When it comes to hiring employees or workers, all employers agree on one thing: they should hire the best. This is why a lot of thought and planning go into designing recruitment and hiring processes, so that, at the end, they will be choosing the best and the right person for the job.

But “best”, in this case, can be highly subjective. A lot of factors go into the consideration of what constitutes the “best” person for the job or position. What is best for one company may not be the same for another company or organization.

Further, Company A may have a set of criteria or qualifications that is different from that of Company B, especially if the position they are trying to fill is highly technical or requires specific skills.

Why Employers Care About Your Intelligence Quotient

Specific skills and technical aspects aside, however, there are traits or characteristics that are looked for by employers in their potential hires. In this article, we will talk about one of them: intelligence. After all, which employer would say no to having an intelligent employee?


Just to set things up properly, let us go over what we know about intelligence so far. We know that it refers to our ability or capacity to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. The most common alternative phrases and words used include brain power, mental capacity, logic and reasoning, and judgment, to name a few.

If there is one way to measure human intelligence using a systematic scoring system, it would be through subjecting a person to a series of tests. The resulting numerical score obtained from that test is the intelligence quotient, more popularly known as “IQ”.

German psychologist and philosopher William Stern coined the term “intelligence quotient” to refer to a scoring method he formulated for intelligence tests conducted at the University of Wroclaw. This was way back in 1912. Over the years, many psychologists followed Stern’s lead, until IQ has become widely recognized to refer to the score derived from taking any of the many standardized tests for the assessment of intelligence levels of humans.

Although the term was coined only in 1912, the concept of measuring human intelligence through tests started earlier, with Frenchman Alfred Binet, who made the distinction between children with high potential and children with low intelligence.

More than a century has passed since IQ was introduced, but it is still one of the most frequently used measure for human intelligence.


There is one thing that we should clear up about IQ. It is not absolute, and it is definitely not constant. So do not be surprised if you do not get the exact same score for every IQ test you take.

You see, IQ also has a correlation to age, in recognition of the principle that a person’s cognitive abilities varies in relation to his age group. A kid may be described as “smart for his age” if he has a high IQ or, in contrast, “slower than the other kids his age” if it’s the opposite.

You might remember taking a couple of IQ tests before. Were they exactly the same? Were the topics the same? Most likely, they were different. One IQ test can focus on one area alone, while another IQ test may include several sections, with questions from different areas.

There are IQ tests for different areas where the level of proficiency of the individual is meant to be tested. For instance, there are IQ tests focused on measuring one’s language fluency, while there are also tests that focus on three-dimensional thinking.

The formula to calculate IQ goes:

      IQ      =       ( Mental Age x 100) / Chronological Age

From the IQ Equation, it appears that IQ involves two age elements:

  1. Mental age, which reflects the age-graded performance level based on established and widely accepted population norms and standards. In other words, it is indicative of your cognitive relatives in comparison with that of other people of different ages. It basically indicates what you’re capable of doing. This is derived from the results of a test you took exactly for this purpose.
  2. Chronological age, which is the actual age, in years, of the individual.

The equation is pretty much a comparison of your two ages. What is the 100 for?

By multiplying the ratio of your mental and chronological age by 100, you are trying to look for the performance at the normal level of your age group. 100 serves as the average, or the center value on the curve. Here are the meanings of the possible outcomes:

  • If your IQ is 100, this means that your mental age matches your chronological age. Your intelligence is exactly what a person of your age should have, on average.
  • If your IQ is above 100, this means that you are mentally advanced, since your mental age is higher than your actual chronological age.
  • If your IQ is below 100, this means that you are a bit delayed in the development, or you are not as mentally adept as people your age should normally be. This result comes up when your chronological age is higher than your mental age.

Is this scale absolute? Of course not. 100 is the average IQ, true, but it does not conclusively declare whether you are below or above average. That’s why there is a standard deviation of 15 points, putting the “normal” or “average” IQ score within the range of 85 to 115.


The first IQ tests designed by Binet focused on measuring a person’s ability to think creatively and use creative thinking to solve problems. It was not a test on the type and amount of academic knowledge that the person possesses.

So basically, in a standardized IQ test, it does not matter whether you all know Shakespeare’s works by heart, or you can solve tough algebraic equations in record time. That’s not what’s measured here.

So what, exactly, does your IQ mean? To be more precise, what does it tell you about yourself? And why is it so important?

To say that your IQ lets you know how intelligent you are is actually a very broad statement. It is also very limiting to say that your IQ represents how academically smart you are, since it goes beyond knowing facts and general information.

Several literature have touched on the question on what your IQ says about you. Here are some of them:

  • Your IQ provides a glimpse of how you think, how you react to certain situations.
  • Your IQ measures your skills in problem-solving, analysis mathematical logic, and recognition of patterns and relationships.
  • Your IQ can be an indication of your personality in general.

So you see, a person who does not excel much, or at all, in general information quizzes cannot be automatically perceived to have a low IQ, since that is not the only component of this score.


An IQ score is used for several purposes, including admission to schools and learning institutions. But did you know that it also figures greatly in how hiring companies, recruiters and organizations go about hiring their employees?

Yes, IQ plays a key role in human resources management and development. Some headhunters will not give candidates the time of day if they turn out to have low IQ on an intelligence test. In some instances, an IQ test is often the first step of the screening process.

Pass the first stage, and you can move on to the next. Those who are not able to meet the minimum IQ score will be cut from the list of applicants who will be allowed to move on to the next step of the hiring process, like a preliminary interview or another written examination.

Granted, a Supreme Court ruling in 1971 resulted in this practice being curbed, based on the principle that, for it to be valid, the IQ tests must be related to job performance. But it is not uncommon for companies to subject their existing employees to these standardized IQ tests while they have already been hired, if only to monitor their capabilities and progress.

Besides the obvious – which is that employers want to have intelligent employees – why are employers particular about potential and current employees’ IQ? Let’s go through some of the reasons, shall we?

IQ is directly related to an employee’s educational qualifications.

Let’s start with the obvious. Employers and recruiters usually base their first impressions on their initial perusal or run-through of an applicant’s resume. If they are going to base their initial impression on an applicant’s IQ, it is a logical conclusion that a high IQ points to having better grades at school or more academic achievements.

There is a general impression that people with high IQ are likely to be successful in life. This is not conclusive or absolute, however, since there are also cases of people with average and even below average IQ that manage to make it big.

There’s a strong correlation between IQ and outcomes at work.

In other words, an employee with high IQ has higher potential of showing positive outcomes in a working environment. Generally, he is expected to be able to turn in job performance of higher quality and substance.

Expectations are definitely high for an employee with above average IQ. Employers tend to assign more complex tasks and heavier responsibilities to employees with above average IQ since they expect them to provide good results.

Of course, this means that they are also likely to grant them higher compensation and benefits – any amount that they deem commensurate to the level of skills and intelligence that the employees bring to the table.

An employee’s IQ can be indicative of his critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

If you have above average IQ, this means you have greater ability to solve problems and find solutions or answers to various work-related situations. People with above average IQ are usually the types to relish more challenge in everything they do. These types of employees are not the type to settle for what’s safe and mediocre, because they will strive to perform better.

Business and organizations are areas that can be technical, with concepts that can be quite difficult to grasp for people with slow comprehension skills. This is why employers have preference for people with above average IQ, since they’d have less trouble understanding the technical aspects of their job.

An employee’s IQ shows how independent he is.

Employers want to have team players in their organization, but they also value independence in each of their employees.

As an employer, you’d prefer an employee with high IQ, since it means he has a higher level of creativity, and this creative thinking leads them to work independently. Independent employees need little to no supervision, but they are still able to produce the output expected of them, and do it with flying colors, too.

IQ can be an indicator of an employee’s capacity for improvement on the job.

We have agreed earlier that one’s IQ is not fixed, so there’s a chance that it can increase as one ages. This is indicative of the employee’s ability to adapt. As he rises up the ranks of the organization, takes on more responsibility, it points to a higher capacity for adaptation.


There is a preconception that employers will automatically go for the applicants with high IQ, or show favor or preference for their current employees that demonstrate a high IQ. In short, having high IQ is not a fool-proof guarantee that the applicant or candidate is going to be a productive employee or an excellent performer.

Case in point: Albert Einstein is one of the most famous people with an IQ so high that the word “genius” is forever attached to their names. His IQ runs between 160 and 190, and his contributions to science and mathematics, in particular, guaranteed that he will remain one of the most famous geniuses of all time.

However, he’s also known to have a volatile temperament and quite the antisocial, preferring to be left alone. His lack of interpersonal skills have been documented more than a few times. Imagine Einstein living during these modern times, and he has to work for a company. There is a high chance that, no matter how smart he is, he’d have a hard time getting employment – or remaining employed – given his tendencies to steer clear of being exposed to the presence of other people.

Human resource management – organizational management as a whole, when you think about it –is not reliant only on the IQ of its people. These days, soft skills also matter just as much, if not even more, than technical skills. That’s why we also hear about EQ, or emotional intelligence.

Briefly, what an employee’s EQ points to is his level of professionalism and ability to fit into a group and be a member of a team. This encompasses his personal attitude and work ethics, and how he interacts with everyone – and everything – around him. Combined with IQ, the employee’s EQ makes up a whole that will make him even more appealing in the eyes of recruiters and prospective employers.

Ideally, employers prefer, and will look for, employees with a good balance of IQ and EQ. This makes them well-rounded individuals, with the greatest potential to become contributory to the attainment of the goals of the organization.

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