NFL Testing Provides Valuable Lesson for All Employers
NFL draft picks have taken the Wonderlic test for years because team owners need to know if their million dollar player has the cognitive skills to be a star on the field.
What does the NFL know about hiring that most companies don’t? They know that regardless of the position, proof of intelligence plays a profound role in the success of every individual on the team. It’s not enough to have physical ability. The coaches understand that players have to be smart and think quickly to succeed on the field, and the closer they are to the ball the smarter they need to be. That’s why, every potential draft pick takes the Wonderlic Personnel Test (WPT) at the combine to prove he does--or doesn’t—have the brains to win the game.
The WPT is a short form intelligence test that measures players’ ability to think on their feet, follow directions, and make effective decisions under the pressure of a time clock. It was originally developed in 1937 as a tool to quantify the mental abilities of potential job candidates and today more than 2.5 million job applicants in companies across the nation are given the Wonderlic test as part of the hiring process. The test is especially popular with larger organizations because it’s quick and easy to administer and delivers accurate information about candidates’ intelligence. “In just twelve minutes, they have quantifiable data about whether candidates can learn new skills, think effectively, and make important decisions under pressure,” says Michael Callans, president of Wonderlic Consulting, the Libertyville, IL based publisher of the test.
The first use of the WPT in the NFL was by Tom Landry of the Dallas Cowboys in the early 70s, who took a scientific approach to finding players. He believed players who could use their minds where it counted had a strategic advantage over the other teams. He was right, and the test has been used at the combine ever since.
Each year sports writers joke about jocks taking intelligence tests, but it’s a lesson to any business owner who is about to invest a sizable chunk of money into a new hire. The NFL spends millions of dollars on first round draft picks. Given the investment, they need all the information they can get about players’ physical and mental skills. The Wonderlic delivers that value. It’s the only cognitive measure used by the NFL, and players’ Wonderlic scores can determine where they end up in the draft and which players get the million dollar salaries.
“Selecting a new quarterback is like hiring a president for a company,” Callans says. “They need the intelligence to think on their feet, evaluate all of their options and understand the impact their actions will have on the outcome of the game.” Wonderlic helps team owners make the best selections by identifying which players have the mental strength to lead their team to victory.
“History shows that the brighter a person is, the more likely he is to be successful,” Callans says. “Whether they are on a football field or in a boardroom, smarter people are resourceful and they don’t make a lot of mistakes.”
For the NFL, years of testing shows that the higher a player scores on the Wonderlic, the more likely he is to be in the starting lineup—for any position. “There is no other reasonable explanation for the difference in test scores between starting players and those that sit on the bench,” Callans says. “Intelligence plays a role in how well they play the game.”
That lesson translates well for corporate use. “Whether you are hiring a mailroom clerk or a CEO, a defensive lineman or a quarterback, intelligence is an accurate determiner of success,“ Callans says. “Smart people achieve more, they are better leaders, and they add greater value to the company.”
Wonderlic, Inc. has been helping employers identify the best job candidates since 1937. Wonderlic serves thousands of clients, including the NFL combine, which has used the Wonderlic Personnel Test for more than 30 years as part of its draft selection process. Wonderlic tests are referenced in hundreds of books on psychology and have been featured on Dateline, CNBC, Lifetime, CNNfn, and 20/20. More than 130 million people have taken Wonderlic assessments.
For more information about the Wonderlic test, its use in the NFL combine, or interviews with business owners who have relied on the Wonderlic for years, contact Michael Callans at Wonderlic.(800.323.3742)