Still using cognitive tools in selection?

Helen Horn from Winsborough provides an update on the use of cognitive selection tools. Catch up on the latest thinking here.


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Should we still use cognitive tools in selection?

The core of selection is the desire to predict behaviour.  Is the person you select going to perform well? Will they learn quickly?  Can they apply their existing knowledge in a new context?
Helen Horn has read the latest research and in this blog she shares her advice and recommendations on how to apply cognitive selection tools.

Author: Helen Horn – Head of Consulting & Partner 

Effective prediction in selection enables employers to have a tangible impact on achieving outcomes, and for individuals to maximise the fit between themselves and the role and organisation. No one wants to find themselves in a role for which they are poorly equipped or not a good fit.
Those of us who are interested in maximising the effectiveness of selection processes rely on research to guide us on the best tools to use, and when to use them. The literature has been remarkably stable in its guidance for the use of cognitive tools in selection since Schmidt and Hunter (1998) published their meta-analysis on selection procedures for predicting job performance and training performance.

However, there is now a new debate going on in the literature as Sackett et al (2022) have questioned statistical techniques used by Schmidt and Hunter (1998). We won’t go into the statistical side of the debate (if you are interested, start with this summary). However, the key point of their findings is that how well cognitive tools predict behaviour may be lower than originally thought.

Before you read that last paragraph and decide to throw out cognitive tools from your selection solutions, it’s important to emphasise that Sackett et al are not saying that cognitive tools are not predictive of behaviour. What’s up for discussion is how much they are predictive. It’s likely the debate about these findings will continue for some time and we will all learn more as it plays out.

You may wonder whether you need to worry and if you need to do anything different in your selection processes? Our read of the literature is that cognitive tools are still a significant predictor of many outcomes and we recommend them in selection, particularly for complex roles. Here is how we will be continuing to apply them in our practice:

1. Check whether cognitive tools are appropriate for the role.

2. Carefully select the type of cognitive tool that is appropriate to use. More often than not, this is a tool like Matrigma, which measures the ability to solve problems with no prior knowledge or experience (and therefore is less biassed than many types of cognitive tools).

3. Use cognitive tools to provide information in combination with other tools and processes, never in isolation.

Rest assured, we will continue to follow the research as it evolves and refines. We will keep you up to date on any developments and will adapt our practices if new evidence indicates that it is the right thing to do.

If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to reach out.




Need more information? Contact the Winsborough Team:
winsborough.co.nz | 0800 222 061 | support@winsborough.co.nz