Keith McCook, Ph.D.

Keith has extensive experience putting his training as an industrial and organizational (I-O) psychologist into practice, both as a talent expert and as the leader of the Research & Science team.

Articles by Keith.

What led you into this field?

I’ve always been interested in tests. As weird as it sounds, I loved taking them as a kid! Whether they were tests for school, career interest questionnaires, or other kinds of tests, I was always curious about how asking someone questions could result in a meaningful conclusion based on the answers.

I originally went to college to go into medicine. I liked the stats classes. But after taking chemistry and genetics, I wasn’t very interested in medicine anymore. One of my professors was an I-O psychologist who worked for a large oil company. His job was to go overseas and evaluate what it was like to live and work in Malasia, Japan, Indonesia, the Middle East, and other countries where his company sent expatriates. He’d use this information to help them transition from life in the United States to their new overseas locations. His goal was to reduce the number of people who’d change their minds and return to the States.

When he described his job, I said, “That’s what I want to do!” I talked to him about some of the other things I-O psychologists did, and the job really resonated with me.

What or who has influenced your career the most?

I’ve been lucky enough to have spent my entire career at Assess Systems (now OutMatch), where I started as an intern. I’ve learned the product and systems inside and out, worked with our clients and distributors, and worked closely with a lot of other employees. The entire time I’ve been here, I’ve loved it and the people I’ve worked with. It’s always been interesting. I’ve never thought twice about doing anything else.

I love the variety and the degree of depth and specialization within one company. Every year has been different in terms of work activities, major projects, and increased responsibilities, but it’s all been with the same awesome people and great culture.

I still work with a lot of the same people I started with 15+ years ago, so it’s been a very stable group. We’ve added great talent over the years that’s really rounded us out. Because all our clients are slightly different in their own way, there’s always a new challenge. I get bored easily, so having a new problem to solve every day is exciting.

What are some of the longer-term business challenges you see in the future? 

We often develop assessments for service job roles. These jobs constantly change because of factors like budget pressures, automation, and consumer tastes. Our challenge is to monitor the changes and adapt our assessments to make sure they directly pertain to each job as it exists today and tomorrow.

We develop assessments to predict success as accurately as possible based on what we observe about a job. However, if the job changes substantially, we have to adjust our target. Service jobs are likely to change in the future, but we don’t know what kind of changes tomorrow will bring. We must continually stay in touch with our clients to see if there’s been a substantial change in their businesses to be sure we’re predicting performance in the right way.

What are some of the out-of-the-ordinary experiences you’ve had?

I met Prince Charles through an international partner that had clients in the finance space in London. The company had a table at a charity polo match and invited our team because we were in the U.K. doing training. Prince Charles and his sons were playing in the polo match, and afterwards we had a chance to visit with them.

I was also able to travel the world when I served as European Market Manager for Assess Systems. After we started translating our products in 2003 or so, companies worldwide began to discover our assessments. These companies wanted to sell and distribute them, and we began to form partnerships. I’ve provided in-person training and assistance for our partners in 10 different countries, including places like England, Scotland, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, France, and China. Over the years, I also had the chance to work over the phone with people in more than 20 countries as a partner advisor. I helped by answering questions and providing statistical analyses and data for product localization.