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Submitted by fchalif on


Can I use IQ Testing or a similar test to assess a candidate's overall ability to "Handle" the quantity and quality requirements of the job being offered?
Can I use such a test to also predict how much growth potential employee will have?

kklogic's picture

You probably CAN, but I'm not sure you SHOULD. Take time to hire (like 1-2 months). See them in various settings. Let them spend time with your team. You'll very quickly see that people will rise to the top. You'll know who is bright and hungry. We do use testing, but as a LAST resort - like when we have multiple candidates that seem perfect. Even then, we really only use the part of the test that guages how they are motivated (team player, individualistic, etc.).

HMac's picture


(sorry if that's too blunt).

But, no.

Be VERY cautious about selecting any test to predict future behavior.

And, IQ test results are so emotionally-laden in the US, that if you did it here, you might as well put an ad in the paper inviting employment attorneys to line up to sue you...

As M/M mention with some frequency, the single best predictor of future behavior is....past behavior.

So if you want to assess a candidate's overall ability to handle the quantity and quality requirements of the job being offered, develop behavioral interview questions to assess how well the candidate has done it in the past.


akinsgre's picture

OK. But in a podcast ( Can't remember which one) M&M suggest using tests (like Briggs Meyers)

Right? Or am I remembering incorrectly.

I thought the point was to get and use as much data as possible.

Not saying IQ tests are the best suggestion. What tests might be used in this situation.

AManagerTool's picture

Meyers Briggs is not an IQ test. It is a personality test and if you are using it as a criteria for selection you are making a mistake.

wendii's picture
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IQ tests test (in thoery) absolute intelligence. Assuming that the intelligence of the population forms a bell curve, the IQ test tells you how intelligent people are compared to the rest of the population. Interestingly, mean IQ of populations increases over time, so we're actually all getting less intelligent.

What it doesn't tell you is what the person does with that intelligence. I have a high IQ and NO common sense, whereas if you want something practical done, ask my brother. He'd score less on a test than me... but he wouldn't fry your house when putting up pictures. It also doesn't tell you if the persons apptitudes are weighted more towards numbers or words, spatial reasoning, or logic.

Pyschometric tests are designed to pick out particular facets of intelligence and compare those to the population. In order to use them, you first need to know what's important in the role. An engineer for example, needs to be good with numbers and logic. An editor needs to be detail oriented and good with words.

You then need to find a test which tests that facet. You also need to check the validity of the test. See this post: Myers Briggs has been criticised for low validity.

Then there is personality questionnaires. These are not tests (because there is no right or wrong). They look at preferences in work styles (like SHLs OPQ) or communication styles (like DISC). So, for a health and safety role, you would look for a preference for working with detail, or for a customer services rep who takes calls, a preference for working at a fast pace.

You would never rule someone in or out on any of these tests. Some people get terribly nervous and score badly - if their work history and their scores don't fit, you would go with the work history. If their DISC said they were high C, and in the interview they cut you off every second sentance, they're a D, whatever the test says! Sometimes preferences can be squewed by current work, or the candidate taking too long to think, or by not thinking about work preferences, or by trying to game the questionnaire. If the interview and the results don't add up, go with the interview everytime.


fchalif's picture
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Wendii et al.

Thank you for your input.

I have read the entire thread you recommended and have found it very relevant to our situation. We tend to hire a lot for low level positions. Testing for these staff members is not cost effective initially. Both HMAC and KKLogic also recommend not testing at all, but rather hiring based on the baseline criteria and monitor behaviors to ensure they match our needs.
That is the approach I will take for the foreseeable future.
If these candidates are in line for possible promotions, I interpret your response (mostly from your work with the council) to suggest that before we make them permanent, we put them though some carefully designed tests that will evaluate their ability to grow into the next role, such as report writing skills, on the spot calculations to make adjustments, etc.

Do you have any suggestions as to how to design such tests?

wendii's picture
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you first have to establish what's important in the role and then establish the best way to test it.

Can you give me an example? I think it'll be easier to work through.. what job title do you give your juniors and then what might they be promoted to?


stephenbooth_uk's picture

I'd avoid general intelligence testing, mostly because over the years I've seen far too many reports about cultural bias in such tests.

Personality/behavioural type testing (e.g. DiSC, Myers-Briggs, Belbin &c) can be useful to give you an idea as to how someone is likely to fit in but it should be in addition to rather than instead of a behavioural interview. Also bear in mind that results for the same person can vary from day to day or based on recent events. Something as simple as a bad journey in and not having time to process the stress before taking the test (where in the normal world of work you'd take 10 minutes to get a cup of tea and clear your head) can change results significantly.

If there is a specific skill they will need for the job and you can test that, then it would be quite reasonable to do so in most cases. That would most likely only be suitable for low level positions though.


fchalif's picture
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Thank you for your generous offer. Please allow me a little time to prepare an answer to your query.

bflynn's picture

I know the question is settled for the original poster, but I'm surprise nobody brought up legal discrimination as one of the issues. It is the first thing I think of when someone asks about hiring qualifications - is it a Bona-Fide Occupational Qualification (BFOQ).

The reason I think that way is that the US has become a highly litigious society. If something is a BFOQ, then you get a pass on that qualification for Equal Opportunity statistical analysis. In the event of an EEOC investigation, if they determine that your qualification is not a BFOQ and a statistical analysis shows that your hiring practices do not match the population profile, discrimination is considered proven and you stuck in the position of proving a negative.

My example is a basketball player. Being good at shooting baskets is a BFOQ. I'd bet that if you did an analysis of who is hired to play on a basketball team, you would find a slant toward tall people because tall people are generally better at shooting baskets than short people. This does not mean short people are being discriminated against, it means they're not as good and won't get the top paying jobs.

On the other hand, if basketball teams decided only to recruit college graduates, they would have a problem. A higher education is not a requirement to play basketball or to be effective on a team. Higher education is not a BFOQ for basketball.