Due to the growth of SACS online business, I have had to hire three senior IT professionals over the last 18 months. At SACS, the recruitment sequence of events is as follows:


  • Advertise
  • Review CVs
  • Psych test
  • Interview

This is highly effective for us because we do not waste time interviewing people who do not meet our psychometric standards. When I began to recruit the senior IT positions, I encountered a phenomenon which I found truly remarkable – the IQ scores of the candidates who applied for these roles. The IQ scores you should worry about for most jobs are:

  • Verbal reasoning – the capacity to use words at work.
  • Numerical reasoning – the capacity to use numbers at work. For the roles I was recruiting, this was particularly important because our psych testing application requires somewhat sophisticated numerical calculations.
  • Abstract reasoning – the capacity to solve problems associated with linking ideas together. IT jobs, particularly those associated with code cutting, architecture, user experience and design, place a very heavy demand on abstract reasoning. These roles are all about understanding the implications of doing something in one part of a system for outcomes in another part of a system. Code cutting in particular is a classical abstract reasoning mental exercise.

What astonished me was how low many of the candidates who applied for these roles were in abstract reasoning. In a couple of cases, we ended up testing in excess of 40 candidates before we found candidates who were strong enough in abstract reasoning for me to feel confident that they could undertake the code cutting task. These were candidates who had big jobs in very respectable organisations and who are earning big salaries.

As it was, we stuck to our guns and ended up making very good hires, in each case, who are high in abstract reasoning and numerical reasoning and, of course, who also had excellent personality and values profiles. I guess in total we ended up reviewing the CVs of in excess of 500 people and ended up psych testing about 80. I know that this is not a representative sample or big enough to be considered to be a measure of the Australian IT population, but it did make me wonder especially when I saw the iconic employer brand names that these people worked for. Of course, I also realise that there are many geniuses in the IT sector. Please do not write me a nasty email if you are one.

If you would like to factor cognitive ability assessment in your recruitment in future click here to find out how.

Andrew Marty
Managing Director

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Andrew Marty