Aptitude tests for recruitment

Aptitude Tests: With organizations, educational institutions increasingly relying on this predictive crystal ball, it sometimes makes us wonder if aptitude tests are deliberately being overrated in the recruitment processes.

And if you’re wondering what exactly are aptitude tests, why organizations incorporate them in the recruitment process and what insights do they generate.

You’ve landed on the right place as in this article I shall take you through the funnel explaining the alpha and omega of aptitude tests.

What are Aptitude Tests?

Aptitude tests are the most popular pre-employment screening method for evaluating candidates on communication, numerical, reasoning, behavioral and technical competencies of the candidates.

However, these aptitude tests are most effective when aimed and designed at assessing job specific aptitude of the candidate.

What are the types of Aptitude Tests?

  • Numerical ability aptitude tests

Simple arithmetic tests: Simple arithmetic questions to test the numerical ability.

Numerical Reasoning tests: Questions test your ability to understand, analyze and apply numerical and statistical data. You’ll need to calculate percentages, fill out missing numerical data or work out the next number in a series.

  • Reasoning ability aptitude tests

Logical Reasoning: Questions test your ability to solve logical syllogisms, logical deductions

Abstract Reasoning: Questions test your ability to work with abstract ideas and concepts. Questions often include visual diagrams, which you must use to identify missing information or complete a sequence.

Spatial Reasoning: Questions test your ability to work with patterns and shapes. Common questions include mentally rearranging shapes to make new ones, or visualizing patterns and images when they are rotated or flipped.

Mechanical Reasoning: Questions test your ability to use basic principles of mechanics, such as working with cogs, levers, springs and pulleys.

Verbal Reasoning: Questions tests your critical thinking ability. A short paragraph is given followed with a couple of statement, the candidate has to state whether the statement is ‘True’ or ‘False’ based on the interpretation made from the paragraph.

  • Verbal aptitude tests

Communication Skills test: Communication is always a two-way street and candidates are tests are all the four pillars of communication – reading, writing, listening and speaking. While the listening and speaking skills are tested during the interview, reading and writing skills need to be tested in screening process- reading comprehension, essay writing tests

  • Career Aptitude tests: 

Brings out innate abilities and interests of the candidate taking the test and map the ideal job the candidate could naturally fit in.

  • Psychometric and situational judgment aptitude tests

Situational Judgment: A business scenario and work related problem is presented, and the candidate is asked as to how he would respond to the situation. Designed to assess problem-solving skills of candidates.

Emotional Intelligence: A sensitive professional scenario is presented and the candidate is asked as to how he would respond to the situation. Designed to assess conflict resolution, morality and work-ethics of the candidate

  • Behavioral and personality aptitude tests

Personality Tests: Questions on day-to-day life scenarios wherein a candidate’s innate behavioral personality is assessed. Used to determine job-fit and culture-fit attributes of the candidates.

More on types of aptitude tests with examples in the next article.

Use Cases of Aptitude Tests

  • Campus Recruitments

For campus recruitments it is always ideal to incorporate basic analytical, verbal and logical reasoning tests as recruiters do not have any first-hand knowledge about a candidate, this overall assessment lead to data driven hiring decision.

Pre-requisite tests: Basic analytical, reasoning, verbal ability, technical/domain specific tests

  • Lateral Hiring

Type #1 Lateral Hiring: Hiring for a Senior role from other organization

This method, wherein a candidate with a definite years of experience from the same industry or a competitor company is hired for a Senior Role. In this type of strategic hiring, cost-per-hire is relatively less, as the potential hire brings with him a definite skill-set required for the job. Also upon hiring, the employee is expected to quickly contribute towards goal or an outcome company defines, for a specific role with minimal training.

Pre-requisite tests: Culture-fit Psychometric assessments

Type #2 Lateral Hiring: Hiring an existing employee for a different role in the same organization.

Lateral hiring, also known as lateral movement, wherein an existing employee might like to switch laterally to a different functional in the same organization. This decreases employee turnover in the organization, as when an existing employee makes a lateral switch, he/she would stay at the organization for longer period of time.

Pre-requisite tests: Role/Job specific psychometric and situational judgment assessment

  • Hiring MBA graduates

An MBA fresher is expected to bring in more skills and perspectives to the organization. Managers need to possess team building skills, persuasive and rapport building skills in addition to their respective domain skills.

Pre-requisite tests: Logical and decision making skills, Role Specific aptitude tests- Financial Analyst, Market research, Marketing Analyst, HR Roles. In addition to the above

  • Employee Evaluation – Learning & Development

For the safe and progressive development of an organization, it is important to build synergistic teams. By synergistic teams, I imply that it is important to form teams based on their innate behavioral and personality traits of the employees. For instance, it is not ideal to place an introvert in a team full of extroverts.

Pre-requisite tests for forming Synergistic Teams: The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, 16PF – also called 16 Personality Factors helps to gain innate behavioral traits of employees.


What insights do organizations gain from Aptitude Tests?

Most often candidates do not possess all the skills presented on the job description. And organizations understand this very well and these job skills can be acquired on-the-go. However, aptitude tests are incorporated to assess the Fluid Intelligence and Crystallized Intelligence of the candidates.

What are these strange terms, Fluid Intelligence and Crystallized Intelligence?

what do aptitude tests assess

Fluid intelligence is the ability to think and reason abstractly, effectively solve problems and think strategically. It’s more commonly known as ‘street smarts’ or the ability to ‘quickly think on your feet’. Examples of what employers can learn from your fluid intelligence about your suitability for the role you are applying:

  • effective problem-solving skills
  • ability to learn new skills
  • ability to quickly integrate new information
  • strategic thinking
  • ability to deal with ambiguity in decision making

While on the other hand,

Crystallized Intelligence is the ability to learn from past experiences and to apply this learning to work-related situations. Work situations that require crystallized intelligence include

  • producing and analyzing written reports
  • comprehending work instructions
  • using numbers as a tool to make effective decisions, etc.

5. Should Aptitude Tests necessarily be a part of the hiring process?

This age old thought of whether aptitude tests are needed to decide the fate of candidates would have crossed our minds a million times.

It is indeed very important to incorporate aptitude tests in the recruitment filtering mechanism.


Psychologists tout aptitude tests as being an excellent predictor of a prospective employee’s future performance at work. The tests measure abilities such as:

  • Comprehending concepts
  • Abstract thinking
  • Problem-solving
  • Planning and organization
  • Learning quickly from experience
  • Adapting to unknown situations
  • Applying new knowledge

As a matter of fact, atleast 80% of the Fortune 500 companies use Aptitude Tests to assess and gauge candidates on the cognitive ability of the candidates required for the job.

But, it’s unfair if the so called aptitude tests covers all the genres under the sun. A janitor should not be assessed on his/her ability to solve a quadratic equation. Aptitude tests are most effective only and if they are designed assess job related skills of candidates.

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