*name changed upon request
I recently had the opportunity to sit down and interview with industrial psychologist Dr. Adam Lerner; he had a lot of interesting knowledge to share.
Dr. Michael Lax: Why did you choose to specialize in industrial/organizational psychology?
Adam Lerner: I was fascinated by the application of psychological principles to the workplace and the use of such principles to improve workplace effectiveness. My interest in the field began when I took an undergraduate course in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, which spurred me on to complete a masters in I/O.
Dr. Michael Lax: How hard was it for you to find your first position in the field?
Adam Learner: It took me about 8 months to find my first position, as the field is very competitive. Initially, I was willing to consider employment as ad administrative assistant as a means of gaining experience in the field. However, I was fortunate to be hired by a government agency to perform the typical functions of an industrial psychologist, including job analysis and creating examinations for positions.
Dr. Michael Lax: Please describe your first position in your field.
Adam Lerner: I was employed by a government agency to develop tests for various municipal agencies. This involves job analysis, which includes analyzing people in the field and observing what the actual job requires. Based on this, I developed a list of knowledge, skills, and abilities. The abilities refer to the cognitive abilities needed in order to perform the job effectively. These were arranged according to Fleischman’s Taxonomy of cognitive abilities. These are 52 specific human abilities that may be needed for any particular task. These abilities were then ranked by incumbents of the position in order to determine which skills were most important. A formula was then used to determine the weighting of each factor in the test. People who currently were in that job title would be trained to write specific questions based on their knowledge of the job.
Dr. Michael Lax: Can you describe your current position?
Adam Lerner: I now occupy more of an HR position, where I write interview questions for positions where there are no written tests.
Dr. Michael Lax: What’re the most important characteristics to have if you’re considering a career in Industrial/Organizational Psychology?
Adam Lerner: You should like working with people across different levels of socioeconomic status (SES) as you need to deal with both white and blue-collar workers.
Dr. Michael Lax: What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Adam Lerner: I get to learn about many types of jobs and get to do field research.
Dr. Michael Lax: What’s the most difficult aspect of your job?
Adam Lerner: The data analysis is very detailed and tedious at times.
Dr.Michael Lax: Where are the most lucrative positions in the field? What is the path to advancement in the field?
Adam Lerner: The most lucrative positions are in private consulting with corporations. However, in order to get such a position, you typically need at least ten years of experience in the field. In order to pay your dues, you need to spend time at an entry-level position which may provide very limited remuneration, about 35,000 or so in certain government positions.
Dr. Michael Lax: Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences with us!