What are the cognitive skills anyway?

Many organisations do rely on the cognitive test to vet the aptitude of their candidates. Since it is considered to be one of the accurate competencies, companies do not hesitate to include its result into their final hiring decision. In other words, testing the candidate on cognitive skills is somewhat must-have for most of the organisation.

Okay, you know its importance now but you may still unaware of the term. So let’s begin with the word itself. Cognitive is related to cognition, which means the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses. This definition is from google, but it doesn’t really give much context on cognitive skills.

In simple words, cognitive skills are the ability to grasp complex ideas, understand and solve difficult problems, and comprehend new information easily.

Are cognitive skills the best indicator to know bad fits?

If a candidate has strong cognitive skills then he/she would be able to understand complex concepts and solve hard problems with no extra efforts. That candidate would also acquire new skills easily, which directly corresponds to impressive learning capability.

On the other hand, a candidate with low cognitive skills might have to spend more energy and time to learn new skills. But does that mean a candidate with low cognitive skills is a bad fit?

You learn the value of hard work by working hard

Not exactly. Let me give you an example - A candidate is hard working but has below average cognitive skills. If this candidate were to complete one complex task then expectedly he/she would take extra time and efforts to close the given task. Does it mean the candidate is a bad fit? It depends. If time is your constraint then the answer is clearly yes. But if the quality of hard working is important to you then the candidate may not be necessarily bad fit for you.

How much weight should I give to cognitive skills?

We’ve learned that motivation is also an important factor to see whether the candidate is a bad fit or a good fit. Are there any other skills which we can consider in conjunction with cognitive skills?

Yes, indeed. Personality, technical skills, interest in the job role, engagement level and most importantly, a passionate and right attitude should be considered. Make sure you give weights to these attributes of the candidate as well. You should then figure out the right combination of the desired skills according to the job and work.

What if I don’t test the candidate on the cognitive skills?

We advise you to not go ahead with this idea. It has been found that cognitive skills do predict the on-the-job performance for almost all types of positions. If the role demands to solve more complex and abstract problems then testing this skill in the candidate would be the best bet for you.

Many jobs that involve simple, repetitive tasks with a little requirement of cognitive ability have now been taken over by computer programs. In fact, technology is becoming more and more complex day by day and executing it requires quick minds with strong problem-solving skills.

Cognitive skills and performance is in fact, have the strong link between them. If a candidate has the high learning capability than another with the same experience, then that candidate would eventually perform better.