Test Their Mettle! A Review of the Cognitive Processes Profile Assessment

Have you ever thought about how a potential job candidate would handle complex problem solving in the heat of the moment? Or wondered whether or not they would be able to solve new challenges as they arise? Maretha Prinsloo, a South African psychologist wondered the same things and came up with an assessment that allows hiring managers to test a potential job candidate’s problem solving skills before investing a lot of time and money in the onboarding process. She developed the Cognitive Processes Profile or CPP for short.

According Dr. Prinsloo, “The CPP is an advanced computerized assessment technique, designed to measure thinking processes and styles and to link these to everyday cognitive functioning. Using simulation exercises, subjects are monitored on their ability to explore, link, structure, transform, remember, learn and clarify information. The results are linked to job-related performance. The idea behind the CPP is to move beyond the concept of general intelligence as popularized by the IQ paradigm. The CPP therefore measures a number of information processing constructs in an integrated fashion.”

There are many advantages to using the CPP when assessing a potential job candidate’s suitability. A particularly nice feature about the CPP is that it is a valid test to use cross-culturally. This is because the CPP uses symbols rather than words or numbers, which may introduce cultural bias.

Another noteworthy feature is that the CPP can help organizations identify employees or job candidates who might have the “VUCA gene”. What is VUCA? I am sure you are familiar it – even if you have never heard the term before! It stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. If you are doing business in today’s environment you are probably experiencing your fair share of VUCA.

The military (who specialize in acronyms) use VUCA to describe the hostile conditions soldiers often face in the field when they are making life or death judgment calls. But business leaders and managers too are facing VUCA like conditions in these volatile and uncertain times. In an unforgiving market, getting judgment calls wrong may mean the difference between the life and death of the business.

Some people seem to have an uncanny natural ability make good judgment calls, otherwise known as the “VUCA gene”. They seem to see through the clutter and consistently choose the right course of action. If you could only bottle this skill you would make a fortune! Unfortunately this is not possible, however an alternative would be to hire or promote people with the “VUCA gene”. Knowing who has the “VUCA Gene” and who does not can help you make more effective hiring and promotion decisions. After all, VUCA conditions are unlikely to disappear from the business horizon any time soon. The CPP can help find job candidates or current employees with the “VUCA Gene.”

Though this tool may prove extremely valuable in finding the right person for the job, it does have a few, minor draw backs. The first drawback deals with the accessibility of the assessment. The tool in not internet based so test takers must take the test on a computer that houses the software. Additionally, this test must be proctored. This is a minor draw back as it does not promote flexibility or convenience for test taker. An additional drawback to the tool is that the entire assessment takes approximately 1.5 hours (on average) to complete! One wonders if fatigue may set in at some point and skew the results.

Regardless of these minor drawbacks, the CPP is extremely useful in the hiring or promotion process and is a valuable arrow in the hiring manager’s quiver.