Why Every HR Director Needs to Consider Aptitude Assessments | Thomas.co

Psychometric assessments underpin the most effective HR processes, offering clear, unbiased and scientifically-based data to help steer better recruitment and development choices. There are several different types of test which focus on different areas of behaviour, personality and cognitive ability and they deliver insights into candidates that just don’t show through in CVs. 

Experience is important but doesn’t necessarily make for good fit 

Of course, recruiting for anything above an entry-level position requires hiring managers to demand a certain amount of experience in the role or field advertised. However, research has proven that a candidates’ experience is not a reliable predictor of their success in a new role. In fact, Schmidt and Hunter (1998) conclude that the top predictor of performance is cognitive ability, or aptitude [1].  

So, what is aptitude? In short, it’s general intelligence, speed of learning new information and trainability – not IQ, that’s a completely different measurement, and not something that you’d typically look at in a recruitment or HR scenario. Aptitude tests typically contain a collection of questions or tasks, which are designed to measure this.

They provide answers to questions such as: 

  • How adaptable is this person to change?  
  • Can this person think on their feet? 
  • Is this person a problem solver? 
  • To what extent can we develop this person using training? 
  • Could this person drive change in the organisation? 

None of these questions can be answered accurately by examining a candidate’s experience alone. An aptitude assessment adds an extra dimension to a hiring manager’s view of each applicant. 

Qualifications matter but they make for a pretty broad filter 

Many of our customers use our Aptitude assessment (also known as GIA) in their graduate recruitment programmes because it offers a unique way to find the very best talent in a large pool of candidates. After all, if you limit your graduate intake to just those who obtained a first-class honour in their degree, you’re still looking at around 28% of the student population [2].  

Furthermore, we all know that not everyone excels at school and acing standard national exams or industry-accepted tests isn’t the best way to understand an individual’s capabilities, the level of challenge they need to keep them stimulated and committed, or whether they will respond well to development activities. 

So how do you know who’s got the potential to hit the ground running when they join? Who can adapt quickly, learn new skills and question current business operations? A pre-employment aptitude test immediately highlights a person’s response to training, mental processing speed, concentration and fast-track potential. So, you can select the candidate with the right aptitudes for the individual role – which may not be the most academically successful. 

Why Every HR Director Needs to Consider Aptitude Assessments

Why focus on aptitude? 

General intelligence tests or aptitude assessments show how quickly someone can adapt to new situations, drive change and add value. If you want to know which of your candidates have the potential to onboard successfully and steer your organisation to greater heights, an evaluation such as Thomas’ Aptitude assessment can give clear insight. It’s a reliable and objective way to filter for applicants who have the right mindset for the role and your organisation.  

Of course, testing for aptitude will also help find the perfect fit for a role which requires lower levels of ambition or initiative. Aptitude assessments focus on a range of cognitive skills. Thomas’ assessment covers individuals’ abilities to reason (Reasoning), detect errors (Perceptual Speed), process numbers (Number Speed & Accuracy), process words (Word Meaning) and process visual information (Spatial Visualisation). You can see that some of these skills will be vital in certain job functions while others may be less essential. So, knowing which particular skills are most important will help you create a job profile to recruit against.  

For example, your Finance Manager should score highly in Number Speed and Accuracy, but this won’t matter so much if you’re hiring a Graphic Designer. A C-level executive should exhibit high Reasoning as they’ll need to solve problems on the fly and quickly draw correct conclusions. But if your job role requires high levels of repetitive or methodical work, a lower score here would represent someone who is more likely to stick at this for longer without becoming disengaged. 

Why Thomas? 

While every organisation has their preferred recruitment process, at Thomas we’ve supported tens of thousands of customers through their recruitment journeys for almost 40 years. We’ve learnt a lot from our customers, and our assessments can support you in your recruitment processes. 

Creating job profiles, screening CVs, structuring interviews and understanding how best to onboard your new starter are all made simpler and more effective with our talent assessment platform. Aptitude assessments also support employee development and staff retention as you’ll understand how to challenge each individual and keep them motivated and engaged. 

Want to find out how your organisation’s Talent Culture scores against global benchmarks? Download our Global Report: ‘The Talent Culture Timebomb’.


1. The Validity and Utility of Selection Methods in Personnel Psychology: Practical and Theoretical Implications of 100 Years of Research Findings

2. Higher Education Student Statistics: UK, 2018/19 - Qualifications achieved