What are aptitude tests and why should employers care

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You’re hiring. You want to make the process as efficient as possible. You want to find the best candidates quickly, and weed out the less-suitable people just as easily. Do it the traditional way and it could take a very long time, sending hours trawling through CVs and application letters, even more time analysing the data, and days spent interviewing people.

After all that hard work, the results can still be unreliable. You can still end up employing someone who seemed perfect on paper but turns out to not to be what you were expecting. It’s frustrating, it’s costly, and it wastes valuable time. You might even have to start the whole recruitment process from scratch.

Aptitude testing is a simple and reliable way to make these potential issues go away. But what, exactly, is it? Let’s take a look at what aptitude tests are, why they’re so useful, and why you should care.

Aptitude tests are cleverly-constructed tests that reveal a candidate’s skills, attitude and more. They’re a kind of psychometric assessment used to measure a person’s natural strengths in a particular context. These tests are different from knowledge-based testing. They’re not designed to test candidates in a particular subject, instead showcasing a person’s inherent skills and their ability to apply them in new situations. Often called cognitive ability tests, they look deep into a person’s abilities and measure things like their numerical, verbal, diagrammatic and mechanical reasoning.

You’ll already know that someone’s career history and an interview isn’t always enough to get a handle on the kind of person they are in a workplace context. When you’re making a final selection, you often need more. These tests give you what you need, and because they’re difficult to manipulate they’re usually very insightful.

For a start, an aptitude test can clearly reveal whether an applicant has enough experience to efficiently perform the role, not over-confident and not being less than straightforward about the things they’ve done and achieved. This makes it easier to filter unsuitable people out at an early stage, leaving you with less work to do and a pool of candidates who are good for the role in an overall way.

Because aptitude testing comes with standard scoring systems, which are automated, it’s easier to compare candidates. It’s good to know that if you have any hidden prejudices, they’re not involved. The process removes the emotional content from the task so you don’t make mistakes based on your own feelings and assumptions. There’s no danger of making snap decisions just because you personally like or dislike a candidate.

In a world where not everyone is outgoing and obviously confident, it’s easy to miss out on quiet, reserved people who don’t necessarily interview very well but have outstanding skills and experience to offer. Because the results of the tests are available instantly there’s no time wasted, which is good for you and your candidates. Most tests these days are available online so there’s no need for people to come to your place to be tested, tapping neatly into the world’s pressing need to reduce CO2 emissions. If you don’t do it already, aptitude testing could be the one thing that makes a huge difference to your recruitment life.

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