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What Is I/O Psychology and How Can It Help You Hire?

April 28, 2015

io-psychologyIndustrial-organizational psychology is still a relatively young field in comparison to some of the other social sciences. Yet to break through to the mainstream, mention I/O psychology to the average person and you’ll likely be met with blank stares or questions more suited for a clinical psychologist. Despite this, I/O psychology has been gaining traction in workplaces across the world as more and more organizations begin to see the value that trained industrial-organizational psychologists can bring to the table. These days, efficiency rules all, and decreasing waste, in whatever form it presents itself, is a goal of many organizations. One of the best ways to do this may be learning about what industrial-organizational psychology has to offer.

What is Industrial-Organizational Psychology?

In its simplest form, I/O psychology is the application of psychological principles to the workplace. If psychology is the study of human behavior, I/O seeks to understand human behavior in the context of their jobs. An industrial-organizational psychologist is trained to study the differences between employees, jobs, and organizations, and use that knowledge to effect change within an organization. As part of their education, I/O psychologists are trained in rigorous data analysis, breaking down human behavior to numbers to objectively qualify and quantify these differences.

How can employee satisfaction and performance be increased? How can we better motivate our staff? What makes one employee more productive than another? These are all questions that an industrial-organizational psychologist may seek to answer, but there is often one question that is of prime interest to an organization: How can I hire better employees?

How Can I/O Psychology Help Me Hire Better Employees?

Understanding human behavior and how it relates to the workplace is the foundation of I/O psychology. Putting that knowledge into practice can help organizations at every level of their business, from lowering costs, decreasing waste, improving efficiency and dramatically raising productivity. However, all of these effects can be a result of one thing: hiring better employees. Its simple when you think about it, a bad employee is likely to be less productive, lazier, and more wasteful than a good employee. Ensuring that your hiring process is bringing in the best possible individual will directly impact the bottom line of your organization. So, how can I/O psychology assist with that?

As stated above, an industrial-organizational psychologist is trained to analyze data patterns, examine differences in human behavior, and apply that knowledge to organizations. The way in which your organization hires will actually be broken down to a science. Using proven, data driven methods, an I/O psychologist can provide a wealth of information that can improve the way in which a company hires. What competencies are most essential for this position? What type of personality will mesh best with my organization’s culture? What behaviors would be most destructive in this job? These are just a few of the types of questions an I/O psychologist can answer, along with many more questions that a hiring manager may not even think to ask. Using the time tested and validated approach that industrial-organizational psychology offers is one of the best ways to bring top performers into an organization.

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Greg Kedenburg Greg Kedenburg is an I/O Psychologist who previously worked for PSI. He is living and working in Chicago, IL.