Understanding a candidate’s cognitive competencies is consistently identified as one of the most important predictors of determining their potential success on the job. However, the most commonly used measures of cognitive ability are imperfect for a few reasons.
They are Biased
Certain groups of candidates are often left behind due to the multitudes of bias found in traditional attempts to measure cognition, such as general intelligence tests. According to some researchers, the "cultural specificity" of intelligence makes IQ tests biased towards the environments in which they were developed — namely white, Western society. In fact, in California, administering IQ tests to Black students for placement in special education has been outlawed on the grounds that the tests are culturally biased.
They are Not Relevant to the Job
Measures like GPA and standardized test scores, while slightly less biased, have been found to be not as predictive of job performance as many people assume because these measures are designed to be predictive of success in college or grad school, not in a particular job. In fact, choosing a candidate based on their GPA increases the likelihood of hiring a strong performer by only 4% over random selection.
It has even been shown that those with low to average IQ scores can be highly skilled in particular fields, like theoretical physicists and Nobel Prize winner Richard Feynman. If you are seeking a more culturally diverse or highly specialized setting for your workplace, using these types of tests may limit your abilities to do so.
In creating a predictive and unbiased way to measure cognitive abilities, Suited’s approach was to focus on specific abilities and essential competencies rather than attempting to quantify general intelligence. This is a more modern and equitable method that allows us to:
1. Target abilities that are actually related to the job our customers are hiring for
2. Reduce bias by using content and question types that do not focus on things commonly associated with bias in scores (e.g., culture-specific language or phrases)
3. Identify basic COMPETENCIES that would be appropriate for and predictive of success in a range of professional occupations
Using the combination of these capabilities as our north star, we worked with our current customers to uncover the essential competencies required to succeed. For example, we discovered that building complex financial models in Excel, at its core, requires a high degree of attention to detail, even in high-stress situations. If a candidate has the innate skill of a high attention to detail, they are very likely to be able to learn and apply technical skills such as building financial models, making them a potentially great candidate for a role as an investment banking analyst.
Our in-house I/O psychologists then built a collection of thousands of items, or prompts, designed to measure each of these job-specific essential competencies. These items went through multiple rounds of refining, data collection, and analyses to select the most appropriate items. Ultimately, the final set of prompts were chosen based on the criteria of providing accurate and reliable measures of a candidate’s abilities without introducing bias into the scores.
Our early results prove that this way of measuring cognitive competencies is a more equitable, predictive, and valid approach when compared to traditional measures of intelligence. When combined with the other significant steps we take to remove adverse impact across our platform and assessments, we are able to deliver highly predictive, bias-free candidate selection models that remove adverse impact from our clients' hiring processes.
The combination of our Psychometric Assessment and our new Essential Competencies Assessment results in a well-rounded approach to selecting candidates to interview. Alone, a personality assessment may only surface candidates who are a good culture fit for your organization but may not possess the fundamental skills required to do the job. On the other hand, only measuring a candidate’s cognitive abilities may result in biased outcomes with candidates who may not share your company’s values or work culture. Taken together, your interview slate has a statistically higher probability of being refreshingly diverse, highly qualified, and well suited for your firm.