online skill test

Aptitude tests are becoming increasingly popular among recruitment professionals and HR teams as a tool to assess job candidates. A well-crafted aptitude test can provide an objective assessment of a candidate’s abilities that is tailored to the specific job requirements. 

But while aptitude tests can be useful in helping to get an overall view of a candidate's strengths and weaknesses, it is also important to understand what these tests really are and the pros and cons of using these tests before making any crucial hiring decisions.

The American Psychological Association defines 'aptitude test' as any assessment instrument designed to measure one’s potential for acquiring knowledge or skill. 

Aptitude tests are probably one of the most commonly used psychological tests out there. Other assessments, such as personality tests and IQ tests, are also quite ubiquitous and have become online favorites. However, aptitude tests are very common especially in the employment and career development spheres in measuring the cognitive ability of potential candidates, making them extremely important and almost inescapable.

That also makes aptitude tests a favorite among recruitment professionals, whose goal is to find the most objective and scientific way of screening candidates for various job roles. They can use aptitude tests to identify the most suitable candidates for a given role, taking into account their problem-solving skills, knowledge base, and reasoning capabilities.

To really understand what aptitude tests are, we need to first understand what aptitude is.

What is the meaning of aptitude?

One's capacity to learn or carry out a certain task or activity is known as aptitude. Here's the thing: most people believe that it is a gift or ability that comes naturally rather than something that can be developed via education or experience. Whether or not you subscribe to that idea is irrelevant because, ultimately, a person's aptitude is used to forecast their likelihood of adopting new skills or succeeding in a specific field or job.

Now, aptitude is not just one thing. 

Verbal aptitude, numerical aptitude, spatial aptitude, and mechanical aptitude are only a few of the wide varieties of aptitude. 

  • Numerical aptitude is the capacity to comprehend and deal with numbers and mathematical concepts, whereas verbal aptitude is the capacity to comprehend and use language effectively. 

  • The capacity to comprehend and work with spatial relationships and visual pictures is referred to as spatial aptitude.

  • Meanwhile, the understanding and application of mechanical and technical principles are referred to as mechanical aptitude.

So, since there are many kinds of aptitude, what exactly do most aptitude tests measure?

The answer: general aptitude.

What is general aptitude?

General aptitude is a broad term that refers to an individual's overall potential to learn and perform various tasks and activities. It measures someone’s inherent abilities rather than their knowledge or experience. And that's what aptitude tests are all about.

General aptitude tests are designed to assess an individual's overall potential to learn and succeed in a variety of roles or situations. These tests typically measure a range of abilities, including verbal aptitude, numerical aptitude, spatial aptitude, and mechanical aptitude. By assessing their proficiency in these areas, employers can get a sense of their potential to learn and succeed in a variety of roles.

How accurate are aptitude tests?

Aptitude tests are generally considered to be accurate at predicting an individual's potential to learn and perform certain tasks. In the world of talent sourcing and recruitment, using aptitude tests in conjunction with an interview can help create a comprehensive portrayal of a candidate's potential. These tests can provide valuable insights for the employer that may not be obtained through the job interview alone. 

Since there are various types of aptitude tests available, each measuring different attributes, selecting tests specific to the position you are trying to fill is crucial. This approach will aid in identifying the most suitable candidate for the job.

What are the different types of aptitude tests?

candidates taking an online test

Different types of aptitude tests exist because the range of aptitudes is broad and constantly changing. The good news is that it practically makes it very possible for any professional skill and competency to be measured using a specific exam at different levels. Recruitment professionals can modify existing aptitude tests and create combinations suitable for a particular function.

Aptitude tests generally take the form of any of these six types:

1. Abstract Reasoning Test

The abstract reasoning test examines one's cognitive ability to comprehend different forms, think up novel concepts on the spot, and craft new sketches from existing illustrations. It also assesses one's capability to make connections between sets of information. Generally, this type of exam is used to evaluate an individual's creative potential and aptitude in tackling unforeseen predicaments.

2. Numerical Reasoning Test

Numerical reasoning tests evaluate an individual's capacity for mathematics. It is crafted to accurately measure one's aptitude in making correct judgments based on numerical or statistical data, such as graphs, equations, and fractions. These tests are widely used by organizations that recruit accountants and bankers or anyone wanting to sharpen their mathematical abilities.

3. Verbal Reasoning Test

Verbal reasoning tests gauge a person's ability to articulate ideas and understand written texts. They involve reading a passage carefully, internalizing all the information, and responding to multiple-choice questions. This assessment tests someone's capacity to comprehend situations, analyze data and reach valid conclusions in real-world applications. While it may appear simple, this task requires total concentration and mental agility.

4. Spatial Reasoning Test

Spatial ability tests assess one's capability to interact with shapes in two dimensions or visualize three-dimensional objects displayed as two-dimensional images. This type of test is necessary for occupations requiring plans and drawings, such as engineering, architecture, surveying, and design. It is also crucial in specific sciences where imagining the relationship between three-dimensional elements is essential. Spatial ability questions commonly require connecting objects rotated or viewed from different angles or items with various markings on their surfaces.

5. Mechanical Reasoning Test

Mechanical reasoning tests estimate one's understanding of mechanical and physical principles, such as levers, pulleys, and rudimentary electrical circuits. One does not need special knowledge to answer these questions correctly — only a comprehension of the concepts involved. These tests are used in recruitment for the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, police departments, fire services, various crafts and technical fields, and engineering positions.

6. Logical Reasoning Test

Logical reasoning tests evaluate an individual's ability to draw logical conclusions from the information provided. Typically, these assessments measure non-verbal skills, requiring you to recognize patterns, recognize connections and utilize your logical thinking to choose the best response from a list of possible answers.

Logical reasoning tests are the perfect tool for pre-employment screening. Most modern office positions require employees to make rational decisions and support them with sound arguments. Knowing how to recognize and avoid logical fallacies is critical in distinguishing an exceptional employee from a merely average one.

7. Programming Aptitude Test

A coding aptitude test, also referred to as a programming aptitude test, is an effective way to assess a potential candidate's knowledge and abilities related to coding. This type of assessment is designed to measure a candidate's comprehension of basic coding principles and syntax, as well as their ability to think critically and solve complex problems. By using these tests, tech recruiters can ensure they are selecting the right applicants for any given job role.

How do employers use aptitude tests?

It's easy to see why any organization's HR Recruitment Team would use aptitude tests as part of their hiring process. In fact, Harvard Business Review suggests that about three-fourths of organizations with a workforce of more than a hundred utilize aptitude tests during the recruitment process. This implies that preparing for an aptitude test is now integral to every job candidate's interview preparation.

It's a godsend for pre-screening candidates

A job ad that has the potential to generate thousands of applications usually comes from qualified candidates who could do the job well. However, in-house recruiters and recruitment agencies may not have the time or resources to go through all the applications manually. 

That’s where aptitude tests come in — they can help reduce the number of applications to sift through at the pre-employment screening stage, as those who meet the standards in the specific skills most relevant to the job can be shortlisted for interviews. By leveraging these types of tests such as the ones offered by Equip, recruiters don’t have to create questions from scratch and instead use Equip's Question Bank to create tests within minutes.

Narrowing down the candidate pool

Here’s another way recruiters can use aptitude tests: After progressing through several interviews, candidates may be asked to take a final aptitude test. Employers use this method when they have multiple ideal candidates but just one role to fill. 

As employers strive to make their hiring process more unbiased, it makes sense for them to use aptitude tests that offer every applicant the same opportunity of becoming a new employee. 

Predicting candidates’ chances of flourishing

Hiring is an expensive process, so employers usually want to ensure that prospective employees are competent before offering them a contract. If an employer makes a mistake, they must figure out how to deal with an employee who can't do their job. With current legal processes, it can take quite some time to fire someone for incompetence. 

According to the same Harvard Business Review article, 76% of companies with more than 100 employees use aptitude and personality tests when hiring people outside of their organization. Over the following few years, that number is anticipated to increase to 88%.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of aptitude tests?

Despite the many ways aptitude tests aid recruitment professionals in selecting the best candidates, they also have their limitations and may not be accurate in all situations, 

Let’s discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using aptitude tests.

Advantages of Aptitude Tests

1. The closest you can get to complete objectivity

Accurately measuring one's skill and potential is a Herculean task, but at the very least, aptitude tests allow recruiters to measure the cognitive ability to ensure the best candidate is chosen for the job. Objectivity is a significant advantage that aptitude testing offers, and it helps to compensate for certain shortcomings that other assessment methods possess.

2. Aptitude tests are fair and square though

What's great about aptitude tests is that they offer an efficient way of measuring potential hires by assessing essential mental skills. These evaluations are impartial, providing the same conditions for all applicants regardless of their background or work experience. Moreover, the results cannot be tampered with, ensuring a remarkably accurate evaluation.

3. Aptitude tests aid in learning and development

Aptitude testing has become a common practice in many organizations to reinforce their plans for the learning and development of their employees. These tests provide insight into the existing workforce's training needs and potential skill gaps. Aptitude tests can also help employees with plans to change roles within the company in exploring their options more thoroughly.

Disadvantages of Aptitude Tests

1. Aptitude tests are not known for their comprehensiveness

Aptitude tests often fail to capture certain components of talent and aptitude, including soft skills and artistic prowess. It also doesn’t take personality into account. As a result, some highly-capable candidates may be excluded from consideration because the test results do not highlight other areas of their traits and abilities.

One way to address this is to combine multiple skills together to form an assessment using online tools such as Equip. For example, Test 1 for a sales associate job post can be a quiz to assess language skills and aptitude (two different skills in the same test), while Test 2 can be a video interview. Both of these tests combined to create an assessment.

2. It depends on the test quality and the test-taker's motivation

One of the factors that can impact the accuracy of aptitude tests is the quality of the test itself. An aptitude test can only be reliable when it is well-designed and validated, which means that it consistently produces similar results when administered to the same individual on different occasions. 

Another factor is the test-taker's effort and motivation. If an individual does not put forth their best effort on the test, or if they are not motivated to perform well, their scores may not accurately reflect their true abilities.

3. A person’s culture or unique professional traits may be overlooked

Sometimes, they may be cultural barriers between the test questions and how a person approaches the test, especially factors concerning language and identity. Aptitude tests also have the tendency to become biased against people who think outside the box. Some people may not adhere to standard procedures, and yet they can immediately solve problems or complete their tasks, but because aptitude tests expect a certain outcome, unique traits that may be useful in a job role are often left unnoticed.

Conclusion: Aptitude Tests are reliable as preliminary screening tests for hiring

Aptitude testing may be far from being a perfect science, but technology is constantly evolving. Because of this, the needs of every recruitment team also change. Soon, tests will no longer revolve around self-reporting questions but will instead incorporate gamification and advanced algorithms to really dive deep into each unique and complex individual.

One thing is for sure — recruitment professionals will continue to have a lot of new hiring resources at their disposal, but it won’t be a surprise to see that aptitude tests will prevail as the foremost tool in selecting the best candidates, both today and in the foreseeable future. If you’re still using multiple tools to assess candidates, you might want to save time by using Equip, where different skills can be “added to cart” to form a single shareable assessment.