How Employers Use Wonderlic Test Scores In Decision Making

How Employers Use Wonderlic Test Scores In Decision Making

In the competitive world of job recruitment, it is essential for employers to identify the most suitable candidates for various roles within their organizations. One way they achieve this is by utilizing various assessment tools, such as the Wonderlic test. The Wonderlic test is a popular cognitive ability test that measures an individual’s problem-solving skills, learning ability, and comprehension capacity. Employers often use Wonderlic test scores during the recruitment process to make informed decisions about potential hires. In this blog post, we will explore the ins and outs of how employers use Wonderlic test scores in decision making and why these scores play a crucial role in shaping an organization’s future.

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Understanding the Wonderlic Test

The Wonderlic test, initially developed by E.F. Wonderlic in 1936, has become one of the most widely used cognitive assessment tools in corporate America. It is a timed test that consists of 50 questions to be answered in 12 minutes. The test questions cover various areas, including logic, math, language, and general knowledge, aiming to provide a comprehensive measure of a candidate’s mental aptitude.

Importance of Cognitive Ability in the Workplace

Cognitive ability, often referred to as general mental ability (GMA), is one of the strongest predictors of job performance. It encompasses a variety of intellectual skills such as problem-solving, learning new tasks efficiently, and adapting to changing situations. Cognitive ability is critical in almost every aspect of job performance, from understanding and following instructions to creative problem-solving and decision-making. Thus, assessing a candidate’s cognitive ability through the Wonderlic test can provide employers with invaluable insights into how well the candidate can perform in the job role and adapt to the organization’s demands.

How Employers Utilize Wonderlic Scores in Decision Making

Employers use Wonderlic test scores in multiple ways throughout the recruitment process. Below are some key methods and reasons for utilizing these scores:

Pre-Employment Screening

One of the primary uses of Wonderlic test scores is in pre-employment screening. Employers often include the Wonderlic test as part of their initial application process to filter out candidates who may not possess the fundamental cognitive skills required for the job. This step helps streamline the recruitment process by focusing on candidates who have demonstrated the potential to perform well in the role.

Comparing Candidate Scores

Employers use Wonderlic test scores to compare candidates against each other. By contrasting the cognitive abilities of different candidates, employers can determine which individuals have the highest potential for success in the role. This method is particularly useful in scenarios where multiple candidates meet the minimum job requirements, allowing employers to make more informed decisions based on objective data.

Identifying Training and Development Needs

Beyond just hiring, Wonderlic test scores can also play a significant role in identifying training and development needs. For instance, if a candidate shows a weaker area within their cognitive skills, the employer can offer targeted training programs to help the candidate improve in those specific areas. This approach helps in nurturing talent within the organization and ensuring employees perform at their best.

Predicting Job Performance

Numerous studies have shown a strong correlation between cognitive ability and job performance. By analyzing Wonderlic test scores, employers can predict how well a candidate is likely to perform in a given role. Higher scores generally indicate a greater capability to understand complex instructions, solve problems effectively, and adapt to new challenges—all of which are critical attributes for success in most job roles.

Enhancing Team Composition

Cognitive diversity is an essential aspect of creating effective teams in the workplace. By using Wonderlic test scores, employers can ensure a balanced mix of cognitive abilities within their teams. This approach helps in fostering innovation, enhancing problem-solving capabilities, and creating a more dynamic and effective work environment.

Legal and Ethical Considerations

While the use of Wonderlic test scores can provide significant advantages in the recruitment process, it is essential for employers to consider the legal and ethical implications of cognitive testing. The following points highlight some critical considerations:

Fairness and Discrimination

Employers must ensure that the Wonderlic test is used fairly and does not discriminate against any particular group of candidates. The test should be administered in a consistent manner, and all candidates should be given an equal opportunity to perform. It is crucial to use the test as one of several assessment tools rather than the sole criterion for decision making.

Validity and Reliability

The Wonderlic test must be a valid and reliable measure of cognitive ability for the specific job role in question. Employers should ensure that the test has been scientifically validated and is appropriate for the cognitive demands of the job. Relying on an inappropriate test can lead to inaccurate assessments and potential legal challenges.


Candidates should be informed about the use of cognitive testing in the recruitment process. Transparency helps build trust and ensures that candidates understand the significance of the test scores in the decision-making process. Employers should be prepared to provide feedback to candidates regarding their test performance if requested.

Case Studies: Wonderlic Test in Action

Several well-known companies have successfully integrated the Wonderlic test into their recruitment processes. Let’s take a look at a few case studies to understand how Wonderlic scores have been utilized effectively:

Case Study 1: The NFL Scouting Combine

One of the most famous uses of the Wonderlic test is in the NFL Scouting Combine, where potential draftees are assessed on their cognitive abilities. NFL teams use the Wonderlic scores to evaluate players’ ability to learn and process new information quickly—an essential skill for understanding complex playbooks and making quick decisions on the field.

Case Study 2: Huntsville Hospital

Huntsville Hospital, a leading healthcare provider, uses the Wonderlic test as part of its hiring process for various roles, including nursing and administrative positions. The hospital reported that incorporating the Wonderlic test helped them reduce turnover rates and improve overall employee performance by ensuring they hire candidates with the appropriate cognitive skills for the job.

Case Study 3: U.S. Air Force

The U.S. Air Force employs the Wonderlic test as part of its initial screening process for potential recruits. The test helps identify individuals who possess the cognitive abilities required to perform well in highly technical and demanding roles. This approach has contributed to the Air Force’s ability to maintain a highly skilled and effective workforce.


The Wonderlic test is a valuable tool for employers looking to enhance their recruitment process and make informed hiring decisions. By assessing candidates’ cognitive abilities, employers can better predict job performance, identify training needs, create effective teams, and ultimately build a more dynamic and successful organization. While it is essential to consider the legal and ethical aspects of cognitive testing, the benefits of using Wonderlic test scores in decision making are undeniable. As the job market continues to evolve, employers who leverage such assessment tools will be better positioned to attract and retain top talent, ensuring their organization’s continued success and growth.

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