Verbal Reasoning Testing Tools: 3 to try and 2 to avoid

6 minute read

Posted by Chris Platts on 2 February 2021

Verbal reasoning is a meta-skill required in many different roles. Assessing it can be difficult; businesses have traditionally relied on interviews, resumes and references as a proxy for candidate quality but these evaluation techniques rarely assess an applicant’s ability to reason verbally. In this post, we’ll introduce you to the verbal reasoning test and give you 3 tools to try, 2 to avoid and explore how to effectively implement it into your recruiting process.

How mature is your hiring process?

There are lots of things that determine a successful recruitment strategy. Is it time to figure out where your weak spots are?

What is a verbal reasoning test?

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. 

3 verbal reasoning testing tools to consider using in your next recruitment campaign

1. ThriveMap

We create bespoke, job-realistic assessments for volume hiring. If you’re hiring a fairly large number of people each year into a position that requires good verbal reasoning skills then this approach could work best for you.

Unlike other “generic” assessments, we recognise that verbal reasoning can be highly contextual. Who’s being communicated with and in what type of environment can matter hugely to a caniddate’s ability. For exmaple consider a job that’s highly time-pressured (e.g. an air traffic controller) vs a job without the same pressures. The capabilities required to reason in a timely manner aren’t the same.

ThriveMap‘s approach is to get to the underlying attribute – e.g. for some roles, verbal comprehension can be more important than someone’s ability to formulate a response. In other roles, the ability to draw the correct conclusion from complex information may be more important than verbal comprehension. In this case, we can design assessments that are more precise and situational than a generic verbal reasoning test.

2. SHL

SHL are well-known and established provider of generic psychometric tests. Their assessments can be used straight away and are particularly good if you need a generic test for low-volume hiring.

You can see some of their example questions on their website. The criticism of these generic tests is that they can deliver quite a poor candidate experience.

3. Test Gorilla

Like SHL Test Gorilla also offer a generic verbal reasoning test. This one is only 10 minutes and will deliver a better candidate experience than SHL, but not as comprehensive or informative for candidates as a bespoke assessment from ThriveMap.

Verbal Reasoning Assessments – Two to avoid

1. Mettl

Of the generic verbal reasoning assessments, this one from Mettl takes 45 minutes which we feel is an unreasonable amount of time to ask candidates to commit especially given that this is for mostly entry-level candidates and jobs.

2. Adaface

This verbal reasoning assessment from Adaface too is 45 minutes long, it also doesn’t provide a particularly engaging candidate experience.

Tips when implementing verbal reasoning testing tools

Reasoning assessments not only quantify a candidate’s ability to think critically, they can also be a strong indicator of the candidate’s work preferences. For example, someone who spends more time reaching the correct answers but gets more correct may prioritize a working environment focused on quality over pace.

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.

Closing comments

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. In fact, organizations that use reasoning assessments are 24% more likely to have an over-achieving workforce, according to HR Profiling Solutions

It’s important to note that it is not recommended that you use verbal reasoning tests as the decision-maker in hiring. 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.

Want help getting started implementing the verbal reasoning test to your recruitment strategy? We’re here to help!
Request a demo and learn more about how ThriveMap can improve your pre-hiring strategy today!

How mature is your hiring process?

There are lots of things that determine a successful recruitment strategy. Is it time to figure out where your weak spots are?


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About ThriveMap

ThriveMap creates customised assessments for high volume roles, which take candidates through an online “day in the life” experience of work in your company. Our assessments have been proven to reduce staff turnover, reduce time to hire, and improve quality of hire.

Not sure what type of assessment is right for your business? Read our guide.

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