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What we learned at SIOP ’23 about the future of tech hiring

April may be the most anticipated time of year for Industrial-Organizational (IO) Psychologists. Why? It’s when we hold our annual conference, SIOP, where top academics and practitioners in our field come together to share our latest research, debate, and learn from each other. According to SIOP, over 5,000 IO Psychologists took part in the 2023 Annual Conference. 

This year, the Assessment Research team at CodeSignal attended to share our thoughts on the effectiveness of assessment and selection programs, spread our knowledge on machine learning, and to learn the latest about IO research, methods, and debates today. Here’s what we learned about the most buzz-worthy topics in the areas of hiring and assessment today:

1. Artificial intelligence (AI) in selection, assessment, and talent intelligence

The role of technology in IO was a strong theme of the 2023 SIOP Conference. Sessions covered how we can use AI to assess personality traits, how an AI chatbot can cultivate trust, and how to conduct a job analysis using natural language processing (NLP). However, as with any innovation, some stakeholders were nervous about potential negative outcomes. IO leaders highlighted the importance of ethical AI in talent intelligence, touching upon criteria for selecting AI tools, and ensuring AI systems abide by general ethics and IO principles. This became even more heavily emphasized in sessions discussing ongoing legislation and concerns around bias and fairness. 

2. Regulation and assessment technology

There was also much discussion around the prevalence of regulations within the assessment technology space. Themes of these regulations include an aim to: prevent discrimination, promote transparency, and ensure accountability with hiring tools. With ongoing ambiguity around proposed legislation, there is an emphasis on leveraging IO expertise to help navigate the complexities of the space. However, leaders also recommended a “village” approach, where IO psychologists work cross functionally. In other words, collaboration between vendors, employers, auditors, and legal teams is essential to ensure compliance and address potential risks.

3. Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) in selection

DEIA in selection was another central theme in the discussions, covering various aspects such as legal compliance, competitive advantage, and corporate social responsibility. The overall focus of organizations seemed to be creating inclusive hiring processes, using diverse hiring panels, providing anti-bias training, and being transparent about company values. Panelists also discussed recommendations for promoting positive candidate experiences, such as anchoring processes on structure, setting clear expectations, and seeking feedback throughout. Additionally, IOs emphasized the importance and challenges of DEIA analytics, including discussions around disclosure and intersectionality (how race, class, gender, and other identities intersect). 

4. Accessibility, accommodations, and fairness in testing 

Related to the discussion of DEIA, the theme of accessibility and accommodations was common among SIOP sessions. Sessions highlighted the importance of considering ADA regulations and planning for accessible content and accommodations from the beginning of the selection process, rather than retrofitting the process when a request comes in. There was a focus on meeting candidate needs, ensuring an easy request and approval process, and providing various types of accommodations (e.g., time flexibility, screen reader accessibility) to ensure equal access for all applicants. An underlying question of this topic was: When thinking about hiring candidates with disabilities, what is a bigger miss—a false positive (advancing an unqualified candidate) or a false negative (passing over a qualified candidate)?

5. A push towards skill-based hiring 

Skills-based hiring has spiked interest in recent years, with multiple experts pointing to a “skills gap” between skills candidates hold and skills companies need, with a consequent demand for re-skilling and up-skilling. SIOP attendees also proved interested in this topic, with sessions discussing how to use skills in place of education requirements and how to best measure skills. Measuring skills in technical roles was also a hot topic—especially with advances in generative AI models, such as ChatGPT. Key tips for evaluating technical skills included evaluating generalist skills first, using assessments to screen out unqualified candidates, establishing the job-relatedness of the tool, and assessing soft skills in addition to technical skills.

6. Going back to the basics

Finally, there was a strong focus on utilizing technology to improve IO systems such as assessment and selection processes. However, there was also a push to be mindful of issues related to fairness, bias, and ethical considerations. Despite excitement about the use of technology, IOs proved to be cautiously optimistic, emphasizing the need to follow general ethical and IO principles. This means going back to the basics, such as conducting validation studies and job analysis. Some experts emphasized the need to focus on local validation, as well as being transparent as possible when conducting and posting adverse impact studies. 

Looking forward

Across hundreds of sessions at SIOP 2023, a few key themes become clear. First, AI is top of mind for both IOs and companies as they think about candidate selection and assessment. Second are the compliance and regulatory issues related to the use of AI and ML in hiring practices. And third, DEIA, accommodations, and fairness in hiring continue to be areas of concern for IO practitioners.

All of this illustrates the importance of engaging a trusted tech hiring partner to implement research-backed and validated assessments, navigate complex regulations, and ensure fairness in your hiring. Learn how CodeSignal’s team of IO Psychologists and technical assessment experts can help—schedule a discovery call today.

About the author

Hayley Walton, MA, is an Assessment Research Consultant at CodeSignal. In her role, Hayley acts as a strategic partner and subject matter expert in the IO and talent assessment space to collaborate with both internal and external stakeholders. She received her Master’s degree in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from the University of Tulsa, and is an active member in the Society for Industrial-Organizational Psychology (SIOP).