The Story of Wonderlic

Our founder, E.F. Wonderlic, started the Wonderlic company because he was passionate about solving major challenges in hiring and selection. E.F. believed data was the answer. We know that our experience has given unparalleled insight into how to best serve the hiring community.  

E.F.’s passion is ingrained in our company’s mission, and we’re proud of the journey that’s gotten us to this point. Check out the major milestones in our company’s history (and get a glimpse of what’s to come).   

  • Aug 14, 2019

    <span class="year">1930's </span><br>The great hiring commission

    Without data, you’re just another
    person with an opinion.

    — W.E. Deming

    E.F. Wonderlic, Director of Personnel for Household Finance in 1932, had a goal. Fueled by passion and a hypothesis, E.F. was tasked with solving his employer’s two biggest hiring challenges. First, Household Finances' hiring managers across the country were inconsistent in their hiring practices. It wasn’t much of a surprise, as they were a nationwide company. The second issue was less intuitive, which made it that much more of a challenge. The question was this: How do you identify qualified entry-level candidates if you don’t really know who you’re talking to?  

    Immersed in research, E.F. discovered several evaluation techniques used by employers. He noticed they had one common denominator: a gut feeling. He hypothesized that a candidate’s general intelligence would be a better predictor of performance than a manager’s intuition. With the knowledge that skills tests and interviews weren’t enough to vet a candidate and most general intelligence tests averaged well over three hours, E.F. set out to invent a more efficient vehicle for measuring cognitive ability.  

    Not only did he prove his hypothesis, but he also created the first short-form intelligence test. This completely reinvented intelligence testing could be finished in 12 minutes with 50 questions. The Wonderlic Personnel Test compares in reliability, validity, and quality to the most rigorous intelligence tests around. Keep in mind that this took place in the 1930’sbig data was not seen as a resource. E.F. Wonderlic was the pioneer who proved that data was the key to informed hiring decisions.

  • Aug 14, 2019

    <span class="year">1940’s – 1950’s </span><br>A passion for data

    Open sourced in an analog world

    E.F. knew his test worked well—and proudly told others about his research. As word got out, Wonderlic literally gave away his tests for free. Data was all he asked for in return. For E.F., it was all about perfecting the test. Continuous improvement was more than just a talking point for Wonderlicit was a way of life.  

    The result? Word of mouth brought Fortune 100 companies to his door. From AT&T to Oscar Mayer to the U.S. Navy, the most powerful organizations in the nation wanted the Wonderlic Personnel Test. (And E.F. gave it to them, in exchange for their data, of course.) Millions of candidates took Wonderlic tests every year. In the meantime, E.F. moved up the ranks in the financial industry and ultimately founded his own small company called Eagle Finance.  

  • Aug 14, 2019

    <span class="year"> 1960’s – 1970’s </span><br> Passing the baton

    A new era, a new Wonderlic

    E.F.’s son Chuck was a chip off the old blockjoining the family finance business and running Wonderlic as a passion project. E.F. was invested in solving the “HR Problem": helping HR professionals establish a rigorous, proven model for hiring the most qualified, capable candidates. Chuck shared his father’s vision. As new rules emerged from the EEOC around hiring, Chuck constantly sought ways to use data to improve the process. Organizations like the Dallas Cowboys came looking for ways to make selection more strategic, paving the way for professional sports teams to leverage data for better decision making.

  • Aug 14, 2019

    <span class="year"> 1980’s </span><br> Democratizing assessment

    Leveraging the power of predictive data

    A third Wonderlic came onto the scene in the mid 1980s. Initially pulled in two directions, current Executive Chairman Charlie Wonderlic had to choose: the family finance business, or the hereditary passion for data-driven hiring. Ultimately, the overwhelming praise from former customers and external researchers made the decision easy. 

    Leading I/O expert Dr. John Hunter even stated, “In the Wonderlic Personnel Test, you have the single best predictor of job performance.”  

    Further, Charlie was driven by his observation that the largest organizations in the country had one major advantage over small and mid-sized companies: better access to predictive hiring tools. He knew that the Wonderlic Personnel Test could level the playing field in the recruiting game. During his first month leading Wonderlic, Charlie mailed out his research findings to about 7,000 companies across the US. A huge influx of new orders started rolling, and the Wonderlic team began to grow.

  • Aug 14, 2019

    <span class="year"> 1990’s – 2010’s </span><br>Technological/Internet revolution

    Everything is different, and nothing has changed

    Inspired by his charter to democratize data-driven hiring, Charlie and the growing Wonderlic team continued adding new assessments and tools to the Wonderlic catalog. From personality tests to measuring typing skills to automated reference checks, the Wonderlic research and development team was a veritable machine. Wonderlic harnessed their computing power to greatly enhance scoring automation as PCs became more commonplace. Once the internet emerged, Wonderlic leveraged technology to further expand automation into hiring processesincreasing accessibility and testing customization in the process.

  • Aug 14, 2019

    <span class="year"> 2015 – Present </span><br> Streamlining with SaaS

    The wheels started to turn when Wonderlic scientists and software engineers came to Charlie with a question: “How can we use our data to make the hiring process even more robust, predictive, and job-tailored?” Evidence from our research proved that cognitive ability, motivation, and personality are the best ways to identify qualified candidates. We used this data and customer feedback to inform our product design and created WonScore, a modern SaaS platform making in-depth candidate insights more accessible and intuitive than ever.

  • Aug 14, 2019

    <span class="year"> Future </span><br> An Enduring Goal

    Data pioneers for life

    As organizational leaders recognize the strategic impact of human resources and talent acquisition, we'll continue to expand and elevate the value of our data. We deliver an enhanced experience with greater insights for every user from recruiters, HR managers, hiring managers, and CEOs to applicants themselves. 

    Thanks to our team of multidisciplinary scientists and technologists working on innovative research and product development, we're able to stay at the forefront of the industry. The Wonderlic team includes specialists in artificial intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and I/O. Together, we're revolutionizing the science of selection.  

    Wonderlic remains fully committed to continuing the tradition and innovation that E.F. Wonderlic started so many years ago. That's our goal: to help employers find the best fitting candidates while empowering candidates to showcase their best selves.

Ready to change your hiring process for the better?

Check out Wonderlic Select today.
Scroll to Top