Percentile vs Percentage Unknown Differences 2022: You Got to Read This

by Sarah Reyes

If you work in any HR function, chances are you will be expected to interpret pre-employment examinations in the hiring process, and knowing your percentages and percentiles will be helpful in the picture. Many of us are likely knowledgeable about the concept of percentages since we use them almost every day in our lives, even without knowing it. 

However, the concept of percentile might be new to some of us; although both may sound similar, it is a different concept entirely. So percentile vs percentage, what is the difference between the two? 

Here is how to distinguish percentile vs percentage. 

You might also like: Understanding Talent Acquisition vs. Recruitment in 2022

Percentile vs Percentage: What is Percentage?

You might not realize it, but we use percentages in our everyday lives, from determining and reading food packaging to know a food product’s nutritional value at the grocery to computing your taxes every month in case of a tax return. 

Essentially, the percentage of a numerical worth is expressed by its value out of a hundred. You might recognize percentage as signified by the percent sign (%). This means that the denominator is 100. 

A percentage can be written either by a decimal or a fraction. It is the standard way to compare and differentiate among quantities since it gives pieces of information concerning the ratio or proportion of a given value. 

Here is an example to illustrate. Let us assume that a candidate got 87 correct answers out of a total score of 100. This would mean that they have scored 87, which would indicate that 87% is the percentage score of this particular candidate. 

How to Calculate for Percentage

To learn how to calculate the percentage, let us take another example. Suppose one potential candidate scores 43 points in a test made up of 50 questions. 

The first thing you need to do is divide the correct answer or their score with the total questions. So that is 43 divided by 50, which will give you a quotient of 0.86. 

Next is multiplying the quotient by 100, which is the fixed value when looking for the percentage of a number. 0.86 multiplied by a hundred, you will get the product of 86. 

Therefore, the candidate got 86% of the questions in the examination right. 

Knowing how to get your percentage is integral in learning and understanding the concept of percentiles. 

Percentile vs Percentage: What is Percentile?

Percentage and percentile might sound very similar, but the difference between them is night and day. Although professionals, especially teachers and salespersons, generally use this concept, there is no universal definition to explain this concept. 

The most common definition that is generally agreed upon is in the sense of a ranking system, which will make percentile a substantial percentage of a number under specific values. To illustrate in layman’s terms: if a percentage indicates how well a candidate performed on an aptitude test individually, the percentile will tell how well that candidate performed versus other candidates. 

percentile vs percentage

Suppose that the candidate who got 43 out of the 50 questions on their aptitude test is not alone in taking the exam. Let us assume that the candidate has the 80th percentile on the aptitude test of 50 items. By scoring 43 out of the 50 questions, the candidate beats 80% of the other job applicants who took the exam. 

So for the candidate who had the raw score of 43, this would mean that they answered 86% of the question correctly (the percentage) and also scored higher than the other 80% of the candidate in the exam (the percentile.) 

At a Glance: Percentile vs Percentage

Here is a summary of the aspects and differences of percentile vs percentage:

What is it?Percentage is a mathematical unit of measurement that denotes the value of a number out of a total of 100.Percentile is the value in which other percentage values below it are found. 
Unit SymbolThe percentage is denoted by the percentage sign (%) Percentile is denoted by the “th” in a number, for example, 60th or 14th
Does it have quartiles? A percentage value does not have any quartiles. Percentiles have quartiles. 
Can it be written in ratios?You can write the percentage of a number in ratios. You cannot indicate a number’s percentile ranking in ratios.
Can it be written in decimals?You can write the percentage of a number using decimals. You cannot indicate a number’s percentile ranking in decimals.
Is it based on the rank of numbers? The percentage does not take the ranking of numbers into consideration. On the other hand, the percentile is based on the rank of each number. 
How much data or datum are compared? A percentage is based on only one case. While percentile work by comparing a case over several others. 
Does it rely on the normal distribution? A percentage of a number does not rely on the normal distribution. Whereas a percentile ranking of a value relies on the normal distribution. 

Percentage in Human Resource Functions

Here are some ways percentage is used in various human resources functions: 

Percentage in Hiring, Training, and Onboarding New Employees

Probably the most apparent use of percentage in human resource functions related to hiring is for pre-employment examination or testing. This is the most straightforward way to see how well each candidate performed, whether for the entire test or each of the questions answered, and how well they performed versus other candidates. 

Aside from the hiring process, the percentage is also used in the onboarding and training of each successful hire, whether it’s on the salary negotiations and walking the candidate through each deduction like taxes and others. 

Percentage in Assessing Human Resource Statistics

In order to tackle hiring, onboarding, and other problems human resource departments are grappling with, analyzing and reading essential data, particularly data analytics, is necessary. To put it simply, data analytics are results of studies and surveys, whether basic or descriptive, that HR departments can apply to their inner workings. 

It might be client or job candidate feedback. Whatever the nature of the statistic is, it means that reading these numbers and percentages is a data-driven approach. 

Percentage in Workforce Analytics

Percentage use in the workforce will be related to factors such as organizational culture analytics or employee turnover rates, and many others. As with comparing scores in recruitment exams, HR personnel will also look at data and apply percentages to compare and come up with solutions to make each situation better. 

Percentage in Revenue or Pay

Another human resource outcome that heavily needs percentage in analyzing data is anything relating to revenue and pay. This will include billable hours, particularly employee utilization rate, mainly for professions in law or consultancy, or even the engagement rating of a particular employee. 

Percentage in Company Risk Management

Aside from working mainly on the organizational aspect of a company or business, HR teams are also expected to be versed in problem-solving in law, statistics, and ethics to manage any company risk concerning their departments. They mainly do that by analyzing data to look at statistical risk. 

Percentile in Human Resource Functions

Here are some ways percentile is used in various human resources functions: 

Percentile in Hiring, Training, and Onboarding New Employees

Although percentages present individualized data on how a person did, especially relating to aptitude tests in the recruiting process, it fails to deliver a detailed or descriptive explanation on some factors, and we look at percentiles to solve that problem. 

percentile vs percentage

Percentiles will give you insight into why most candidates got a low score on your exam: is it because a candidate is less skilled in that area or just because the exam was too difficult? 

Aside from analyzing data relating to recruitment, surveys used on training and onboarding can also give the HR team an idea of what to improve on in their methods. 

Percentile in Assessing Human Resource Statistics

Other than answering questions on different recruitment aspects and hiring outcomes, measuring by percentile are also utilized in gauging the improvement and effectiveness of various HR tactics, from job performance to long-term retention. 

A data-driven human resources team will review each result of different metrics, often presented in percentile, to recognize areas of concern vs. areas where they can take their time in concocting an effective solution.

Percentile in Pay and Promotion 

Each compensation metric from the compensation packages to inspecting pay equity across all teams and organizations deals with target percentiles and salary ranges. It will call for studying each job analysis to rank each position for job evaluation before coming up with a salary grade for each work being hired. 

Percentile in Employee Performance

Percentiles are evident concerning employee performance in performance rating and evaluation most often given to them. There are rating scales, sometimes numeric or alphabetic that many companies and businesses utilize for their employee scales. 

Each data from such ratings are then analyzed by the human resource unit, whether it’s a survey about the company or a manager’s study about each employee in their team. 

Percentile in HR Technology 

Percentile use in relation to HR Technology is covered in aspects from recruitment to interprocess like the effectiveness of new technology acquired for the team. 

You can measure the former by asking the latest interviewer to rate their experience with their long-distance interview via email. In contrast, the latter can be measured in the number of each session, active users, and even the average time a user platform. 

Why going beyond looking at Percentage and Percentile is important

Looking at the percentile vs percentage of each data set on all realms of HR works is essential and infinitely valuable. It gives an initial insight into each candidate’s mental capabilities and acumen and forwards things that can be left unsaid for each of the company or businesses’ employees. However, the query remains the same: is it enough? 

In the realm of standardized testing for potential job hires, percentile vs percentage is the easiest way to compare and contrast to determine who moves on in the hiring process. They are more objective and easily quantifiable, and the given test is the same for every candidate, but sometimes such results are not enough. 

Looking into the percentile vs percentage ranking of each candidate in the recruitment process rarely gives the recruiters the whole picture. To illustrate, although a test provides the HR team an idea of what the person knows initially if they fail to score a higher score on the examination, they are cut off from the interview process. There is no gauge about this candidate’s willingness to learn and their capacity to improve in the long run. 

percentile vs percentage

Knowledge is enough, but sometimes, someone who aced the test on the initial interview may lack soft skills such as the capacity to work on a team or even adaptability or flexibility skills to fit into a company or a business’ culture. 

What is better? 

Although in the question of percentile vs percentage where the percentage has its advantage, there is a reason why percentile rankings are preferred in interpreting many HR metrics results like recruitment tests. Let’s come back to our example from earlier. 

The percentage score of getting a correct answer of 86% in the qualifying exam would not hint whether or not they scored well since there is no inkling as to what the average score was or whether or not the exam was challenging. Although, if you know that they scored in the 80th percentile, you would see that they did better than more than 3/4 of the examinees.

Final Thoughts

Knowing the difference and how-tos of percentile vs percentage will give you the ability to interpret many data that human resource departments from different realms of professions are grappling with to improve the company or business and their functions. 

In the pre-testing for potential employees, knowing the ins and outs of percentile vs percentage will give the HR team an informed decision on which job applicant will move on into the next part of the interview process—ultimately pointing, in the most objective way, who is the right person for the job.

Photos credit @PEXELS

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