Numerical reasoning pre-employment assessment tests for recruitment

If you are a talent acquisition expert, a human resources specialist or a hiring manager you probably have come across tools that help to select and hire the best fit candidates for your business. These can range from tools helping to sift through job applications, psychometric testing, assessment centers and interviews. You may have even heard or used game assessments or video interviews.

Effectively designed candidate selection processes should form a funnel that helps you identify and choose the best candidates at every stage. In the times of LinkedIn and the ability to apply to a 100+ jobs with one click, recruiters need to have a portfolio of tools that helps them select the best candidates, fast and without spending thousands of dollars, pounds, or euros.

And this is what that article is about. To give you the best overview of one of the critical assessment tools in a recruitment funnel: pre-employment numerical reasoning test use in candidate selection.

Many organizations continue using job interviews as a primary selection tool. And yes, interviews are still a must however they may bring most of the value at the end of the hiring process.

Let’s find out what other tools should complement your recruitment funnel.

The article below will provide you with a very concise story of why and how to use numerical tests in your hiring process and funnel to identify and hire the best-fit employees for your business.

Keep reading to find out more.


  1. What is a pre-employment numerical reasoning assessment?  
  2. How do numerical reasoning tests work in hiring?
  3. What is covered in numerical reasoning tests?
  4. Why use numerical reasoning pre-employment tests in hiring? Pros and cons.
  5. When should the numerical test be used to hire?
  6. Which roles can the numerical reasoning test be used to hire?
  7. Is numerical reasoning used for small and medium enterprises (SME)?
  8. Why use Assess Candidates numerical reasoning tests to hire?

1. What is a pre-employment numerical reasoning assessment?

Numerical reasoning pre-employment tests assess a candidate’s ability to handle and interpret numerical data.

Numerical reasoning pre-employment tests are:

  • widely used in recruitment and job interview processes to assess a candidate’s ability to analyse and draw conclusions from numerical data, often presented in table, graph or chart format
  • typically timed to present candidates with the urgency that we often find in the workplace
  • usually set out as a series of multiple-choice questions and require basic knowledge of mathematics at a high school level

For recruiters and hiring managers numerical reasoning tests form a fundamental part of the selection process supporting finding those applicants that have the aptitude to fill the requirements of the role. 

To keep it short, most roles in a company will benefit from using numerical tests as a sifting tool since it is a broad proxy for IQ measure, however for some roles especially those that deal with numbers, analysis, data interpretations it simply is a must.

Keep reading to find out more.

Virtual Assessments in recruitment*
Virtual Assessments in recruitment

2. How do numerical tests actually work in hiring?

In numerical reasoning tests, candidates will be presented with numerical information and be asked to reason with this in various ways. As such, fundamental candidate ability is the focus of numerical reasoning rather than demanding the highest level of mathematical knowledge. With a demanding time-limit alone, candidates are challenged to balance their speed and accuracy in working to complete the test.

Imagine If you plan to hire a new employee, and you’ve received 1000 applications and maybe half are good enough to explore further after you’ve done the screening step. This is where numerical tests come to help.

A numerical reasoning test will be one of the first steps in the recruitment process, typically following the sifting of job applications and the screening process.

Known for their ability to accurately predict candidate future performance, numerical tests have withstood the test of time (used for 100+ years) and remain a staple tool for dozens of thousands of employers globally when assessing for all levels of candidate, from entry level to senior positions.

Numerical reasoning tests are most likely to be used at an early stage in the recruitment process. By inviting everyone to take a numerical reasoning test, employers can discount those who don’t meet a certain standard. This is an easy way to assess candidates in the first stage before moving on to next recruitment stages like other aptitude tests, assessment centers or the interview process.

Let us see now how this process could work.

The assessment process usually first starts with filling in the application and the CV upload by a candidate. Likely, the second stage is the numerical reasoning test or another type of aptitude test. Following initial application screening applicants and then employers can move on to further testing, game assessments, assessment center or video/in-person interviews.

A recruiter or a human resources specialist may invite pre-screened candidates to online numerical tests. The candidates have a dedicated period of time (usually several days) to complete the tests. The recruiter then reviews the results via an online report and selects the candidates to move to another round of the assessments.

There are a handful of companies on the market providing numerical tests solutions. Rarely you will need a bespoke solution. Off-the-shelf numerical tests will do the job. Make sure they can prove that their tests have been created and validated by professional organization psychologists and psychometricians. Otherwise these tests will not deliver on selecting the right candidates.

Assess Candidates is one of the major pre-employment aptitude tests providers proven to deliver best candidates for small, medium and large organizations. Our tests follow an end-to-end rigorous industry practice in test creation and validation. If you would like to get a better understanding of how to use numerical (and other) reasoning assessments, please contact us for free advice.

Importantly, numerical tests are often used in conjunction with other psychometric tests so the decision to qualify a candidate to the next round may be based on combined results as well as on the type of role.

Please reach out to us to help you evaluate the best selection of pre-employment psychometric tests for specific roles ( or pop up to us on our chat bot).

3. What is covered in numerical reasoning tests?

Numerical reasoning tests are designed to examine a candidate’s ability in a number of ways. These typically include:

  • Percentages
  • Ratios
  • Averages
  • Currency Conversions
  • Fractions
  • Estimations

Various numerical questions are used by many different employers. However, the above areas are the most common.

In a data-driven environment, it is essential that the employees have strong numerical reasoning skills, without which any hiring decision would be difficult to make with confidence.

Further in the text you will find specific roles that the use of pre-employment numerical tests in the job interview process is highly recommended.

An example of pre-employment numerical reasoning questions:

Numerical Reasoning Test Example Question
Numerical Reasoning Test Example Question

Assess Candidates Numerical Reasoning Test Question Example

Numerical Reasoning Test Example 2 Question
Numerical Reasoning Test Example 2 Question
Numerical Reasoning Test Example 3 Question
Numerical Reasoning Test Example 3 Question

You may be wondering now what the benefits of using numerical reasoning tests in a recruitment process are. Let’s find out.

4. Why use numerical reasoning pre-employment tests in hiring? Pros and cons.

5 reasons (pros) to use numerical reasoning assessments in recruitment:

  1. Increased quality of hires – numerical tests used in hiring are a proven (for over 100 years) accurate method of predicting candidates’ ability to work with numerical data and their likelihood of success within the organization based on their core mental abilities. 
  2. Efficient, low cost per candidate – numerical tests are distributed and completed online, no paper, printing or postage fees. They are typically priced per test (candidate) or using a flat fee for a maximum number of tests used. This approach helps to minimize the costs for volume recruitment and enable testing of thousands of candidates at low fees.
  1. Speed – thousands of candidates can be tested in a matter of days and the results are available immediately after test completion. It is very easy and fast to select candidates that meet a given threshold using the backend admin tools. Typically, the admin module will allow for scenario playing as well (e.g. apply different criteria to different populations).
  1. Reduce bias – numerical tests are indiscriminate. They just assess person’s abilities without considering any other factors like, age, gender, ethnicity; the results can therefore be easily defendable in case of legal challenge
  1. Increased diversity – companies can make informed hiring decisions (e.g. by changing cut-off rates) to increase diversity by looking for traits, knowledge and thinking styles missing from their current team.

4 reasons to consider when using numerical reasoning tests:

  1. Reduce test anxiety – completing numerical tests, similar to any assessment, can cause stress and anxiety to candidates. By encouraging the candidates to practice the test beforehand it will make them more at ease when tackling the assessment and will present their true ability under typical working conditions.
  1. Using numerical tests in isolation – a numerical test does not paint the full picture; just because a candidate does well on the test does not mean they will perform well in the real world. However, if the numerical test is used alongside other assessments employers will get a good idea on an applicant’s abilities.
  1. Consider soft skills too – numerical reasoning tests alone can prevent a candidate from demonstrating their soft skills. In almost any job these days one requires not only a high level of mental abilities but also emotions. It is recommended that applicants are assessed for their soft skills further in the recruitment process that will complement the full picture of the candidate.
  1. Cheating – it is technically possible that an online numerical test can be cheated and completed by someone else. Therefore, while looking for solutions on the market, consider checking what measures the test providers offer to prevent cheating.

With more of an understanding on the benefits of numerical reasoning tests in hiring and potential drawbacks, we will now go on to discuss when employers should use numerical reasoning tests to recruit.

Numerical Reasoning test for hiring
Numerical Reasoning test for hiring

5. When should the numerical reasoning test be used to recruit?

Numerical reasoning assessments are one of the most common types of aptitude tests used by employers in their selection process.

Numerical reasoning tests are suitable for graduate level recruitment right through to experienced and senior hires. The questions may be adopted accordingly.

The role that numerical reasoning tests play however may differ. For example, certain roles have larger applications than others.

There are 2 forms of recruitment and these can affect how numerical reasoning tests are used:

  • High volume recruitment
  • Low volume recruitment

Use of numerical reasoning tests in HIGH volume recruitment (large number of applications):

For graduate entry roles, it is common to receive a large volume of applications. It is important for recruiters to sift through these applicants in a legally defensible way but with an efficient measure.

Using a psychometrically robust numerical reasoning test allows you to reduce the candidate pool by 50% when partnered with another psychometric test or 30% if the numerical reasoning test is used alone as an assessment tool.

Use of numerical reasoning tests in LOW volume recruitment (low number of applications):

Often when assessing senior hires such as a financial director role, there will be a smaller volume of applicants. With a smaller volume of applicants, the focus shifts away from the need to shift but more to identify skills.

Numerical reasoning tests still allow employers to gain insights into fundamental ability in a cost-effective way, prior to advancing them to more expensive measures of their performance such as interviews or assessment exercises.  

We have just discussed when the numerical reasoning test is used to recruit, we will now follow on with which roles the numerical reasoning test can be used.

6. Which roles can the numerical reasoning test be used to recruit for? 

Numerical reasoning tests help businesses ensure candidates have the required skill set to meet role requirements when applying for jobs.

Numerical reasoning tests are one of the most common assessments used by many employers in their selection process. Any job requiring numeracy skills is likely to be used by an employer to sift out applicants. Sectors that often require numerical reasoning tests include:

  • Consulting and Accounting – numerical reasoning tests are commonly used in the consulting industry for most entry jobs, internships and also more senior roles. Employers who utilize numerical reasoning tests include the Big 4 (Deloitte, PwC, EY, KPMG), strategic consultancies (Bain, McKinsey) as well as smaller, highly specialized consultancies (Grand Thornton, etc.)
  • Banking and Finance – numerical reasoning tests are often used for banking and finance jobs for roles such as auditor, financial analyst, accountant, and bookkeeper but also for other back-office jobs in IT or HR. Most banks and financial institutions these days use numerical reasoning tests and among them are Barclays, HSBC, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Lloyds Banking Group.
  • Technology – numerical reasoning tests are welcomed in technology roles such as sales engineer, web developer and computer systems analyst. Some employers that implement numerical reasoning tests into their application process are Samsung, Amazon, INTEL, IBM and Microsoft.

Broadly speaking the above are industries that have been successfully using numerical pre-employment tests for many, many years to select the best candidates.

However the use of the tests is not industry specific but rather role specific, the most typical roles that benefit from the use of numerical testing at hiring are:

  • Management trainees of all types
    • Financial analysts, managers
    • Consultants
    • Accountants, auditors
    • Engineers
    • Software, web developers
    • IT analysts
    • Computer system analysts

Many employers use the numerical reasoning assessment to test candidates in the early stages of recruitment. For jobs that don’t require high levels of numerical reasoning skills, literacy and numeracy tests are still often used for recruitment to outline candidate’s skills and how they work through challenging tasks.

If you are an employer that is unsure if using the numerical tests is the right choice, get in touch with us and we will do a free of charge assessment of your needs.

Numerical Reasoning test used to recruit
Numerical Reasoning test used to recruit

7. Is numerical reasoning used for small and medium enterprises (SME)?

The numerical reasoning test has not been used as much in small and medium businesses largely due to the infrastructure need. The infrastructure issue has been addressed in recent years with software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions taking the market.

More and more businesses regardless of size are now turning to numerical reasoning tests because they are more cost-effective than the regular interview process, do not require setting up any infrastructure on the employer’s side and take minutes to set-up an online recruitment campaign.

Modern tests are delivered in a fully automated and cloud-based way.

Many are afraid of the cost of running a numerical test process for recruitment. The existing cost models are very flexible and provide a cost efficient solution to any type of requirement or volume.

It’s been proven multiple times that the cost of a wrong hire or not being able to process a broader talent pool is much higher than the cost of the tests themselves.

The broad availability of cost effective infrastructure and easiness to set up the recruitment campaigns and interpret the results now mean that smaller size businesses can benefit from the use of professional candidate assessment tools that have been limited until recently to employers with deep pockets.

Now we will move on to explain the four reasons why to use Assess Candidates when using the numerical reasoning test for recruitment.

Numerical Reasoning Businesses
Numerical Reasoning Businesses

8. Why use Assess Candidates numerical reasoning tests to hire?

Numerical reasoning tests have been used for a long time by many organisations to assess a candidate’s ability. At Assess Candidates we provide a range of assessments including the numerical reasoning test to suit all organisation’s needs. Contact our experts if you would like to improve your pre-employment assessment process.

Four reasons why to use Assess Candidates:

1. Experienced psychologists developing top industry tests

  • Assess Candidates’ (AC) numerical reasoning tests are developed by chartered scientists, psychologists and psychometricians who have previous experience in developing assessment solutions. Our experts have developed assessments for companies such as SHL and IBM Kenexa.
  • Our tests have gone through rigorous testing, validation and have proven to select top talent in multiple organizations.
  • AC’s collection of numerical reasoning tests is one of the many engaging psychometric assessments that have been successfully used to help hire high-performance candidates.

2. Top in class reports enabling to shortlist your candidates fast using flexible criteria

  • At Assess Candidates, employers can make their hiring decisions with confidence through an easy-to-use hiring assessment platform. You can view candidate performance in two ways:
    • One: An overview of all individual candidates’ results for your hiring campaign that have applied for that particular vacancy.
    • Two: Recruiters are able to view all candidates’ performance including the tests they have taken and how they have performed.
  • Easily select how well candidates have to perform in each assessment to identify how well they have to perform to move to the next stage.
  • At Assess Candidates, our in-house occupational psychologists can advise on making hiring decisions and best practise performance thresholds.

3. Engaging Candidate Experience

  • In today’s world candidate experience matters. The best candidates participate in multiple selection processes and it is often those who select the employer of their choice.
  • Our numerical reasoning assessments have an easy-to-use and friendly interface for candidates, the tests can be accessed from any device. They are easily accessible with features such as clear instructions on how to complete the test and a time limit embedded to make sure candidates know how long they have left. We ensure a user-friendly experience by using reduced clicks, the assessment moves on to the next question when answered, automatically. Our engaging assessments are delivered on a fully branded portal for a seamless experience.

4.  Candidate Accessibility Support

  • Assess Candidates ensure easy accessibility for all when moving around the platform and completing the numerical reasoning test.
  • All assessments we provide have the option of including additional time for those who need it such as people with dyslexia.
  • We have incorporated a zoom feature on all assessments, to make the process easier for those who have visual disabilities.
  • Our in-house developers have avoided the use of images throughout the platform in line with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to allow for the use of screen readers.
  • We have also avoided the use of certain colours around the platform for those suffering from colour blindness.

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