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The Takeaways from SIOP’s Annual Conference: Trends, Themes, and Technologies

June 2, 2015

The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychologist (SIOP) recently held its 30th Annual conference, a program which has become a paradigm environment for academic and applied I-O psychologists alike to share their work, get a refresher on best practices from experts in each area, and catch up on the latest industry trends. This year’s conference went down in the books as the third highest attended since the conference’s inception in 1986 (Below, 2015).

As I was skimming through the program a week before my trip out to Philadelphia, I noticed some clear themes in the session topics.  My scientific drive led me to take the recognition of the themes one step further—I began tallying up the number of sessions listed for each topic.  The results verified my hypothesis:  The topic holding the accolade as the most popular of the conference was Leadership.  Research Methodology and Staffing tied for the runner-up position, and the second runner-up was Testing/Assessment.

After PAN’s team returned to company headquarters and began comparing notes, it was clear that the team brought back pages of notes full of novel ideas—the majority of which fall under the categories of the most popular themes, such as advancements in technology as it applies to Research Methodology.  Among the most interesting sessions was the topic of gamification.  Researchers addressed that using technology to create game-like contexts for pre-employment purposes can enhance measurement properties, heighten candidate experiences during the testing process, and has the potential to leave a positive impression of the overall organization.

Another term that was frequently used throughout the halls of the conference hotel was “mobile assessment”.  The consensus is that the population of mobile test takers has been steadily increasing over the years.  Similarly, younger populations are more likely to be completing pre-employment tests on mobile phones than are their Baby Boomer counterparts.  One interesting finding from this year’s research was that the majority of those who reported completing the test on a mobile device were actually at home, paying attention to the task at hand.  This finding contradicts the hypothesis suggesting those who complete tests on a mobile device may be doing so because they are on-the-go.  Furthermore, this finding reiterates the notion that candidates still prefer the computer experience.

It is evident that technology is expanding the ways in which I-O psychologists conduct research and practice.  Many I-Os emphasized that the society needs to stay abreast of the trends and shape the industry, rather than lag behind and respond to the changes retroactively.  PAN is working to take proactive steps in this initiative.  For example, PAN is working to add innovative and technologically-driven content to its catalog.  Additionally, PAN’s team is comparing and contrasting test results from various mediums on which test takers have completed our assessments.  It is our hope that this investigation will provide quantitative evidence of the similarities and differences that occur from completing tests on a computer versus a mobile device.  The future of I/O is uncharted and exciting—and PAN is happy to be aboard for the adventure.

Andrew