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Ten reasons to use a cognitive ability test for hiring and employment

Cognitive ability tests are evaluation weapons for every recruiter because hiring a candidate with appropriate cognitive skills helps improve business productivity, enhance personal performance.

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Cognitive ability tests are assessments to understand a candidate’s cognitive power and psychological strength. These are secret evaluation weapons for every recruiter because hiring a candidate with appropriate cognitive skills helps improve business productivity, enhance personal performance, and reduce turnover. 

How can these tests reveal metrics that define employees’ performance and associated business efficiency?

Cognitive tests evaluate the mental abilities of a candidate. For example, can a candidate solve complex issues? Can a candidate work effectively in a difficult situation? Can a candidate adapt to changing business requirements?

These are valuable questions that are intrinsic to an employee’s personality. While the company may take necessary steps to adopt new technology, employees must be adaptable and willing to accept this change.

When hiring, recruiters should identify these capabilities in a candidate. According to Mercer | Mettl’s Talent Assessment Practices Study, 53% of companies focus on applicants’ cognitive abilities during hiring. 

What do cognitive ability tests evaluate?

Some of the key aspects of cognition evaluated by these tests include spatial analysis, critical thinking, arithmetic reasoning, problem-solving skills, general intelligence, language fluency, and attention to detail. In its most basic form, a cognitive aptitude test is a pre-employment exam designed to predict a potential applicant’s work performance across sectors. 

What is the purpose of cognitive ability tests?

Cognitive ability exams identify a candidate’s mental talents in various areas. These examinations determine what and how one thinks, such as:

  • Attention to detail: How attentive is a candidate while processing new information?
  • Problem-solving ability: How effectively does a candidate utilize knowledge to make sound decisions?
  • Critical thinking: How well does a candidate handle logical problems and think analytically?
  • Numerical reasoning: How well does a candidate understand and deal with numbers?
  • Reading comprehension: How effectively does a candidate comprehend the main topics of a text?
  • Spatial reasoning: How well can a candidate grasp, recall, and reason about spatial connections between items or spaces?

Ten reasons to utilize a cognitive ability test in recruiting and employment

Effective performance indicators

Recruiters are expected to choose the right candidate for every job role. They need to predict an individual’s potential for success to reduce the company’s hiring cost and eliminate collateral damage. Cognitive tests can be an excellent method to predict a candidate’s work success across several areas. These assessments contain reliable indicators to predict work performance, learning potential, ability to follow directions, and communication skills.

High reliability 

Traditional recruitment strategies involve checking the candidate’s educational qualification and technical aptitude to ensure long-term reliability. Assessment of the candidate’s caliber and mental ability was not on the recruiters’ radar for a long time. However, with increasing corporate complexity, it has become prudent for recruiters to understand whether a candidate can adapt to the company’s culture in the long term.

Cognitive aptitude tests offer detailed information about a person’s mental aptitude and talents. As a result, recruiters can make data-driven, well-informed decisions to understand a candidate’s learning capabilities and long-term reliability. 

Simple administration

It is common for hiring managers to utilize manual evaluation to assess a candidate’s cognitive ability. However, remembering thousands of responses and finding the right candidate with this manual process is challenging. Moreover, recruiters’ bias often creates a bottleneck in accurate evaluation. With standardized cognitive ability tests, recruiters can automate the end-to-end process. This standardized process will offer accurate results, better candidate evaluation, and high hiring success.


One of the most significant setbacks with traditional assessment tests is that they are very costly to process. For example, the hiring team needs to spend time and resources manually scanning through candidates so that they can finalize one person for a position. Cognitive tests are less expensive, as they have the ability to shortlist from a large pool quickly. Further, with online cognitive assessments, other unnecessary expenditures, such as logistical, operational, and administrative costs, can be avoided. 

Shorter hiring process

Recruiters are always looking for innovative methods to shorten the time of hiring. Hiring procedures are sometimes exponentially lengthy, which leads to a loss of productivity hours and increases the cost of hiring. Using cognitive skill tests may speed up the recruiting process. These tests narrow choices, quickly taking recruiters to the next step of interviewing and hiring.

Fewer bad hires

One of the problems recruiters face is making bad hiring judgments and selecting the wrong candidate. According to a study by Career Builder, a wrong hire impacts every three in four organizations and costs them around US$ 15,000. 

With cognitive ability tests, recruiters can substantially improve the selection process while saving money and time.

Improved chances of company success

A company’s success is not a result of previous achievements but new inventions. This means hiring should focus on an employee’s capabilities rather than their past achievements. The idea here is to extract the candidate’s ability to innovate in the future. The candidate’s current experience may not be a marker of success, as it fails to evaluate cognitive abilities, such as change management, attention to detail, critical thinking, etc.

A cognitive evaluation in the recruiting process may prove a powerful tool for achieving organizational success in this case. 

High retention

Turnover is unavoidable, and a low turnover value is anticipated in every firm. However, when the turnover increases over time, there’s an issue.

According to Gartner, Inc., yearly voluntary turnover in the United States is expected to increase by about 20% this year. In India, large organizations with an expansive workforce of over 10,000 employees have an attrition rate of 30.8%, whereas businesses with less than 50 employees have an attrition rate of 26.7%. 

Why is the attrition rate so high? Why are employees voluntarily leaving their jobs?

The main reason is that they are not an ideal match for the position. This means the key to minimizing turnover is to hire better, which a cognitive assessment can achieve for your organization. Employing individuals who do well on these tests will help choose those with relevant abilities.

Data-based hiring

Recruiters’ bias or unconscious bias is unintentional favoritism based on first impressions or other factors. For example, a candidate is nervous during the first meeting, but they are, in reality, talented, skilled, and adaptable. The recruiter may make a mistake by taking the first impression as a deciding factor. A cognitive ability assessment can eliminate the subjective nature of hiring and help make data-driven decisions. 

Significant competitive edge

Cognitive assessments can help improve your chances of better hires, which means these tests can offer a competitive edge to your company. 

Recruiting suitable candidates for different positions leads to high productivity and a low attrition rate. This makes the organization a perfect fit for the candidate – a favorable brand. 


Cognitive ability tests employ highly predictive instruments that are quick to complete. These tests save recruiters’ time by shortlisting only the highest potential candidates, which means a lower likelihood of making poor recruiting selections. 

In today’s constantly changing economy, cognitive tests are used to ensure that employees have the capability to learn quickly, adapt to change, and excel at problem-solving. 

Cognitive Ability Tests by Mercer | Mettl allow recruiters to predict the learning aptitude and job performance of the candidate. These psychometric assignments evaluate different aspects of cognition, such as memory, perception, reasoning, problem-solving, and verbal strength. As a result, recruiters can gauge candidates’ ability to formulate new concepts in different situations. 

(ThePrint ValueAd Initiative content is a paid-for, sponsored article. Journalists of ThePrint are not involved in reporting or writing it.) 

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