Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Which Pre-Hire Tests are Right for Your Company?

As a hiring manager, I am sure that you are tired of hiring applicants with an excellent CV and a good talking game, only to discover that they do not have the skills to get the job done

This revolving door of hire and fire, costs your company both money, time, and resources and can potentially put your job in jeopardy as well.

There is no reason to reinvent the wheel; you have to look at what some top companies are doing to increase good hires and retention. Today around 80% of Fortune 500 companies use various psychometric exams during their hiring process. In this short article, we will take a look at some of these exams and how you can implement them into your hiring process.

Many test providers are offering a variety of similar psychometric tests, including Watson Glaser, Korn Ferry, Hogan, Wonderlic and Revelian, among many others. While we obviously cannot tackle them all in a meaningful way in this short article, we will take an in-depth look at the Criteria Cognitive Aptitude Test (CCAT), which is one of the most popular across the United States.

Let's dive in!

Criteria Cognitive Aptitude Test (CCAT)

This test is especially popular in the United States and focuses on critical thinking and problem solving using numerical, verbal, abstract, and logical questions. 

What Type of Positions is the Test Useful for?

You should consider this test for the following hiring Categories:

  • Sales (reps and managers)
  • Product and Project management 
  • Finance 
  • Analysts 
  • Software Engineers

But what is the correlation between the test results and performance on the job? Considering that administering the test will cost you money, will you see an ROI?

Let's take a glance at the various sections and the skill sets that they test for:


This section is a mix of word problems, number/letter series, and tables and graphs. Let's start with the most common and easiest question types!

Word Problems 

This includes basic arithmetic (four basic operations); travel problems (Distance = speed x Time); and Combinatorics (combinations and permutations.) 

Your Companies RIO

  • Four basic math operations - Proves that the candidate paid attention during schooling and can absorb basic concepts. 
  • Travel problems – While suitable for the armed forces and aviation, these questions highlights any candidate's ability to think ahead on how they plan their workload and strategize with customers. 
  • Combinatorics – While these questions are seen less often, they are important because it proves the ability to tackle the selection, arrangement, and operation of a wide variety of configurations (e.g., graphs, designs, arrays.) 

Number/Letter Series

You will challenge your candidate with continuing broken or interrupted sequence of numbers or letters with these questions. 

Your Companies RIO: You will see if the candidate can draw from prior patterns to complete the sequence. This is especially useful for anyone in a management position who will create monthly reports and projections for the coming months and quatres.

Tables & Graphs

These question types are perhaps the most complicated of the numerical section because they often demand analysis of complex data sets as found on tables and graphs. 

Your Companies RIO: From analysts to software engineers or product/project management working with charts and data is elementary. You will have a good understanding of the applicant's true abilities by the end of the test.


This section will include three types of questions, including Sentence Completion, Word Analogies, and Antonyms. Let's take a brief look!

Sentence Completion

Here they will have to closely look at the sentence's content to complete the missing word or phrases from a list of possible options. 

Word Analogies

The candidate will be presented with words with an intrinsic relationship like "Battery is to Car as" and then have to choose an additional pair of words that also match in the same way, like: "Engine is to Plane."     


Again, candidates who maintain weak vocabularies will have a difficult time answering these questions.

Your Companies RIO: You will quickly discover the extent of your candidate's vocabulary or lack thereof. An expansive vocabulary is instrumental in so many business areas, from sales to presentations, reports, memos, and more.

Additionally, if your candidate does not have basic deductive skills, they are probably not hiring material.

Abstract / Spatial Reasoning

While the previous section on math and English makes a lot of sense, you might be asking how testing your candidates on shapes and figures will help you choose the right candidate? This section of the test uses three types of questions: Next in Series, Odd One Out, and Matrices. Let's dig in!

Next in Series

These questions feature logical rules or patterns that are presented in shape series. The task of the candidate will be to successfully continue to the series with the right shape. However, this can only be accomplished by uncovering the logical rule.

Your Companies RIO: If your candidate does not do well on this portion of the test, high chance that they did not prepare. It is nearly impossible to pass this section without seeing and practicing in examples prior. You want an employee who will prepare and be ready for challenges before they arise.

Odd One Out

Facing five abstract shapes and figures (think modern art), the candidate will be tasked with finding the odd one out, meaning the one that does not share a specific defined feature with the other four.

Your Companies RIO: You want an employee who can strategize and work methodologically, including making quick mental lists and matching them against each other. You see, you can already imagine how useful this skill-set will for your company. 


Simply a matrix is a rectangular arrangement of numbers into rows and columns. Matrices questions are formed as a 3 X 3 matrix, in which one shape is missing. The concept is to find the missing shape based on the rules given in the columns, rows, or both.

Your Companies RIO: In a business setting, these numbers can represent data and are a great tool for making complex decisions, especially when dealing with many variables.


This last section will include Syllogisms, Seating Arrangements, and Error Checking / Attention to Details.


After reading several presumably true premises, the task will be to decide if an additionally provided statement follows it or not.  

Your Companies RIO: You want an employee who can find solutions to problems either via good intuition or by using the right tools at his disposal, such as a Venn Diagram, to solve the problem. You don't want someone lacking either strong intuition or the ability to think quickly enough to pull the right tools out of the box.

Seating Arrangements

To this correctly, one has to think logically and be very orderly individual. It means taking into consideration names, age, social groupings, and the size and shape of the seats, tables, and venue … and a variety of other factors that can go into pulling of seating arrangement.

Your Companies RIO: You will know how organized your future employee is after this test. One can have the best brain, but it will be hard to make it through the day without organization.

Error Checking / Attention to Details

Lastly, the test will end with columns of information that your candidate will have to sift through to find discrepancies between data lists.

Your Companies RIO: In business, a simple error in writing a client's name can be costly, as it shows carelessness, or worse, incompetence. Ensure that your next employee can spot the errors and spare you at best professional embarrassment or a dropped client.   

I hope you found this article helpful, and good luck on your next hiring round!