Assessment tests in the hiring process……. YEAH OR NAY?

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Assessment tests in the hiring process…… YEAY OR NAY?



Assessment tests are not new. Historically, companies mostly used testing to measure for hard skills & technical aptitudes. The model of incorporating modern personality and intelligence tests were initially introduced in the US and Europe during World War I, to aid in military selection, and after World War II companies started adopting them to screen applicants. Today, companies have expanded on them as they continually seek to gain an edge on the competition seeking to hire the best. Correctly designed tests can be an unbiased way to narrow down a large candidate pool and help determine how a candidate will respond instinctively versus reactively.

Pre-Covid, research has shown that that approximately 1/3 of all hiring companies were utilizing at least some sort of non-technical assessment test ad part of the screening process. That number has risen significantly over the past year and will continue as companies seek another metric to offset the loss of the “in-person” interview.

In today’ hiring marketplace, assessment tests come in a wide array of shapes and sizes as companies seek to create definitive profiles (and empirical data) to account for personality, logic, ethics, cognitive abilities, behavioral patterns, ability to operate under stress and many others area of expertise (tangible and otherwise).

When selecting what tests to administer, it is important to remember that one size most certainly does not fit all, and that the selected test should be specific to what you are trying to achieve. While certain companies might prefer to profile certain personality traits to meet their corporate culture, different roles even within the same department or firm will require unique attributes for ultimate success.

The most common (non-technical) tests administered are for logic personality, and ethics. Logic test may include direct questions, pictures, patterns, number sequences or the relationships between shapes. Measuring how your mind processes information, whether you are more “left brain or “right brain” focused, or how fast you can deduce solutions is certainly a valuable tool in candidate selection.

Personality tests are used to create a common language amongst team members for improving communication, adapting to other personalities, and making workplace interactions more effective and enjoyable. Ethics assessments typically will have a series of questions with relative answers which may blur into one another. By creating “real life” scenarios, companies can get a deeper understanding of how an individual views their obligations and how they will deal “high risk” situations. If you have never taken any of these tests, I would highly recommend taking one of the many available on the internet “just for fun”. Most times the test will reaffirm what we believe to be true about ourselves, but often, you will be surprised by what you learn!

Tests can be fairly abstract as well. One of our long-time clients requests that prospective candidates submit writing samples for handwriting analysis. There is a lot of science devoted to analyzing handwriting for personality traits called graphology (dating back to Aristotle), as handwriting can reveal several thousand personality traits. Our client does not use it as a “screening in” or “screening out” tool, but rather as a method to try to determine how a person will adapt to their somewhat unique corporate culture, and what areas might need to be coached along the way.

Trying to accurately predict a new hire’s on-the-job performance based on intangibles can be quite tricky. For a prime example of the “hit and miss nature” of cognitive assessment tests let’s look to the National Football League which has been utilizing the standardized Wonderlic Contemporary Cognitive Ability Test for many years. The test is generally recognized as an industry leading assessment to measure the cognitive ability and problem-solving aptitude of prospective employees for a range of occupations. Administered, pre-draft, many players that have scored the highest levels have never made it past rookie camp and some of the lowest scores have gone on to Hall of Fame careers. (

Often, a candidate will refuse to even take the test, offering sufficient information to hiring mangers that a candidate is not really interested.  Companies that utilized these tests most effectively, recognize that they are not meant to be absolute science, but rather one of many tools to complement a robust hiring process.

Feel free to reach out directly to discuss this topic further as well as any other questions or concerns regarding the current hiring climate.  I guarantee that in our call together you will leave with 2 or 3 ideas that will greatly impact your ability to find, attract, and procure the top 10-15% of the candidate pool on a consistent basis.


Peter Tannenbaum is sought out by leaders in Financial Services who recognize the need to attract the industry’s best talent. Through Ramax Search’s extensive network of relationships and their “deep dive” qualification process, they are able to identify and secure individuals who represent the top tier of Financial Services professionals. To discover how this process can benefit your organization, call Peter at 212.686.1686 ext. 102.

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