First off, what is cognitive assessment?
In brief, a cognitive assessment evaluates the individual’s intelligence. It assesses the ability to reason, solve problems, comprehend ideas, and learn quickly. In contrast, behavioral assessment, which is also an important part of the recruitment process, contributes an understanding of how employees behave in work situations and their natural tendencies to the personnel selection process.
Cognition / intelligence is actually a rather broad concept that includes many types of abilities. It is much more nuanced than a simple IQ (intelligence quotient) score. Verbal and mathematical skills are the abilities most typically tested.
General cognitive ability appears to be relevant to work performance even when job specifics vary. In other words, while skill requirements vary greatly among different jobs, general cognitive ability contributes to success in many fields, especially for jobs with complex responsibilities.
This is because people with greater cognitive ability tend to learn new tasks more quickly and absorb new information more readily.
When used with a behavioral assessment, a cognitive assessment helps assure hiring decisions that are in the best interest of the organization and the selection of individuals with the greatest chance of success.
Cognitive assessment helps avoid bad hiring decisions, which can be extremely costly. The Harvard Business Review reports that as much as 80 percent of staff turnover is attributed to poor hiring decisions. The U.S. Labor Department claims that when it is necessary to replace a new hire, the cost is about a third of annual salary, and the relative cost is much higher when the individual’s role and salary are higher. Another estimate calculates that the average cost to replace a poor hire is 1.5 times the annual salary and benefits. This means it could cost $60,000 to replace an incumbent earning $40,000 in salary and benefits.
It helps substitute for insufficient information gleaned from references. As more references provide only the basics and shy away from giving an honest appraisal, companies look for new ways to obtain information for a more comprehensive assessment.
It evaluates a new hire’s capacity to learn the job quickly. Every professional position requires the new person to adapt to a different environment, regardless of how similar his previous job was. The average job tenure for employees between the ages of 25 and 34 is only three years. With so much turnover, it is vitally important to identify job candidates who can catch on quickly.
Cognitive assessment instruments have been tested and found to be highly reliable and statistically valid for a wide range of jobs. Furthermore, validity increases along with the greater complexity of more demanding jobs. Because assessments can be administered in a mere 15 minutes or so, they make a significant contribution to evaluating applicant suitability to the job while not slowing the selection and hiring process.
The tests have natural advantages in terms of ease and low cost of administration. Many applicants can be tested simultaneously in groups. The tests can be scored rapidly by computer scanning equipment.
After the candidate is hired, they can also help employees improve their self-awareness, plan career development, and enhance team development.