The Cognitive Assessment: A Hiring Data Point

I love stargazing. Nothing beats heading outside on a clear, crisp night, looking upward, and seeing the twinkling stars. As I gaze, I can make out patterns: Orion, Ursa Major (and Minor), the Big and Little Dippers. Even more amazing than the individual stars themselves are what they become when they are combined: constellations, age-old stories told through an epic game of connect-the-dots.

It would be impossible to see these beautiful images if we spent all our time focusing on just one star. Similarly, in hiring, it is impossible to know a candidate’s potential fit to a job just by looking at one thing: while incredibly useful, a resume (think: our North Star) only tells us work history. Skills assessments only tell us how well our candidate remembers how to do a particular thing. Even The Predictive Index™ Behavioral Assessment® only paints us a partial picture, though it is certainly a window into a candidate’s potential relationship with the job for which they are applying. This is why we use a variety of different media and tools to measure candidates’ fit in several areas.

Speed and suction

One such area is cognitive ability. What is cognitive ability?

For a moment, think of the human brain as a vacuum cleaner.

Cognitive ability is the force behind the suction. It dictates how quickly the brain can take in and apply new information. It has nothing to do with the amount of stuff it can hold, but everything to do with how fast it can gather it.

Put a little more scientifically, a cognitive assessment can measure how fast a person can bring in new information, and how well they can handle complexity in their job. Certain positions, by nature, need stronger “suction”—positions that require lots of data synthesis, positions that undergo continually changing conditions, and positions that require managing large teams of people tend to require a higher cognitive ability.

The Predictive Index Cognitive Assessment

Instead of using a general intelligence measure, The Predictive Index offers a tool, the Cognitive Assessment®, that measures explicitly cognitive ability. It does so via a twelve-minute timed assessment that covers verbal, math, and special reasoning questions, looking at the percentage correct as well as the number of problems completed in the given time. With the results, we have one more star in our constellation of information about our applicant!

Cognitive Assessment Graph

When used with behavioral data, cognitive data can raise your chances of making a successful hire to 58%! With only a resume and interview, these numbers drop to just 16%. There are some positions for which cognitive data matters more than others—think higher-level positions with costlier turnover. The point, though, is that cognitive data is another critical and measurable data point for hiring. If you’re looking for the Big Dipper, don’t just settle for the North Star!


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Interested in learning more ways to use The Predictive Index software to optimize your hiring? Take a few minutes to read through 6 Tips for Maximizing Your PI Annual Fee. Thanks for stopping in!

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