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What Do I-O Psychologists Really Do?



Sometimes one of the most difficult things for industrial-organizational (I-O) psychologists to explain to non-I-O psychologists is what exactly it is that they do.

The field of I-O psychology is, in fact, a varied one, encompassing almost any aspect of the workplace and people within organizations. I-O psychologists’ job titles and employment environments can be even more varied—ranging from employment consultants in private firms to testing and assessment experts in government agencies to psychology and business professors in university or research settings. (For a PDF explaining potential job titles of I-O psychologists, read “What’s in a Name?” here. For informational brochures about I-O, click here.)

Continue reading for information on what it’s like to be an I-O psychologist for SIOP Member Gunnar Schrah!

1) Name: Gunnar Schrah

2) Job Title/Company: Director, Global Selection & Talent Management, TeleTech Holdings

3) Job responsibilities: Lead global internal consulting practice aimed at producing best-in-class hiring processes, client customizations, and bottom-line business impact. Responsibility for team of 20 professionals, distributed across the globe, that drive quality-of-hire practices and projects for all off-shore locations. Key contributor to talent acquisition strategy for all major markets and lead role for assessment and selection strategy.

4) My specific I-O interests (research and/or practice):Selection and hiring; assessment center methodology; personality assessment; employee affect and satisfaction; and ROI and validation analysis.

5) My career path/job history: I started off working in government sector, specifically public safety testing/hiring, while I finished my doctorate. For the past 6 plus years my focus has been on selection and talent management in the customer service industry serving as an assessment development professional and internal/external consultant.

6) How I became interested in I-O psychology: In my senior year of undergraduate studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Dr. Frank Landy came to my honors class to give a job talk. I wasn’t even aware of I-O psychology prior to his talk and obviously having Frank deliver my introduction was a huge influence on my career. He helped me see that I could continue my pursuit of psychological research and science in a field that would allow for business application.

7) A typical day at my job includes: It is hard to say what is typical because our environment is so dynamic and fast-paced. However, in a given week I typically have meetings with talent acquisition and human capital leaders across the globe to discuss pressing issues and provide updates; present results and propose solutions to various business leaders for ongoing consulting projects; conduct meetings with my team leaders; and work on new assessment tools, develop strategies and solutions, and conduct analysis.

8) What I like best about my job: TeleTech is a global provider of customer service solutions and hence provides exceptional opportunities to work with people across the globe from different cultures and travel internationally.

9) Some of the challenges of my job: The challenges of my job include balancing the short-term need to fill open positions with the long-term need to hire for quality; multiple ongoing initiatives and a dynamic business environment, which makes it difficult to determine ROI for a given project; working with multiple cultures and geographies, which is exciting but also presents challenges.

10) Something others may find interesting about me: I was named after Gunnar Nelson, son of Ricky Nelson, who along with twin brother Matthew formed the “one-hit-wonder” rock band Nelson.

11) My other I-O and SIOP-related activities: Regular SIOP conference attendee and presenter at I-O-related conferences

12) My advice to future I-O psychologists: Try to get exposed to as many areas of I-O psychology and human capital, more generally, as you can. Our science, methodologies, and statistical knowledge can add value in many areas of business and allow you to explore career options that may not be immediately obvious.

13) Why I-O psychology matters: We have a unique capability to take a rigorous, scientific and rationale approach to people challenges at work and provide sound evidence that our solutions drive results.

To read archives of SIOP’s Psychology at Work series, click here!