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Simple yet Smart Aptitude

While visiting Boston, Einstein had a quick conversation with his secretary.

Secretary: What is the speed of sound?

Einstein was not able to tell the answer off hand. He demurred and replied to his secretary.

Einstein: I do not carry such information in my mind as it is readily available in books. Never memorize what you can look up in books.

This must have taken you aback if you are preparing for your next test in school, some competitive examination. This may leave you wondering if you are looking for campus recruitment in a prestigious company, or if you are a recruiter trying to find the best candidates for your organization. Several questions may be popping up in your head, like:

“How can I pass an examination without remembering the data?”

“Is it possible not to mug up the formulas and still excel in that test?”

“Will that company recruit me if I do not remember this information?”

“Will it be able to hire a candidate if he does not remember the shortcut to solve the problem?”

 

Looking at the current scenario, the answer to all of these questions is an unfortunate NO.

 

KNOWLEDGE VS SMARTNESS

Yes, we are a confused bunch of people. Flynn Effect tells often take a knowledgeable person for smart one. We have succumbed to the notion that smartness can be measured by book knowledge that typically separates the world of knowledge into bits and pieces, facts and factoids, isolated phenomena. Sadly, this super-knowledge of facts is not real intelligence. Knowing facts and using them represents a tiny aspect of real intelligence. Smartness, on the other hand, involves solving real-world problems with what you know. It includes imagining things from a different perspective, finding an alternative solution and using the limited knowledge in the best way possible. It does not involve the cramming up chunks of data and reproducing the same.

 

The world is moving to an age where we will encounter a new problem everyday. These problems need a fresh and out of the box approach with limited resources available. In such a scenario, we need a smart person. But, as long as we don’t do away with the confusion, we will keep pumping the most knowledgeable into the stream of problem solvers which may not be the ideal way to progress.

 

STATE OF CURRENT APTITUDE EXAMINATION:

This brings us to an all important question.

“What aptitude does the current assessments test?”

Let us discuss this with an easy sample problem:

‘You are given a card with one number written on it. The number can be either X or Y. The first card that you are given has X on it. If the probabilities of having a X on a card is  0.6 and the same for Y is 0.4, what is the probability that you have two Xs after the second card is given to you?’

 

This problem is supposed to test following skills of the candidate.

— Understanding the concept of probability.
— Understanding the idea behind Bayes’ Theorem.
— Calculation of the probability based on the given scenario.
— Performing the calculation within the stipulated time.

 

However, there are flaws with these assessment items.

— The problem is not novel as many problems of this type are already available in high density in the market. The candidates tend to gain expertise on problems like these by practicing them multiple times. This gives them an edge during the assessment as it becomes part of their muscle memory.

— The problem can be easily solved within no time if the candidate is aware of the direct formula to arrive at the answer. In such a situation the degree of understanding of the candidate is not tested, although he has arrived at the correct answer.

The competition is stiff, and many people are applying for the same position. In such a scenario, the candidate is forced to mug up the formulae and practice it regularly on similar problems so that he can reproduce the same in the assessment. Problem-solving turns into an exercise, and the problem does not justify its existence. Eventually, it becomes a test of knowledge instead of smartness.

 

WHAT SHOULD BE TESTED INSTEAD?

The problem on Conditional Probability given earlier should be a cakewalk if it is practiced enough number of times by the candidate. The candidate may succeed in solving the problem without knowing the basics of conditional probability. Now let us look at a similar problem :

‘There are two numbers X and Y.The probability that the number is X is 0.6 and the probability that a number is Y is 0.4. You are given 100 cards one after the another. Which of the following distribution of the X and Y card is possible ?’

 

This problem also deals with probability. However, in order to solve the problem, you do not need any prerequisite knowledge. All it needs that the candidate should understand what probability means and whether the candidate is smart enough to apply the same. It is novel and does not require the application of formulae. Having problems like these in the aptitude test serves many a purpose.

 

— Creates a level playing ground for the candidates as their smartness is assessed rather than their knowledge

— Assesses the understanding and application of the concept and not the number and degree of formulas that are crammed by the candidate.

 

WECP’s Outlook:

The computers of today can store huge amount of data that can be retrieved at very high speeds. They are also very agile in computing and can compute to degrees which is unfathomable for humans. Hence we need people who can solve the problems of the future and find ways of generating new data that can be given as input to the computers for solving our problems.

 

The assessment of the candidates for a position should be in sync with the requirement; the future with all its issues needs smart people. However, there is clear lack of novelty in this sphere. This is where we at WeCP come in with our assessments on simple yet smart aptitude. We understand the skills that the recruiters look for in the candidate. With this in mind, we use the principle of collective intelligence where experts from the associated domains come together, share knowledge and create problems to assess the potential employees. This ensures that the assessment is exhaustive and complete in all sense which assists in better recruitment and greater efficiency for your enterprise.

 

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