Job Aptitude Test Tips That Can Win You That Job

A cognitive ability test can measure reasoning skills, math skills, and verbal skills. An aptitude test measures a person‘s ability to learn new skills, while an achievement test measures someone‘s current knowledge. Depending on the type of job, one or both will be better suited.

A cognitive ability test measures intelligences, such as numerical ability and reasoning.

Some sample test categories might include the following:

  1. Reasoning questions
  2. Mathematical questions and calculations
  3. Verbal and/or vocabulary skills.

The US Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) is an example of a cognitive ability test. It is important to note that some cognitive ability tests can have disparate impact.

Aptitude tests can measure things such as mechanical aptitude and clerical aptitude (e.g., speed of typing or ability to use a particular computer program). Usually, an aptitude test asks specific questions related to the requirements of the job. The test measures cognitive skills and observational skills (aptitude test) required for the job. Personality tests such as personality factors may be measured and then compared with successful employee scores. The Big Five personality test looks at extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness.

Self-assessment statements might include the following:

  1. I have an assertive personality.
  2. I am generally trusting.
  3. I am not always confident in my abilities.
  4. I have a hard time dealing with change.

However, many companies administer tests themselves, and some tests are free and can be administered online. Some institutions also require physical ability tests, job knowledge or work sample tests. Physical Ability For example, to earn a position in a fire department, you may have to be able to carry one hundred pounds up three flights of stairs. If you use tests in your hiring processes, the key to making them useful is to determine a minimum standard or expectation, specifically related to the requirements of the job.

An HR manager should also consider the legality of such tests. Physical ability tests need to show direct correlation with the job duties. Job Knowledge: A job knowledge test measures the candidate‘s level of understanding about a particular job. For example, a job knowledge test may require an engineer to write code in a given period of time or may ask candidates to solve a case study problem related to the job. Work sample: Work sample tests ask candidates to show examples of work they have already done. In the advertising business, this may include a portfolio of designs, or for a project manager, this can include past project plans or budgets. When applying for a pharmaceutical representative position, a ―brag book might be required.

A brag book is a list of recommendation letters, awards, and achievements that the candidate shares with the interviewer. Work sample tests can be a useful way to test for KSAOs. These work samples can often be a good indicator of someone‘s abilities in a specific area. As always, before looking at samples, the interviewer should have specific criteria or expectations developed so each candidate can be measured fairly. Once the interview is completed and testing occurs, other methods of checking KSAOs, including checking references, driving records, and credit history, can be performed.

Reference checking: It is an added assurance that the candidate‘s abilities are parallel with what you were told in the interview. While employment dates and job titles can be verified with previous employers, many employers will not verify more than what can be verified in the employment record because of privacy laws. However, if you do find someone who is willing to discuss more than just dates and job titles, a list of questions is appropriate.

Some of these questions might include the following:

  1. What was the title and responsibilities of the position the candidate had while at your company?
  2. Do you think the candidate was qualified to assume those responsibilities?
  3. Does this person show up on time and have good attendance?
  4. Would you consider this person a team player?
  5. What are the three strongest and weakest characteristics of this candidate?
  6. Would you rehire this person?

Driving Records: If a candidate will be driving a company car or vehicle, such as a UPS truck, driving records may be checked. Criminal background checks may also be used if the position will include interaction with the public.

Credit History: If the position requires handling of money, a credit check may be required, although a written notice is required to be given to the candidate before the credit check is carried out. In addition, written permission must be provided to the credit agency, and the applicants must receive a copy of the report and a copy of their rights under the Consumer Credit Reporting Reform Act (CCRRA).

Drug Testing: Some companies require drug testing, which causes some debate. While some organizations say this is a safety issue, others say it is an invasion of privacy. As long as drug tests are administered for a defensible reason (safety), many organizations will continue to require them. Some organizations will also require physical examinations to ensure the candidate can perform the tasks required.

A final form of testing is the honesty test. A number of ―what would you do questions are asked. The challenge with this type of test is that many people know the ―right answer but may not be honest in their responses.

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