The pre-hiring process can be a difficult task for any company to manage. Businesses have traditionally relied heavily on interviews, resumes and references, but these evaluation techniques rarely assess an applicant’s critical thinking, problem solving or comprehension abilities. In this post, we’ll introduce you to the verbal reasoning test and give you 3 tips on how to effectively implement it into your recruiting process.

A verbal reasoning test is a standardised psychometric test used to gauge a candidate’s ability to: 

  • Comprehend information: In many jobs, understanding business reports and analysing documents is critical to success. Similarly, the ability to comprehend verbal information from a supervisor or colleague is universally important. A verbal reasoning test can help you determine how a candidate will interpret written or oral information and implement it into their work, all while working under considerable time pressure. 
  • Use reason and logic to draw a conclusion: Once an employee has grasped the information given to them, they must be competent enough to construct effective conclusions. While traditional hiring tools such as interviews and resumes seldom validate this skill, a verbal reasoning assessment highlights an applicant’s rationality with ease.
  • Clearly and professionally express their thoughts: Finally, an employee must be able to convey their conclusions with clarity and professionalism. A candidate’s inability to express their thoughts renders their cognitive talent inadequate. In order for a business to succeed, its employees need to be able to identify obstacles when they present themselves and learn to work around them.

A typical test requires the applicant to read a short passage and a corresponding conclusion that they will deem to be either true, false, or undetermined. 

Selecting the most talented candidates for your jobs can lead to exponential increases in productivity. Individuals with strong comprehension, problem solving, and critical thinking abilities can correlate with strong performance in the workplace. A verbal reasoning test makes employers capable of more accurately predicting a candidate’s performance before their first day on the job. Many recruiters require applicants to complete the test in order to narrow down the talent pool before assigning interviews. 

Reasoning assessments not only quantify a candidate’s ability to think critically, but can also be a strong indicator of the candidate’s work tendencies. For example, someone who spends ample time reaching the correct answers of the test but does not finish it in the allotted time frame may prioritize the quality of their performance over the speed at which they work. On the other hand, a candidate that attempts to answer the questions rapidly and finishes with time to spare may focus heavily on finishing projects promptly and on time. The test can also determine whether the candidate will thrive or fold under pressure, a characteristic that could be indicative of an employee’s proficiency in high-pressure environments.

According to INDVSTRVS, over 80% of Fortune 500 companies in the US and over 75% of the Times Top 100 companies in the UK apply psychometric testing to their selection process. Many extremely well-known companies such as Capital One Financial, 3M, Chevron, and UBS have been reported using these tests in their recruitment strategies. In other words, the most successful companies understand that in order to maximize your efficiency and profit, you need to go beyond the basic pre-hiring strategies of interviews and references to attract the most gifted candidates to your organization. In fact, organizations that use reasoning assessments are 24% more likely to have an over-achieving workforce, according to HR Profiling Solutions


It is important to note that it is not recommended that you use verbal reasoning tests as the decision maker in hiring. Like any non-contextual assessment, they are fairly low predictors of job success. They can, however, form part of a wider “job simulation” assessment that can put these attributes within a relevant work context. Doing this will dramatically increase their efficacy. Speak to our team if you’d like more info on this.

When it comes to implementing verbal reasoning assessments into your recruitment strategy, it is important that you tailor it to the needs of your company. Here are a few quick tips on how to effectively put the test into practice for your business:

  1. Use benchmark comparisons: There are a couple of ways to do this. You can have your existing employees take the test and use their scores as a benchmark for how well your applicants should fare on the test before being rewarded an interview. This is fine if the assessment is non-contextual – e.g. not tailored to your unique work environment. If you’ve built a personalised assessment then you’ll need to benchmark candidates against each other as existing employees will have an unfair advantage.
  2. Do not rely solely on the verbal reasoning test*: The test should be used in tandem with other pieces of your recruitment strategy, such as interviews, resumes, and references, and, if possible, form part of a larger customised assessment. Verbal reasoning tests are a helpful tool, but they are not able to evaluate motivation, experience, behaviours or attitudes. The test should work hand-in-hand with other aspects of recruitment, not as a substitute.
  3. Adjust the test accordingly: don’t be afraid to modify the test for candidates applying for differing positions in the company hierarchy. An entry-level employee may not require the same level of critical thinking skills as a senior manager, so feel free to increase or decrease the complexity of the test accordingly.

Recruitment can be tough, but finding capable candidates is an important aspect of creating a profitable business. Verbal reasoning tests are an easy and efficient way for hiring professionals to bring top-tier talent to the organisation.

Want help getting started implementing the verbal reasoning test to your recruitment strategy? We’re here to help!
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