The employee tests administered in the selection process may be classified in different ways. These tests range from one or two short form pencil and paper tests to elaborate combination of projective tests. These tests are designed to measure aptitude (general mental intelligence and special aptitudes), interest, creativity, judgment, temperament, and personality.

Some of the types of employee tests are:- 1. Aptitude Tests 2. Achievement Tests 3. Situational Tests 4. Interest Tests 5. Personality Tests 6. Intelligence or Mental Alertness 7. Mechanical Ability Tests.

8. Clerical and Stenographic Skills Test 9. Temperament Tests 10. Judgment Test 11. Abilities Tests 12. Skills Tests 13. Honesty Tests.

Types of Employee Selection Tests

Types of Selection Tests – Classified into 5 Types

Tests are classified into five types.


They are:

(i) Aptitude tests;

(ii) Achievement tests;

(iii) Situational tests;


(iv) Interest tests; and

(v) Personality tests.

(i) Aptitude Tests:

These tests measure whether an individual has the capacity or latent ability to learn a given job if given adequate training. Aptitudes can be divided into general and mental ability or intelligence and specific aptitudes such as mechanical, clerical, manipulative capacity etc.

(a) Intelligence Tests:


These tests in general measure intelligence quotient of a candidate. In detail these tests measure capacity for comprehension, reasoning, word fluency, verbal comprehension, numbers, memory and space. Other factors such as digit spans — both forward and backward, information known, comprehension, vocabulary, picture arrangement and object assembly.

Though these tests are accepted as useful ones, they are criticised against deprived sections of the community. Further, it is also criticised that these tests may prove to be too dull as a selection device. Intelligence tests include- sample learning, ability, the adaptability tests, etc.

(b) Mechanical Aptitude Tests:

These tests measure the capacities of spatial visualisation, perceptual speed and knowledge of mechanical matter. These tests are useful for selecting apprentices, skilled, mechanical employees, technicians, etc.


(c) Psychomotor Tests:

These tests measure abilities like manual dexterity, motor ability and eye-hand co-ordination of candidates. These tests are useful to select semi-skilled workers and workers for repetitive operations like packing and watch assembly.

(d) Clerical Aptitude Tests:

Measure specific capacities involved in office work. Items of this test include spelling, computation, comprehension, copying, word measuring, etc.

(ii) Achievement Tests:


These tests are conducted when applicants claim to know something as these tests are concerned with what one has accomplished. These tests are more useful to measure the value of specific achievement when an organisation wishes to employ experienced candidates.

These tests are classified into:

(a) Job knowledge test, and

(b) Work sample test.


(a) Job Knowledge Test:

Under this test a candidate is tested in the knowledge of a particular job. For example, if a junior lecturer applies for the job of a senior lecturer in commerce, he may be tested in job knowledge where he is asked questions about Accountancy Principles, Banking, Law, Business Management, etc.

(b) Work Sample Test:

Under this test a portion of the actual work is given to the candidate as a test and the candidate is asked to do it. If a candidate applies for a post of lecturer in Management he may be asked to deliver a lecture on Management Information System as work sample test.


Thus, the candidate’s achievement in his career is tested regarding his knowledge about the job and actual work experience.

(iii) Situational Test:

This test evaluates a candidate in a similar real life situation. In this test the candidate is asked either to cope with the situation or solve critical situations of the job.

(a) Group Discussion:

This test is administered through group discussion approach to solve a problem under which candidates are observed in the areas of initiating, leading, proposing valuable ideas, conciliating skills, oral communicating skills, coordinating and concluding skills.

(b) In Basket:

Situational test is administered through in basket. The candidate, in this test, is supplied with actual letters, telephone and telegraphic message, reports and requirements by various officers of the organisation, adequate information about the job and organisation. The candidate is asked to take decisions on various items based on the in basket information regarding requirements in the memoranda.

(iv) Interest Test:


These tests are inventories of the likes and dislikes of candidates in relation to work, job, occupations, hobbies and recreational activities. The purpose of this test is to find out whether a candidate is interested or disinterested in the job for which he is a candidate and to find out in which area of the job range/occupation the candidate is interested.

The assumption of this test is that there is a high correlation between the interest of a candidate in a job and job success. Interest inventories are less faked and they may not fluctuate after the age of 30.

(v) Personality Tests:

These tests prove deeply to discover clues to an individual’s value system, his emotional reactions and maturity and characteristic mood. They are expressed in such traits like self-confidence, tact, emotional control, optimism, decisiveness, sociability, conformity, objectivity, patience, fear, distrust, initiative, judgment dominance or submission, impulsiveness, sympathy, integrity, stability and self-confidence.

(a) Thematic Apperception Test (TAT):

Candidates are shown a series of pictures and are asked to write a story based on these pictures. This test measured candidates’ conceptual, imaginative, projective and interpretative skills.

(b) Ink-Blot Test:

The Rorschach Inkblot test was first described in 1921. The candidates are asked to see the ink-blots and make meaningful concepts out of them. The examiner keeps a record of the responses, time taken, emotional expressions and other incidental behaviours.

(vi) Other Tests:

(a) Cognitive Ability Tests:

These tests measure mathematical and verbal abilities. Popularly known tests of this category include Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT).

(b) Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale:

This is a comprehensive test including general information, arithmetic, similarities, vocabulary, picture completion, picture arrangement, object assembly and similar items.

(c) Wonderlic Personnel Test:

This test includes perceptual, verbal and arithmetic.

(d) Polygraph Tests:

The polygraph is an instrument that records changes in breathing, blood pressure, pulse and skin response associated with sweating of palms and plots these reactions on paper. The candidate is asked a series of simple, complicated, related, unrelated and critical questions. This test was used in personnel selection extensively in 1980s, but objections have been raised to the use of this test in personnel selection in 2000s.

(e) Honesty Tests:

The two types of pre-employment honesty tests are overt integrity tests and personality-based integrity tests. Overt integrity tests make direct questions to assess dishonest behaviour and gather a history of theft and illegal behaviour. Personality- based integrity tests assess an individual’s predisposition towards deviant and disruptive behaviour.

Types of Selection Tests – 7 Important Types

The psychological tests administered in the selection process may be classified in different ways. These tests range from one or two short form pencil and paper tests to elaborate combination of projective tests. These tests are designed to measure aptitude (general mental intelligence and special aptitudes), interest, creativity, judgment, temperament, and personality.

Type # 1. Intelligence or Mental Alertness:

These tests are designed to evaluate the applicant’s mental alertness or ability. A test of mental ability does not measure native intelligence but rather it measures the individual’s present capability of demonstrating his or her skills or knowledge. From this demonstration one makes a decision about the likelihood of success in certain endeavors. The Wesman Personnel Classification Test is the most widely used type of mental ability test in the industry.

Type # 2. Mechanical Ability Tests:

These tests have been developed to measure special aptitudes for a wide variety of specific abilities such as, engineering, mechanical, and so on. These tests have been found useful for selecting apprentices and other employees for skilled mechanical trades as well as for certain technical jobs.

The Purdue Mechanical Adaptability Test has sixty items covering fairly simple but basic information that an experienced automotive mechanic, electrician, carpenter, plumber or painter should know. Thus, it helps in identifying the individuals who are most likely to succeed on jobs or training programs calling for mechanical abilities.

Type # 3. Clerical and Stenographic Skills Test:

These skills are measured through tests. Clerical duties normally involve filing, tabulating, verifying, and transmitting information. Stenographic activities involve typing, taking dictation and some elements of the clerical jobs. Tests are designed to measure the speed and accuracy in performing these skills. Number Perception Test, the Minnesota Clerical Test, and the Short Employment Test are some of the commonly used tests in this area.

Type # 4. Interest Tests:

These tests identify likes and dislikes of individuals. Many people argue that interest is a determinant of proficiency in many jobs. Kuder Preference Record is an example of interest test.

Some degree of creativity is essential to the effective functioning of executives. The Cree Questionnaire is a semi-disguised test of creativity and innovativeness. The questionnaire can be used to identify potentially creative individuals. There are 145 items in the test. The applicant is asked to check one response for each item.

Type # 5. Temperament Tests:

Several research studies have isolated some major job-related categories of temperament. Some of these temperament dimensions include impulse, dominant, self- confident, emotional, agreeable, cooperative and tolerant and authoritarian. The Thurston Temperament Schedule provides seven scores in 15 to 25 minutes of testing time. Some of these areas covered by the test include active, vigor and impulse. A person scoring high in the area of “active” usually works and moves rapidly.

He is restless whenever he has to be quiet. An individual who scores high in the area of “vigorous” tends to participate in work requiring the use of his hands and outdoor occupation. High scores in the area of “impulsive” indicate a carefree nature and the individual with this temperament makes decisions quickly, enjoys competition, and changes easily from one task to another.

Type # 6. Personality Tests:

These tests fall into two categories. The commercially made available tests are self-reporting, which ask the respondent to describe himself in some way and these self-reports are either taken at face value or related to some group with known characteristics in order to obtain a score. A second approach utilizes the projective rationale. Tests of this nature, obtain descriptions of reactions, not with relevance to the self in the here and now, but to some far removed situation or stimulus.

Inferences are made back to the individual’s personality pattern. Personality inventory is a well-known personality test. This test measures traits such as neurotic tendency, self-sufficiency, introversion-extroversion, dominance-submission, self-confidence, and sociability. There are about 125 items with “yes” or “no or responses. The respondent is asked to check one response.

When it comes to the testing of candidates for executive positions, projection techniques such as Thematic Apperception Test, briefly known as, TAT, is used. This technique is based on the logic that people behavior is invariably meaningful and expressive of their personalities. Thus, given a standard but relatively ambiguous task (such as, telling a story about a picture), what a person does, reflects how he structures and interprets life situations and reacts to them. Executive personality evaluation is an example.

Type # 7. A Judgment Test:

This is one on which a person will generally not obtain a high score without possession of knowledge, but which requires the individual to use judgment in applying this knowledge to the solution of the problems presented.

Types of Selection Tests – Aptitude Test, Achievement Test, Personality Test and Interest Test

Tests are of different types.

They may be classified into the following four types:

1. Aptitude Test:

Aptitude means the potential which an individual possesses for learning the skill required to perform a specific job. Aptitude test measures an individual’s capacity and his potential for development. Defects associated with an individual or intellectual capacity can be detected through these tests.

Aptitude test consists of intelligence test, mechanical aptitude and clerical aptitude test which are described below:

(i) Intelligence Test or Mental Test:

These tests are designed to test the intelligence quotient of a candidate. It tests the overall intellectual capacity, ability to understand instructions and make decisions. These tests also help to determine candidates’ word fluency, memory, reasoning capacity, verbal comprehension, spatial aptitude etc. These tests are conducted in selecting employees for a wide variety of jobs in Banks, Railway and Insurance sectors etc.

(ii) Mechanical Aptitude Test:

To measure the person’s capacity to learn mechanical work these tests are conducted. These tests measure the capacity of spatial visualization, perceptual speed, problem solving ability, knowledge of mechanical matter etc., of the candidates. These tests are especially useful for selecting apprentices, mechanics, machinists and maintenance workers etc.

(iii) Clerical Aptitude Test:

This type of test is conducted to measure specific capacity of a candidate to handle office work. Testing of spelling, computation, copying, calculation etc., are the example of these tests.

(iv) Skill Tests:

It is also called psycho-motor test. Person’s ability to perform a specific job is measured through this test. These tests are conducted for selecting workers who have to perform semi-skilled and repetitive job like packing, labeling, testing etc.

2. Achievement Test:

These tests are conducted to test one’s capacity to perform something. These tests help to measure one’s skill or knowledge which one has claimed in the application.

Achievement tests are of two types:

(i) Job Knowledge Test:

It is designed to test one’s knowledge in a specific job. Knowledge in typing, computer operation or accounting is tested through this test. It is generally useful in selecting typist, stenographer, accountant or computer operator etc., where proficiency in handling a particular job is tested.

(ii) Work Sample Test:

In this test, worker is given a sample or portion of actual work for performance like typing or computer operation work and his capacity is judged on the basis of his/her actual performance.

3. Personality Test:

It is the test of person’s different traits like self-confidence, emotional control, optimism, decisiveness, sociability, patience, fear, initiative, judgment, dominance, impulsiveness, sympathy, stability, integrity, distrust etc. The test helps to understand deeply the value system, emotional reaction and maturity and characteristics mood of an individual. These tests are conducted for selecting executives and supervisors both in private and government sectors which will provide an overall picture of a candidate’s personality.

Personality test is further divided into following two types:

(i) Objective Test:

It is conducted to test the self -confidence self- sufficiency and dominance-submission character of an individual candidate.

(ii) Projective Test:

In this test candidates are asked to project their own interpretation of certain standard stimulus situation. Situation may be an ambiguous picture or figure. On the basis of candidate’s response and interpretation his personality is judged.

4. Interest Test:

It is a test conducted to know the likes and dislikes of a candidate in relation to work or job for which he or she is a candidate. The main purpose of conducting this test is to find out whether a candidate is interested or disinterested in the job and to measure the area of interest of the candidate in relation to job that will satisfy him.

Types of Selection Tests – 8 Commonly used Employee Selection Tests

Some of the commonly used employee selection tests may be listed thus:

Type # 1. Aptitude Tests:

Such tests are widely used to measure the latent ability of a candidate to learn new job or skill. They enable us to find out whether a candidate, if selected, would be suitable for a job which may be clerical or mechanical. These tests detect peculiarities or defects in a person’s sensory or intellectual capacity.

They focus attention on a particular type of talent, such as learning, reasoning or a mechanical bent of mind. Some of them measure simply sensory activity, speed and dexterity in motor movements of various types.

Aptitude tests for medicine, law, music, painting, clerical and number of other activities are also available. Some of these tests are useful in selection of employees. Such tests may take one of the following forms- mental or intelligence test, mechanical aptitude test or psychomotor or skills tests.

Type # 2. Intelligence Tests:

Measure the overall intellectual activity or the intelligence quotient (IQ) of a person and enable us to know whether he has the mental capacity to deal with new problems. They are useful for selection purposes, and determine the future of an employee’s word fluency, memory, inductive reasoning, speed of perception and spatial visualisation.

The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) is widely used for management appraisal and selection. It is given to only one person at a time. The Wonderlic Personnel Test and the Otis Employment Test are, however, general intelligence tests, which may be given to groups in a relatively short time. The administration of these tests calls for much preparation on the part of an organisation; and they are expensive and cumbersome as well.

Type # 3. Abilities Tests:

Measure the capacity of a person to learn a particular type of mechanical work — they measure a person’s capacity for spatial visualisation, perceptual speed, manual dexterity, visual- motor co-ordination or integration, visual insights, etc. They also measure specialised knowledge and information of techniques, arithmetical problem-solving ability and technical vocabulary.

Some of these functions are measured by apparatus, others by performance type of materials and still others by paper and pencil tests. They are useful when apprentices, machinists, mechanics, maintenance workers and mechanical technicians are selected. In other words, these tests are generally used for the selection of personnel in lower position, who are entrusted with the jobs of operating machines.

Examples of some specific abilities that might be measured include mechanical reasoning, motor dexterity, physical abilities, and reading comprehension. Due to the potential for adverse impact and greater legal exposure, generally ability testing programmes require strong supportive evidence.

This evidence includes job analysis results that support the ability as a job requirement, historical evidence of the validity of ability testing in similar or identical jobs, and/or validity evidence from the local setting where the test is going to be used.

Type # 4. Skills Tests:

Skills Tests are those tests which measures a person’s ability to do a specific job. They are administered to determine mental dexterity or motor ability and similar attributes involving muscular movement, control and co-ordination.

They are of primary importance in the selection of workers who have to perform semi-skilled and repetitive jobs, such as bench assembly work, packing, testing and inspection and watch assembly. Examples of this type of tests are the McQuarril Test for mechanical ability, the Purdue Mechanical Adaptability Test, and the O’Connor Finger and Tweezer Dexterity Tests.

Type # 5. Achievement Tests:

Known also as proficiency tests, they measure the skill or knowledge which is acquired as a result of a training programme and on-the-job experience. They determine the admission feasibility of a candidate and measure what he is capable of doing. Examples of such test are- General Aptitude Test Battery; the Abstract Reasoning Test, the Millar Analogies Test, the Standford Binet Scales, the Adaptability Tests.

Achievement tests are of two kinds:

a. Tests for measuring job knowledge, which may be oral or written. These tests are administered to determine proficiency in short-hand and in operating calculators, adding machines, dictating and transcribing machines, and simple mechanical equipment. Such tests are useful for office workers, mill supervisors, stenographers, public utility employees, sales girls, inspector, and so on.

b. Work Sample Tests demand the administration of the actual job as a test. A typing test provides the material to be typed and notes the time taken and the mistakes committed.

Assessment Centre:

An assessment centre is an extended work sample. It uses procedures that incorporate group and individual exercises. These exercises are designed to simulate the type of work which the candidate will be expected to do. Initially, a small batch of applicants come to the assessment centre (a separate room).

Their performance in the situational exercises is observed and evaluated by a team of 6 to 8 trained assessors. The assessors’ judgements on each exercise are compiled and combined to have a summary rating for each candidate being assessed.

The assessment centre approach, thus, evaluates a candidate’s potential for management on the basis of multiple assessment techniques, standardised methods of making inferences from such techniques, and pooled judgements from multiple assessors. Initially, a small batch of applicants come to the assessment centre (a separate room).

Examples of the simulated exercises based on real-life, included in a typical assessment centre are as follows:

i. The In-Basket:

Here, the candidate is faced with an accumulation of reports, memos, letters and other materials collected in the in-basket of the simulated job he is supposed to take over. The candidate is asked to take necessary action within a limited amount of time on each of these materials, say, by writing letters, notes, agendas for meetings, etc.

The results of the applicant’s actions are then reviewed by the evaluators. In-baskets are typically designed to measure oral, and written communication skills, planning, decisiveness, initiative and organisation skills.

ii. The Leaderless Group Discussion (LGD):

This exercise involves groups of managerial candidates working together on a job-related problem. The problem is generally designed to be as realistic as possible and is tackled usually in groups of five or six candidates. A leader is not designated for the group, but one usually emerges in the course of the group interaction.

Two or more assessors typically observe the interaction as the group tries to reach consensus on a given problem. The LGD is used to assess dimensions such as oral communication, tolerance for stress, adaptability, self-confidence, persuasive ability, etc.

iii. Business Games:

Here, participants try to solve a problem, usually as members of two or more simulated companies that are competing in the marketplace. Decisions might include how to advertise and produce, how to penetrate the market, how much to keep in stock, etc. Participants thereby exhibit planning and organisational abilities, interpersonal skills and leadership abilities.

Business games may be simple (focusing on very specific activities) or complex models of complete organisational systems. They may be computer-based or manually operated, rapidly programmed or flexible. In computer-based games, participants typically draw up plans for an organisation to determine such factors as the amount of resources to allocate for advertising, product design, selling and sales effort.

The participants arrive at a number of decisions, and then the computer tells them how well they did in comparison to competing individuals or teams. Business games have several merits- they reduce time, events that might not take place for months or years are made to occur in a matter of hours. They are realistic and competitive in nature. They also offer immediate feedback.

iv. Individual Presentations:

Participants are given a limited amount of time to plan, organise and prepare a presentation on an assigned topic. This exercise is meant to assess the participant’s oral communication skill, self-confidence, persuasive abilities, etc.

v. Structured Interview:

Evaluators ask a series of questions aimed at the participant’s level of achievement, motivation, potential for being a ‘self-starter’ and commitment to the company.

Type # 6. Personality Tests:

These tests aim at measuring those basic make-up or characteristics of an individual, which are non-intellectual in their nature. In other words, they probe deeply to discover clues to an individuals’ value system, his emotional reactions and maturity, and his characteristic mood. They assess his motivation interests, his ability to adjust himself to the stresses of everyday life, and his capacity for interpersonal relations and self-image.

They are expressed in terms of the relative significance of such traits of a person as his self-confidence, his ambition, tact, emotional adjustment, emotional stability, neuroticism, obsessions, delusions, compulsions, or various other traits of human personality as perseverance, co-cooperativeness, aggressiveness, impulsiveness, reflectiveness, thoughtfulness, masculinity or feminity, self-restraints, submissiveness, ascendance, optimism, decisiveness, sociability, conformity, objectivity, patience, fear, distrust, initiative, judgement, dominance, sympathy, integrity, etc.

These tests are administered to counsel individuals, to select supervisors and higher executives. They are pen-and-paper tests. Examples of such tests are- Bell Adjustment Inventory, California Test of Personality Scale, Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, Thematic Appreciation Tests, etc.

Personality tests have a wider use in industry because they provide a well-rounded picture of an applicant’s personality, and because managers have to realise the importance of emotional characteristics. Some authorities, however, consider these tests to be superficial, easily faked and misleading.

These tests are of three types:

a. Objective tests which measure neurotic tendencies, self-sufficiency, dominance-submission, and self-confidence. These are scored objectively. They are paper-and-pencil tests or Personality Inventories.

b. Projective tests are those in which a candidate is asked to project his own interpretation into certain standard stimulus situations. The way in which he responds to these stimuli depends on his own values, motives and personality. The most widely used tests of this type are the Rorschach Blot Test and the Thematic Appreciation Test.

c. Situation tests measures an applicant’s reaction when he is placed in a peculiar situation; his ability to undergo stress and his demonstration of ingenuity under pressure. Such tests usually relate to leaderless group situations, in which some problem is posed to a group, and its members are asked to reach some conclusion without the help of a leader.

Type # 7. Interest Tests:

These tests aim at finding out the types of work in which a candidate is interested. They are inventories of the likes and dislikes of the people of some occupations, hobbies and recreational activities. They are useful in vocational guidance, and are assessed in the form of answers to a well-prepared questionnaire. Examples of such tests are- Kuder Reference Record, The Strong Vocational Interest Blank, etc.

Type # 8. Honesty Tests:

These tests are designed to help control inventory theft or time theft such as leave abuses by screening out individuals that are likely to have these propensities. There are significant concerns about using these types of tests. A major concern is the fact the tests have high prediction errors, particularly “false positives” rates which would inappropriately label an individual as having a propensity that they do not in fact possess.

Another concern is invasion of privacy by asking personal questions of candidates. A number of states have placed restrictions on the use of honesty tests although they are still popular in industries such as retail where employee inventory theft is a significant cost issue.

Other controversial tests such as polygraph were also being used in developed countries previously, but after being attacked on several counts, such tests are not favoured nowadays.

The polygraph (the lie detector) consists of a rubber tube around the chest, a cuff round the arm, and sensors attached to the fingers that record the physiological changes in the examinee as the examiner puts questions that call for an answer of yes or no) records physical changes in the body as the test subject answers a series of questions.

It records fluctuations in respiration, blood pressure and perspiration on a moving roll of graph paper. The polygraph operator forms a judgement as to whether the subject’s response was truthful or deceptive by examining the biological movements recorded on the paper.

Polygraphs, despite strong resistance by many applicants, are increasingly being used by companies which have problems with inventory and security of funds. Government agencies have begun to use the polygraph, though in a limited way, after the passage of the Employee Polygraph Protection Act in USA in 1988, especially for filling security, police, fire and health positions.

Critics, however, question the appropriateness of polygraphs in establishing the truth about an applicant’s behaviour. The fact is that polygraph records biological reaction in response to stress and does not record lying or even the conditions necessarily accompanying lying. Is it possible to prove that the responses recorded by the polygraph occur only because a lie has been told?

What about those situations in which a person lies without guilt (a pathological liar) or lies believing the response to be true? The fact of the matter is that polygraphs are neither reliable nor valid. Since they invade the privacy of those tested, many applicants vehemently oppose the use of polygraph as a selection tool.