Recruiters and selection experts use different tests and questionnaires to select the ideal candidates for the jobs they offer.

The job interview can be a good tool to get to know the applicant and to ultimately decide whether or not he or she is fit to perform the duties of the position. But applying only to the interview to determine whether or not the candidate is the person you are looking for may not be entirely reliable.

Today, many selection processes include the performance of different tests (e.g. role-playing) or psycho-technical tests in order to determine the professional aptitude of the candidates, to know their personality and to evaluate their motivation. The combination of these tools is the best option if we want the selection process to be as accurate as possible.

Recommended article: “Job interviews: Top 10 mistakes”

The concept of competence

The origin of these tests can be found in the concept of competence , which arises from the need to assess not only the set of knowledge, skills and abilities that a person may possess, but also to appreciate his/her capacity to use them in concrete situations and to solve problems that may arise in a specific work environment. Likewise, the concept of competence refers to the attitude, motivation and conditions of the individual and his or her behaviour.

The different tests or questionnaires used in the personnel selection processes have the mission of evaluating, as a whole, the four different dimensions present in the concept of competence . These are:

  • Knowing how to be : refers to the personal dimension, the attitudes and values that guide the candidate’s behaviour.
  • Knowledge : is the technical component, i.e. academic data or knowledge.
  • Know-how : is the methodological component, the ability to apply knowledge: skills, abilities, acting methods, etc.
  • Know-how : is the participatory component. It refers to the skills related to interpersonal communication and teamwork

You can learn more about the concept of competence in our article: “How to face a competence interview: 4 keys to get the job”

Types of recruitment tests and questionnaires

But, what are the tests or questionnaires used by recruitment experts? What do these tools aim to measure? We explain below

Professional or knowledge tests

The professional tests simulate real situations and conditions that can be found in a specific workplace . Therefore, these tests aim to know the degree of mastery of an applicant for the job he is applying for and are used to obtain information on the training, experience and specific knowledge of the applicant.

There are two types of vocational tests: the knowledge tests , which assess the contents related to the occupation; and the skills tests , which assess the specific competences related to the occupation. Among these tests, we can find: language tests, typing tests, computer tools mastery tests, tests to repair or assemble a device, etc.

Personality questionnaires

Personality questionnaires try to extract through different items the main features of an individual’s character in order to deduce the suitability and adaptability to the job to which the individual aspires. For example, if a subject participates in a selection process for the position of salesperson, one of the personality traits that recruiters will evaluate is extraversion.

Recruiters can use different personality tests, but two of the most widely used are: the Big Five questionnaire, which measures sociability, responsibility, openness, friendliness and neuroticism; or the EPQ-R questionnaire, based on the Eysenck PEN model. With respect to these questionnaires, the answers are neither bad nor good, they simply reflect the personality of the candidate or his/her way of thinking and acting in certain situations .

In addition, for some jobs it is a requirement to pass certain mental health-related personality tests. For example, one of the most widely used tests is the MMPI-2 (Minnesota Multiphase Personality Inventory). Its use is focused on the identification of the personality profile and the detection of psychopathologies, so it can be used, for example, in police personnel selection processes.

Psycho-technical questionnaires

The psycho-technical questionnaires are intelligence or aptitude tests that are usually presented with a time limit for completion. They are tests that assess the intellectual abilities of the candidates for the correct performance of certain jobs, and allow for assessing the cognitive abilities of the person, such as general intelligence, memory, perception or attention.

This type of questionnaire is also used to find out more specific aspects of the applicant’s intelligence, for example, verbal aptitude, numerical aptitude, spatial aptitude, capacity for abstraction or concentration.

Situational testing

Situational tests are also known as group dynamics, and allow to evaluate the competences and skills of candidates , as well as to predict their performance in a given job. During the performance of this type of test, a situation is recreated that simulates the conditions and demands of the job, which the subjects will have to face by putting into practice a series of competences necessary for the performance of the task in an efficient way.

Situational tests are increasingly used because they have proved to be one of the most useful and precise tools for the evaluation of competences , since during their performance candidates put into practice the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to solve the specific problem-situation or task.

The most commonly used situational tests by recruitment experts are

  • Writing a report : Evaluates the capacity for analysis, reasoning and written expression.
  • Making a presentation : Assesses the ability to structure a presentation, speaking skills, ability to speak in public.
  • Tray exercise : Evaluates planning, time management, problem solving, verbal and written communication skills.
  • Role playing : Evaluates different skills depending on the role being played. For example, leadership or teamwork