Cognitive Aptitude Testing – A Complete Guide for Recruiters

Conventional recruitment processes are a good starting point but are also restrictive in terms of how deeply and accurately can they help assess a candidate. Combined with unconscious human bias, hiring decisions often go wrong and cause businesses millions of dollars in associated costs and time.

Cognitive aptitude testing enables hiring teams to look beyond the surface and make fair hiring decisions. Backed by science and many years of generating accurate results – they have become a powerful tool within the HR sector.

Cognitive aptitude testing provides an extensive measure of an applicant’s cognitive abilities. Such as observation and attention to detail, problem-solving, critical thinking, numerical and spatial reasoning, language comprehension etc.

These assessments indicate how likely it is for a candidate to be successful in the role and within the organisation. Recruitment decisions based on pre-employment cognitive aptitude assessment have shown a higher retention rate and increased diversity amongst team members, both these attributes are highly relevant to high-functional, productive and progressive teams.


The different types of cognitive ability

There is a diverse range of cognitive abilities assessed in the pre-employment cognitive aptitude test. Every participant will perform and score differently, indicating their unique strengths.

Given the requirements of a specific role and organisation, scoring high on certain metrics may be more relevant than others. During your consultations will Testgrid, we will help you identify the metrics most relevant to the requirements of hiring for your business.


Numerical Reasoning

This section tests a candidate’s ability to understand data, read tables and graphs and make sound interpretations to aid growth and performance. If a role requires decision making based on numerical data, such as accounts, performance & growth marketing, sales and data science – those candidates must score highly in this section.


Verbal Reasoning

Verbal reasoning indicates a candidate’s aptitude for comprehending language. Their ability to communicate clearly using written and verbal communication, understand data, as well as, be able to identify key messages in the text is determined throughout this section. Customer/client-facing jobs such as customer service representatives, client leads and account managers, as well as those working within human resources will benefit from having a high aptitude for verbal reasoning.


Abstract Reasoning

Abstract reasoning assesses whether a candidate can engage in creative problem-solving, do they pay attention to implicit details and if they can identify complex patterns. It also indicates a candidate’s ability to think objectively in most situations. These are attributes relevant to those in design and analysts jobs.


Mechanical Reasoning

This section is indicative of a candidate’s ability to understand and apply complex mechanical concepts. The ability to do so is highly relevant to those working in defense, emergency services, engineering and to machine operators.


Spatial Ability

This ability is highly relevant to architects, construction site workers and engineers. It indicates a candidate’s ability to comprehend, memorise, transform and visual and spatial objects.


Testing for cognitive aptitude while recruiting

Hiring the right talent is a challenge faced by most businesses. It can be difficult to assess how well a candidate will perform in a given role. However, it’s possible to generate reliable predictions with Testgrid.

Cognitive aptitude testing has become one of the most sought-after ways of determining a candidate’s performance. It’s become the tool of choice for hiring managers around the world to make fair and dependable recruitment decisions.

Find out about job performance and hidden potential

Cognitive aptitude testing is the most hassle-free and reliable means of identifying potential in a candidate. Backed by technical expertise, it can help you assess whether a candidate has the necessary skills, training and experience to carry out the expected responsibilities for a role – to the utmost standard.

Cognitive aptitude tests can help your save time and money

Cognitive aptitude testing can help you narrow down candidates with potential, thus, adding a layer of scientific validation to hiring decisions and reducing chances of mis-hires and early resignations. This also enables companies to save time by only interviewing applicants who have shown the required expertise for the role. Therefore, this method of screening applicants is both time and cost-effective.

Cancels out scope of any bias in hiring decisions

Even the most well-meaning hiring managers can fall prey to unconscious bias. They may have a preconceived notion of who may perform well in a given role. Therefore, taking away from the objectivity that’s necessary to give each candidate a fair chance and equal opportunity. Using this method allows recruiters to assess each candidate based purely on their intelligence and capability.


The different types of cognitive aptitude tests you’ll find

There are A LOT of assessments available to measure aptitude, so it’s important you know what you are looking for before you start. Firstly, when deciding which aptitude assessments to select for your recruitment process, you must first look at the key requirements of the role.

Due to the broad range of assessments available you need to consider what is important with a given role that you need to identify in your candidates.

Let’s look at 2 examples using roles that vary in function and seniority.

Role #1 Apprentice/s

Consider a mining company hiring an mechanical engineer or electrician. Each role would have its own requirements specific to the role (see previous A LOT of assessments comment) but a general rule of thumb would be that an apprentice should be able to read and understand a technical manual. Therefore, an assessment or including questions that assess verbal and mechanical reasoning ability would be a prudent investment in your recruitment process.

Role #2 Senior Executive

There are a lot of factors to consider when designing a recruitment process for executive roles but one to consider would be that the successful applicant should be able to understand data presented in graphs and take action on this data using critical thinking. These can be assessed using numerical reasoning and abstract reasoning assessments.


Preparing candidates for success

Cognitive aptitude test is becoming popular and essential to the recruitment process. One of the leading reasons being that it ensures that the selected candidate is prepared (and/or can be trained in the capacity) to perform their tasks and responsibilities to the expected standard.

It reduces the chances of early resignations resulting from employees feeling overwhelmed and under-prepared once they start the job. This is especially relevant for roles and industries that require technical expertise.

Even as grown-ups, taking tests can provoke stress. Therefore, maintaining caution and transparency while conducting any pre-employment assessments is highly important. This is a great opportunity to positively position your organisation and its culture to prospective employees.

All applicants testing for a particular position must undertake the same assessment and be required to meet the same benchmark. In addition, each applicant must receive ample and honest communication about what they are being tested on. This will also ensure that the candidates perform in the assessments only under eustress and feel well prepared.

There are ways to factor in socio-cultural and economic differences, as well as, make arrangements for candidates with special needs to be assessed fairly in comparison to their peers. This empowers workplaces to be fair and give equal opportunities to candidates from varying background and with diverse skillsets.


Use the most comprehensive cognitive aptitude assessments available

Testgrid has been providing pre-employment assessment solutions to businesses for over two decades. We have worked across many industries and have earned our position as the market leader by working in consultation with our clients – at every step of the way!

We have the ability to customise pre-employment assessments to best meet your recruiting needs, so you can hire the right candidate and continue growing your business. With leading employment testing technology and assessment science, Testgrid can help hiring managers optimise selection and realise exceptional talent acquisition results.

We exist to empower organisation to achieve success through people.

To find out more or to book a demo/consultation – email us at or call us at 1300 878 473 (Australia)/0800 000 849 (New Zealand).


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