Industrial and Organizational Psychology

Employee Selection and Training

An enterprise cannot be founded, built, and run by a solo individual.  As the entrepreneur experiences growth within the enterprise, it is vital that the business gains great employees to help the business flourish.  Although a single individual can develop ideas and thoughts that lead to the success of the business, it is necessary for others to assist in establishing a consistent growth of the company.  Employees are a key component of a successful and profitable business.  I/O psychologists have studied and utilized a scientific approach to the recruitment, selection, and training of employees (Spector, 2012).  Although recruiting, selecting, and training staff is typical in the business world, there also lies potential ethical and legal issues that may arise (Spector, 2012).

Industrial / Organizational Psychology

The distinct focus of an I/O psychologist is human behavior within the workplace.  I/O psychologists study individual work behaviors and develop a plan of action to maximize proficiency and productivity.  The action plan should reflect a positive effect on the growth of the company as a whole, or repair any organizational and human problems in the workplace (“American Psychological Association”, 2015).  I/O psychologists analyze the business to establish the necessary core competencies needed to fill adequate positions within a company (“Siop”, 2015).  A prescreening process is developed that will evaluate potential candidates, eliminating those who do not meet the competency qualifications saving time and money for the company (“Siop”, 2015). Tests are developed to measure individual competencies that provide statistical data which is analyzed to correlate the test scores with performance (“Siop”, 2015).  I/O psychologists develop an unbiased interview process that probes into the desired competencies without boring into potential legal issues (“Siop”, 2015).  Additionally, I/O psychologists develop and conduct assessments used to identify strengths and weaknesses possessed by individuals and develop a plan of action for individual, or business opportunities (“Siop”, 2015).  The processes developed by I/O psychologists allow individuals to see a consistency among all aspects of the job and communication and training efforts (“Siop”, 2015).


I/O psychologists aim to keep a constant flow of potential employees that meet the job specifications (Spector, 2012).   Recruitment is an easy concept, however, having the right potential candidates apply for the position may prove to be difficult.  Some companies use internal recruitment to fill positions because the individual holds prior knowledge of the company standards and expectations of the necessary criteria (Spector, 2012).  To hire the best possible individual for a position, I/O psychologists may conduct a validation study that analyzes the criteria for the position and to pick predictors (Spector, 2012).  A position for a sales manager may require two years of customer service experience.  If the individual applying has the minimum experience, he or she moves to the next hurdle.  Another criterion may be a certain score on a personality assessment such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.  If the individual meets a set standard score, he or she moves on to the next hurdle.  The process continues until the best potential candidate remains.  In other instances, the I/O psychologist may use validity generalization as a means to develop the necessary criteria and predictors an individual needs to possess for a certain position (Specter, 2012).  Validity generalization means that specifications, criteria, and predictors for a job are transferable to different companies if the jobs are comparable, such as certain Human Resource positions (Specter, 2012).  Once predictors are established, The I/O psychologist should establish how best to use the predictors.  The multiple hurdles approach is a process in which predictors are graded on a scale of relevance and amount of knowledge (Specter, 2012).  As the individual meets the acceptable grade, he or she advances to the next hurdle and continues the process until the highest scored candidate is found (Specter, 2012).  As the hurdles increase, the cost of assessments increases which reflects in a lower cost recruitment process (Specter, 2012).  Another approach, the regression approach, takes scores from assessments and combines them into a mathematical equation that will predict potential performance (Specter, 2012).  For a sales manager, predictors may include turnover rate, communication skills, and generated sales plans versus actual sales obtained (Specter, 2012).  The regression approach takes all predictors into consideration allowing other areas to compensate for the next, rather than eliminating a candidate because of a low score in one area (Specter, 2012).


I/O psychologists also specialize in developing training programs geared towards increasing employee knowledge, performance, and production (Spector, 2012).    Developing a training program begins with a needs assessment in which job objectives are analyzed and compared to the level at which they are performed by the necessary job description (Spector, 2012).  The assessment allows the I/O psychologists to clarify the objectives of the training and what the outcome of the training process should produce (Spector, 2012).  For instance, a company may suffer from poor customer service complaints.  The objective would be to decrease complaints through a customer service training program.  The goal of completing the objective would be to receive a certain set score on a customer service test, and then utilizing the learned techniques when waiting on a customer (Specter 2012).  The transfer of training to on the job depends on the effectiveness and delivery of the information (Spector, 2012).  It is vital to develop the proper training plan for transfer of training to occur (Specter, 2012).  The training should include clear and concise reasons for the training, scenarios similar to those the trainee will experience, and a chance for feedback via testing and questions (Spector, 2012).  For customer service training, an individual would probably view a video, take an assessment quiz, and then practice what he or she learned on the sales floor.   The process of learning techniques should never stop.  Overlearning forces the individual to reach a point of automaticity so the task will come smoothly without thought (Spector, 2012).

Evaluating Training Programs 

Evaluation of training programs is vital to deciphering its effectiveness in the workplace (Spector, 2012).  A training program must have clearly defined criteria that can be measured through employee reactions, content learned, on the job learned behavior, or results reflected in cost of training (Spector, 2012).  The study design should be chosen according to the criteria being used to assess the effectiveness of the training (Spector, 2012).  Pretest-posttest designs assess the employee before and after training measuring the amount of information learned or the amount of changed behavior on the job (Spector, 2012).  A control group study measures the difference in knowledge between trained and untrained employees (Spector, 2012).   The types of measures are selected once the criteria are chosen (Spector, 2012).  For instance, the measure may be a written assessment, role-playing, or on the job performance evaluations (Spector, 2012).  Collecting data is necessary, but sometimes difficult (Spector, 2012).  It may be wise use subjects from different departments to receive an accurate measure of knowledge as some employees may not cooperate fully (Spector, 2012).  Through the use of inferential statistics, the data is analyzed, and the amount learned or the difference in behavior (Spector, 2012).  Essentially, evaluations should be performed at both the training and performance levels in order to learn its true effectiveness (Spector, 2012).  Results yielding little to no positive change should not be continued, and a new approach developed (Spector, 2012).  Results yielding a positive change should be implemented and altered to improve further performance as necessary (Spector, 2012).


Discrimination in the workplace became illegal in 1964 protecting individuals from the application process through attaining and retaining employment with a company (Spector, 2012).  It is illegal to refuse work or require excess training to individuals covered in the protective classes (Spector, 2012).  The four-fifths rule protects diversity from a single class in an organization (Spector, 2012).  Diversity is required unless the job specifies through testing and analysis that the job aims for a certain type of person (Spector, 2012).  Affirmative Action forces companies to hire and maintain a standard of diversity in the organization (Spector, 2012).  However, an individual hired according to affirmative action may be perceived as incompetent or have a negative self-image, both of which may hinder the individual from maximizing their potential within the company (Spector, 2012).  Training programs geared toward reducing discrimination, harassment and bullying should be available to all employees to meet the ethical guidelines of promoting diversity and harmony in the workplace (Spector, 2012).


Employees are vital to the organization’s functioning and growth.  Recruitment and retention are necessary procedures for organizations to attain employees who will have a positive effect on the business.  Proper training and development repairs and eliminates extra costs, increases production, performance and job satisfaction as the employee becomes confident in their work.  I/O psychologists analyze and generate plans to achieve positive results in recruitment and training while ensuring legal and ethical policies, and procedures are intact.


American Psychological Association. (2015). Retrieved from

SIOP. (2015). Retrieved from

Spector, Paul E. (2012). Industrial and Organizational Psychology: Research and Practice (6th ed.).  Hoboken, NJ:  Wiley.