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Aptitude tests are a fundamental method to determine candidates’ experience, strategic thinking, decision-making, and reasoning skills in an unbiased format. Since aptitude tests lean toward general mental aptitude and reasoning, this systematic approach helps measure candidates’ fitment for a job position.
Aptitude tests are a way to evaluate candidates’ cognitive prowess and mental ability related to academics, vocations, and careers.
Different types of aptitude tests contain a set of questions to gauge candidates’ intelligence in specific domains, as explained below:
Types of aptitude tests:
Human beings can acquire knowledge and apply it purposefully, which includes learning from experiences, understanding abstract concepts, and processing available information. It comprises cognitive and emotional intelligence, and therefore, one of the most significant benefits of aptitude tests is measuring several traits defining human intelligence.
Cognitive intelligence refers to a candidate’s ability to generate new knowledge with existing knowledge and understanding acquired from thinking, experiences, and senses. It includes intellectual functions, such as attention, knowledge, memory, judgment and reasoning.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to monitor emotions and differentiate different types of emotions. It includes using emotional information for thinking process and behavior. Emotional intelligence is perceiving, using, understanding, and managing emotions.
Raymond Cattell, a well-known psychologist, analyzed cognitive intelligence and divided it into two parts: fluid and crystallized.
Fluid intelligence is the abstract reasoning ability that helps candidates analyze situations and devise solutions. This type of intelligence doesn’t depend on acquired knowledge but works spontaneously. Pattern recognition and using logic to solve new problems are central aspects of fluid intelligence.
Crystallized intelligence includes facts, information, and skills acquired through experiences. It uses existing knowledge gained through continuous practice while solving problems, addressing an issue, or answering a question.
It is challenging to categorize candidates on their abilities, considering the different aspects of intelligence discussed above. Therefore, aptitude tests help create a standardized procedure to evaluate candidates and maintain consistency during different testing environments.
Measuring human intelligence means focusing on a cluster of skills and abilities. These skills are cumulatively known as a competency that is targeted with an optimum aptitude test. Therefore, one of the key benefits of aptitude tests is assessing several skills cumulatively. Regardless of the competency framework selected by organizations, these tests are able to offer accurate evaluations.
The key to a successful recruitment process is assessing candidates objectively. Using appropriate aptitude tests helps recruiters accurately measure candidates’ cognitive intelligence and ensure that selected candidates are a suitable fit for the job position.
Candidates’ resumes are not able to capture their diverse qualities and skills accurately. It is also possible for candidates to overstate their interpersonal, reasoning, and analytical skills in their resumes. Hence, aptitude tests help overcome this challenge and evaluate candidates objectively.
It can be challenging for hiring managers to screen through thousands of applications in a few days. Aptitude tests allow shortlisting candidates based on their fitment. This ensures rapid screening and efficient hiring results.
Aptitude tests are a standardized way to assess candidates and help save time by focusing on relevant mental abilities. These tests are fair and unbiased as the results are independent of educational backgrounds and work experiences. Also, one cannot manipulate the test results.
Aptitude tests by Mercer | Mettl offer a detailed report containing insights into the hiring process. It helps hiring managers understand various factors, such as the correctness of the job description, candidate response, etc.
Aptitude tests are a widely accepted medium to assess a candidate’s ability. However, some aptitude tests may not consider crucial aspects such as artistic ability, musical intelligence, social ability, etc. The awareness of these disadvantages will allow recruiters to select a scientifically designed aptitude test for candidate selection.
Aptitude tests are not designed to measure soft skills. Qualities such as punctuality, motivation, time-management, organizational skills, social skills, etc., do not get measured or credited duly if decision-makers solely rely on aptitude testing to shortlist candidates.
Aptitude tests only measure mental ability. Hence, they do not offer a holistic approach when you need to evaluate domain-specific skills. Recruiters should combine aptitude tests with other forms of pre-employment assessments to better understand a candidate’s suitability.
Candidates are expected to complete the tests within a pre-defined timeframe, which may lead to anxiety and cause candidates to perform poorly. A properly structured aptitude test helps eliminate these issues.
Aptitude test scores are not indicative of desirable or undesirable personality traits crucial for several work profiles. Hence, dedicated personality tests are essential to ensuring a more wholesome evaluation.
Aptitude tests contribute to the selection of candidates during recruitment. They are a part of the hiring process that contains multiple evaluations, such as technical and personality assessments. Therefore, sole dependence on these test scores may not be the ideal way to accept or reject an individual unless they have also been assessed on other key parameters.
There are also several disadvantages of generic aptitude tests specific to the education sector:
Aptitude tests remain one of the most popular means to measure specialized abilities crucial for success in particular educational programs and career profiles. It happens because a close inspection of the advantages and disadvantages of differential aptitude tests establishes how the pros far outweigh the cons. More importantly, studies have repeatedly validated their accuracy in assessing different aspects of human ability.
However, it is imperative to get past common misconceptions that may hinder these tests’ utility or reliability.
One of the advantages of aptitude tests is that they can be used repeatedly to assess an individual. Unlike common wisdom, the results are not the final word regarding a test-taker’s aptitude. They only reflect an assessment of current abilities, which can be improved over time.
The truth is that self-evaluation through aptitude testing can offer clarity regarding a person’s strongest abilities. There is always a balance. Interpreting the scores to get an overview of the weaknesses and strengths can prove to be the much-needed guiding factor in making choices in the early phases of one’s career.
When used in the right manner, aptitude assessments can find a place across the organizational hierarchy. However, with leaders, the degree and type of information needed to make quality decisions are different. So, it is necessary to design a custom test battery that focuses on key attributes such as decision-making skills, creativity, critical thinking ability, etc.
It is essential to choose the right combination of analyses and administer them well to ensure higher accuracy of aptitude tests. Aptitude tests used for any selection process should be legitimate, authentic, rational and unbiased.
The most notable advantages of aptitude tests are that they offer excellent sets of tools to ascertain what a test-taker is good at and what they can excel in with the right training. Moreover, aptitude assessment’s vast scope and dynamics ensure a streamlined process for making career choices, following academic pursuits and analyzing professional growth. However, they cannot be the only way to evaluate candidates. It is essential to carefully weigh all the pros and cons of aptitude tests before using them. The importance of aptitude tests is undebatable. However, they often need to be complemented with other types of assessments to ensure fair and more effective selection criteria.
Yes, aptitude tests are designed to ensure a fair and unbiased assessment of mental abilities and reasoning skills. The question levels are based on factors such as candidates’ age, academics and job roles.
Aptitude tests are administered to a group of candidates, and relative marking is done based on their scores. Conducting a virtual aptitude test and preparing a comprehensive report doesn’t need any human intervention. These assessments help quantify candidates’ abilities through fair and unbiased results.
No. IQ tests measure general intelligence, whereas aptitude tests measure ability and reasoning. IQ tests can have questions to test candidates’ subject matter expertise. On the contrary, aptitude test questions are directed at evaluating candidates’ ability to apply that knowledge meaningfully.
The best way to prepare for an aptitude test is through practice and attention. Taking different types of timed mock tests can help develop speed and accuracy.
Originally published August 14 2020, Updated November 30 2023
Vaishali has been working as a content creator at Mercer | Mettl since 2022. Her deep understanding and hands-on experience in curating content for education and B2B companies help her find innovative solutions for key business content requirements. She uses her expertise, creative writing style, and industry knowledge to improve brand communications.
Aptitude tests, also known as cognitive tests, are assessments to measure the cognitive acumen of a person. Aptitude tests measure skills such as abstract reasoning, visual reasoning, logical reasoning, problem-solving, decision-making, numerical ability, verbal ability, etc.