Math — odds are, you’re either great at it or terrible. The same goes for your job applicants. Unfortunately, it’s hard to determine if a candidate has strong math skills based on a resume and an interview. But hire a candidate with math anxiety, and your organization’s productivity and quality will suffer.
Even a slight error in someone’s mathematics can spell disaster. We all know the story of the $125 milliontk Mars orbiter that NASA lost because of a simple math mistake. And though not all errors are as catastrophic, cashiers, accountants, and dozens of other roles can torpedo your bottom line if their math skills are on the SpongeBobtk side.
As for how you assess those skills, it comes down to a simple yet proven tool: a pre-employment math test. Or more specifically, three tiers of math assessments, suited to the particular level of mathematical skills your open role requires.
Use our sample math skills test below to screen your new hires and find a bonafide Fibonacci. We’ve even provided best practices to help you administer it properly.
Test Your Job Candidates Now
What Is a Math Test for Employment?
A math test is a pre-employment assessment designed to measure a candidate’s mathematical abilities. Pre-employment math tests vary in their application. Some math tests focus on basic arithmetic (e.g., for a retail role), while others prioritize higher-level algebra (e.g., to hire an accountant).
Yet math skills tests aren’t just for accountants and programmers. Math is a critical indicator of an employee’s mental aptitude, and any role can benefit from assessing math skills.
Math Skills Tests
Selecting the right math skills test is pivotal in finding the right candidate. You don’t need a Rain Man or a Stephen Hawking in every role. The first step in assessing math skills is to choose a level of math ability test that fits the role you’re hiring for.
Math Test #1: Easy Math Test
This Easy Math Test assesses an applicant’s ability to complete basic mathematical operations. Candidates will be tested on the following:
- Simple word problems
Candidates cannot use a calculator on this assessment.
Who this test is best for:
This easy math assessment is best for roles that need a basic level of math ability, including warehouse workers, retail clerks, and restaurant workers.
Sample Questions — Easy Math Test
1. 15 + 26 =
2. 125 / 5 =
3. 17 - 9 =
4. 15 x 7 =
5. Tom has 25 apples, Sally has 47 apples, and Joe has 12 apples. If Tom gives Sally 11 apples, and Joe gives 3 apples to both Tom and Sally, how many apples does each person have?
- Tom has 17, Sally has 61, and Joe has 6
- Tom has 17, Sally has 58, and Joe has 9
- Tom has 16, Sally has 59, and Joe has 9
- Tom has 18, Sally has 60, and Joe has 6
- Tom has 18, Sally has 61, and Joe has 5
Answer: A. 25 - 11 + 3 = 17. 47 + 11 + 3 = 61. 12 - (3 x 2) = 6.
To get the full test: Sign up for The Hire Talent’s Easy Math Test here.
Next — let’s look at a simple math assessment for employers.
Math Test #2: Simple Math Test
The Simple Math Test assesses how well candidates handle basic mathematical computations, with a focus on financials. Candidates will be asked to:
- Determine the percentage of a dollar amount
- Balance account credits and debits
- Calculate tax
A calculator is allowed for this assessment.
Who this test is best for:
This simple math assessment is best for roles that need a moderate level of math ability, including accountant, bookkeeper, and financial analyst.
Sample Questions — Simple Math Test
1. What is 17% of $256.80?
- More than the amount in answer A.
- Less than the amount in answer B.
Answer: C. 0.17 x 256.80 = 43.656, which rounds to $43.66.
2. Which of the following is the largest amount?
- 25 times 10 plus 5 minus 15
- 240 minus 15 times 10 plus 30
- 120 divided by 2 times 6 minus 100
- 260 plus 4 times 100 minus 300
- 360 minus 200 plus 25 times 25
Answer: E. 25 x 25 = 625. 360 - 200 = 160. 625 + 160 = 785.
3. A cash register had $275.50 at the beginning of the day. Customers made purchases for $16.75, $12.99, $78.80, and $45.99. How much was in the register when the store closed?
- Less than answer B.
Answer: C. 275.50 + (16.75 + 12.99 + 78.80 + 45.99) = 430.03.
4. You have $2,500.00 in a bank account. You receive a payment of $1,100.00, minus 22% in taxes. You then spend $635.80 with an added retail tax of 8%. How much is now in your account?
Answer: B. 1,100 - (1,100 x 0.22) = 858. 635.80 + (635.80 x 0.08) = 686.664. 2,500 + 858 - 686.664 = 2,671.336, which rounds to $2,671.34.
5. Rachel paid Frank $2,000.00 to roof her home. Frank spent $605.75 on materials, plus an 8% sales tax. Frank also drove 271 miles at $2 a mile. How much did Frank earn in profits?
Answer: B. 605.75 x 1.08 = 654.21. 271 x 2 = 542. 654.21 + 542 = 1,196.21. 2,000 - 1,196.21 = 803.79.
To get the full test: Sign up for The Hire Talent’s Simple Math Test here.
Next — let’s look at a hard math assessment for employers.
Math Test #3: Hard Math Test
The Hard Math Test assesses how well candidates handle advanced mathematical operations, as they pertain to financials. Candidates will be asked to:
- Compute interest
- Determine depreciation
- Calculate tax
As with the Simple Math Test, a calculator is allowed for this assessment.
Who this test is best for:
This hard math assessment is best for roles that need a high level of math ability, including CFO, controller, and county manager.
Sample Questions — Hard Math Test
1. What is the best price for 12 staplers?
- 12 staplers at $8.50 each.
- 6 staplers at $12.00 each, and 6 staplers at 50% off.
- 12 at $7.00 each, with a $20 shipping fee.
- 4 staplers at $11.50, 4 staplers at $9.50, and 4 staples at $5.50.
- One stapler at $12, the second at $11, the third at $10, etc.
Answer: A. 12 x 8.50 = 102. The other answers are 108, 104, 106, and 114, respectively.
2. An ice cream store bought 50 gallons of ice cream and 2,000 cones from a vendor at $28.25 a gallon and $0.25 a cone. One gallon provides 40 scoops of ice cream. If the company sells through its entire inventory at $4.25 per single-scoop ice cream cone, how much profit does it make?
Answer: A. 50 x 28.25 = 1,412.5. 0.25 x 2,000 = 500. 50 gallons x 40 scoops = 2,000 scoops. 4.25 x 2,000 = 8,500. 8,500 - 1,412.50 = 7,087.50.
3. Your business has a balance of $4,260.50. Over the past month, you made purchases for $179.25, $60.20, $55.21, and $998.12. Then the bank paid you interest on an average balance of $2,500.00 for the month at a rate of 2% per annum and charged a $40.00 checking fee. How much money is left?
Answer: C. 4,260.50 - (179.25 + 60.20 + 55.21 + 998.12) = 2,967.72. 2,500 x 0.02 / 12 = 4.13 repeating. 2,967.72 + 4.13 repeating - 40 = 2,923.586 repeating, which rounds to $2,923.59.
4. A customer buys a shirt priced at $78.50, with an added sales tax of 9.25%. How much is the total purchase price?
Answer: D. 78.50 x 109.25 = 85.76125, which rounds to $85.76.
5. A retail business buys $40,000 in inventory from a manufacturer, and prices that inventory at a 60% markup. If the business sells through all the inventory, what are its profits? (Assume there are no taxes or fees.)
Answer: E. 40,000 x 1.60 = 64,000. 64,000 - 40,000 = 24,000.
To get the full test: Sign up for The Hire Talent’s Hard Math Test here.
How to Test Applicants for Math Skills
Giving a math skills test to your job candidates isn’t quite as easy as sending them a list of questions and then checking the answers. There are several best practices to ensure meaningful, measurable results — in a form that can actually ensure a level of math competence.
1. Choose the Right Math Test for Hiring
If you’re hiring a cashier, it’s overkill to expect them to know what a logarithmic function is. But if you’re hiring a quant to handle complex financial analyses, screening for basic algebra won’t cut it. So — start by selecting a pre-employment math skills quiz that fits the role you’re hiring for.
The Hire Talent can help you there. To learn how, drop your contact info into the form at the bottom of this article.
2. Use Questions Validated to Predict Job Performance
We developed The Hire Talent’s math skills test questions to assess three tiers of math skills for different types of roles. Next, we administered the test to thousands of job candidates and verified that they correctly measured the appropriate skills. Finally, we used the results to further refine the list of questions.
Using a pre-employment math skills test validated like this will help you make informed hiring decisions.
3. Use an Automated Testing Platform
Emailing pre-employment math tests to candidates and asking them to send their answers back is a process doomed to fail. To eliminate cheating, poor candidate experience, and disorganization, it’s best to use a simple, glitch-free assessment platform that tests your candidates, grades their answers, and delivers top-line data, hassle-free.
The Hire Talent’s math assessment for employment gets five-star ratings on both Trustpilot and Capterra.
"The assessments are awesome, they are a wonderful objective measure of something quite hard to assess by any other means. I expect to use it for every hire going forward."
- 5/5 Verified Trustpilot Reviewer
Benefits of Online Math Skills Testing
Math is hard — and it’s even harder to find candidates who have strong math ability. By adding online math skills testing to your hiring process, you’ll filter out mathematically inept applicants, improve DEI, and slash your time to hire.
Screen for math skills, and you can:
- Filter out unqualified candidates: You’re looking for Jimmy Neutrons — not Patrick Stars. A pre-hire math skills assessment shows you which is which.
- Identify high performers: Find and hire candidates who have math skills that match the job on day one.
- Reduce bias: Pre-hire math tests arm you with the data you need to make fairer, more objective hiring decisions.
- Predict job performance: Math skills are frequently linked to higher achievement in STEM roles.
- Lower your hiring costs: Pre-employment math assessments are low-cost — and can save you from the headache of training terrible hires.
- Scale your hiring process: It’s easy to embed these mathematics tests within your hiring process — making them great ways to scale.
- Decrease time to hire: By finding high-quality candidates with job-matching math ability faster, you’ll accelerate your time to hire.
- Increase retention: When you place employees in roles they’re equipped to handle, you’ll reduce your turnover.
Why Are Math Skills Important in the Workplace?
Math skills are important because they’re widely applicable and highly specialized. Unlike other job skills, math has no gray area — you’re either right or wrong. Mess up a calculation in your business operations, and it can mean the difference between a profit and a string of sleepless nights.
What Roles Need Math Skills Tests?
The roles that benefit most from math skills are ones that handle money or data on a regular basis. This ranges from the people in charge of finances to those on the front lines exchanging cash with customers.
Here are a few roles that can benefit from a math skills test:
- Chief financial officer
- Data scientist
- Financial analyst
- Business intelligence analyst
- Supply chain manager
A pre-employment math test helps you identify high-potential candidates who have the right math skills to fill the role you’re hiring for. Cut down on needless errors, reduce shrinkage, and de-risk your organization — all while improving your hiring process and eliminating hiring errors.