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Why do employers use psychometric aptitude tests?

Historians say that first pre-employment aptitude tests were used in ancient China about 600 years ago. Candidates for government posts needed to show how good they were by several examinations in calligraphy, math and legislation. Modern psychometric aptitude tests appeared in 1940 in the USA to assess candidates for the US army. Starting 1950-th American employers started to use pre-employment tests and currently 87% of large and medium-sized employers all over the world massively use all kind of psychometric tests. In this article we will see why employers love psychometric aptitude tests and why you if you are a job-seeker, need to love them as well.

Psychometric aptitude tests are a cheap and quick way to assess intellectual aptitude, general knowledge and personality features of job seekers. This is an easy way for an employer to compare a large number of candidates and pick the best ones.

aptituse tests used by employers

Aptitude tests measure the following skills of candidates:

  • willingness to work effectively in a specific situation or in a specific position;
  • the ability to understand instructions;
  • the ability to apply previously acquired knowledge and skills;
  • the ability to draw the right conclusions;
  • the ability to manage emotions.

More generally, employers use aptitude test to predict the future performance of a job seeker. Psychometric tests is a very effective and reliable HR tool and, as CEB SHL reports say, about 60 million applicants are tested with SHL tests only every year.

What is the difference between proficiency tests and aptitude tests?

Employers use both professional knowledge tests and aptitude test of general intellectual abilities. Assessment of professional knowledge includes analysis of your resume and past work experience and verification of your academic and professional achievements. This analysis may apply highly specialized requirements. It should be noted that the assessment of CVs and professional achievements is the second stage in the selection of candidates.

The first stage, after which up to 80% of all applicants are screened out, is the assessment of general intellectual aptitude via aptitude tests for numerical, verbal and abstract ability. Unlike proficiency tests, aptitude tests do not check your specific knowledge or professional aptitude. Employers aptitude tests to check your general level of intellectual abilities and personal qualities.

What is the difference between IQ tests and aptitude tests from employers?

IQ (intellectual quotient) tests analyze your mental development to compare your intellectual abilities with other people. Aptitude tests do the same to predict your performance in a specific job position. IQ tests are designed to assess your overall intelligence using a given numeric expression. Pre-employment tests are designed to assess specific abilities required to perform the job and compare your aptitude with other job seekers.

In most cases, aptitude tests are very similar to IQ tests. However, due to the compilation requirements and due to the specifics of the questions, they do not use the word IQ and do not interpret the results, as the IQ scales suggest.

employers use aptitude tests

Types of pre-employment aptitude tests used by employers

Most employers use a standard set of aptitude tests. It includes:

  • numerical reasoning tests;
  • verbal reasoning tests;
  • abstract reasoning tests;
  • situational judgement tests.

These types of tests were first introduced by SHL, the leading test company from the USA and these types became the “golden standard” of aptitude testing. Most other test companies develop the same types of aptitude tests since they enable employers to assess all qualities of candidates in the most apprehensive way.

Numerical reasoning tests

As their name suggests, numerical reasoning tests assess your numerical ability while working with numbers. These tests do not include complex calculations and use only 4 basic actions: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. What makes them difficult is the time limit and distracting details in complex tables, graphs and diagrams. Please see below an example of a numerical reasoning test.

See the end of the article for the correct answer and explanation. First try to calculate the correct answer by yourself to test your numerical aptitude. You have 1 minute for this. Read more about numerical reasoning tests in our article: Numerical Reasoning Tests: what they are, examples, solutions and tips to pass them

Verbal reasoning tests

Verbal reasoning tests assess your ability to read and understand complex texts. These can be instructions, manuals, abstracts from literature, etc. Employers usually use 2 types of verbal reasoning tests:

  • true – false – cannot say tests;
  • multiple choice verbal reasoning tests.

Please see below examples of such verbal reasoning tests and read more about them in our article: Verbal reasoning tests: what are they and how to pass them

Verbal ability test type “true – false – cannot say”

Multiple choice verbal reasoning test

Please see try to find the correct answers by yourself before checking for them at the end of the article.

Abstract reasoning tests

Many jobseekers say that abstract reasoning tests are the most complicated aptitude tests. They employ abstract figures and patterns and you may need a well-developed imagination to do well at this type of psychometric tests. Besides, there are a great number of sub-types of abstract reasoning tests and this is not easy to prepare for all of them. See below an example of an abstract reasoning test.

abstract reasoning tests

Please see try to find the correct answer by yourself before checking for it at the end of the article. You have 60 seconds for this job.

Read more about abstract reasoning tests in our article: Abstract reasoning tests: all you want to know about them

Situational judgement tests

Another popular type of pre-employment aptitude test is situational judgement tests (SJT). They represent short scenarios of situations that you can face in your workplace and you need to choose one of the answer options. By choosing one of these options you demonstrate different competences and skills that employers seek for. Situational judgement tests is the type of tests that simulate working conditions and can give a very probable forecast of your future behavior if employed. This is why employers like and use situational judgement tests widely. If you want to get a job in sales, customer support, business administration or management you should be prepared to take situational judgement tests. See below an example of a SJT. It is a test for an administrative position and you will find the correct answer and explanation of it at the end of the article.

Read more about situational judgement tests in our articles:

10 tips for taking a situational judgement test

Personality questionnaires: what is it and what is their difficulty

Situational judgement tests used by employers and qualities that they test

Psychometric aptitude tests for managers

Psychometric testing for call center and customer support jobs

How do aptitude tests look like?

Currently, employers use two approaches to aptitude testing of applicants:

  • online testing, which candidates need to take remotely;
  • controlled testing in the office of the company.

In the first option, you will receive an e-mail with a link to the website of a test company or an HR agency and your personal username and password. You will have several days (2-7) to take the by following this link. You can take the test at any time convenient for you on your home computer or at any other place convenient for you. It is worth noting that in order to recheck your result of the remote test, you may be asked to pass another 2-3 short tests in the presence of an HR specialist or a representative of the employer.

online psychometric aptitude tests

The second approach to testing is in the company’s office before or after the interview. In this case, you will take your aptitude test with other applicants on computers and in the premises of the employer.

What both approaches have in common is that before the testing session begins, you will be explained the requirements of the exam, provided with a sample task and instructions for each type of test. After that you will need to take the test within specific time limit. It is assumed that you will NOT be able to thoughtfully answer all the questions and meet the given time frame. Usually you will have 60-90 seconds for 1 test question, and usually it is impossible to meet such a time. But that shouldn’t upset you!

A large number of questions in your aptitude test are given intentionally to assess how well you deal with a stressful situation. Moreover, this strategy checks your accuracy and thinking speed. Some test questions can be very difficult. If so, don’t waste too much time on them. Just skip them if possible and come back to them later after completing the rest of the test. Keep in mind that it is not speed, but the number of the right answers that matters when summing up and helps HR professionals assess your potential. Aptitude tests are usually structured in such a way that the level of difficulty increases from start to finish.

What do employers check with pre-employment aptitude tests?

Employers use aptitude test to analyze your intelligence at three levels in relation to:

  • Requirements to do well at a specific job.
  • Abilities of previously hired people already working in similar positions.
  • Average score among all applicants for the position for which you are applying.

Aptitude tests are designed to determine how well you will be able to perform your job. They analyze your mental abilities as well as your personal characteristics and communication skills.

Aptitude and personality tests assess:

  • Your ability to think logically and analyze correctly;
  • Your strengths and weaknesses;
  • Personal qualities;
  • Communication skills;
  • Abilities that can be improved;
  • Latent potential for a specific role in the company.

Test companies create specialized tests for professional qualifications for specific jobs and industries. You will not need to take leadership tests if you are applying for a secretarial or production position. Specialization in tests helps employers make the best decisions in the shortest possible time.

In general, as we wrote above, pre-employment aptitude tests measure your intelligence and such qualities as:

  • mental concentration;
  • working potential;
  • memory;
  • vocabulary;
  • perception;
  • personal interests.

They also measure your personality traits, including work habits, emotional balance, ability to handle stress, character, sociability, initiative, stamina, motivation to work, and more.

You need to take the preparation for your aptitude testing as seriously as possible, since without preparation the results can disappoint you. By practicing the tests from Aptitude-Tests-Practice.com, you will get an idea of ​​your current skills, as well as the professional abilities that you must develop to build your dream career.

best practice for online aptitude tests to get your job

On Aptitude-Tests-Practice.com we have over 1000 practice tests for you. Just 4-5 days of practice will give you the understanding of all primary aptitude test types and best techniques to take them. Start preparing now and guarantee your success!

Read more about aptitude test practice tips in our articles:

Psychometric aptitude tests – should I prepare?

How to prepare for your aptitude test in a couple of days: 5 important tips

8 smart steps to prepare for your pre-employment aptitude tests

10 tips for taking a situational judgement test

Pre-employment aptitude testing stress: how to handle it the best way

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Answers and explanation of the sample tests

Numerical reasoning test

Verbal ability test type “true – false – cannot say”

Multiple choice verbal reasoning test


Abstract reasoning test

abstract reasoning tests

Situational judgement test

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