People Management
5 min.

The 5 Best Types of Recruitment Tests

Véronique Forest
Véronique Forest
November 3, 2021
A candidate doing a cognitive test as a part of the recruitment process of a company

Recruitment tests are an effective way to check a candidate’s skills or better understand their aptitudes and behaviors.

Recruitment tests are very useful and widely used in human resources. But what is their actual purpose?

  • To gather additional information about a candidate;
  • To facilitate the recruitment process; and
  • To choose objectively between different candidates.

In this post, you’ll learn how to choose your recruitment test based on your goals and needs.

Which Recruitment Test Should You Choose?

1. Personality tests

Personality tests assess candidates’ soft skills, behaviors and attitudes. When used effectively, they can assess whether an employee will thrive in a work environment and get along with the rest of the team.

To know if the prospective employee will be a good fit with the rest of the team, you need to know the results of the employees already in place. Keep in mind that a smooth-running team is often made up of people with a variety of profiles.

Example of a test

The MBTI test and the OCEAN 5 are probably some of the most widely used tests. They are freely available online and easy to complete.

2. Workplace scenarios

Workplace scenarios let you evaluate how a candidate reacts in various situations. Because they are quick and easy to complete, they are ideal for effectively evaluating a candidate.

Examples of situations

For a waitress:

  • After finishing his plate, a customer tells you that his meal wasn’t to his liking. What do you do?

For a customer service clerk:

  • A customer walks into the store just as the phone rings and another customer approaches you with a question. In what order would you assist each person?

3. Skill tests

Skill tests are used to check whether a candidate has the technical proficiency required for a position, in terms of writing skills, technical know-how, or their command of a second language, for example.

These tests are the most widely used in the workplace. They lend themselves well to any position requiring specific skills.

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However, if not used properly, they can be completely useless. I once had a coworker who didn’t really have the right skills for the job. He had taken a test during his interview—but it became apparent that the test had poorly reflected his daily tasks.

This mistake had a direct impact on the rest of the team, which had to work hard to compensate for the coworker’s lack of competence… and his eventual departure.

Examples of tests

Language proficiency tests are often used to measure the quality of candidates’ written English. For example, the candidate may be asked to revise a text or write a short paragraph on a given topic.

To be effective, skill tests must directly relate to the tasks of the position at hand.

4. Reasoning tests

Reasoning tests appraise candidates’ logical, verbal and numerical skills. They are often used for positions that require decision-making in complex situations.

Government institutions use them to recruit candidates for public service.

Examples of tests

The applicant is asked to complete series of words, numbers, symbols, etc.

  • 1, 2, 6, 42, […]. Answer: 1,806, i.e., 1 × (1+1) = 2; 2 × (2+1)= 6; 6 × (6+1)= 42; 42 × (42+1)= 1,806.
  • Attractive, ugly, intelligent, stupid, rich, […]. Answer: poor, i.e., the opposite of the word.

5. Cognitive tests

Cognitive tests measure a candidate’s attention and memory.

These tests are often used for highly specialized positions with great responsibilities. They are an indicator of a person’s potential.

Examples of tests

A memory test measures a candidate’s ability to remember information. For example, they may be asked to memorize a data grid for 5 minutes and then reproduce it from memory on a blank sheet of paper.

IQ tests are also sometimes used, but are criticized by many recruiters.

How Do You Know if Your Test Is Appropriate?

A recruitment test must be fair, measurable, simple and effective.

To this end, all candidates must be afforded the same test conditions, including length, instructions, materials, etc. The questions must be clear, and the answers must be able to be analyzed based on an objective evaluation grid.

Most importantly, the test should not be overly complex or time-consuming for the candidates.

I myself have had first-hand experience with an overly demanding skill test. During the interview, I was told that I would have to complete a short test at home and I was assured that it was straightforward. But it turned out to be exactly the opposite; the test was so long and complicated that it left me completely demotivated. I finished it anyway, without much enthusiasm.

I was ultimately told that I lacked experience for the position even though my skill test score was up to their expectations.

Let me tell you, I felt like it was a complete waste of my time. To this day, I still have an unpleasant memory of that hiring process.

In today’s labor shortage context, all employers should make the recruitment process simple and pleasant. After all, the interview is also an opportunity for you to charm the candidate.

Where to Start?

Recruitment tests are wonderful tools for rounding out an evaluation of different candidates. However, they should not be used as the sole criterion for selection.

There are plenty of other tips to make sure you select the right candidate, starting with making sure you have an effective, rigorous and fair recruitment process.


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