Industrial organizational (I/O) psychology careers can be personally rewarding as you help a business improve morale and employee productivity, as well as help create a safer, more enjoyable environment for the people who work there. All industries including academia, retail, hospitals, government, and private business utilize the services of an industrial organizational psychologist. For the most part, this position consults, supports, and facilitates interventions that build leader and organizational capability. This means that the industrial organizational psychologists should be prepared to drive sustainable change and business results. The formalized education they receive will prepare them to identify, track, and analyze metrics to measure organizational effectiveness. Through a series organizational improvement efforts and cutting edge strategies, this person will work with teams and leaders to align teams around specific needs, opportunities, and goals. The I/O psychologist will work with client/business partners to develop communications, intervention plans, and implement solutions.
Industrial organizational psychology careers begin with at least a bachelor’s degree in psychology, with a master’s or PhD increasing the chances of increased pay and employment opportunities. Along with the traditional formal education that is required to practice in the field, certain personality traits are necessary to succeed in the profession. First, the psychologist should be able learn quickly, work independently to help others identify issues, and develop resolution strategies. She should be a strategic thinker with exposure and training in long-range planning.
This person should be a change leader. Change management involves how an organization transforms and should be incorporated into the organizational seamlessly so as not to interrupt normal operating business. An effective I/O psychologist will have a conscious knowledge of a person’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires. They should be able to facilitate meetings, processes, and operations without requiring support from others. The ability to adapt behaviors to different people and situations will be important while recognizing and addressing personal and interpersonal sensitivities.
The field of industrial organizational psychology is built upon the concept of change and continuous improvement. Organizations that employ these professionals have made a strong commitment to achieving goals and value their customers and workforce. They tend to be the innovators in an industry and support new ideas and initiatives. Organizations that support psychology careers have an appreciation for teamwork and shared knowledge. Often existing employees are engaged in an organization’s commitment to encourage change, and employers incorporate valuable feedback during the process. Most employers understand the contributions that a diverse pool of talent can bring to a workforce and product design. A business can benefit by creating an environment where people from diverse cultures and backgrounds work together effectively. The best organizations work ethically and run their business with integrity.
People who choose to pursue industrial organization psychology careers help businesses solve challenges and problems they may be experiencing and bring change to the workforce. Change can be achieved through testing behaviors, attitudes, and aptitudes. The I/O psychologist may engage in psychological testing to ensure the company is employing the best candidates or may use it to retrain existing staff. Face to face or telephone interviews are commonly used to assess interpersonal, communication, and teamwork skills. Interviews may also be used to assess job knowledge. This form of testing provides an opportunity for a two-way dialogue and gives both the interviewer and employee a chance to ask questions and further probe a response. A thorough interview may uncover unexpected responses and problems that may be occurring within an organization. As opposed to job knowledge tests, which are usually multiple choice or essay questions, these exams are only valid for a specific skill or technical expertise and do not assess other cultural barriers that may hinder performance.
How Do Industrial Organizational Psychologists Use Tests in the Workplace?
An Industrial Organizational psychologist will be trained to help businesses make decisions on employment through testing. There are various tests that the industrial organizational psychologist can use to help the employer determine what they would like to assess. The employment test will depend upon what the business would like to measure. The purpose of the test is to gauge how well the employee will perform on the job. Let’s take a look at some of tests that psychologists and employers use in the workplace:
- One form of tests assesses interpersonal, communication, analytical, planning, and organizational skills. These tests present job-related challenges and exercises in a particular role, such as leading a meeting or a client call. The job candidate will be evaluated on his ability to effectively perform the required task. This test has resulted in successful outcomes and can minimize the costs associated with hiring the wrong person. Most test takers can understand the purpose of the test, and therefore do not harbor ill feelings towards it. In some cases, employers may use the tool as a mechanism to develop talent through training programs. Although this type of assessment can be costly and labor intensive to create and administer, it focuses more on behaviors than on particular candidate characteristics. This ensures the validity of the test by eliminating any biases such as race and gender. These tests are administered by trained psychologists who make overall judgments about a person’s performance throughout the tests. In some cases, cognitive ability, personalities, and job knowledge as assessed as well.
- A second type of instrument that is commonly used in the workplace is the collection of data about education, work experience, training, and future job interests. This data is used to determine success on the job by correlating attitudes and personality. Evaluations may be used to determine a person’s job level or specific skill knowledge, teamwork, and leadership abilities. At times, employers might want to know about a person’s communication and interpersonal skills, creative and technical aptitude, or if a candidate is social or an introvert.These tests may be administered cost effectively by computer or be paper-based without the need for skilled administrators. These tests have been recognized for their validity of outcomes, by hiring or promoting the right individuals, despite the fact that test takers may be tempted to fake a response. The tests have been identified as bypassing gender or race biases, but will not provide enough feedback for developmental needs.
- Employers or psychologists may also use a test to assess an employee’s cognitive ability. These tests will determine an individual’s ability to reason, learn quickly, aptitude for logic, reading comprehension, and ability to solve job-related problems. Cognitive tests have been proven to show success in job performance, especially for more complex jobs, but are likely to show biases towards gender and race. These tests can be time-consuming to develop, however they can be administered by paper or computer, do not require a skilled administrator, result in the reduction of hiring the wrong applicants, and lack the ability for responders to fake answers.
- Many employers utilize integrity tests to assess a person’s level of honesty, trustworthiness, and reliability. These tests determine a person’s level of integrity and ethics based on experiences, interests, and preferences in the past. This behavior will then be a predictor of future dishonest or antisocial behavior at work. Although some candidates object to this test, being seen as unrelated to the job, it has demonstrated success in the field. Test takers are immediately aware that integrity is a high corporate value, and the test is less likely to show any gender or race differences. These tests provide a cost-effective way to determine a person’s inherent character, although some individuals may be tempted to fake a response.
Industrial Organizational Psychology Graduate Programs