Using Mobile Devices for Job Applicant Assessment

There are very few areas of our lives that have not been affected by technological innovations. A vast number of people these days use their phones for virtually everything, from staying in contact with friends and family, to navigating a busy city center, to booking flights. So it doesn’t seem out of the question that mobile phones might one day be used as a medium by which organizations could assess job applicants. And it appears as if that day may have already come. A recent study conducted by a team of researchers looked at whether delivering or taking online selection assessments was an accurate indicator that could prove effective for selection purposes.


There are strict guidelines for assessing individuals when those results will be used for selection purposes. But, until now, relatively few studies have rigorously investigated the scientific properties concerning mobile assessment of cognitive abilities. There are numerous issues specific to a mobile phone that could affect an individual’s results, including the size of the screen being used and whether question formats on various devices would be affected by environmental differences. In other words, would two people in completely different locations — such as a bus and a bedroom — have the same chance at acceptable scores? To study the differences, researchers had job applicants take a series of selection tests on various devices. These tests included biodata assessments, a situational judgment test (SJT), multimedia work simulations, and cognitive assessments.


The results of the study were mixed, showing that mobile devices may be an option for certain types of tests, but that there are certain parameters that should be taken note of. For example, cognitive ability tests performed similarly across various devices, but are more effective if they’re not timed, are multimedia in nature and, don’t require much reading comprehension.

The study found that, due to the increasingly good quality of mobile screen resolutions, the benefit an applicant would get in using other devices is greatly reduced. In other words, tests with multimedia work simulation would be a sound option if job applicants are accessing content on their mobile phones. Results are still tentative and require broader research, but offer a promising glimpse into assessment platforms of the future.

Despite the promise shown by mobile assessments, there were certain differences with some tests taken on various platforms. With the SJT in particular, results for applicants on mobiles were lower than for test takers on other devices. The reason is not clear, but it may be due to the excessive scrolling and different reading needs of mobile devices.


This research is important, both for companies looking to expand the platforms they use and for job seekers wanting an edge over their competitors. The study showed a disadvantage for mobile applicants in some situations, there’s no doubt the differences the researchers found will eventually be narrowed by technological advancements, opening up new possibilities for companies and potential employees alike.