Our top learnings from SIOP 2018 in Chicago

It’s pretty amazing when a group of people whose head office is in  Stafford, Queensland, next to Bunnings Warehouse, are invited to the biggest Industrial/Organisational Psychology conference in the world in Chicago to present and participate in panel discussions on game-based assessments. There’s a lot of interest in the USA and globally about Cognify, our latest game-based assessment and specifically, its basis in trusted psychometric science and ability to predict performance as well as a battery of traditional assessments while offering a more enjoyable and immersive candidate experience.


Leanne Lee, Emma Fox and Salih Mujcic brave the Chicago weather for SIOP 2018

Four of the Revelian team – Jason Blaik, Emma Fox, Salih Mujcic, and Leanne Lee – headed off to Chicago to brave the cold, enjoy genuine deep-dish pizza and share some fun Australiana with conference participants – including Caramello Koalas and Vegemite – several weeks ago. We asked them to share their thoughts and learnings about the experience.


Emma Fox, Global Accounts Director


“Attending SIOP really brought home to me the fact that Revelian is a company that is taking a science-led, psychometric approach to game-based assessments. This is particularly important in the US market, where the expectation is that all selection tools must be rigorously proven to be valid and reliable.


Revelian’s R&D approach of using multi-disciplinary teams (IO psychs + engineers) to develop new assessments is seen in the I/O industry as a best practice approach.  The fact that Revelian has been publishing assessments for almost 20 years and have a large product suite was well received by attendees since it gives them confidence that we know our industry well and our tools are underpinned by robust science.


There were a lot of students (Masters/PhDs) in attendance and the game-led approach really resonated with them. We also saw a lot of interest in how the technology could be applied in broader ways and to measure different constructs.


Leanne, Jason and Emma at the Revelian stand with Aussie goodies to give away.

On a lighter note, we managed to convince a few people that Furry Friends actually tasted of said animal… and the Fruit Bat went down surprisingly well given this info!”


Salih Mujcic, Program Manager


“My main highlight from SIOP 2018 was how energising it felt to be surrounded by people who truly cared about measuring human potential, inclusion, and diversity, as well as a number of issues that impact on people at work. There were an incredible amount of sessions and a lot of great work that everyone shared and presented in one way or another.


SIOP18 highlighted an some fantastic advancements in the measurement and development of assessments and the understanding of psychometric constructs. For example there was a Machine Learning competition during the conference, in which I/O psychs competed to build the best predictive model.


One of my top takeaways was the learning that the I/O community didn’t really start dedicating much thought or discussion to technology until 2014, which seems somewhat baffling. (You can see levels of interest over time in different topics here: https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6394989564133548032.


Salih presenting on technology-enhanced assessments.

I feel that the I/O community needs to dedicate the same amount of interest and passion to understanding technology as they do to understanding various psychometric constructs and how to assess them. Technology enables us to build more targeted and interesting assessments. We need to understand and use technology to have a seat at the table, so that we can work alongside other fields and disciplines such as computer science, engineering or behavioural economics to create better tools in the domain that we understand so well.


In the near future, I see a rise in Augmented Reality and more technologically diverse assessments that emphasise the candidate experience and rely on a large number of contextual variables. Privacy and the consent to use of these variables will gain more traction. I still believe that assessments will be part of a consensual process, rather than stealthy, or an invasion of applicants’ leisure time or privacy. Well, I hope they will.”


Jason Blaik, Lead Psychometrician


“As an I/O psych conference, nothing compares to the sheer breadth and diversity of research and practitioner topics offered at SIOP, and Chicago 2018 was no different. This can quite easily prove overwhelming. However, through some forward planning and effective use of the conference app, attendees can navigate through the 1,000 odd sessions on offer to find those of most interest and relevance. This diversity in topics also provides a great opportunity to broaden your mind, and to hear from and speak to other psychology professionals operating in very different fields of research and practice.


Global representation was also a feature of the conference (although I suspect Australians still had to travel the furthest to attend). Again, SIOP is really the only place where such geographical diversity is evident in the field of I/O Psych. For a lot of attendees, including us, the conference also offered a unique opportunity to meet face to face with others whom we had only had remote contact with previously. 


Jason participating in a panel on game-based assessments.

Psychologists, including myself, are generally quite conservative (as social scientists we have an obligation to be). Even so, there was an openness in considering new ways of thinking and doing, particularly amongst early career practitioners and postgraduate students, which is both encouraging and refreshing. Certainly, there was a lot of interest in the content we brought to the conference, i.e. game-based, tech-enhanced assessments. This was coupled with a warranted degree of evidence-based scepticism, a critical component in I/O psychology’s survival given the marketing – “neuroscience” anyone? – we sometimes find ourselves exposed to.


It was encouraging also to see a greater awareness and acceptance of the need for psych to collaborate with other professionals and disciplines with complementary skills. For instance, several sessions/discussions focused on data science, machine learning approaches and the insights and efficiencies more grey-box models may offer our profession. A healthy degree of scepticism was shown towards more “black box” approaches, where the inner workings of models cannot be easily extracted or understood. This makes a lot of sense when recognising the highly litigious nature of the environment in which US-based I/O psychologists operate. For a similar reason, adverse impact was again a hot topic and featured prominently in both formal and informal discussions during the conference.


It was a seriously long way to go, but well worth the trip at least once during your career if you’re an Org Psych. Having done two in a row though I’m happy to sit the next one out and give someone else in our team the chance to have this experience.”


Leanne, Emma and Jason enjoying some sightseeing in Chicago.