Comparing employees to square pegs and round holes seems to be a bit cold-hearted. But the message behind that image is the key to hiring the right person.

aptitude tests job fitPeople aren’t pegs, of course, but some people simply fit into a job slot better than others, because of their knowledge and innate abilities. Their personality, their existing skills, and their capacity to learn can all help predict which candidates will perform up to expectations in a particular job.

Using pre-employment aptitude tests is the best way to help predict which candidates are the best fit for your company. Aptitude tests can be tailored specifically for the job you are trying to fill, targeting exactly the traits that best match the job or the traits found in previous successful holders of the job. These may be traits that won’t be visible on a resume or during an interview, so testing can help you select the best candidate out of the applicant pool.

In addition to personality traits, a good aptitude test will look at a job candidate’s mental abilities, including cognitive ability and skills with logical thinking, conceptual thinking, abstract thinking, comprehension, and spatial relations. The results can be analyzed to show you the applicant’s strengths, so you can determine how he could best be placed in your company. The test results can also help you determine who would be a poor fit (you might not want someone with low math skills handling money or low stress management skills working customer service, for example).

An often overlooked opportunity resulting from using employee assessments is development. The test results show individual skills and preferences. With training, many employees can learn new skills that offset weaknesses or improve proficiency in administrative and technical areas.

Administering pre-employment aptitude tests can help you narrow the applicant pool to the top contenders before you interview anyone. At a time when technology has made it easy for jobseekers to apply for jobs, even those they aren’t qualified, an effective hiring process and employee screening system is a necessity to filter our high-risk candidates quickly.

With test results in hand, employers can then tailor interview questions to check out any perceived weaknesses in the individual candidates, making the most effective use of the time spent in the interview. The test results, combined with a structured behavioral interview, can help select the best person for the job, and avoid the expense and trouble of making a bad hire.

As many hiring manager know, the wrong hire, like a square peg, can rarely be made into a good fit for your company.