I had the pleasure of sitting down with Jennifer Dembowski, who recently joined the pymetrics team as a Senior Industrial Organizational Psychologist. She has experience working as a senior manager in organizational effectiveness consulting, most recently with Novelis, and previously with The Home Depot, FedEx Express and Wonderlic. She has led Selection and Assessment, Talent Management and Analytics, Performance Management and Succession Planning, Job Analysis and Employee Engagement programs. Jennifer has a Ph.D. in I/O Psychology from Illinois Institute of Technology, and in her spare time, she enjoys arts and crafts, hiking, and pet care.
Given her unique background in enterprise consulting as well as in talent assessment, I wanted to better understand what drove her to pymetrics and how she hopes to have an impact here and beyond. Continue reading below!
Jordan: Before we dive in, I’m curious to hear in your own words what exactly the study of industrial and organizational psychology entails?
Jennifer: I’m glad you asked! Psychology is the study of human behavior, and Industrial-Organizational Psychology is the study of human behavior in the workplace. I-O Psychologists apply scientific methods to help improve the workplace. They focus on areas such as employee selection, training and development, performance management, employee engagement, talent management and a host of other topics.
Jordan: I know you just started, but can you explain your role and core responsibilities here at pymetrics?
Jennifer: Sure. In my role at pymetrics, I help our clients to optimize candidate selection and employee mobility decisions based on behavioral data that is collected through gamified assessments – neuroscience-backed and AI-driven games as well as video analytics. I get the opportunity to serve as a liaison between Sales, Service, Science and our clients, ensuring that our assessments are job-related, valid, fair, and utilized according to professional and legal guidelines. I also reinforce thought-leadership initiatives in the artificial intelligence-based human capital arena, and activate robust talent solutions while building strong partnerships, all intended to ensure that we are bringing the very best talent solutions to our clients.
Jordan: How does this role compare to others you’ve been in over the course of your career?
Jennifer: This role is very different from my prior roles. I started my career many moons ago in consulting for a test publishing firm (Wonderlic), and then spent about 20 years practicing I-O in HR departments for FedEx, The Home Depot, and Novelis.
Jordan: So, what drew you to our team at pymetrics?
Jennifer: Definitely the opportunity to sharpen my saw (excuse the Stephen Covey pun) in the area of applying data science to revolutionize the future of work. I believe in life-long learning and growth, and this team gives me the opportunity to expand my mind in new ways.
Jordan: Given your extensive time at Wonderlic, I’m wondering how their approach to evaluating candidates is similar to or different from ours?
Jennifer: While what we do, at a high level, is similar to Wonderlic in that we both help clients select and promote the best-fit candidates, it’s how we do it that is different. Wonderlic uses traditional methods of assessing individuals-- think multiple choice personality and cognitive ability tests with a fair amount of reading for the test taker-- and traditional ways of utilizing/validating assessments like test norms, correlations, etc. Not only are our neuroscience-driven games very different, but the methods for “scoring” them (using artificial intelligence techniques) and ensuring fairness are unique and out-of-the-box, too.
Jordan: What are the greatest challenges that the organizations you’ve worked with have experienced from an I/O standpoint? Any broad trends you predict for the future?
Jennifer: I think that the greatest challenges I’ve witnessed from an I-O standpoint are:
- Finding and cultivating the right leaders
- Fostering employee engagement
- Providing “just in time” training
- Giving “real time” performance feedback
In the near future, I believe that dealing with generational shifts will accelerate as baby boomers exit organizations and new employees enter in. Also, the accelerated transformation from the digital era will require companies to do a better job managing change (specifically the human side of change) and developing a strong culture.
Jordan: Where do you think pymetrics can make the greatest impact?
Jennifer: pymetrics is well-positioned to help companies find the best employees to help them meet their goals, and when you have people who are a good fit for their role, engagement and productivity will be high, and unwanted turnover will be minimized.
Jordan: Finally, any words of wisdom for aspiring I/O psychologists?
Jennifer: Gain as much experience as you can. Get a broad overview of the areas in which we can make an impact, and commit to making your mark!