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How Cognitive Testing Can Help You Hire Admin Support Staff

Pre-employment tests for skills
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Many people are accustomed to standard job interviews, but there are other ways to objectively observe your candidates. When you’re hiring administrative team members, important skills like problem-solving, time management, and flexibility are going to be what you’re searching for.

Cognitive ability testing can allow you to find the best candidates in an objective and cost effective manner. Here’s what you need to know about cognitive ability testing and how it can help you hire administrative team members.


What is a Cognitive Ability Test?

Cognitive ability tests measure an individual’s cognitive functions and mental abilities. Employers typically use these assessments to calculate a job candidate’s potential for skills, including their ability to perform specific tasks and learn new expertise. These may also be referred to as General Mental Ability (GMA) assessments.

Cognitive ability tests evaluate candidates across several different specializations. However, when it all comes down to its fundamental goal, the idea is to determine how a candidate thinks. In other words, rather than measuring what a person already knows, the test focuses on their mental skills. For admin-related positions, the ability to problem-solve is something that recruiters can measure with the cognitive ability test.

Types of Cognitive Ability Tests 

Verbal Comprehension

Verbal comprehension and reasoning tests evaluate a candidate’s ability to understand, explicate, and implement written information. This portion of the test may ask the individual to match words with synonyms. It may also ask candidates to rely on context clues to interpret and answer multiple-choice questions. This can be important for administrative work since written skills are an essential part of the career field. Verbal comprehension tests are a beneficial way to evaluate a candidate’s ability to comprehend new information.

Numerical Reasoning

Numerical reasoning and ability tests calculate how well one analyzes and interprets numbers. Examples include solving basic mathematical equations and recognizing numerical patterns. The test may include multiple-choice or short-answer questions that ask candidates to calculate fractions, integers, or percentages. It may also include a segment that asks individuals to look at a chart and analyze information from that data. Although some administrative positions may not require advanced math skills, it may be important to know if they can complete simple calculations.

Learning Agility

This portion of cognitive testing refers to how quickly a candidate can master a new skill. These tests will analyze how well a candidate responds to new information and problem-solves. It will also look at how well they use past experiences to determine their best course of action in a new situation. Administrative positions require a lot of flexibility and adaptability. A candidate may end up needing to learn a new skill after they’re hired into their position. Administrative team members also need to be excellent problem solvers who can overcome challenges.


Perception tests within cognitive assessments determine how fast a candidate learns and retains new information. These evaluations tend to be more memory-focused, asking candidates to look at images or blocks of text for a certain amount of time before asking specific questions about what they just saw. An example of this may include visual pursuit tests. These ask candidates to focus on an object and follow it through a series of visual distractions.

Logical Reasoning

Logical reasoning tests ask candidates to make conclusions about contextual information. The test will ask candidates to answer abstract questions that force them to use logical reasoning. For example, they may be asked something like “if A, B, and C is true, determine which of the following statements is accurate.” This can be helpful for a recruiter looking for administrative employment since it reflects problem-solving and risk-assessment skills. Under high-pressure situations, it’s good to know if your candidate is up for the challenge.

Why Should Recruiters Use Cognitive Testing for Admin Staff? 

Job Performance Predictions

The ultimate goal of cognitive ability testing is to predict the performance of potential employees. Paired with strategic job interviews, cognitive testing can greatly support your search for administrative staff. High cognitive performance can indicate a candidate’s ability to set attainable goals and achieve those ambitions. This can significantly enhance your workplace and increase combined team performance. It also helps that cognitive testing isn’t based on education, but rather on objective statistics determined by assessments.

Identifying Helpful Skills

An administrative candidate may have the most glowing resume you’ve ever seen, but this can only tell you so much about their skills. Generally speaking, resumes only show you what a candidate has already accomplished. However, cognitive testing can dig a little deeper, revealing a candidate’s hidden talents buried beneath the surface. Even if a candidate doesn’t have the most “standout” resume, a cognitive test can reveal that they may be exactly what you’re looking for.

Assessing Problem-Solving and Learning 

Because cognitive ability tests are based on data, they accurately predict overall job performance and problem-solving skills. Administrative positions usually require a lot of flexibility, especially in an increasingly changing work environment. These tests can measure how well an administrative candidate learns new skills instead of relying on what they already know. Generally speaking, the higher their cognitive score, the faster they’ll learn and adapt to changes within your workplace.

Preventing Bias

As mentioned previously, cognitive testing is a great tool to use for non-biased recruitment. Unconscious biases can hamper the hiring process, but cognitive ability tests can help you make more objective hiring decisions as it’s based on data, rather than subjective opinions.

Time and Money Saving

While both should be considered when hiring administrative team members, a ten-minute cognitive test has the potential to be as predictive as a 10-minute job interview. This makes these assessments a cost-effective recruitment tool, when there’s limited time for initial screening of candidates.

Are you recruiting administrative team members? Our team can help you select the best tests for your candidates. EmployTest offers the below cognitive assessments and you can try a free sample assessment to see how cognitive ability testing can work for your hiring process.

Elite Cognitive Profile

Workplace Reasoning

Verbal Reasoning

Logical Reasoning

Elite Skills Profile