GNcareers, from Gulf News

Cognitive ability and aptitude tests

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There are several kinds of cognitive ability tests used to ensure the candidate is the right fit for the role available. These include knowledge tests, ability tests, aptitude tests and simulation exercises.

For finance and accounting roles, it is best to use objective tests to measure a candidate’s knowledge of finance standards and regulations. Such tests are necessary when academic qualifications are not enough to indicate the capability and knowledge of the candidate.

Ability tests are used when certain abilities are critical in the job for which a candidate is considered. Often, general mental ability tests are included in most selection though studies cast doubts on the use of these tests in predicting a candidate’s effective performance on the job.

Ability tests are appropriate for operators, process technicians, clerks and administrators where abilities are quantifiable. However, higher managerial abilities like planning, coordinating, organizing and using resources have not been tapped for assessment, but these can be accessed through simulation and other case study exercises.

Aptitude tests measure a person’s capacity to develop the capabilities required for the job. It measures predispositions. Where a good on-the-job (OJT) training is available, aptitude tests serve the purpose of selecting a candidate with high potential to develop in a role. Managers use differential aptitude tests (DAT) to measure numerical and mechanical aptitude, and abstract and verbal reasoning. This can also be used to shortlist candidates.

But the predictability of job success depends on the employee’s inherent potential and the employer’s efforts to tap and develop that potential. Development and the use of job competencies must be used as yardsticks to measure an incumbent’s level. Whatever it is, the assessment approach needs to be customized according to the role.

Handy Hints
• Cognitive tests ensure one’s skills match the available job role
• Ability tests are appropriate for operators, technicians, clerks
• Aptitude tests assess a person’s capability to develop in a role 

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Source: Dr. Pon Mohaideen Pitchai, Special to Jobs & Careers
The writer is a Dubai-based HR and Management Consultant