“Jules scored 12/20 in this morning’s test, even though he answered 10 questions incorrectly. Given that each question is worth the same number of points, how many questions were there in the test in total? 10 – 20 – 25 – 30 – 35. You have 30 seconds to answer…”
This is a typical example of the kind of question your candidates may be required to answer. We say ‘may’ since this distinction is the crux of adaptive testing. Indeed, if your candidate answers a question correctly, the following question will be more challenging. Likewise, if a candidate gets the answer wrong or does not submit a response within the time limit, it will be simpler. In this way, every test is unique since it adapts in real-time to match the candidate’s level. With the help of a powerful algorithm, the optimal question for each candidate is selected within a fraction of a second, drawn from a pool of hundreds of items of varying difficulty. By only asking the most relevant questions, it is possible to have a faster and more accurate grasp of a candidate’s level of reasoning ability.
What are the objectives of adaptive testing?
The aim of this kind of assessment is simple: to measure a candidate’s intellectual abilities. Tests results are just as simple—a reasoning ability score. But how should this score be interpreted and applied within professional settings?
Scores are generated from the number of correct responses given by candidates able to effectively draw upon their reasoning skills. These abilities do not rely on former knowledge but rather on the capacity to process new information. The aim is not, therefore, to find out how much candidates know, but instead how they manage to find solutions to new problems. Do candidates demonstrate the ability to perceive the various elements that make up a situation, do they know how to make connections between these elements, do they make good use of their logic to analyse problems, do they come up with coherent solutions, all while showing that they can react quickly under time constraints?
When applied to the workplace, candidate’s scores are clearly useful in predicting how quickly they will fit into their new role and in gauging their adaptability and learning skills. On one hand, candidates with considerably high scores will be able to adapt to new environments more easily and quickly reach the level of performance required. The candidates’ results stand as proof that they can step out of their comfort zone to consider new things, that they can get to grips with them to find meaning and that they can develop approaches that meet requirements. Such candidates will also readily be able to understand new instructions without needing lengthy explanations, to solve problems without having to constantly call on outside help, and to adapt to face most situations.
Learning-wise, these candidates will be better at taking in complex information and at understanding new ideas so that they can develop their skill set and make it available for the benefit of their company. The ease these candidates demonstrated when faced with challenging questions shows that they can learn quickly and that they will be able to effectively incorporate new material into their working methods, drawing upon their past experiences and putting it to good use.
Benefits of reasoning assessments
For the HR professional, this information acts as a token of security and confidence when hiring new employees, but also within the context of career advancement to top posts and at the training investment stage. For career advisers, it acts as a guarantee for the likelihood of a candidates’ successful integration into their new job role and of academic success for those returning to education.
To shed further light on the assessment of adaptability and learning skills, other forms of evaluation can be added alongside adaptive testing. While the latter homes in on cognitive skills, other very powerful tools provide insight into a candidate’s behavioural and emotional skills.
In this case, the analysis of candidates’ abilities will be based on the effective use of their emotions to interact appropriately with others and to exhibit behaviours that are in tune with their environment. If candidates know how to properly use their logic to reason out a problem, can they do the same using their emotions? It, therefore, remains to be seen whether candidates are adaptable, quick on the uptake, inquisitive, independent, open-minded, keen to discover new things, confident in their abilities, etc., since these skills also come into play when evaluating adaptability and learning skills.