First off, what are cognitive assessments?
Simply put, a cognitive assessment test measures an individual’s ability to think critically. By focusing on key mental processes, these tests can evaluate the subject’s ability to reason, solve problems, comprehend ideas, and learn quickly. They are distinct from behavioral assessment tests, which are also an important part of the recruitment process thanks to their ability to reveal how employees behave in work situations and what natural tendencies they tend to exhibit.
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. Cognitive ability is actually a rather broad concept that includes many types of mental processes. Verbal and mathematical aptitude are the abilities most typically tested, but a well-designed cognitive assessment interview scrutinizes a variety of areas.
The results of a cognitive assessment test are therefore much more nuanced than a simple IQ (intelligence quotient) score. When used in conjunction with behavioral assessment tests, cognitive assessments help assure that hiring decisions are in the best interest of the organization and that individuals with the greatest chance of success are selected.
Cognitive assessment tools help 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. According to some estimates, the average cost to replace a poor hire is about a third of the annual salary and benefits. This means it could cost $15,000 to replace an incumbent earning $45,000 in salary and benefits. Making the right hire the first time is critically important.
The best cognitive assessment tools help substitute for insufficient information gleaned from references. As more references provide only the basics and shy away from giving an honest appraisal, companies are always looking for other ways to obtain information for a more comprehensive assessment. More importantly, the data generated by cognitive assessments is far less biased than references provided by the candidate.
Every professional position requires the new hire to adapt to a different environment, regardless of how similar their previous job was. Getting these employees up to speed on their job responsibilities can be a daunting process. If they can’t absorb information quickly, onboarding could take even longer to complete. Cognitive assessments evaluate a new hire’s capacity to learn the job quickly and begin producing results for the organization.
The average job tenure for employees between the ages of 25 and 34 is only three years. With so much turnover, it is critically important to identify job candidates who can catch on quickly and are likely to remain in their position for the long term. Finding candidates with the ability to be successful for prolonged periods of time is incredibly important for organizational stability and growth. This has led many organizations to implement a variety of cognitive assessment tools for adults to identify candidates who could have a long future with the company.
Cognitive assessment interview tests 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 tests can be administered to applicants in a mere 15 minutes or so, they are among the most widely used cognitive assessment tools in use today. They make a significant contribution to evaluating applicant suitability to the job without 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.
While cognitive assessments are often used during the hiring process, they can also be quite valuable for developmental purposes. The assessment results provide a good baseline for the candidate’s skills and capabilities, which can then be used to inform developmental efforts in the future. After the candidate is hired, additional testing can evaluate their self-awareness, plan career development, and enhance team performance.
Cognitive assessments are one of the most powerful tools available to an organization during the hiring process. Rather they relying on gut instinct or guessing how a candidate might perform in a new role, cognitive assessments provide actionable data that can be used to make better decisions and provide measurable results. Armed with this information, organizations are more likely to make the right hire the first time and greatly reduce the costs so often associated with filling a critical position.