Mama Always Said Life Was Like a Box of Chocolates
“There are five hiring attributes we have across the company,” explained Bock. “If it’s a technical role, we assess your coding ability, and half the roles in the company are technical roles. For every job, though, the No. 1 thing we look for is general cognitive ability, and it’s not I.Q. It’s learning ability. It’s the ability to process on the fly. It’s the ability to pull together disparate bits of information.
That represents my safe place for explaining the cognitive dimension to candidates and employees alike. People with high cognitive scores have the ability to take in large amounts of data and make quick, accurate decisions. Many cognitive portions of an assessment feature a timer on the screen and a progress monitor indicating you probably won’t finish all the items in the timed portion of the assessment. #suckstobeyou
The timer is there to put pressure on you to be quick. People with high cognitive scores have the ability to get through a higher number of these questions/items while answering correctly. People with low cognitive scores do poorly on this type of section, because they need time to process/contemplate before making a decision on the items in front of them.
How to Spot a Low Cognitive Score Teammate (Without Really Trying)
I took a cognitive assessment 8 years ago and scored pretty high. I’M NEVER TAKING A COGNITIVE ASSESSMENT AGAIN UNLESS MY FAMILY IS HUNGRY AND I HAVE TO. Once you get that high score, you never want to take one again – just in case your score is not – um – repeatable.
But you don’t need an assessment to spot a teammate on the “low cog” spectrum. Totally unscientific, but my observations about teammates who score in the bottom half of the bell curve for cognitive processing speed are pretty consistent.
Those candidates usually display the following:
1. They have a 2-3 second delay when a lot of data is flying in and they’re a part of the conversation. There’s a rapid-fire conversation going on, and someone hits them with data and then stops. The obvious expectation is that they contribute to the riff/dialog. There’s a delay. Their preference is to take their time on the analysis. The pregnant pause is noticeable by those around them, and over time, by the individual in question.
2. They may have a form of Professional Tourette’s, which I define as someone who’s trying to process quickly blurting out conversational reactions that really don’t match the conversation going on (against their natural preference to take their time and come back later with analysis). I see this happening a lot once low cog teammates understand that speed is preferred by the team they’re on. They’ve attempted to do things on the fly and their response is just a bit off – the contextual understanding isn’t there. They needed more time.
Your Business Track Meet Has Many Different Events, Right?
Being “low cog” isn’t a death sentence – although it might be at Google based on the above quote. Low cog teammates can contribute great things – they just need managers who put them in a position to succeed and don’t expect them to win mental sprints.
They’ll win the mental version of the 10K or the marathon. Just be sure to enter them in the race they can win.
FOT Note: This post is brought to you by the good folks at Caliper (a leading provider of employee assessment and talent development solutions) – who like us enough to be an annual sponsor at FOT for all content in our assessment and development track (and don’t expect that we run any of this by them ahead of time). Check them out, friends. Use them to help you select the right person, then maximize performance once they’re on your team.
Kris Dunn is a Partner and CHRO at Kinetix, a national RPO firm for growth companies headquartered in Atlanta. He’s also the founder Fistful of Talent (founded in 2008) and The HR Capitalist (2007) – and has written over 70 feature columns at Workforce Management magazine. Prior to his investment at Kinetix, Kris served in HR leadership roles at DAXKO, Charter and Cingular. In his spare time, KD hits the road as a speaker and gives the world what it needs – pop culture references linked to Human Capital street smarts.