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Companies continue to struggle with the challenge of finding qualified, skilled workers. In order to be able to adequately fill open job positions, they are therefore competing for the best young talent, so-called high potentials.

Definition: Potential analysis

The term potential analysis (from Latin Potentia = strength) refers to the structured recording of ability potential using aptitude diagnostics methods. Thus, it serves to predict the professional success of employees in current and future positions (cf. Schuler & Prochaska 1999).

High potentials are applicants who have a high potential to be successful in their current and future job. The task of a scientific potential analysis is to identify high potentials among the applicants..

Analyze the potential of applicants:

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1. High Potentials: What can they actually do?

The term “potential” refers to the performance and development possibilities that are available to a person but have not yet been fully exploited. These are recorded with the help of aptitude diagnostics test procedures (e.g. cognitive performance tests, personality tests). In particular, five feature categories are differentiated:

1. Methodological competence:

Ability to grasp relationships, identify opportunities for improvement, and propose solutions.
Examples: Work planning, problem-solving skills

2. Social competence:

Ability to interact with colleagues and customers.
Examples: Empathy, teamwork skills.

3. Technical competence:

Ability to apply learned knowledge in a solution-oriented manner.
Examples: Foreign language skills, programming skills.

4. Personal competencies:

Personal behavior in a professional context.
Examples: Reliability, self-confidence, reflectivity.

5. Change competence

Willingness to engage in lifelong learning.
Examples: Adaptability, learning orientation

Where, when and why are potential analyses used?

Overall, there are three primary areas of application for a potential analysis:

1. Career counseling

What can I actually do really well, and in which professional field can I best develop my strengths?

After school at the latest, everyone has to ask themselves the question: What can I actually do really well and in which profession will I work later? But recognizing one’s own experience, competencies, strengths and weaknesses is often not that easy – we have already noticed this at the latest with the famous question about one’s own weaknesses and strengths in the application process.

A scientifically based potential analysis aims to compare self-assessment and external assessment of one’s own potential, and thus supports the individual in his decision-making with regard to his professional future.

Especially in the school context, the approach should be playful, action-oriented, and challenge-based. It is particularly important that the analysis carried out does not push the students in a certain direction, but helps them playfully to identify their own interests and stimulate their self-reflection. This works particularly well with the help of playfully designed psychometric test procedures in the form of small mini-games or also “challenges”.

2. Personnel selection

Which applicants have the potential to succeed in current positions and in tomorrow’s workplace?

In addition to career counseling, potential analysis is often used in the context of personnel selection to find the best possible candidates for a vacant position and to be successful in an increasing battle for talent. In this case, the potential analysis is usually preceded by a concretization of the requirements of the job within the framework of an empirical requirement analysis.

3. Personnel development

In which areas can employees fully develop their strengths, and where is their potential for development?

In a dynamic world of work, the process of career guidance does not end after graduation from school; rather, career (re)orientation evolves into a dynamic and lifelong process. This means that potential analysis also plays a significant role in the context of personnel development. This makes it one of the most important instruments in the area of employee retention and development. After all, if a person’s potential is known, individual promotion tailored to that person is possible – and this is essential for retaining high potentials in the long term.

Why is potential analysis gaining importance in the working world of the future?

To understand why potential analysis is becoming increasingly important, in an increasingly dynamic and fast-moving world of work, we should first look at what the weaknesses of biography-centered methods (e.g. CV) are. Thus, these procedures are directed backwards and look into the past.

The Problem:

When the tasks and required competencies in a job change more and more quickly, experiences from the past play a diminishing role (e.g., experience with outdated software).

  • CV| Viewpoint: past
    , What has a person done well so far?
  • Potential analysis| Direction of view: future
    , Which areas are a person most likely to be successful in the future?

One example: If talented individuals are to be selected for a junior leadership program, a look at the past is rarely helpful, because their leadership experience is usually limited to a stint as class president at most. It is much more important to look to the future and ask whether young people have the potential to develop into good leaders. This question can be answered with a scientifically based potential analysis.

How can you recognize a good potential analysis?

A good potential analysis can be recognized by six central aspects. She is…

  1. Scientifically based and validated
    Aivy’s potential analysis consists of scientifically based test procedures developed by psychometricians with many years of experience. All methods meet the scientific quality criteria according to DIN 33430.
  2. Requirements-oriented and job-related
    The test battery is compiled in a personalized manner on the basis of the given professional goals and experiences (career guidance) or the empirically determined job profile (personnel selection).
  3. Fair and nondiscriminatory
    Data-based and objective test administration and scoring avoid assessment errors due to unconscious bias. Procedures are continually reviewed for possible discrimination against minorities.
  1. Develops continuously
    Aivy understands aptitude diagnostics in terms of a continuous improvement process. Self-learning algorithms make the prediction of the fit between applicants and the company’s requirements increasingly accurate.
  2. Diverting, accepted and transparent through comprehensive feedback
    Aivy uses mobile-optimized game-based assessments that allow a playful, entertaining recording of skills, interests and personality traits (e.g. in the form of 2-3 minute short challenges). So, Aivy convinces with 95% user acceptance and 80% time savings compared to previous selection processes. Instead of just receiving a rejection letter, applicants receive detailed feedback on their potential and alternative suggestions for job postings that better match their talents.
  3. ‍Holistic support in the search, application and development process
    Aivy is versatile and can be used as an orientation solution (self-assessment) for candidates on the career page, as an early selection tool (pre-assessment) for applications and as a tool for identifying needs and requirements. (continuous assessment). This way, Aivy not only identifies the potential of applicants, but also the requirements of companies. Therefore, the focus is on the best fit between the talents and potential of applicants on the one hand and the requirements of the company on the other (job matching).


  • BMBF (2016): Discover Talents. Guidelines for the implementation of potential analyses for career guidance. https://www.bmbf.de/pub/Talente_entdecken.pdf
  • DIN Deutsches Institut für Normung e.V. (2016). Requirements for procedures and their use in job-related aptitude assessments – DIN 33430. Berlin: Beuth.
  • Görlich, Y., Schuler, H., Becker, K. & Diemand, A. (2007). Evaluation of two potential analysis methods for internal selection and classification. In H. Schuler (Hrsg.), Assessment Center zur Potenzialanalyse (S. 203-232). Göttingen: Hogrefe.
  • Schuler, H. & Prochaska, M. (1999). Identification of personal characteristics: Performance and potential assessment of employees. In K. Sonntag (Hrsg.), Personalentwicklung in Organisationen (S. 181-210). Göttingen: Hogrefe.

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