Monday, April 15, 2013

How to Find Employees with High Cognitive Ability

How to Find Employees with High Cognitive Ability

Written by: Sonia Zafar

In today’s competitive world, it is hard to filter through candidates in order to find those who have high cognitive ability. There are many ways employers can find competent employees. The reason why cognitive ability is important is because there is a strong relationship between ability and job performance. Cognitive ability has a strong positive effect on job performance in careers that require more complex tasks than the average job. Although cognitive ability has a strong connection to job performance, it has no effect on job commitment. Just because one employee has higher cognitive ability than another, does not necessarily mean that he or she is more committed to their job.

Wonderlic Personal Test
This test is made up of 50 questions and takes roughly 12 minutes to complete. It tests the general cognitive ability of prospective employees. For each question answered correctly, a person receives one point. Those points are summed up and then the total score is used as a basis for employers to select people for various jobs. According to the Wonderlic Scores, the minimum score for an unskilled laborer is 17, and the scores for an upper level career are in the high 20’s range. For example, the minimum score for an executive is 28 and for a machine operator it is 18. This test is also taken into consideration when drafting college players in the NFL. The NCAA also uses this this test; The Pacific 10 Conference and Stanford have football players on their teams that scored above average intelligence. Stanford had an average score of 28.8, which is equivalent to the score of chemists and engineers. After Stanford, the top 4 scoring teams are:
  1. Purdue (25.3) 
  2. Brigham Young (25.2)
  3. California (25.2) 
  4.   UCLA (24) 
(Loumena, 2005).

Social Media
One of the best ways for employers to recruit good candidates for job openings is social media. LinkedIn is one of the most popular job related social networking websites. Devin Blanks, who is a recruiter at DB Search Group in Minneapolis, believes that LinkedIn is a great way to search for candidates who have the cognitive ability and skills for the job. His staff uses LinkedIn to connect with many “hard to find” professionals. Blanks stated:

Most recently, we wanted to fill a Senior Director of HR position. As this position was more complex than usual and called for a very specific skill set, I used two different approaches to using LinkedIn. First, we posted the position, and second, we viewed potential candidates through second and third party connections via my immediate contacts and requesting an introduction. I got great response, met with a few candidates, and filled the position with a LinkedIn member” (Heathfield, 2013).

LinkedIn lets individuals post their resumes online, and connect with coworkers/classmates and potential employers. It is a great way to network and it makes it much easier for employers to contact candidates for interviews by looking at their profile online.

Internal Referral

Many employers today hire based on word of mouth. If a trusted employee refers someone for an available position, that candidate’s resume will stand out and be separated from the rest. Riju Parakh was recommended by a friend at Ernst & Young for a competitive position in the company. For large companies like Ernst & Young, it is much more efficient to hire internally than to go out and look for candidates. Employee recommendations now account for 45 percent of upper level career placements at the firm, which is an astounding number (Schwartz, 2013).  Larry Nash, director of experienced and executive recruiting says, “the company looks at every resume submitted but a referral puts them in the express lane” (Schwartz, 2013). 

Heathfield, S. (2013). Use linkedin for recruiting employees. Retrieved from

Loumena, D. (2005, October 02). pacific 10 makes grade.Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from

Schwartz, N. D. (2013, January 27). In hiring, a friend in need is a prospect, indeed. The New York Times. Retrieved from

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