The Focus Test is a measure of a candidate’s ability to distinguish relevant from irrelevant information in potentially confusing environments. It assesses whether candidates can act deliberately according to rules that may not be intuitive. Those with high scores are generally able to focus on tasks in distracting surroundings, while those with lower scores are more easily distracted by irrelevant information.
The ability to deliberately and accurately perform an assigned task without being distracted by irrelevant but salient information is important for many tasks in the modern work environment. Furthermore, similar characteristics to those measured by the Focus Test have been shown to moderate the negative effects of workplace related stress such as burnout and absenteeism in service sector jobs in Germany (Schmidt et al, 2007[LH1] ).
The Focus Test is a shortened and computerized version of the Stroop Test (Stroop, 1935). Stroop type tests are widely used to measure cognitive control in economics and psychology (for example see Mani et al. (2013)).
The Focus Test consists of 15 questions.
For each question candidates are shown the name of a colour printed in letters of a different colour.
They must then choose the colour the letters are printed in, and NOT the meaning of the word, from a list of possible answers.
For example, candidates would be asked to choose the colour corresponding to:
The correct answer for this problem is blue. Candidates are scored on the time they take to answer the question, and whether or not they answer the question correctly.
Mani, A., Mullainathan, S., Shafir, E., & Zhao, J. (2013). Poverty Impedes Cognitive Function. Science, 341(6149), 976–980.
Schmidt, K.-H., Neubach, B., & Heuer, H. (2007). Self-control demands, cognitive control deficits, and burnout. Work & Stress, 21(2), 142–154.
Stroop, J. Ridley (1935). Studies of interference in serial verbal reactions. Journal of experimental psychology, 18(3): 643-662.