Verbal reasoning test

This test can be used to assess verbal reasoning ability. In particular, this test covers the verbal comprehension, the deduction ability based on text extracts and words, and the ability to establish logical links based on text extracts.

Cognitive ability
6 min.
Cognitive ability
6 min.
Covered skills
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This test is relevant for
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Verbal reasoning
Stéphane Moriou

Expert in Verbal reasoning

Stéphane Moriou
Top 100 global thought leader on feedback and assessment

Stéphane Moriou, Ph.D., is a world expert speaker on the art and science of feedback. His conference "The Art of Feedback" is THE world reference on the subject. At the age of less than 30, he was appointed Director of Human Resources for the Le Duff Group. At less than 40, he is one of the presidents of ManpowerGroup. Today, as CEO of MoreHuman Partners, he works as a researcher, speaker and consultant on topics related to cognitive skills, including how to give and receive feedback.

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Verbal Reasoning Test: Assess and Hire the Best Candidates!

When you hire a new employee, you need to feel confident that you've picked the right person for the job. Interviews and resumes can only take you so far, and for all the praises they preach, they can’t practically tell you much about a candidate’s skill set. 

If you need a candidate with powerful, strong language and ample reasoning skills, a verbal reasoning test is essential in your hiring process.

Recruiting for Verbal Reasoning

If you’re unfamiliar with verbal reasoning as a whole, allow us to elaborate. Verbal reasoning involves a person’s ability to understand and reason using words. Although some people are more gifted in this area than others, verbal reasoning is something that can be learned with practice. 

These tests focus on measuring skills rather than knowledge, making the results more indicative of a candidate’s ability to think critically rather than recall information.

Verbal reasoning is useful in most fields, both outside and at a job, but certain careers require and rely on these skills more than others. Positions in law, civil service, retail, marketing, and finance are good examples of jobs that require excellent verbal reasoning skills. 

But any job that requires employees to communicate, collaborate, or problem-solve will require skills in verbal reasoning.

Does this mean that these positions need to have a different recruitment process? Not at all! Resumes and references are still important, but it’s difficult to judge a person’s skill level based on an interview. 

You want to know which candidate is the best match for the position, in both experience and skill level. Enter a verbal reasoning test!

What Is a Verbal Reasoning Test?

A verbal reasoning test assesses a potential employee's ability to think critically and express themselves clearly. The candidate must understand the information presented to them, reach a logical conclusion based on that information, and express their thoughts. 

These skills are especially critical if the position they’re applying for requires a higher level of skill with language and comprehension. These skills are hard to quantify on a resume or CV, making reasoning assessments important for any pre-employment screening.

Verbal reasoning assessments are more of a supplement than anything. They give you extra information to work with that helps to sort ideal candidates from the rest of the crowd. Like other online job assessments, they help you distinguish skilled applicants from applicants who will need more training.

How To Use Verbal Reasoning Tests in the Hiring Process

So now that you know what these assessments are, how do you implement them in your hiring process? 

Pre-Existing Tests

Unless you’re familiar with reasoning assessments and how to make them, it will be hard to create a verbal reasoning test on your own. For this reason, you can find plenty of platforms that have pre-existing tests for you to use.

Some platforms will give you a pre-made test to present to your candidates, and others will walk you through creating a test of your own. Either way, these services lead to data that is both comprehensive and accurate.

A lot of these platforms are most effective when conducted online. You can link a candidate to the test for them to complete in their own time. Or you can have them complete the test on a computer in person as part of an interview. In whatever scenario you choose, you need to be able to gather the results without the candidate present.

Creating a Test Yourself

If you’d like to create a verbal reasoning test yourself, you can certainly use a pre-existing test to understand the formatting. Typically, you present a candidate with a passage of text, and they have to respond to questions based on the information presented.

You present questions that can be answered with either True, False, or Cannot Say. The test is to see whether candidates can answer questions accurately based on the information presented. 

If they respond with “Cannot Say,” you can ask them to elaborate on their response to get at their thought process. But whatever response they select, you will get a sense of their thought process and how well they can interpret and think about information.

Part of the Process

Whether you conduct your recruitment process entirely online or in person, you need to be 100% sure that you’re hiring the right candidate. Think of a verbal reasoning test as a tool to gauge how proficient someone is in the skills needed to succeed in the position you need filled.

Rather than using the assessment as the deciding factor of a candidate’s capabilities, use it to flesh out other areas of your recruitment. Verbal reasoning tests are helpful but are not the best tools for reading an applicant’s experience, attitudes, or motivation.

When you find a solid candidate, the next step is to assess their skill level in the essential areas of the job. If you’re reading this article, then odds are the position requires a strong grasp of language and the ability to think critically. Instead of learning how skilled a candidate is during training, use a verbal reasoning test to gauge this information for you.

When you use a reasoning test hand-in-hand with other aspects of your recruitment process, you get a clearer picture of the candidate you’re considering.

How To Assess and Use Verbal Reasoning Tests for Hiring

If you use a verbal reasoning test that is pre-made, the platform you’re using should have the ability to quantify a candidate’s results for you. This makes it easier for you to get the proper read on an applicant’s skill level and work ethic. 

But what should you be looking for when you sit down to evaluate a candidate’s results?

Speed vs Quality

Most reasoning tests time themselves to track how long a candidate is taking on their assessment. Some might even track how long it takes the candidate to complete individual questions. Knowing how much time each applicant spends on their assessment is a good indicator of their work ethic.

While speed is ideal, efficiency is what matters most. When you review a candidate’s results, pay attention to their accuracy just as much as their speed for completing work. You can see whether a candidate prioritizes accuracy over speed and vice versa. And if a candidate has a balance of both speed and accuracy, the assessment will show you this.

A Strong Grasp of the Information

Verbal reasoning tests typically revolve around a body of text that the applicant has to analyze and respond to accordingly. Alternatively, the text might be accompanied by a voice-over to supplement it. You will have access to that text and can read it along with each candidate’s responses. 

This system is an easy way to see which applicants are grasping the information and which ones may be struggling.

Strong Communication Skills

It’s one thing to understand information and respond accordingly. It’s quite another to voice those responses clearly and concisely.

While you read through a candidate’s responses, pay attention to how they get their thoughts across. Do they break each of their thoughts down into small chunks that are easy to process? Or do they tend to carry on and explain things in a roundabout manner? 

Some positions might not rely on these distinctions, but these habits are good indicators of how a candidate might communicate with other employees.

Most jobs that rely on communication often put employees in teams to get work done. Or they have to communicate with people outside of the company or business. In any case, it’s not only important to speak clearly, but to come across as professionally as possible. 

Consider this as well when you evaluate a potential employee's responses.


A person’s personality can shine through in many different ways. Interviews are very stiff and professional environments. Unless you encourage an applicant to loosen up, they’ll behave accordingly. Although reasoning tests don’t typically ask for lengthy responses, your candidates’ personalities can still shine in the areas that do ask for these answers.

Because verbal reasoning tests are mostly conducted online, you remove a candidate from the professional environment. They could complete the assessment from the comfort of their home, in a coffee shop, or a park. 

If you present the assessment to them as part of an interview, you can step out of the room and give them privacy to relax and concentrate on the test. In this way, you give candidates the room to relax and focus only on the task at hand.

Remember, people are most likely to reveal their true personalities and traits when they're comfortable. Giving them space while they take the test can do just that. 

The Ideal Candidate

Ultimately, you’re the only person who will know what makes a good fit for the position you need to fill. Personality might not be as big of a requirement for you as it might be for another employer, and the same can be said about fast work pace or clear communication style. 

When you evaluate a candidate’s results on a verbal reasoning test, keep in mind the entire picture that they bring to the table.

Setting Benchmarks

Though it isn’t necessary, setting benchmarks for test responses is a good method for judging candidate responses. You can do this by having your current employees take the assessment that you will be presenting to your applicants, and compare each group’s results.

 It’s crucial that if you do this, you shouldn’t be using a verbal reasoning test tailored to the position you’re hiring for. Otherwise, your current employees will have an edge on your candidates.

If you decide to use an assessment tailored to your work environment, you will have to judge the candidates' responses to each other. Using a test-generating platform would make this easier, as they tend to condense each response into quantified results. 

In this manner, you can find the candidates that have the strongest skill set for your work environment.

Verbal Reasoning Tests for Different Skill Levels

Entry-level employees will have different skill levels than a senior manager, and this is just a fact of life. So don’t be afraid to adjust your verbal reasoning test accordingly to assess the skill level needed for each position you hire for. 

You can change the complexity of the passage that needs to be read, or you can change the complexity of the questions that the candidate has to answer.

Verbal Reasoning Test: Takeaways for Recruiters

Verbal reasoning tests are a great tool for you to assess the skill level of your applicant pool. They can help you find the best candidates for the job and can supplement the resumes that come your way. 

But you shouldn’t use them as the deciding factor on a candidate, or as the only thing you use to evaluate a candidate. Aside from showing you how skilled candidates are in important areas, you can also learn about their work ethic and personality based on their responses.

Overall, verbal reasoning tests make the hiring process much smoother and help you make a more satisfying decision. If you want to try your hand at using these assessments as part of your hiring process, our site has tools for you to use! Browse our services and let us help you find the right candidate.

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