making, and locating applicants who have a high potential for junior positions.

Why Are Cognitive Ability Tests Great Predictors of Job Performance?

The cognitive capacity exams are not simple fill-in-the-blank activities; rather than focusing on what applicants know, they investigate how candidates think. These examinations are often brief and comprise questions with multiple-choice answers. They frequently include logical puzzles, reading comprehension questions, or mathematical problems. In addition to this, there are time constraints placed upon participants in order to replicate the hectic nature of actual working situations. The following are some of the primary reasons why cognitive ability tests are such reliable indicators of future work performance:

  1. Agility in Dynamic Environments: The potential of a candidate to adapt and prosper is gleaned from their performance on cognitive ability tests, which measure their dexterity in negotiating complex work circumstances.
  2. Rapid Learning: They test a candidate’s capacity to pick up new skills fast on the job, which is an important aptitude in today’s rapidly evolving professional environment.
  3. Raw Intelligence: The results of cognitive tests can reflect a person’s natural intellect in a way that may not be obvious from a résumé alone.
  4. Unique Skills Identification: These examinations aim to identify specialized talents and capacities that are predictive of successful work performance.

Now, let’s explore five specific types of cognitive ability tests and the roles for which each is most suitable:

  1. Numerical Reasoning Tests:

Candidates are judged on their ability to correctly comprehend and use numerical information in the context of a test called “numerical reasoning.” Questions pertaining to sequences, fractions, ratios, and percentages, as well as the interpretation of tables, charts, graphs, and diagrams, are frequently included in them. These examinations are extremely helpful for individuals seeking positions that require interpretation and analysis of data, such as those found in the banking and financial industries. However, they are also useful for evaluating individuals for professions including engineering, business analysis, architecture, and research.

  1. Verbal Reasoning Tests:

Evaluations of a candidate’s verbal agility, including their capacity to think, comprehend, and communicate themselves vocally or in writing, are what are measured by verbal reasoning exams. They look at a candidate’s ability to draw correct inferences from textual material and choose what information is most important to focus on. These examinations include activities such as determining the links between words, making analogies, and answering true/false/cannot be decided questions. While they are very necessary for jobs that involve report analysis, these skills are also utilized in the fields of law, engineering, consulting, executive work, and the public sector.

  1. Spatial Reasoning Tests:

The capacity to visualize and manipulate shapes, objects, and forms is what candidates are tested on during spatial reasoning examinations. The ability to spatially see, mentally fold, mentally rotate, and maintain spatial working memory are the four subtypes of spatial reasoning that are evaluated by these exams. They are particularly useful in occupations relating to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), such as game design, architecture, and engineering. However, they are also valuable for assessing individuals for employment in research and design, as well as mechanical and chemical engineering and other areas of engineering.

  1. Critical Thinking Tests:

The capacity of a candidate to rationally examine, conceive, assess information, and make objective judgments and solutions may be determined through the administration of critical thinking exams. Solving syllogisms, analyzing cause-and-effect relationships, understanding sequences and arrangements, and spotting assumptions are all examples of the kind of questions that can be found on these examinations. Candidates for occupations like as analysts, executive positions, computer and data scientists, and legal positions might benefit from their use in the evaluation process. In addition to this, they can assist current workers in developing their capacity for critical thinking.

  1. Problem Solving Tests:

Candidates are required to demonstrate their ability to use logical, inductive, and quantitative thinking in order to solve business problems on problem-solving assessments. Candidates are required to conduct data and textual information analyses in order to identify the solutions that are the most appropriate and effective for tackling complicated and unforeseen scenarios. These exams are applicable to positions in customer assistance, hospitality, project and product management, healthcare, and engineering since problem-solving abilities are an essential component of a wide range of businesses, including hospitality, healthcare, and engineering.

Predicting Future Job Performance with Cognitive Ability Tests

Cognitive ability exams are excellent indicators of future work success and should be used whenever possible. They provide an impartial and data-driven method of evaluating candidates, something that is sometimes missing from more traditional interview techniques. Research has revealed that General Cognitive Ability (GCA) is a key predictor of work and training performance. This highlights the value of cognitive tests in predicting success in a variety of settings.

Traditional means of recruitment, such as resumes, interviews, and checking references, all have significant drawbacks when it comes to determining how candidates will perform on the job. There is a possibility that a candidate’s resume may deceive the interviewer, that the interview will not accurately represent the candidate’s real work skills, and that reference checks may be prejudiced or untrustworthy. In contrast, cognitive ability exams offer a more objective appraisal of a candidate’s capabilities than other types of assessments.


Cognitive ability tests provide a data-driven strategy to fulfill the aim of predicting work performance, which is an essential component of the recruiting process. You may make better informed recruiting judgments and lower the risk of making poor recruits if you evaluate a candidate’s cognitive ability, problem-solving abilities, and critical thinking before making a hiring decision. Cognitive aptitude tests are a great tool for picking the proper applicants and enhancing the overall quality of the workforce. Traditional recruiting methods, on the other hand, have a number of drawbacks that make them less desirable.

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