Skip to main content

"Darren was a great help, very responsive and wanted the best for all parties"

Adam W

Using aptitude tests in recruitment

Aptitude testing is one of the most proven ways to increase your hiring success rates.

The Civil Service, the Armed Forces and many 'blue-chip' companies routinely use them during rigorous selection procedures.

Aptitude testing is one of the most proven ways to increase your hiring success rates.

The Civil Service, the Armed Forces and many 'blue-chip' companies routinely use them during rigorous selection procedures.

What is aptitude testing?

Aptitude testing takes many forms. It is the generic name given to any assessment which tests ability in a given task. This could be something general, such as maths or scheduling proficiency, or it could be something specific to the skill set needed for a particular job.

Most employers will use some form of aptitude testing during the recruitment process. However, not everyone refers to 'aptitude testing'. You might choose to say, 'there will be a series of tests before the interview,' refer to 'knowledge tests' or 'taking a psychometric test'.

Benefits of aptitude testing candidates

Aptitude testing is designed to show strengths and weaknesses. Because all candidates will take the same test, it is easy to perform trend analysis on the results to see how closely each person matches the company's 'ideal employee'.

In many tests, the questions are deliberately designed to be challenging. This is intentional, as the whole point of aptitude testing is to test the candidates on a wide variety of life skills not directly related to the workplace at first sight. These include mathematical and ethical problem-solving, teamwork, logical testing, comprehension, and composition abilities.

However, when taken as a whole, the combination of interview and aptitude testing offers an in-depth perception of how a candidate is likely to behave and whether they will be a good match for your organisation.

The chosen selection of tests must be relevant to the available vacancy so that the results can be correctly interpreted. These days there are many specialist test providers who operate tailored tests available online. This means you can ask your candidates to sit the tests in advance and have the results available during the interview. This approach helps you gain a better overall understanding of your candidates before they even reach the interview room, and it also saves time for both sides on the day.

The downside is that many applicants become flustered and overly concerned with these tests, spending too long worrying about the 'right' answer to the multiple-choice questions where there is no obvious right or wrong response.

Types of aptitude testing

There are many different types of aptitude tests to suit every specialist field. These are generally divided into nine categories designed to test judgement and reasoning:

    • Workplace situations to test team working and reaction
    • In-tray exercises to test prioritisation
    • Numerical reasoning to test a candidate's ability with numbers
    • Diagrammatic reasoning tests their logical skills
    • Verbal reasoning to test understanding - these are often multiple-choice questions
    • Error checking tests show comprehension and ability to spot factual information from fake
    • Spatial awareness tests offer a chance to test applicants on their mental manipulation of images.
    • Personality tests have 'no right or wrong answer' but are still cunningly designed to highlight the required personality traits to succeed
    • Cognitive ability tests cover anything else not already tested

The questions are in a variety of formats designed to test a candidate's all-round abilities. There are sample questions and tests available online, but you should assume no prior knowledge on the part of the candidate.

The tests, which are usually timed for every question, can be taken on paper or electronically. Sometimes they are completed in a 'classroom environment' and sometimes from home. They often feature multiple-choice questions or options with no hard and fast 'correct' answer. Sometimes, this catches the applicant out, for an aptitude test is not a quiz show.

How to help put candidates at ease

In our extensive experience helping our clients introduce psychometrics into their recruitment process, we have found that communication and support are imperative.

Candidates should be fully informed of why they are taking the test that you have requested, what you are going to use the data for, how it will be shared amongst your peers, how this information is going to be stored in the future and how it could be used for their personal development. 

All candidates should be talked through the process, be given access to help and advice sheets and ideally have the opportunity to undertake some test questions. It is imperative to reiterate that 'understanding what's required is not part of the test', so invite them to ask questions to help put them at ease.

Put their minds at ease by reiterating that most tests are quite simple; there are just many questions in a short space of time. The most common psychometric aptitude test in the UK are designed at an English and Maths level of a Key Stage 2 student in the UK (or aged between 8 and 11 years old).

It is also essential to encourage the candidates to do their best and not be despondent if they only answer a few questions in the time allowed. Most tests look for both speed and accuracy, so an applicant who answers just ten questions but all of them correctly will score higher than one that answered twenty but only ten correctly. Make sense?

Finally, your test provider will provide advice on how to check whether candidates have any learning difficulties that could impair their performance. They'll also talk you through the additional provisions you should take to ensure that your process is fair. For instance, this could be providing access to a calculator in numerical reasoning or additional time in verbal reasoning.

How aptitude tests are evaluated

Evaluation of the overall score in a series of aptitude tests is usually by percentage. Every answer has a score, and the results can then be compared with an 'ideal' score against others sitting the same set of tests.

Specialist providers will use words and phrases such as 'raw score', 'bell curve', 'mean and standard deviation'. Put simply; these are ways of evaluating answers which show how close to the average answer your candidate has scored. The closer to the average (or to the scores of your current best-performing employees) the scores are, the better unless you're looking for someone to shake up the team and inject a different viewpoint.

Aptitude tests may not be popular with applicants but, suitably produced and administered, they are still one of the best ways of 'getting under the skin' of your candidates to find out their core skills, natural abilities, development areas and their propensity to be trained.

The golden rules of aptitude testing

The aptitude tests that you use must be designed for the type of staff you are looking to hire, and the validation data that supports the science behind the test is relevant to the country where you are hiring. 

Although costly, we strongly recommend that you use an established psychometric provider that has been trained to administer the psychometric tools that they offer. To protect yourself, you should ask to see the validation data that created the test before you introduce it into your recruitment process. If this cannot be provided, it could be no better than the provider's opinion, or at best a 'Cosmo poll'.

Psychometric Aptitude Testing isn't cheap, and you should expect to pay anything from £100 to £500 per applicant for highly validated psychometric products. However, the benefits of using a recognised provider are huge as; if the facilitator is suitably qualified and the tests are administered correctly, you will be protected against any potential discrimination claims. 

...and finally

Aaron Wallis works with the leading psychometric providers in the UK and is qualified to administer the majority of commercially available psychometrics. If you'd like to chat it through or for more information, contact Rob Scott on 01908 061400.

Further Reading

In May 2022, Rob Scott presented to Manchester University students on Aptitude Testing, and an overview of the talk can be found here:

A Full Guide to Aptitude Testing

Employer Advice Categories

Navigate our other Employers Advice categories by clicking the following icons:

Date published: 5th March 2024

Rob Scott, Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment, Author Photo

About the author

Rob Scott

Rob is the Managing Director of Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment, a national recruitment agency specialising in sourcing sales and marketing staff for businesses across a broad range of commercial sectors. Before setting up Aaron Wallis, Rob spent ten years at a specialist Sales and Marketing recruitment division of a £0.5BN recruitment group, leaving in 2007 as Marketing & Sales Director to establish Aaron Wallis.
With over 24 years of experience in sales recruitment, Rob is a History graduate with an MBA (Merit) and a PgCert in Management Practice.  In 2007, 2009 and 2013 Rob conducted the most extensive surveys of sales professionals in the UK and is a trusted authority in the sales industry. From guiding employers through the recruitment process to helping candidates find their dream job, Rob's advice has been quoted in leading publications such as Business Insider and The Independent, as well as OnRec, which host The Online Recruitment Awards every year.

Please call us to discuss your vacancy

Milton Keynes



Our employers say...

Generally good standard of candidates. Especially liked the personality profile. Overall good value for money and will certainly use you again.

Managing Director, Medicash

I really liked the YouTube presentations which made the service seem both simple and accessible. The company came to see me, and my management team, at short notice to present their service and I liked the support and advice that I received about maximising the results from the applicant.

Managing Director, Leisuresec plc

Rob is a true recruitment professional that goes the extra mile that I have never experienced from any other recruitment agency before. If you need sales people call Rob or someone in his team, as they really are experts in sales recruitment.

Sales Director, Inside Business

Aaron Wallis has continuously provided us with suitable candidates that have been proactively sourced. Having used countless recruitment companies, Aaron Wallis are the only company that I can count on to deliver.

Managing Director, JARK Healthcare Recruitment

I can't fault Sam or AW! Sam was a pleasure to work with and provided great support from the start. Sam always provided me with timely updates when required and provided outstanding candidates!

Director, Waste Managed Ltd

Thanks for all your help during the recruitment process. I have been extremely impressed with Aaron Wallis especially when compared to other agencies we have dealt with. I really felt you grasped the type of person we required and found strong candidates.

UK Sales Manager, Nexcom

George is a joy to work with, and I'd recommend him to anyone seeking that unicorn hire - he found me mine, and I'm delighted!

Director, Education Support

I have used Aaron Wallis to fill a number of our Sales Development Manager roles and I have found them to provide a very professional service. I will use their services again in future recruitment campaigns.

HR Business Partner, Greene King

Very professional service and will certainly be in contact for future recruitment.

Director, Blakedown Sport & Play Ltd

Rob’s knowledge of the recruitment industry and his thoughts and how to make it better for his clients have always been eye opening. I would recommend Rob to anybody who is looking for a professional, knowledgeable and flexible recruitment specialist.

CEO, Friday Ad Online Services

Since joining DSGi, Rob has been a supplier of permanent staff and has performed to an extremely high standard, successfully filling 98% of roles he has worked on. If anyone is looking for a good sales and marketing based consultancy with an informal yet professional approach, I would recommend Rob.

Senior Recruitment Consultant, DSG International

Understood the type of person we were looking for and good follow ups - not too frequent.

Managing Director, bigHead Bonding Fasteners Ltd

I found Aaron Wallis to be very professional and efficient, taking time to understand the role and the type of candidate we were looking for. The candidates they put forward met our criteria and were of a high standard. The service they provided was exemplary and I would have no hesitation in recommending them, and will certainly consider using them again in the future.

HR Assistant, Fischer Connectors Ltd

In an industry where people over promise and under deliver, Rob and his teams have consistently provided a high-quality service. It is great to deal with someone that has an excellent understanding of UK industry, and a passion for sales.

Sales Manager, TR Fasteners

I could not suggest anything I would like you to do better. The service you provided materially exceeded my expectations. I would especially like to commend Simon Bonner; he is easily the best recruitment consultant I have ever dealt with. I particularly valued his advice and guidance throughout the recruitment process. 

UK Sales Manager, BTS Holdings Limited 

George came recommended by a colleague and has been a pleasure to work with. He was great at updating us on his progress and ensured a great experience for both client and candidate.

HR Manager, Annapurna Recruitment Ltd

Sophie did a great job at understanding our business and our needs, she is extremely professional and we hugely benefitted from her experience and expertise.

HR Manager, The Data Privacy Group Ltd

We appointed Aaron Wallis in February and the successful candidate, out of the six which Aaron Wallis introduced, was able to join Alphametrics before the end of April. The whole process took less than three months. I would recommend Aaron Wallis' services to others without hesitation.

Chief Financial Officer, Alphametrics

Really good service. Just the right amount of contact and easy to deal with.

HR Manager, Zircon Software Ltd

I have always found Rob to be very knowledgeable about our industry sector, and it is refreshing to see after all of these years that Rob continues to quickly and accurately understand my requirements.

HR and General Manager, THK

Giles is highly professional and was a pleasure to work with. He achieves excellent results through his personable skills and tenacity. I have no hesitation in recommending Giles to anyone who considers employing his services.

Commercial Director, G4S Government & Outsourcing Solutions

Thank you for your dedicated help during the recruitment process - we came to you after unsuccessfully searching elsewhere, and hired, not one, but two! Quick response times, and a really personal approach, without being pushy.

Managing Director, Accora Ltd

We were impressed not only by the quality of candidates you found for us but also the level of information, preparation and qualification you put into the process. You continually kept us informed of each person’s feelings about the process, which is very important but often overlooked. I am looking forward to working with your company again in the future.

Commercial Director, Incentive Facilities Management

As always we were extremely impressed with Rob's understanding of the role and our specific needs.

Managing Director, Speck & Burke

George is a rare find in the world of recruitment - communicative without being pushy or over-bearing. He listens and understands what the customer needs as gets to know the business to ensure he provides fully competent candidates who fit.

HR Manager, Big Dug

Giles Phillips is a rare find in the minefield of sales recruitment; an honest and thoughtful recruiter who considers the needs of both the client AND the candidate to create perfect role matches. I look forward to working with him again in the future.

Marketing Director, City of London Police

I just wanted to thank you for your help with our recruitment process which went very smoothly and has – we hope – found us just the person for the job!

Managing Director, Citrefine International Ltd

Our candidates say...

Sophie contacted me about a role explained the details clearly and made sure I was ready for the interview. She kept in touch every step of the way till I started the job. Thank you Sophie for a great experience.

S. Powell, Candidate

Aaron Wallis is an outstanding recruitment agency specialising in high calibre sales positions. I was working directly with Darren Dewrance who went above and beyond my expectations in sourcing me my perfect role. I was kept in regular communication with Darren and he worked extremely hard to secure my dream job. Highly recommended and Thanks Darren for all your expertise and hard work.

R. Sealy, Candidate

Fantastic customer service, communication was brilliant, happy polite people to talk to, made everything a lot easier and smoother. Thank you for all your help getting me back in the work force, Keep up the good work :-)

K. Everitt, Candidate

Sam was by far the most professional and helpful of any individual I've ever dealt with through a recruitment agency. He was supportive and thorough throughout the process. He definitely goes the extra mile for you. A pleasure to deal with. I would highly recommend him. An asset to Aaron Wallis

M. Wyer, Candidate

Very good advice and support was given during the course of the interviewing process. Potential job seekers would be well advised to use this company whilst looking for their new career.

R. Speakman, Candidate

Wanted to say a huge thank you to Simon Bonner who has just helped me secure my new role. He was one of the most professional recruiters I have ever worked with.

J. Marcinkiewicz, Candidate

Fantastic service, helped me find my ideal job quickly and smoothly. Would highly recommend them.

C. Caine, Candidate

George is a fantastic recruitment agent and provides a great service. It was a pleasure I thoroughly recommend George to anyone.

C. Beaugie, Candidate

Wanted to say a huge thank you to Simon Bonner who has just helped me secure my new role. He was one of the most professional recruiters I have ever worked with he was supportive really quick at replying and really put me at ease.

J. Marcinkiewicz, Candidate

Very polite and friendly and was very helpful finding me my next new role.

K. Craggs, Candidate

I have to say using Aaron Wallis Recruitment has been nothing but an absolute pleasure. I've used many agencies over the years as the client and the candidate and its not always been a pleasurable experience!

L. Knowles, Candidate

George Humphries was a complete professional at every point, from our first phone conversation to his “good luck tomorrow” text on Sunday before I started in my new role.

E. Fry, Candidate

Managed to get me placed within a week! Really friendly and easy to deal with. Always available for a call and my biggest challenge was I was in work at the time I was looking for my next opportunity (which is stressful) but Sam made that easy.

P. Fitzsimons, Candidate

Sophie helped me secure a new role I have been searching for. She took her time to explain clear and concisely all I needed to succeed at the interview stage. Thanks again Sophie!

O. Oladejo, Candidate

The service provided by Aaron Wallis has been just great. I was constantly informed about what was going on with the process interview and the agent has always been supportive and kind to me.

L. Colagrossi, Candidate

I had a great experience. Helped me every step of the way to get my new job. Sophie was very polite, kind and helpful!

J. Parnham, Candidate

For anyone looking for work, I can't recommend Aaron Wallis highly enough.

C. Rockliffe, Candidate

I would highly recommend Aaron Wallis Recruitment, Darren was extremely helpful and provided me with plenty of advice and support throughout the whole process.

D. Bretherton, Candidate

Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment are a very friendly and professional recruitment organisation who listen to your needs, work with you and act on your behalf which sets them apart from many of their competitors who in my experience are willing to throw anything at you. We discussed my history, my preferences and my wishes - one opportunity was introduced. It was perfect. I start at the end of June.

R. Buckley, Candidate

Excellent service, very professional and friendly, would and have, recommended Aaron Wallis.

E. Heley, Candidate

Less than two weeks after joining Aaron Wallis I was offered my new job. I got a £10,000 rise in my basic salary, car allowance, a laptop and many other perks, which will help to further my career. I definitely would not have found my dream job without the help of Aaron Wallis.

C. Hoy, Candidate

Excellent experience. Knowledgeable staff and really went the extra mile. Found my ideal position and I couldn't be happier. Special shout out to Sam and George: who made the process smooth and easy for me. Highly recommend.

K. Pearce, Candidate

Sophie has been fantastic and always so attentive, highly recommend.

T. Ashbourne, Candidate

Friendly, proactive, communicative. Overall a really positive experience.

R. Houston, Candidate

I had the absolute pleasure of working with George Humphries on finding a placement best suitable for me.

A. Van Der Mescht, Candidate

I had a very good experience with Aaron Wallis. The company itself is offering great content for all things related to the hiring process. I definitely recommend.

J. Ostermeier, Candidate

I would highly recommend thank you to Darren for helping me secure my new job role! Excellent service all round!

G. Thompson, Candidate

George above and beyond to make sure I had everything I need to secure my new role. Outstanding Professional.

A. Kirkland, Candidate

Rob was really helpful when I was putting together a presentation for the second stage interview. Overall their communication was great and kept me updated of any progress

J. McGrattan, Candidate

I can honestly say that the time and expertise you gave me was way beyond any other recruitment consultant I dealt with. You are a rarity in your industry.

S. Akers, Candidate

Perfect from start to finish. Simon deserves a shout out. Best recruiter there is. If you need a job, this guy will get you one. He's like the super man of recruiters. Top man, can't recommend him enough.

M. Crisp, Candidate

Darren at Aaron Wallis was really encouraging and helpful. He was very responsive and regularly made phone calls to explain the job opportunities available, and guided me through the application process.

A. Brown, Candidate

I have to say coming across and having dealings with Aaron Wallis proved to be very successful. Being highly experienced did not seem to count for much during my job search bit a conversation with Robert Scott gave me a real confidence boost and enabled to get a position at the age of 63. Great service!!!

D. Burgess, Candidate

The staff at Aaron Wallis were fantastic. Throughout the process, they maintained excellent communication and I always knew where I stood.

M. Owusu, Candidate

Simon was knowledgeable on his clients history, background and what their requirements were and he worked around time zones, holidays and a pandemic to get the right result.

J. Tooze, Candidate

The most professional recruitment agency I've ever worked with. Robert Scott was extremely proactive and send me a detailed briefing before each interview, ensuring I was well prepared.

D. Bermant, Candidate

Aaron Wallis (and in particular Rob Scott) have been fantastic throughout the recruitment process, and even a few months down the line, still continues to care. Rob clearly cares about each individual and has a wealth of knowledge and expertise, which shows in the work he does. Each candidate is not just a number, and the support received from Aaron Wallis has helped me get a career which I truly enjoy.

M. White, Candidate 

When talking with Simon you felt relaxed cared to help you find a position that suited your needs

D. Pinder, Candidate

A great recruitment company to work with. Excellent experience with Aaron Wallis through the entire recruitment process. The team was really professional and extremely helpful. Darren was a pleasure to work with. He was friendly, supportive and gave me great advice. Thank you very much!

A. Bauchet, Candidate

Good swift process with Aaron Wallis, informative regarding the role and the process was moved at a good pace with healthy interaction. Would recommend them to anyone pursuing a change.

S. Bartlett, Candidate

Professional and responsive from start to finish. I would highly recommend. Special thanks to Sophie J for her help and support throughout.

N. Leney, Candidate

The Recruitment agent I used, Simon, was extremely helpful and really went the extra mile to ensure all of my questions were answered, and that I felt as comfortable and prepared as possible. Very professional company and would definitely recommend to others. Thank you Aaron Wallis!

A. Callaby, Candidate

The detail put into the preparation for interviews and the detail of the job description was first class. Rob and Simon in particular are amongst the best I've ever dealt with.

K. Peacock, Candidate