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Cognitive Assessment & Testing for Recruiting

Bad hires can cost you tens of thousands of dollars–30 percent of a new-hire's salary according to the Department of Labor–and nearly 74 percent of employers have said they’ve hired the wrong candidates. 

There’s no way to guarantee that a prospective employee will be a good fit in your company and within your culture, but there are steps you can take to increase those chances. Digital reference checks, talent acquisition best practices, proactive hiring, advanced hiring solutions, and cognitive assessments are all ways to get a better understanding of your candidate and determine their compatibility with your company. 

Below we’ll focus on how you can leverage cognitive assessments to improve your quality of hire and identify top talent. 

What are cognitive assessments?

Cognitive assessment tests are one of many pre-hire assessments you can integrate into your hiring process. Cognitive assessments are screening tools that typically come before the interview. 

Unlike emotional IQ tests or personality tests, cognitive assessments help determine a candidate's cognitive strengths and weaknesses. You can test for very general cognitive capabilities, such as spatial reasoning and memory, or curate your questions to fit the needs of a specific role. 

What are cognitive abilities?

So what exactly are you testing for with a cognitive skills test? 

There are a range of cognitive and mental abilities you can test for through cognitive assessments. Some of the most common cognitive abilities to test for include.

  • Problem-solving and critical-thinking skills
  • Memory
  • Spatial reasoning
  • Quantitative reasoning
  • Attention and focus
  • Reading comprehension
  • Logical reasoning
  • And more

Why hire for cognitive ability

Because cognitive ability tests are cheap, easy to administer, and usually already integrated into your hiring solution, there’s little reason to avoid them in your screening process. Cognitive abilities tests provide you with more data, contribute to your holistic understanding of a candidate, and can help contribute to your quality of hire assessment of a candidate.

Cognitive assessments are especially useful for technical and complex roles that require greater cognitive ability to perform at a higher level–accountants, engineers, lawyers, healthcare professionals, data professionals, and IT roles are good examples of roles that require high cognitive performance. 

Cognitive ability assessment example

Here are a few examples of commonly structured cognitive abilities tests from the Criteria Cognitive Aptitude Test (CCAT):


  • Which of the following has the smallest value?
    • 0.45
    • 0.054
    • 0.09
    • 0.101
  • What would the next set of letters be in the following series? 
    • Zone … ynnd … xmnc … wlnb



  • Vault is to Gold as: 
    • Peackecock is to feather
    • Recycling bin is to bottles
    • Scabbard is to sword
    • Ophthalmologist is to eyeglasses
    • Coco bean is to chocolate
  • One cookbook is sold for $9.50. Marie intends to buy 3 cookbooks. How much does she have to pay when she goes to the checkout at the store?
    • $22 
    • $23.50
    • $26.50
    • $28
    • $28.50
  • Choose the word of words that, when inserted in the sentence to replace the blank or blanks, fits the best with the meaning of the sentence.

On the occasion of its 30th anniversary, a large ___ of sandwich-pastry stores in Belgium has been ranked as the most ___ sandwiches in the Kingdom.

  • succession ... bad
  • chain ... popular
  • closing ... nice
  • line ... spicy
  • frame ... best


Getting started with cognitive ability assessments

Crosschq’s state-of-the-art hiring solution has everything you need to create, customize, and integrate seamless cognitive skills test into your hiring process. Identify critical thinking skills, problem-solving capabilities, mathematical thinking, logical aptitude, and more with Crosschq’s competency and culture match assessments. 

Quality of hire doesn’t stop at cognitive capabilities. With Crosschq, you can test for soft skills, emotional intelligence, cultural fit, and more. Benefit from 100+ automated quality of hire reports, advanced reference checks, and other cutting-edge hiring features that will get you closer to landing and retaining quality hires today. 

Mark Ko

by Mark Ko

Content Writer

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