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IQ Tests: What are they good for?

Do IQ tests measure anything that actually translates to meaningful, real-world behavior? Should the general public, or hiring managers, care about a person’s IQ score?

A brief history of IQ tests

IQ tests were initially developed to test academic achievement in school children in early 20th century France but quickly gained popularity for widespread use. Critics claimed these early IQ tests were unscientific, discriminatory, divisive, and even invalid. These criticisms led to substantial revisions that produced entirely new Modern IQ tests. Most Psychologists consider modern IQ tests to be not only highly reliable but also culture-neutral.

What do modern IQ tests measure exactly?

Modern intelligence tests measure what Psychologists call General Intelligence (or “g”, for short). One’s “g” influences a wide range of critical mental tasks, from learning new material, problem-solving, and recognizing patterns. This General Intelligence is not something that is learned, it is a biological feature that influences how well individuals learn. Thus, it is a powerful predictor of success both in school and in the workplace.

Should I use IQ tests in my hiring?

Intelligence is a key feature you want in your hires; it’s a key predictor of success in the workplace. However, it may not benefit you to try to test for it.

First of all, real IQ tests require a specially trained administrator, and at least an hour to conduct. And ironically, because IQ is so predictive of other information commonly examined in hiring – such as education and prior work success – that IQ scores may be redundant to other, more easily obtained information. Moreover, putting too much emphasis on Intelligence may miss these other important individual factors that may differentiate your brilliant star employee from your brilliant office malcontent.

What should I use instead?

For the average organization, there’s likely more to gain from a pre-hire assessment that taps into other influential factors in workplace performance. Motivational factors and soft skills can be key predictors of workplace success that are critical for predicting which people will work well in a team-based or customer forward position.

Cangrade’s Pre-Hire Assessment identifies candidates with the soft skills you need for your hires to succeed. It doesn’t give you a “one size fits all” data point like an IQ score. However, we’ve calibrated this pre-hire assessment to provide specific information relevant to your specific hiring needs. 

What’s the takeaway here?

IQ testing is reliable but expensive and time-consuming to do well – and employee fit is more complicated than recruiting the highest IQ score. Each position calls upon a variety of skills and capabilities. You want to find the person who can best meet those needs.

For more on how Cangrade can help you predict candidate success, contact us.