Repost: May the Fourth of Networking Be With You

This is a repost from my old Psychology of Work blog. I thought it was relevant because this is Women’s history month and this post is tangentially related to issues of networking ,opportunity, and inclusion. The recent news about Catherine Hardwicke being blackballed even though she’s the most successful director in Hollywood history also reminded me of this post.

Last week the Star Wars fan community celebrated May the 4th which is Star Wars Day  As a long time Star Wars fan I am very excited about the upcoming Star Wars sequels. However, this past Star Wars Day revealed a situation in Hollywood that I found fascinating in light of diversity issues.

Josh Trank (director of Chronicle and the upcoming Fantastic Four) recently left the production of a Boba Fett (YES!) Star Wars prequel. Over at Birth.Movies.Death  there was a suggestion made by Devin Faraci that the next director of the film should be a woman.

While there’s some data suggesting that female directors get short shrift in Hollywood and a lawsuit filed by the ACLU about the lack of female directors in Hollywood I’m not interested in lobbying for a particular director for a Boba Fett prequel (Michelle McLaren!) I’m more interested in something else that Faraci highlights in his piece. Specifically how people get jobs as a director on a particular film through networking and referrals. Faraci’s example comes from the tweet embedded below where director Brad Bird (Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol) recommended director Colin Trevorrow for the film Jurassic World.

Brad Bird got Colin Trevorrow that JURASSIC WORLD gig by saying, "There is this guy that reminds me of me"

— Kyle Buchanan (@kylebuchanan) April 28, 2015

…which may inadvertently reveal why women and minority filmmakers have such a hard time: White guys hire guys who remind them of themselves

— Kyle Buchanan (@kylebuchanan) April 28, 2015

The diagram below indicates how most people think of the hiring process:


However, there’s an entire networking process that can occur even before someone submits their application. The Brad Bird-Colin Trevorrow anecdotes seems to indicate that  directors that are similar on some demographic characteristics tend to network with one another and eventually recruit others into actual jobs.  Research (Howard & Ferris, 1996) indicates that interviewer-interviewee similarity has an impact on hiring in the interview process. This ‘similar to me’ effect has also been studied in the work of Forrett & Dougherty (2004). Their research indicated that women were shut out of some networking opportunities that men had. In other words perhaps there was an “old boys club” that networked and produced opportunities for those who were part of the club (in this case men). They also discovered that there was a negative relationship between networking activities and compensation for women. Which seemed to indicate that women weren’t reaping the benefits of networking behavior. Perhaps there are hidden costs or limitations for women who attempt to access established job networks.

In a recent study by van den Brink and Benschop (2014) we might have a solution. Their study focused on the role of gatekeepers in the networking process. These researchers looked at networking behavior and the role of gatekeepers in academia. Academia is as far from Hollywood as we might imagine unless you’re talking about Annie Hall  however both industries have a gatekeeper issue. Van den Brink & Benschop highlighted the fact that even though hiring of women might be favored the networking process excluded women from that procedure. Overall, the study highlights a dismal lack of access to gatekeepers in academia.

These quantitative results and qualitative evidence of networking seem to highlight the importance of rules such as the Rooney Rule. The Rooney Rule requires that NFL teams interview at least one minority candidate before making a final decision. The Rooney Rule introduced black head coaching candidates to white owners. In other words it created an opportunity where these individuals could network effectively as well as interview for these positions.  Diversity initiatives need more than just statements of support for minority candidates. These types of initiatives need to give minority candidates real access to gatekeepers. The Rooney Rule is a case study in success that could be replicated in other industries. When minority candidates receive access to networking as well as interviewing opportunities, they can develop the confidence necessary to move forward through the hiring process. Minority candidates get the opportunity to meet and impress gatekeepers in their industry and those who are part of the established network gain an increased awareness of minority talent.

While I doubt that the Hollywood director hiring process could sustain a Rooney Rule, most industries could create more opportunities for minority candidates to access the interview process and the hidden networks in their respective industries. This type of access could create real change in numerous industries from the tech industry to the manufacturing industry. Finding ways to give people the opportunity to meet with gatekeepers can change the perceptions of gatekeepers, give salient experience to applicants, and ultimately create a more level playing field for applicants.

Do you, dear reader, have any suggestions for how to improve access to gatekeepers for minority candidates? Is networking the problem or are there other diversity initiatives that we should be paying attention to? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. I’ll be interested to see how the ACLU lawsuit plays out and whether that actually results in more female directors in Hollywood.

Thanks for reading everyone and as always……


Job Analysis of an SNL Host

An old post from my old blog original link here

I have been away from my blog for too long. There are several factors that have contributed to my absence. I’m trying to determine what I want to actually do with this blog. What’s the best way to use it? How do I communicate I/O psychology principles and ideas to the general public using this blog? I’m open to any ideas that you my humble reader might have. One thing I have decided is that I’ll be writing shorter posts. One of my early mistakes was treating these posts like mini-journal articles. I’ll try to keep future posts more conversational and fun. Another reason I haven’t written much for this blog is that I’ve been very busy writing papers for my original research and working with the Long Island Chapter of the Association for Talent Development. But I’m hoping to dedicate some time to this blog on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.


For those of you who have been following this blog, you know that I’m a big fan of comedy. I like all kinds of jokes and I enjoy starting off every blog post with something that I find amusing or fun. I read a lot of nerd websites (in addition to the requisite I/O research journals and blogs). One of my favorite sites for commentary on pop culture is the AV Club. The site has a lot of terrific commentators from a variety of backgrounds. The AV Club covers pop culture in all its forms: TV, film, books, music, and comics.


It’s rare that comedy and I/O psychology ever intersect, but a recent piece in the AV Club allowed me to consider the possibilities. Upon the arrival of the 40th anniversary of Saturday Night Live, Noel Murray (not to be confused with Bill) asks a question that has puzzled many SNL fans: What makes a good SNL host? Murray comes to the conclusion that there are three unique skills that a good SNL host needs to have. I wonder if he ever took a course in I/O psychology, because what Murray attempts to do in his piece is a job analysis.A job analysis is defined as “procedures to identify the content of a job in terms of activities involved and attributes or job requirements needed to perform the activities”Essentially he’s trying to determine the necessary Knowledge, Skills, Abilities, and Other characteristics (KSAOs) needed to be a good SNL host. Let’s take a look at what KSAOs Murray identifies.

Murray breaks down his factors for a high-quality SNL host into three broad categories:

1) The ability to read: Murray doesn’t mean that the host needs to be literate. Literacy is the knowledge necessary for this particular skill. The ability to read off a teleprompter while acting has become a core skill for performers on the show. This is really more about multi-tasking and performing in the moment than just the ability to recite words aloud.


2) Gameness: Murray also identifies what he calls gameness. Which he seems to define as a willingness to put oneself “out there”. In the world of  psychology, we might refer to this as openness to experience (I’m open to other suggestions but this seems to make the most sense to me). In order to succeed as a host you have to be willing to accept some embarrassment without shame. If you don’t know how to accept shame, Let these SNL flubs teach you how to deal with mistakes on live tv!

3) Talent: Murray identifies his last characteristic as just talent. He defines it in terms of being an old school vaudevillian. The closest to that in the modern era is probably Joseph Gordon Levitt. His version of Make ’em laugh is a great vaudevillian turn that shows off his singing and dancing ability. Some of you might have voted for his Magic Joe monologue, but you’ll have to look that up for yourselves  This is a family blog.

Perhaps my all-time favorite SNL cast member.

Perhaps my all-time favorite SNL cast member.

In his analysis Murray does a few things that I-O psychologists tend to do in the process of job analysis. He touches upon some of the core activities that an SNL host has to do (monologue, be funny) and he tries to relate some individual differences (i.e. talent, ability to read) to those particular tasks. This is the classic model of job analysis. However, there is a crucial difference between what Murray does in this piece and what I/O practitioners do when conducting a job analysis. As a layman, Murray doesn’t draw a distinction between tasks, knowledge, skills, abilities and other characteristics. Just like many subject-matter experts with whom I’ve had to deal with in the process of conducting a job analysis,Murray doesn’t distinguish fully between tasks and KSAOs.  Now I don’t mean to criticize Noel Murray (I’m a big fan of his writing) but its important to draw the distinction between how a lay person might approach this process versus an I/O practitioner.



I-O practitioners never forget that the process of job analysis is a form of applied research and whether we decide to use functional job analysis, the Position Analysis Questionnaire, or another job analysis method, I-O practitioners try to develop an objective assessment of the job through rigorous research methodology.

What really fascinated me about what’s necessary for an SNL host to be effective is that the nature of the tasks and activities of an SNL host appear to be so amorphous. Even the idea of coming up with tasks and KSAOs for the job of actor, singer, musician seem a bit abstract. However, if we really worked at it, we could define the core tasks, and characteristics necessary to perform all of these jobs. Noel Murray takes a solid approach he starts to think about which hosts were successful (similar to the Job Elements Method) and which hosts were not. This is a great starting point. Identifying the characteristics of actors, singers, and musicians presents unique challenges but every job offers its own unique challenges when it comes to job analysis. Part of the fun of conducting a job analysis is figuring out how to discover something new and exciting about a job that you had not imagined before.


Thanks to the AV Club, I’ve conducted a mini-thought experiment that I would never have considered. Feel free to leave the tasks and KSAOs that you think are most important for a good SNL host in the comments below. Please let me know who your all-time favorite SNL host is.

As far as the original piece goes, good try Noel Murray, but if you really want to know what makes a good SNL host, you’re going to need more cowbell.

Can’t go wrong with more cowbell

Can’t go wrong with more cowbell

Special thanks to Andrew MartinsMichael Chetta, and Nayir Choudhury for providing me with some feedback before this post went live. If you need to blame anyone, blame them for not stopping me. In the meantime, i’m going back to my van down by the river.

Why a Stress Interview Isn't Right for Every Organization

Looking stressed during the interview process

Looking stressed during the interview process

I spend a lot of time on social media engaging with others in the HR space. Engagement in social media allows me to hear from HR leaders, business leaders, and job applicants. Recently, I discovered the story of Olivia Bland, a young woman who went through an incredibly challenging interview experience referred to as a “stress interview”. She posted a series of tweets describing her interview with the CEO of Web Applications. Olivia’s descriptions of th interview show a lack of strategic forethought about how the organizations selection process would be perceived by job applicants. This lack of strategic focus shows a lack of care for candidates’ experiences in the hiring process. Someone in their HR department determined that this stress interviewing process was appropriate for this position and then allowed their CEO to conduct the interview in such away as to cause an applicant to cry afterwards. After reading about this experience I immediately remembered the clip from the show Human Giant called Escalating Interview (embedded for your NSFW enjoyment below). Sadly, I have grown accustomed to hearing these types of stories from job applicants whether its from Glassdoor, Twitter, Reddit, etc.

When I first started working on consulting projects in graduate school, stories like Olivia Bland’s were very surprising to hear. I could never imagine that anyone in an organization with even the slightest knowledge of HR would develop their hiring process without considering standard practices like structured interviewing. In this case, aligning the interviewing technique with the job or even reviewing job analysis data to develop an appropriate style of interview and selection process related to the job. After many years of working with clients and being a part of the HR, I-O, and training communities, I have learned that best practices are not always used. I have seen many practices in organizations that are not helpful to the organization and are often detrimental.

Interviewing is the area where I have heard and seen some of the worst practices. The attitudes towards interviewing as a selection tool seems to be “well anyone can do it any which way they like and it’ll be fine”. I have spoken with reporters who have asked the question “what are your best interview questions?” as if some questions will provide insight into job applicants skills regardless of the job. I have spoken with organizational stakeholders who feel they can interview without any training or planning their questions. That their skill in interviewing will win out over their biases. This lackadaisical attitude towards interviewing leads to unstructured interviews which can cause many problems. Researchers and practitioners like Nicholas Roulin who are committed to structured interviewing hate to hear these stories of poor candidate experience because we know the interview process could be improved to: 1) give the candidate a better experience and 2) provide better information for managers to use in hiring decisions.

A picture of me every time I hear about unstructured interviews or poor interview practices

A picture of me every time I hear about unstructured interviews or poor interview practices

Here’s my general advice around developing a selection interview.

1)      Conduct a job analysis-Base your interview questions, interview style, and medium around a job analysis. In order to hire someone for the job, you need to know what the job is. That’s the first step and is the core of good HR practice. Once the job analysis is complete, identify what knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) you plan on assessing using the interview. Interviews are good for assessing knowledge of a job, or customer service skills, but interviews on their own cannot tell you everything about a job applicant. Be ready to use other selection tools as needed.

2)      Develop questions-Select questions that allow you to assess the candidate on relevant knowledge, skills and abilities. In addition to writing questions that are related to the job make sure that you have a scoring system and an idea of what the correct answer should be for these questions. You cannot assess candidates without a sense of what the correct answers might be to your questions. Create a rating scale for responses and you will be able to assess candidates effectively.

3)      Create a protocol for your interviewers. One of the clearest mistakes in the Olivia Bland debacle is that there was not a clear protocol for the CEO to follow. His HR team let him do what he wanted. Protocols allow for consistent experiences across candidates. An effective protocol would have avoided many of the “personal questions” that Bland complained about during the interview

4)      Be aware of your employer branding-When developing your interview protocol, be aware of your organization’s employer brand. What is the message that you hope to send to candidates that apply to your job? A secondary goal of a job interview is to provide a realistic job preview to candidates. Ideally, this realistic job preview represents your organization’s employer brand.

The steps I have described above are not earth shattering and can be found in a variety of places. I often wonder why unsupported methods of interviewing continue to thrive. How can some HR departments continue to use tools and approaches that have no basis in evidence or accepted practice? How can some organizations design training using the latest fad in technology without a thought regarding best practices and evidence-based approaches? There’s a time and a place for the use of stress interviewing but the practice in the case of Olivia Bland’s interview at Web Applications seems poorly planned and implemented.

One of my passions has been my involvement in the HR/I-O/training communities. I have met many wonderful professionals through my involvement in ATD Long Island, ATD NYC, GSC SHRM, Metro Applied Psychology and other organizations across the NYC Tri-State area. Professionals want evidence-based practices. By participating in these organizations, I have been able to reinforce effective practices through my consulting or through communication with colleagues.

If you are a HR professional that is struggling with how to implement training, hiring, wellness or compensation practices, my suggestion is to look to your community. Find the experts that can help you through that process.Use this handy guide from CIPD to learn more about how to evaluate evidence or reach out to me or any other human capital consultant and we will be happy to talk about effective practices with you. All evidence/research-based practitioners are out here trying to put a stop to harmful practices!

Everyone knows I can’t resist a good meme or gif

Everyone knows I can’t resist a good meme or gif

If you are an HR professional who has expertise in a specific area, please share it with your community through your local groups. I have met so many amazing HR/human capital/training professionals that can serve as subject matter experts. There are many who could share their expertise that I have taken on content curation roles with ATD Long Island and ATD NYC to give access to these experts to the local community. I enjoy being able to give evidence-based practitioners a platform upon which to speak. It is one of the benefits of serving as a volunteer in a professional organization. .

Some organizations that you can be involved in!

Some organizations that you can be involved in!

If you are an organizer or volunteer in SHRM, ATD, SIOP, Disrupt HR, or any of the other HR related organizations thank you for your efforts. Do your best to curate content effectively and make experts known to your professional organizations. Active community involvement with a group of talented experts can help you avoid the practices that can lead to negative outcomes for your organization and for job applicants.

If you’re looking for support look to your local organizations whether its SHRM, ATD, or a local I-O psychology group. If not there, try the social media hashtags #IOpsych, #ebmgmt, #HR #HumanResources, #HRTribe, #futureofwork, and many more! Get involved and stay informed so you can avoid embarrassing gaffes like the one Web Applications experienced.

Parks and Recreation: A Workplace Sitcom for your IO, OB, or HR class

This is an old blog post originally posted on my Wordpress from 2015 and reposted here since I’m not sure how long I’ll keep the old Wordpress site going and because of a conversation on Twitter. It’s slightly updated with new clips since some of the old YouTube clips have been removed. Enjoy!

NBC should be giving me kickbacks because I’m writing about one of their programs  again. My favorite current sitcom Parks and Recreation ended this week.  Despite a ton of critical acclaim (especially from one of my favorite TV bloggers Alan Sepinwall) Parks and Recreation only has a small (yet incredibly loyal) fanbase that I’m a  happy member of. The show is beautiful and hilarious. I feel really good after I watch an episode. Most importantly it’s a terrific workplace sitcom in the tradition of Taxi, Cheers,  Newsradio, and Just Shoot Me! (there are many others that I haven’t seen, feel free to leave suggestions in the comments below). As a spin-off of the Office it makes sense that Parks and Recreation has this strong workplace component. If you want a quick overview of the characters check out this thank you note written by the Indiana Office of Tourism and Development.

I came up with an idea about 48 hours ago to put together a short list of Parks and Rec video links that a professor could use in an I/O Psych, Org. Behavior, or HR class. Maybe this’ll even make it into the SIOP Teaching wiki (do I dare to dream?)I hope these clips add a little flava to your classroom (you can also achieve flava by wearing a giant clock to class). However, this piece has ballooned way beyond my original intentions and will not only be a list of teaching resources but will also serve as a memorial to one of my favorite sitcoms. After the finale last night it ranks number 2 behind the Golden Era of the Simpsons on my favorite sitcoms list.

Women as Leaders and Mentors

The first aspect of Parks and Recreation that sets it apart from many other sitcoms is the strength of its female characters. I just don’t see a lot of great examples of female leaders in media. I have had a hard time finding great examples of female leaders to use in my classes during discussions of leadership. The two speeches  below are amazing examples of Parks and Recreation’s main character, Leslie Knope and her ability to show real leadership in the form of two campaign speeches (both since removed from YouTube so here’s a video of the speech heard round the world)

One of my good friends from graduate school did her dissertation on mentorship, a topic I had little interest in. As I’ve read more on the topic I have started to see the value of mentorship and its role in diversity and the workplace. Its rare that you get to see a clip like the ones below where two professional women (Leslie Knope and political consultant Jen Barkley in the first clip, April and Leslie in the second) discussing their careers and supporting one another. These scenes are why  Parks and Recreation passes the Bechdel test! And check out this supercut to see one of the most well-developed female friendships in all of television.

In addition to women supporting one another the clip below, shows Leslie Knope’s husband, Ben declaring his support for his wife as a leader and as an independent woman without diminishing his own masculinity. As an educator, this is the kind of message I want to send to students. That’s what makes this clip so powerful. Men and women can make choices and support one another in both family and career. If you have other examples of female leaders in media please leave them in the comments below.

Oh Jean-Ralphio, what will I do without you? (I’ll probably get run over by a Lexus)This clip is a perfect example of an applicant (in this case the zany Jean-Ralphio) lying on his resume and getting a job he’s not qualified for. If you want to show your students why selection batteries (i.e. a test on Quick Books) are important this clip is for you. This is a great way to show how a poor selection system can lead to both terrible workplace behaviors (i.e. Jean-Ralphio’s sexual harassment) and a quick exit for the low-performing employee.


Innovation and creativity are topics I usually discuss in my Organizational Behavior class. It’s always fun to get students’ views on these topics. It might be fun to start your discussion of innovation and creativity by using these two silly cuts of Tom Haverford discussing his names for food (Zerts anyone?!) and his incredible list of bad business ideas.

How to have fun at work (AKA Organizational Citizenship Behaviors) 

Sometimes organizational citizenship behaviors are more than just helping sometimes they are embodied by Amy Poehler rapping some of the Fresh Prince’s best rhymes!

If those rhymes don’t make your workplace more enjoyable I don’t know what will. Perhaps a sing-a-long to “Time After Time” with April Ludgate, Ann Perkins, and Donna Meagle! Both of these clips show co-workers who truly get along doing things that are only tangentially related to work.

However, fans of the show know that April excels at counterproductive work behavior. As evidenced by this clip when she stops a potential meeting for her boss.

Self Concept

In my Psyc 101 courses I have a lot of fun talking about people’s different selves and self concept. We don’t get to talk a lot about this in I/O but I have discussed this topic in Organizational Behavior and it seems to strike a chord. What better way to show this than to show clips of Ron Effin Swanson as his alter-ego Duke Silver. You’re not the same person at work as you are at home and you don’t have to be.

Workplace Illness

Arguably, the greatest episode of Parks and Rec is one entitled “Flu Season” where the entire Parks department gets sick. These clips are great indicators of why you might not want to show up to work when you’re under the weather. These clips are great when talking about absenteeism and presentism at work. The first clip is a terrific example of why people come into work when they’re sick and includes a terrific line reading from Chris Pratt (aka Star Lord)

This next clip is all about taking advantage of your health insurance. If you’re not feeling well, you may need to depend on your co-workers and it might make even simple work tasks very difficult for you. My favorite part of the clip below? Watching Ron try to eat a hamburger with a hernia.

The food poisoning example below is ridiculous and amazing. Once again how much harder are everyday tasks if you’re feeling too sick to even move?

While this last clip is one I’ll never end up using in the classroom it’s one of the most oft-quoted lines in P&R history.

Self Care

Since we’ve discussed illnesses we should also talk about self care. Who better to do that then the team of Donna and Tom who created Treat Yo’ Self? Maybe the best way to handle stress is through retail therapy!

Sometimes we need someone to tell us to go eat a banana. Instructors can use the clip below to illustrate the importance of employee wellness programs. In this specific situation, Ann Perkins (resident nurse) orders Ron Swanson to eat a banana. If laughter is the best medicine watching Nick Offerman try to eat a banana could probably cure you of a hernia.

Workplace Bullying

Since most of the clips are off YouTube you can use this supercut of Jerry experiences to show workplace bullying

Functional Turnover

If you want to show your class a situation where turnover is necessary, you need to call Harris and Brett, Animal Control! They are arguably the worst employees in the history of Parks and Recreation and their marijuana influenced antics are a perfect way of a discussing drug testing and the need for the occasional firing.

Career Development

Unlike many sitcoms, Parks and Recreation is able to illustrate the concept of career development. Rarely has a sitcom had its characters go through as many career transitions as this one has. Most sitcoms try to maintain a status quo but P&R let its characters grow, change, suceed, and fail. Whether its Tom Haverford going from government employee to slick businessman, Andy Dwyer going from rock star to shoe shine boy to potential policeman to TV host Jonathan Karate

Each and every character on the show experiences a variety of career transitions.These transitions are one of the most amazing parts of the show, people change jobs and they’re always chasing a new dream. There’s a new horizon for everyone in Pawnee, Indiana.  This is a terrific message to communicate to students. I hope all my students have as many careers as they could ever desire. I hope they keep trying new things. I hope my students stay hungry, and stay foolish just like these characters.  Sometimes as students progress through their college careers, they get caught up in finding the one perfect job. Maybe there isn’t one perfect job and who knows what amazing adventures await students if they remain open to all of life’s possibilities?

Work Proximity Associates

Perhaps my favorite part of Parks and Recreation are the work proximity associations (friendships) among the characters. We spend so much time at work and yet we often don’t think about the relationships we build there. Oftentimes, we forgot how much better life is if we find the right team to make the work feel good. But that’s not just reflected in the show. Watch the clip below and you’ll see true affection between actors Chris Pratt and Aubrey Plaza. The emotions that these two actors exhibit is real and is reflected on the show. The real camaraderie among the actors is what makes the show so damn good.


We can also see this emotion reflected in Aziz Ansari’s post about Harris Wittels who died last week. ( My condolences go out to Harris Wittels, his family, friends, and co-workers.) He died too young but left an indelible impression on his co-workers.  Aziz expresses his admiration for his friend and co-worker. We all hope to work with people we respect and highlighting these sorts of relationships in the workplace is a great message to give students. If we can change students’ attitudes about their future in the workplace we might improve their relationships on the job.

Sometimes our viewpoint of work is one of tedium but Parks and Recreation shows that the work we do and those we work with can fill our lives with happiness.  Parks and Recreation espouses that view and that’s why it ends with Leslie Knope referencing this Teddy Roosevelt quote:


I hope you find your work worth doing. If you need a reminder of what that special kind of work looks like, fire up your Netflix account and check out Parks and Recreation. I literally can’t wait for you to enjoy it the way that I have. Farewell, Parks and Recreation I’ll catch you in reruns!


Building Wakanda for #TeamSIOP


We've been a little quiet here at the Talent Metrics blog. As a boutique consulting firm we've been more focused on delivering to clients over the past few months. I had promised myself that I'd write about my experience with I-O Shaken and Stirred  (I plan to write about the experience and provide a Joel Lefkowitz reading list that I had promised to Beth Melilo.). However, teaching, consulting, and life have gotten in the way. 

io sns what if.png

After #SIOP18 and the I-O Shaken and Stirred experience I was awestruck by the level of engagement in the #IOPsych community. I was able to receive feedback from many of you regarding my talk about values in I-O Psychology. We ran a caption contest based on a fantastic picture that Ben Hawkes took of one of my furtive glances. Lisa Kath won the caption contest but I couldn't believe how much engagement that one tweet received. It left me with an indelible sense of the intelligence and power of the #IOPsych community. At the very least I realized that the IO psych tweeps appreciate making jokes about my nervous glances. Since there's no end to oddball pictures of the Talent Metrics team, we've got a few more caption contests coming up!

world of wakanda.PNG

My S&S talk was about the dream of Wakanda and why it had struck such a chord with the general audience  beyond Marvel movie fans. But it was also about building the science that we wished for in the future and in turn offering a vision of the world of work to people outside of our community. Each of the S&S talks highlighted a different element of I-O psychology's values whether it was the need for open access science, civility in the workplace, utilizing neurodiverse talent, valuing the feminine, or becoming an I-O entrepreneur . Each of these speakers spoke about what they cared about. I would recommend checking out the Shaken and Stirred YouTube Channel to see the level of innovation and intelligence on display in each of the S&S talks. 

But if we're serious about the dream of an #IOpsych Wakanda it can't just be S&S speakers that express the values in their hearts. We need all of you to participate. Which brings me to the beauty of Talya Bauer's Presidential call to action She gave some clear action steps about how to get involved in SIOP the organization. I want to support those remarks and ask each of you to take your IO Advocacy (#IOadvocacy anyone?) and bring your whole selves to SIOP whether its through submitting a poster, a panel, an IGNITE session, or an alternative session. Try to submit something this year that you truly care about. Maybe it isn't something that you think will be a slam dunk to get accepted but something that's true to who you are.

Submissions aren't the only way to affect SIOP. You can express your I-O Psych values as a SIOP reviewer. The conference has grown enormously and its important for all of us to not only submit but to review and participate in the content curation of our conference. Beyond the conference, there are many activities that we wish SIOP could take on. If you want SIOP to take on a project or see an opportunity for SIOP in an area that you're passionate about, join the organization, volunteer on a committee or just advocate for the science. 

Finally, I ask everyone to participate beyond SIOP. Whether that's by participating in other conferences (APS, APA, AOM) or bringing some new initiative to your workplace that's rooted in the science of I-O Psychology, or even talking about I-O psychology with a new audience (i.e. a high school class). You can even get involved in a Global Organization for Humanitarian Work Psychology project  It's up to us to express our pride for our field. By advocating for what we believe in I-O Psychology we can get true workplace science out into the world. If I can get my IO tweeps to create such funny, amusing jokes based on 1 silly photo then I hope I can encourage you to represent #TeamSIOP in a new setting where you can advocate for a Smarter Workplace. Let's build the community we dream of starting with SIOP but not stopping there.

With only a few days left before the SIOP submission deadline, there's no better time than now to get involved. Good luck with your submissions, your reviews, and your advocacy! 

caption contest 1.jpg
Everyone who participated in the caption contest was a winner (Though technically Lisa's tweet is the winner, so Dr. Lisa Kath is the winner) 

Everyone who participated in the caption contest was a winner (Though technically Lisa's tweet is the winner, so Dr. Lisa Kath is the winner) 

Post-SIOP Thoughts for 2018

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I’m not usually the blog-writing type. In fact, I leave that to our Vice President of Consulting, Dr. Sy Islam of Twitter and IO Shaken & Stirred fame.

I am on my flight back to Orlando and can only peruse social media and Gmail so much…so I have decided to put fingers to keyboard (who puts pen to paper anymore?)

After four days, which included a Wednesday mentoring session for young I-O practitioners at the Early Career Practitioners Consortium, being a member of 3 packed sessions,  as well as attending sessions for my own learning, connecting with colleagues, networking with new friends and witnessing the fantastic IO Shaken & Stirred event, I have come away from SIOP with several thoughts:

1.     A sore throat; likely the combination of being on an airplane, being exposed to the cold in Chicago, and talking virtually nonstop each day for 12 hours

2.     Respect for the great ideas present in our field, from academics to practitioners, and even those who do not typically operate in our space or consider themselves I-O (I’m thinking specifically of Nicole Dessain as I write this)

3.     An even stronger belief that there is room to improve how we share knowledge, address the future of our field, cater to our various membership demographics, and set ourselves up for success

Here’s what I mean:


Tom Waits (circa 2006)

Tom Waits (circa 2006)

Despite nutritional supplements & medicine, I had to use a microphone for the first time in my life. Much like the Lebron James, I could not stop the throat soreness, I could only hope to contain it.


Talent Metrics' own VP of Consulting & Professional Presence, Dr. Sy Islam, being the opening speaker for the night's @ IO Shaken and Stirred in Chicago on Friday, April 20th, 2018!

Talent Metrics' own VP of Consulting & Professional Presence, Dr. Sy Islam, being the opening speaker for the night's @ IO Shaken and Stirred in Chicago on Friday, April 20th, 2018!

I seriously want to put it out there that Jennifer Weiss is an I-O rock star! I have rarely been to an event as well produced and intellectually stimulating as Shaken and Stirred. I have attended SIOP, APA, EPA,  ATD, & SHRM for over 15 years! Providing a venue and a platform for great I-O (and non I-O minds) to share ideas or solutions to widespread issues is the type of “shot-in-the-arm” that our field needs.  Go to immediately, watch this year’s participants and see what I mean.  EVERYONE was terrific!!!

For myself and many colleagues, the “Shaken” event was symbolic of the future possibilities that await the field of I-O psychology. Innovation has started to take hold in the formats of our sessions and new events.

There were also many great panels, debates and sessions with I-O powerhouses like Seymour Adler, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, David Bracken, Jeffrey Saltzman, Nathan Mondragon,  and Tiffany Poeppelman that also drew attention to the newest ideas in technologies in our field, as well as the need to see where we are headed.

While there have been such sessions in year’s past, the sheer volume in 2018 has given me hope that several things are all on the upswing going forward: SIOPs direction, our branding as I-Os, and the growth of our membership!


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While there was so much positive, there is still room to improve. I believe SIOP has the right idea about how to brand our field, but I still must explain what I do to new clients every week…our external brand remains weak.

Everyone who knows anything about Talent Metrics also knows that we are all about the branding. Everyone who works here is a passionate advocate for I-O, delivering for our clients and representing our brand as strongly as possible.  Our entrepreneurial culture has been key to our success. We build relationships every day. We also generate, listen to, and implement new strategies, tools, and processes all the time.  SIOP has started to take on these elements of entrepreneurship with alternative session types, reverse debates, master tutorials, and a machine learning competition. I have never seen a conference like this and I can’t wait to see what’s next.


Our team is always interested in hearing what you think, coming to speak at your organization or academic institution, or having a friendly debate! Please reach out to us at, directly to myself , or even to the incredible Dr. Islam

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The Unexpected, Unplanned Magical Mystery Tour


We have been quiet here on the Talent Metrics blog, but not for lack of trying. With SIOP submissions, some recent manuscript submissions and client projects we have been busy. We just haven't had time to post on the blog. The blog is a key part of what we're about at Talent Metrics because part of our company mission is to advocate for evidence-based data driven management and people practices. A large piece of that mission is being a part of local organizations. Each of the principal consultants at Talent Metrics is involved in some local organization related to human resources, talent management and I-O Psychology. Our advocacy comes in multiple forms whether its poster presentations at SIOP or the Association for Psychological Science  or writing research articles. This has expanded to participating in podcasts and speaking engagements. 

The very cool Department 12 podcast logo! 

The very cool Department 12 podcast logo! 


Recently Mike and I were on the Department 12 Podcast with our pal Dr. Ben Butina. Give the podcast a listen. Ben does a wonderful job interviewing some great names in I-O and talent management, you can learn a lot. Check out Mike and I discussing Text Analytics here

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Over the next two weeks Mike and I will be participating in a series of speaking engagements. On November 9th I'll be speaking with the Moxxie Mentoring Network Moxxie is a terrific "women's business community of high-achievers that provides resources, connections and experiential knowledge to peers" The organization provides young women the opportunity to connect, network, and learn from other women in business. I'll be discussing talent management strategy and employer branding. 


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On November 16th Mike and I will be presenting at the Association for Talent Development NYC I have been a member of ATD for quite a while and I currently serve on the ATD Long Island board (my local chapter!) Mike and I will facilitate a Conversation Hour about People Analytics. You can register for the event here or reach out to us by email if you have specific questions. 

Finally, on November 18th I'l be participating on a Diversity and Inclusion panel at NYU as part of a NY Organizational Psychology Student Association event. Check out the flier below for more information.


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We'd like to see you at any of these events. If you can't attend one of the above events and would like us to present feel free to reach out to us. We're always happy to visit! 

YouTuber: Career or Fad?

by Darla Van Govan

Note from Sy: We're lucky to be running our first guest post by one of our interns Darla Van Govan. Enjoy! Be sure to follow her at @IO_Psych101 

The Rise of YouTubers

Over the last 12 years, YouTube has become a daily destination for content. Since its inception in 2005, YouTube has transitioned from a video sharing platform to a content creating space. There has been an influx of individuals creating content on YouTube in recent years. Many of these individuals do it as weekend entertainment or as a secondary source of income. However, there has been a growing population of individuals who become full-time YouTubers. With the incorporation of AdSense and third party sponsorships, it has become possible to make a modest income. These individuals leave their more traditional occupations to devote time to their YouTube channels. Their goal in becoming full-time YouTubers is to grow their channel and their influence on other social media platforms, including Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.

In recent years, advancements in technology and science have created demands for jobs that did not exist a few decades ago. It can be said that being a YouTuber is one of the newer career choices available to individuals, particularly millennials. However, since it is a relatively new platform, it is often debated whether if being a YouTuber can even be a viable long-term career choice. This question has a complex answer that is both yes and no.  

There is a perception that being on YouTube is not a job, that it does not require or develop any useful skills typically found in “normal” jobs. A common complaint is that the typical YouTuber stays home all day, sits in front of the camera to talk about a topic (or themselves) or to demonstrate something. This is not the case at all.

Careful consideration must be taken with how a YouTuber is labeled. It is important to acknowledge that “YouTuber” is not a job title. For example, engineers at Google do not call themselves Googlers. Chemists at L’Oreal do not call themselves L’Orealers. Similarly, a YouTuber is not simply a YouTuber. This is extremely limiting and does not communicate YouTubers’ varied skills. Rather, it is more accurate to call them content creators. YouTube is a not a career or a job title, it is a platform for content creation.


Myth 1: Anyone Can Do YouTube

Content creators on YouTube have skills rooted in multiple disciplines. Three things are required for a successful YouTube channel: personality, niche content, and quality control. That is not to argue that having these three things will guarantee an aspiring Youtuber fame and fortune. It is unwise to make such promises. However, they are three important ingredients to success as a content creator on YouTube.

  • ·      Personality: This is a no brainer. An interesting and engaging personality will attract more views and subscribers. Everyone has a favorite YouTuber or two. We watch these favorites religiously. We watch them because we like them as a person and we like the content that they produce. The biggest and the most popular YouTubers are ones with recognizable personalities - PewDiePie, JennaMarbles, iJustine, Phillip DeFranco, and KSI to name a few. An opinionated personality makes a YouTuber easy to connect with; it makes them more than a face on a computer screen.      

  • ·         Niche Content: No doubt there are strong communities,, even industries in the YouTube space. A quick search on YouTube and you can easily find the heavy hitters in the Beauty Guru community and the experts in the Tech community. Other genres include Gaming, Lifestyle, and Pranks/Comedy. Having a defined channel ensures that the target audience is reached. It also makes it possible to network and collaborate with other YouTubers within the same genre. It also gives the YouTubers the ability to build camaraderie among the subscribers. Building a community with viewers is extremely vital to creating a loyal fanbase. Some fans are devoted enough to claim that they know their favorite YouTubers better than friends and family. Some even claim their favorite YouTubers are major influencers in their lives.

  • ·         Quality Control: It takes both time and money to create professional-level quality videos on YouTube. Many YouTubers invest in high-end microphone and camera set-ups as their viewership increases. There is also the need to learn how to use professional-grade editing software. Some of the larger channels, such as Unbox Therapy, even invest in separate filming studios. As many of these content creators rely on YouTube as either a primary or secondary source of income, producing quality content is regarded as extremely important.       


The purpose here is not to dissuade future aspirants from pursuing YouTube. It is imperative to remember that becoming a YouTuber in the comforts of one’s own home is not a get rich quick scheme. It requires unwavering dedication, time, and even money to truly have a chance at becoming successful on the platform. Those who start Youtube channels with the intention of becoming the next PewDiePie or IISuperwomanII will find themselves burnt out and discouraged when they realize their growth is not moving as quickly as they had hoped.   


Myth 2: I Can Do YouTube Forever

YouTubers can make an income, even at small amounts, from uploading videos to YouTube. But is it a career? Or even a job? Not quite so. The relationship between YouTubers and YouTube is not equal. Content creators are not employees of YouTube or Google. YouTube, in the end, does not owe content creators anything. There is no salary; there is no employer-employee contract vetted by a HR professional. The income YouTubers make is dependant on ad revenue and sponsorships, not a wage determined by YouTube. Rather than an employee, content creators are users of a service. That is all.  

This unilateral relationship was apparent in the recent YouTube policy changes termed “Adpocalypse” by many Youtubers. This began when the Wall Street Journal targeted PewDiePie after couple videos were deemed controversial. They ran with a sensational “PewDiePie is a Nazi” story. Further investigations led to the discovery that there are more controversial content on YouTube with ads enabled. This instigated a massive exodus of YouTube advertisers.

Another incident was when YouTube tried to be more transparent with their ad revenue policies. The new policy stated that if videos are demonetized by YouTube from that point onward, the content creators would be notified. This, of course, meant that prior to this new transparency policy, YouTube did not notify content creators when videos were demonetized. How ironic!  

This, as one can imagine, caused a ripple throughout the entire YouTube community as many well-known YouTubers’ earnings have dwindled; some by 60-80%. Many content creators have looked far and wide for other sources of income. These include Patreon and other donation set-ups, merchandise stores, moving onto other platforms or creating their own, and seeking sponsorships. A handful have already decided to leave content creation permanently. The moral of these recent events show that YouTubers may not always be able to stay YouTubers full-time. YouTube may not always exist as a viable source of income.

Another concern is the longevity of being a YouTube content creator. Using the trajectory of an educator’s career as an example, we can map out roughly the career path, from a student teacher to associate teacher to senior teacher. Some may enter the administrative side by becoming principals, joining school district administrations, or even, ahem, vying for the position of Secretary of Education. The changes in roles and responsibilities keep things relatively fresh over the course of a career. Variety is the spice of life. The same can be said about work life.

However, a YouTuber is always a YouTuber. The only way YouTubers can grow professionally is by finding new opportunities - which may not be readily available to a beginner YouTuber - and creating a variety of content. Making videos may get monotonous over time. Switching niches may be risky. A tech expert who wants to suddenly make videos about the vegan lifestyle may alienate a portion of their viewership. A career as a YouTube content creator can be inflexible as they are locked inside a bubble. This has been seen many times with content creators from BuzzFeed. In the last couple years, many BuzzFeed content creators have gone rogue in order to create their own unaffiliated content. However, their new content is similar to their BuzzFeed portfolio. Being known for one style of content or for a specific niche effectively typecasts content creators into that bubble.         


Myth 3: #YouTubeIsDying

Given what is discussed above, it may come across as a surprise that the Twitter hashtag is presented as a myth. Being an industrial-organizational psychologist is not just about identifying problems, it is also about figuring how to address them. Creating content for YouTube is not entirely a waste of time, especially for the younger individuals who are still identifying personal strengths and weaknesses. YouTubers develop skills that are relevant to and are valued in other careers. YouTubers are masters of content creation. This particular set of skills is valued in the digital marketing and branding spaces, for example. Another skill everyone must develop is verbal communication, regardless of industry. Learning to use editing software or a new piece of equipment can be accomplished over time. However, verbal communication is the first skill YouTubers need to master.

Soft skills should also be acknowledged. This includes time management, ability to be a self-starter, and manage a project or product development from start to finish. These skills are extremely needed in a variety of jobs. YouTube can be used to learn skills which are useful outside the video sharing platform. If YouTube does cease to exist one day, with careful personal re-branding and portfolio building, a YouTuber could easily find a job that fit their content creation skills.       


The Future of Youtube

What it means to be a YouTuber has already begun to see a transformation. In its humble beginnings, YouTube was used to share content for entertainment. Then it progressed into an income generating platform for content creators. Many YouTubers consider producing content a full-time occupation. Now, society is experiencing the age of influencers, which is a new tactic employed by marketing teams.    

Many YouTubers are already involved in large scale marketing campaigns. More and more YouTubers are becoming “Influencers.” Impacted by their internet celebritydom, YouTubers and other individuals with large social media followings are often targeted as brand and marketing tools. In the beauty industry,  there are many makeup, skin- and hair-care brands who are exclusively YouTube or Instagram-famous. One such brand famously known for YouTube affiliates is Morphe. Among the non-niche content creators, sponsorships, such as those from Crunchroll, LootCrate, SquareSpace, and GlassesUSA, are commonplace. In a political twist, Hillary Clinton sought out endorsements from influential YouTubers during the campaign trail. This does not mean that YouTubers are no longer trustworthy in their opinions and in their content. Most of them continue to create trustworthy content that are enjoyable. This only reveals a growing trend in how online marketing is achieved today.

     So what is the “TL;DR” short answer to the question of whether if YouTubing is a viable career choice? Being a content creator on a video-sharing platform is not a lifelong career move. There is no guarantee that income generating, video-sharing platforms will still be present in 15-20, or even 30 years. However, the skills one develops as a content creator may open up opportunities elsewhere.

One such opportunist is Michelle Phan, one of the original beauty gurus on YouTube. Once she gained large enough of a following, she was able to pursue business ventures. On a smaller scale, other beauty gurus often collaborate in makeup collections with established brands. Philip DeFranco, who creates daily news show content, is in the process of establishing his own independent news network. Casey Neistat, another well known giant on YouTube, controversially sells his company to CNN for $25 million. Neistat’s fans now joke that CNN now stands for Casey Neistat Network.   

All of these examples show that even now, YouTubers are smartly reaching for opportunities that go beyond making videos on YouTube. They acknowledge that in order to survive with a social media-driven career, they must become entrepreneurs and create opportunities for themselves, just as the Kardashians famously (or infamously, depending on your views) did in their rise to fame. Just as how Kylie Jenner is now on her way to $1 billion from her cosmetics line.    

Pre-SIOP Annual Conference thoughts!


It is once again the time of year when the Annual SIOP Conference is on the minds of many IO Psychology scientists & practitioners.  Each year, these few weeks leading up to the conference are a good time to reflect on my career and what I hope to gain from attending. I recommend that everyone reading this post takes some time to think about what they would like to learn and what they hope to accomplish during the April 27-29 time frame.

This year, the conference is conveniently located in my neighborhood, Orlando, Florida. It’s a chance for me to see some colleagues from New York and around the country. I mention NY specifically because it is where my firm’s primary office is, and where I went to graduate school. Everyone should reach out to their friends, contacts, and colleagues and use SIOP as a chance to catch up if possible.

When first attending SIOP in 2003, which was coincidentally in Orlando, I was a first year graduate student. I tried to attend every session and relentlessly pressured my mentors to introduce me to their peers and help guide me through the conference. They really did not do much to help! They wanted me to figure it out on my own. After many years, I think I may have figured out a few things.  I volunteered as a SIOP ambassador this year to (hopefully) impart some of my knowledge to a few first-year attendees.

Essentially, my goals for the conference fall into one of the three “buckets” below.


Conference sessions- When I am not participating in my own sessions, I try to break up my time evenly between attending sessions that are focused on my current work/interests and those topics that I want to learn more about or I feel would help me grow as a practitioner. Looking over the program ahead of time is very important!  Feel free to be swayed by your colleagues or deviate from your plans on occasion…but attending the sessions that YOU want to go to will make your conference experience more valuable.

Networking- This is the one of my favorite things about the annual conference. Whether talking I/O or where to go eat later, every first conversation has the potential to help forge a lasting friendship or business relationship. Networking, much like attending sessions, helps you grow as a person and a professional. If you need food and entertainment recommendation for Orlando and the surrounding areas, please shout & wave at me at the conference or simply come over to talk!

Hanging out and having fun- Now, I know everyone coming to beautiful, sunny Orlando has this on their mind. I would be remiss if I tried to make SIOP all about work! While I travel and see my old classmates and colleagues from time to time, SIOP is a chance for everyone to catch up as well as chat about old times. Attending the evening “Alumni events” that some grad schools host is a great way to reconnect with those from your cohort as well as others who graduated from your program (ok, its networking).  Connecting with people at these events is definitely more casual than during the day and gives you the opportunity to make evening plans and, in this case, explore Orlando…it isn't just theme parks and tourist fodder.

Check out this informative travel video ;-) :


As I finalize plans with some colleagues for the week of the conference, I urge you all to do the same!

Have a great time if you are going, chat with me if you see me around, and watch for my post-SIOP conference review in a few weeks!


Hidden Figures, Hidden Talent

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One of the challenges of talking, writing, consulting, or teaching about IO Psychology is the difficulty that lay people (i.e. company stakeholders, students, my parents and family) have in understanding the value of what we bring to the workplace. I often try to use films and TV shows as examples. My closest friends know that I love films and television. My wife and I enjoy going to the local multiplex to see what’s playing. We recently watched Hidden Figures, a terrific film about Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson and their work at NASA. The film illustrated their difficulty in being noticed by the establishment at NASA during the space race. During this difficult time when the United States needed all the science and engineering talent it could muster, those in charge at NASA seemingly ignored these individuals because they were African-American and female.


Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, and Jim Parsons play three supervisors in the film and as I was watching I was flabbergasted by each character's’ decision to discount the evidence of their own eyes. Each of these supervisors lessened what they saw in their employees’ positive work performance. Paul Stafford (Jim Parsons) and Vivian Mitchell (Kirsten Dunst) both ignored high quality performances because of demographic characteristics. The first such example in the film is that of Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) who had spent a year working as a supervisor and yet could not receive the official designation and title. Vaughan had obviously excelled and succeeded in the role but her supervisor, Vivian Mitchell would not budge on the issue of her promotion. Katherine Johnson fared no better. As a woman who excels at math and science she is subtly ignored by men in the workforce due to gender stereotypes. Add her status as an African-American to the mix and no wonder she’s often ignored by the other staff members in the NASA computing division. While these actions are perhaps more prominently delineated because this is a PG-rated Hollywood family film taking place during the racially charged 1960's, the underlying idea rings true.  


While such explicit bias isn’t as common in the modern era I wonder how often subtle bias affects managers and decision makers in talent management. Perhaps it's not even bias but organizational politics or an inability to see what’s in front of us. Imagine looking at Lebron James and saying “he’s not good enough for my team” or looking at Stephen Hawking and saying “he’s disabled, I don’t think he can do physics research.” The film illustrates the active process by which those in authority can ignore true talent even if it sits in front of them.

Truth and Talent

As an IO Psychology practitioner, a professor, and a consultant I treasure the truth. Watching Hidden Figures reminded me how far people can sometimes go when it comes to ignoring the truth. There are social, cultural, and political reasons why this happens. We see these distortions in the form of commonly held stereotypes. Stereotypes that continue to threaten potentially talented individuals from pursuing leadership roles,  pursuing STEM careers, or even envisioning their own ability to achieve. As a social scientist, a teacher, and a consultant I cannot allow these types of untruths to continue unabated. We need to stand up for the truth which is that qualified individuals of every demographic category need opportunities to succeed. If we commit to this as a field and as a community then we can start to honestly address these issues and design interventions and solutions that allow organizations to thrive while allowing people from diverse backgrounds to succeed. Science is about striving to look for the truth and in IO psychology we try to identify the truth in people’s abilities and design solutions to put people in the right jobs where they can succeed.

What can be done?

If human judgment, intuition, and gut instinct have multiple issues  then what can be done? Just like with any other decision in life, a decision about promotion, selection, and termination should be made using tools. Tools before the days of IO psychology included asking a friend or seeking out an expert, perhaps getting a recommendation. In the age of the internet and the mobile device think about the last time you made a decision about where to eat, what to buy, or who to date without referencing Yelp or Amazon reviews (Aziz Ansari writes about this process quite beautifully in Modern Romance).

IO Psychology and Human Resources Management research have helped the talent management field generate several tools that can be used for the process of selecting, training, promoting, and managing an employee. There are so many tools out there in the modern era that the process of ignoring a talented employee because of gender, race, or religion seems unfathomable. Yet it continues to happen.


As a front-line, mid-level, or hiring manager you have the power to use these tools to make better decisions. Here’s some general advice about how to avoid missing out on hidden talent.


  1. Discuss the job requirements with your HR and recruiting teams. In the selection process make it clear to your HR and recruitment teams what you’re looking for. Be sure to include the results of a job analysis so that the requirements of the job are clear to all involved in the hiring process.

  2. Use psychometrically valid tools that assess the job requirements. Make sure that the tools that you’re planning on using measure the real job requirements. If your organization uses an observation checklist then make sure that observers are looking for those behaviors that are actually part of the job that lead to organizationally valued results. If your organization uses a work sample test or an interview make sure that those tools assess the necessary skills for the job. Make sure that your organization knows how to use these tools as well. Ask consultants or test developers about how these tools ought to be used.

  3. Reflect on your processes. Even if your organization has matched job requirements to hiring and performance appraisal systems, it’s important to look at the organization as a whole. Are there gaps that exist in your organization in terms of diversity? Does your organization promote diversity effectively. Without an honest self reflection organizations can have situations of disparate impact Even psychometrically valid tools are built by humans and can sometimes have bias built into them inadvertently. If you don’t reflect on these processes you can miss errors that are being made.

  4. Recognize that the process is iterative. You and your organization may not get it right straight away. The goal is to keep working towards developing fairer hiring and promotion practices because these practices do lead to better business results and create a more just world.

Finally, I want to leave you with a reminder that even if you do put in your due diligence you might miss top talent. Remember Tom Brady was drafted in the 6th round of the NFL draft. Those teams didn't miss his talent for lack of trying. As HR, IO Psychology, and talent management professionals it’s up to us to stay committed to searching for talent everywhere so that our organizations can be more effective and bring about a more just world. The lesson of Hidden Figures isn't that talent was hidden but that it was ignored.


The real Katharine Johnson

The real Katharine Johnson