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3 Things to Consider Before Investing in Mobile Cognitive Employee Assessments

July 16, 2019

Mobile Employee Assessment

It’s no secret that cognitive ability is one of the best predictors of job performance. To assess a candidate’s cognitive ability, assessments have historically used a variety of techniques - for example, reading paragraphs of information and then answering deductive reasoning questions or solving simple equations as quickly as possible. With the war for top talent still raging on though, businesses are eager to place candidate experience as their top priority. SIOP 2019’s seminar on mobile cognitive employee assessments gave us insight to the latest and greatest strides in cognitive testing. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Mobile is the new standard. Mobile is not only preferred these days, it's expected. A growing number of adults report that their cellphone is their only personal connection to the internet - fewer and fewer people have a personal laptop at their disposal. And while “mobile friendly” is the popular buzzword, “mobile first” has becoming king: instead of retrofitting old assessments to have mobile-friendly features, more and more organizations are creating entirely new measures and employee assessments that are designed primarily for a cellphone.

  • Don’t be so quick to use games. When companies do scrap their old assessments for new mobile first optimizations, this often manifests in the form of games. You’ve seen them: Tetris-like, or building a maze, or clicking around a screen in a pre-defined pattern. These measures are popular because they’re easy to build and relatively fun to complete when compared with the traditional cognitive assessment. However, new data suggests that this should not be a one size fits all approach. For entry-level roles, this can be a great way to get some quick data on cognitive ability. But for more senior roles, or roles where cognitive ability is key, your candidates may be frustrated that they are being asked to play a game in order to prove their qualifications. Mobile cognitive measures don’t have to be gimmicky and flashy, so don’t get swept up in the game craze without carefully considering that particular assessment’s fit for the role.

  • What’s more important: candidate experience or good data? The discussions we heard around mobile employee assessments ultimately boiled down to two camps: do you care most about the candidate experience or do you care about collecting the best possible data? It’s important to know your own company’s goal before moving forward with any kind of mobile-friendly or mobile-first assessment. These two goals are not mutually exclusive, but most of the time, the assessments in this field were built with one or the other in mind.

What should your mobile employee assessment strategy be?

Considering all we've discussed above, if you’re going to develop your own mobile employee assessments, try to strike a balance that is informed by the job type, the type of cognitive behavior that’s most related to the job, and the volume of applicants you anticipate. If you’re going to find a vendor to develop your assessments instead, make sure they can speak to the thoughtful development of the measure with these key concepts in mind. Otherwise, you might as well just let your candidates play Tetris for an afternoon.

Mobile Assessments What We Know and Where We’re Going


Jaclyn Menendez, Ph.D. Jaclyn Menendez, Ph.D. is a Project Consultant at PSI based out of Fort Collins, Colorado. Her areas of expertise include testing, assessments, and project management. Jaclyn has contributed to the development, validation, and implementation of assessments with various clients. She has managed, analyzed, and presented data analyses for content and criterion validation studies.