Welcome to the Workology Podcast, a podcast for the disruptive workplace leader. Join host Jessica Miller-Merrell, founder of Workology.com, as she sits down and gets to the bottom of trends, tools and case studies for the business leader, H.R. and recruiting professional who is tired of the status quo. Now, here’s Jessica with this episode of Workology.
Episode 259: Remote Proctoring with SHRM and HRCI with Pat Byrd (@PatByrd), Amy Dufrane (@HRCI_CEO), and Liz Grater (@LizGrater)
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:00:26.18] Welcome to the Workology podcast. Workology offers HR certification prep classes for both HRCI and SHRM certification exams. Earlier this year, both SHRM and HRCI temporarily closed testing centers to adhere to state and federal guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Now some testing centers have opened back up, but a lot of my students have had questions about remote proctoring of the exam and what to expect. Maybe you haven’t taken an exam online. Both HRCI and SHRM do offer remote proctoring options for their exam and whatever exam you signed up for, I wanted to give you access to resources and information to help you ace your certification exam. This Workology podcast is sponsored by Workology. For this episode of the Workology podcast, I interviewed Pat Byrd, the Cirector of Certification Relationships with SHRM, and Amy Dufrane. She’s the CEO of HRCI, as well as Liz Grater, Director of certification with HRCI. I, I wanted to get answers to everything you need to know when it comes to remote proctoring for SHRM and HRCI. This podcast is two interviews in one. I dive into some common questions about remote proctoring for HRCI and SHRM certification exams. You can also join our HR Certification Study Group on Facebook to learn more about the remote proctoring process and what to expect. I’m excited to dive into those resources right now on remote proctoring. Pat Byrd is the Director of Certification Relationships with SHRM. Hey, Pat, and welcome to the Workology podcast.
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Pat Byrd: [00:02:06.62] Thank you, Jessica. I’m excited to be here as well.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:02:08.99] Awesome. Well, let’s get started for students who are going to be taking the exam via remote proctor. What does this look like for them? What can they expect?
Pat Byrd: [00:02:19.33] So for the most part, testing using the remote proctoring option is similar to testing in a test center. And what I mean by that is you get the same test in the same time frame, under the same security conditions and with the same levels of service and support. The difference is all of this is happening in your home or in any other remote location of your choosing. Now, obviously, this makes for a different experience because you’re the control of the equipment. Internet connectivity and environmental conditions are on you. What that means is if you need support in any of those areas, you’re the one that’s going to to provide that support. In addition, any assistance that you’ll need during testing will be delivered to you virtually. So that’s that’s that’s the experience of remote proctored testing.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:03:19.65] I wanted to ask you about technology, because normally in the testing center, it’s all delivered to us right there, like you were saying. But what type of technology is needed to take the exam via remote proctor.
Pat Byrd: [00:03:32.68] Ok and pardon me I’m going to read from my list because there’s a lot of little, little things that I want to make you aware of. First of all, obviously, a desktop or laptop computer. Can be a PC or a Mac with a single monitor, no dual monitors. Now, if you use a Mac, be aware that you may run into some firewall challenges. I own a Mac and so I know Mac and PC based platforms often don’t play well together. So just be aware that you could run into some challenges in those areas that could interfere with testing. Just want to make sure our Mac users know about that. Because remote proctoring requires audio and visual compatibility, you’ll need a microphone and an internal or external webcam. If the webcam is external, it needs to be attached to your computer. That way, when you’re working with the proctor, they can have a wide view of your room. Your laptop or desktop has to have a separate power source. And what I mean by that is no docking. So particularly for our laptops, a minimum screen resolution of 1024 by 768 is required. And for the operating system, a Windows seven or higher or Mac OS 10.13 or higher is required. You also need the current version of Google Chrome as your Web browser and last but not least, reliable and stable Internet connectivity. And I really want to stress this because the number one problem when it comes to remote proctor testing is that Internet. Let’s keep that in mind.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:05:22.66] No dual monitors.
Pat Byrd: [00:05:24.13] Correct.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:05:25.30] And then no docking stations.
Pat Byrd: [00:05:26.98] Correct.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:05:27.85] Ok, and probably the better recommendation versus working wifi while you’re taking the test is, if you can, to be plugged in directly to your Internet using your wire cord.
Pat Byrd: [00:05:39.31] Absolutely. You want to get the strongest connection that you possibly can. And that brings me to another little tip. You may want to on test day. a couple of things, make sure that no one else is streaming or using your Internet. You want to make it all yours on that day. And another thing you might do prior is check with your Internet service provider to make sure that they’re that there isn’t going to be any unplanned blackouts or anything like that with your Internet. So everything is stable.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:06:14.59] Good tips. Now, what happens if while you’re taking the exam, you need support? Maybe before the exam or then during the exam if you have challenges or questions or you’re experiencing issues.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:06:27.92] Ok, so prior to committing to the option, we ask you to run a systems check and that’s to make sure that your system is compatible with our test administrators system. If you take the systems check and it turns out your system is not compatible, go take the test in a test center. It’s it’s really that simple. If while you’re testing, you run into problems, a proctor is there to help you. And that’s, you know, the name of this whole process is remote proctoring. The proctor is the person who’s there to observe you through the testing process, but also to provide you with support. So you can reach them, obviously, through your microphone, because they’ll be able to talk with you or via a chat feature that’s in the testing platform or if you lose full connectivity, then we encourage you to use your smartphone to reach out to them. Now there are some rules regarding the use of phone. In other words, you can’t have your phone in the room with you while you’re testing. But if you lose connectivity, then you can leave the room to try to reach out to the proctor. So just keep that in mind.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:07:37.92] That’s good to know. We have some had some other questions from some of our students and they were asking about during the test, can you have things like maybe scratch paper or could you go on bathroom breaks during your exam via remote proctoring?
Pat Byrd: [00:07:51.42] So, again, the rules from remote proctoring aren’t that different than as in-person testing. As it relates to scratch paper, you’re allowed to use scratch paper, but there are rules regarding the use. For instance, only two sheets. And once the test is done, there is a process that that the proctor will ask you to go through to destroy those notes. So just kind of keep that in mind that you’ll be walk through that. Now, I have some sort of a newsflash for you. Coming very soon, just a remote proctoring will be doing away with scratch paper and providing a scratch pad through the platform instead. So that way you don’t have to bring any paper in, the pad is available through the platform and anything you want to write on it, you can. When the test is over, you close down your browser. All of that goes away as it relates to breaks. And we’ve had this question as well. Use of headphones or headsets and things like reading out loud. Again, the exact same rules as in in a test center. You’re permitted one 15 minute optional break at any time during the exam. Just be aware that the clock keeps ticking when you take that break. In the remote proctored situation, in order to take the break, you need to notify the proctor so that the proctor knows that you need to leave the room. So everything will be square. You leave, you come back from your break and then the test is resumed. With respect to headphones and headsets, your headphones are allowed, headsets are allowed as long as they are fully functional. And what I mean by that is you can hear the proctor and the proctor can hear you. And then last but not least, some people have asked the question about sort of talking out loud, asking the questions out loud. Unfortunately, that is not permitted. So no out talking to yourself out loud or whispering the questions, none of that is permitted.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:10:02.62] Ok, that’s good to know, because we’ve had a few students who do like that method, so they’ll just need to practice that before the exam and not be reading questions aloud.
Pat Byrd: [00:10:12.05] Yeah.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:10:14.36] So, once they take their exam and they have completed it, do students receive a preliminary pass or fail once they’re done?
Pat Byrd: [00:10:22.46] Absolutely. Same as in person testing. When the test is finished, you get this preliminary results providing you with a pass or fail, and then you get your final results approximately four to six weeks after that period.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:10:38.06] Is there anything else I missed that maybe you’d like to share?
Pat Byrd: [00:10:41.72] Yeah, just a few words of advice. So keep in mind that remote proctoring isn’t for everyone. And deciding if it’s right for you requires some consideration beyond the obvious technical and environmental factors. If you’re the type person that is self-reliant, tech savvy and can exercise the degree of tolerance and patience if minor technical glitches should arise, and I got to tell you, we know technology, it often happens, then this might be the option for you. On the other hand, if you prefer a more controlled situation where all you have to do is get to the test center, check in, sit down and test, then you’re going to want to go to an in-person test center.
Break: [00:11:32.97] Let’s take a reset. This is Jessica Miller-Merrell and you were listening to the Workology podcast sponsored by Workology. We’re talking about remote proctoring, H.R. exams with SHRM and HRCI.
Break: [00:11:45.42] Are you studying for your HRCI or SHRM exams? Join our free H.R. Certification Study Group on Facebook. Search for HR Certification Study Group, or go to HRCertificationStudyGroup.com. Ace your HR exams with the H.R. Certification Study Group.
Amy Dufrane,CEO of HRCI, and Liz Grater, Director of Certification with HRCI
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:12:03.03] There are some small differences and nuances between SHRM and HRCI. I’m excited to welcome Amy Dufrane. She’s the CEO of HRCI and Liz Greater, the Director of Certification with HRCI to get answers to everything you need to know about taking the HRCI exam remotely. Welcome to the Workology podcast, Amy.
Amy Dufrane: [00:12:25.05] Thanks, Jessica. Liz and I are really excited to be here to talk about our favorite topic, HRCI. We, as many of you know, we’ve been in the certification and learning space for about 45 years. This year we’re celebrating our 45th anniversary and we are strong and proud and and growing with our profession and changing with the H.R. profession. And we had already been in the process of standing up our remote online proctor exam with our vendor, and it just got amplified and accelerated a little bit quicker due to the pandemic. And we’re really proud that we have had we were the first H.R. certification program to stand up our process online. We stood it up in May. We have been adding programs we just added on July 1st, our California certification to the online proctored process. And we have had very few hiccups in standing this up. I know that that doesn’t hold true with other organizations out there that offer HR certification online proctored exam. We’ve had zero issues and that’s attesting to the credibility and the high standards that we placed not only on ourselves, but that the H.R. profession asks us to have. Is are those standards to make sure that we’re meeting with what organizations are looking for? And Liz was kind of the engine behind standing up our online exams and has lots of answers to the questions, because this is, you know, a lot of people were learning and expecting to go into a physical testing center. So they were sort of understanding and kind of had prepped themselves to do that. And then everything changed, not just not just online proctor, but of many things in the HR profession have been changing during this pandemic. So anyway, so it’s this has been a time for us to exhibit our agility as an organization and in responsiveness to what our certificates are looking for in order to stand up our exams.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:14:43.60] Awesome. Well, I’m I’m so excited that you guys are here and we’ve had a lot of our students submitted questions and community who has a whole host of questions. Before we get started. I did just want to make sure to welcome Liz Grater. She’s the Director of Certification with HRCI. She’s also here. Amy alluded to her a little bit to welcome Liz.
Liz Grater: [00:15:07.14] Thank you. I’m happy to be here.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:15:09.03] Awesome. So let’s dive into some questions first. I just kind of, Amy, kind of set the stage for the why behind remote proctoring and then how how you guys have rolled it out. I wanted to just on a basic level for students who are taking the exam and they have signed up for remote Proctor with HRCI, what can they expect? What will the experience be like?
Liz Grater: [00:15:33.15] Sure. Well, it is obviously it’s a live proctored situation. So they’re going to expect to be on camera for the duration of their testing session. So it does require that webcam portion of it. Everything is taken at home on a personal computer of some kind. And so they’ll want to make sure that they can prep their computer, do a system test beforehand. And we’ve got all the links and information to do that on our website. On the testing day, a candidate can log in up to thirty minutes before a scheduled appointment time and the check in process usually only takes maybe about 10, 15 minutes, but you can log in and just sort of get settled, get into your space up to 30 minutes before a scheduled appointment. There is an online check in process. So it’s a little obviously different than what happens at a testing center. But but sort of the same similar in the same way. It’s that you’re going to need a photo ID so you all be expected to take a picture of driver’s license, passport, whatever your approved photo is, and a headshot. And then they’ll need to also take four photos of the testing space. And that’s just to make sure there’s no books or cell phones or additional computers, things, study notes, things that a student could access during the exam. And those get reviewed by sort of behind the scenes. And if there’s any question, a grader will come on. That’s a Pearson VUE employee to say, oh, is that a book on your desk? Can you please move the book out of out of arm’s reach, that sort of thing. And then once those photos are approved, they get released, released to Proctor to start their exam. It’s important to remember candidate should plan to test in sort of a private quiet space free from interruptions that sort of goes without saying you want as little distraction as possible, but you don’t, sitting in a coffee shop is not going to be an option to take an exam. It does need to be private. You don’t want additional people coming into the room while you’re testing.
Amy Dufrane: [00:17:24.30] Wouldn’t be allowed to have a can, a can of water, you have to have a clear water glass. So there’s lots of sort of things that you need to have so you can have it. You just need to make sure that you’re following the guidelines that are put in place.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:17:39.32] When it comes to technology, we talked about computer, we talked about webcam and obviously the Internet. Is there any technology requirement that I’m missing for remote proctoring? What else?
Liz Grater: [00:17:50.81] Those those are the basics. Computer, webcam and the Internet are the sort of basic requirements. There are more detailed requirements around those things. So there is minimum operating system on your computer, minimum Internet speeds, certain Internet browsers are supported. So there are some more detailed technical requirements. And again, those can be accessed from from our Web webpage for those who are interested in learning more about that. So there it does get sort of into the nitty gritty a little bit. But the basic report, I mean, most computer a laptop is going to meet for the most part from any computer is really going to meet those requirements. So it’s computer, webcam, Internet are the real basics. And you can run a system test any time there’s an option to run it just to sort of if you want to test your test your at home computer, test your Internet speed, you can run a system test just to make sure that it meets those basic requirements before you even schedule or take the exam. And I would also say recommend that candidates use it if it’s available, use a personal computer versus one that might be issued by their employer. Company issued laptops can sometimes have firewalls or other security tools in place that could potentially sort of interrupt or make it difficult to run some of the online proctoring technology. So if it’s an option, would recommend using a personal computer. And if that’s not an option, just talking to you, if you’re if somebody’s going to be testing on a company computer, just check with your IT department beforehand and just make sure everything’s kind of checked in advance so that there’s no anxiety or issues on test every day.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:19:23.00] So let’s say that somebody didn’t have maybe some questions or needed some support. Can you talk about the different support that you guys provide before and then during the exam in the event that maybe somebody has a problem with Internet speed or questions aren’t loading correctly?
Liz Grater: [00:19:41.01] Yeah, the first the first thing that we provide to sort of help people prepare and answer questions is we have a really great detailed document on our website. We spent a lot of time before we launched online testing, trying to think through what are not just the top five or ten questions, but what are all the really detailed things that people are going to want to know and understand about this process so that is a key you document on the on our website, it’s on our online testing page is a really wonderful resource that I would encourage anyone to read, because it just goes into a lot of detail about what to expect kind of before, during and after testing. Our customer experience team is always available. They have been fielding calls and emails they are happy to talk through and people have questions about their testing space around their computer or what the process looks like, what they have to do to check in. Our CX team is always available so anybody can call or email any time and they’ll be happy to kind of talk through that. If there is a technology issue or a question, something happens during testing. So somebody might already be in the process and, you know, their Internet goes down or something. Something happens. The system itself, the onview system itself, if there’s, for example, an Internet interruption, we’ll try to reconnect with with the candidate automatically. There is a propter that is available. So if if a question freezes or a candidate is not advancing while they’re testing, candidates can access that propter either through a chat feature, a live chat feature that is that is available during testing, or they can also communicate with the proctor directly through their laptop microphone.
Liz Grater: [00:21:14.62] So they’ll have that option during the actual exam delivery process. And if something happens that for whatever reason, the exam can’t be reconnected on that day, the proctor can either open a case with Pearson VUE for that candidate and to have it have that case looked into and resolved and rescheduled. But I will say also we have an amazing customer experience team. So if there is, again, an issue on test day and someone is not able to test for any reason, just call, call or email our team. We are we are happy to help if we need to reschedule someone look into a case, you know sometimes wait times for calling, the Pearson VUE calls in are a little longer than normal right now just because there’s been such a huge number of people impacted by test center closures and this huge move to online testing. So if for some reason somebody can’t reach someone at Pearson VUE right away, definitely get in touch with us. We will no matter what, there’s any kind of issue, our CX team will be on top of it and we’ll work directly with any candidates if needed to get them rescheduled if that becomes necessary.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:22:15.88] Now, what about things like noise canceling headphones? That’s been another question from from some of there our students. Can they wear those during the exam?
Liz Grater: [00:22:25.21] They cannot. So if there are headphones or anything like that, they’ll be asked to remove those as well.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:22:29.80] Ok. And then I’m assuming that dual monitors like docking stations are also not allowed.
Liz Grater: [00:22:34.70] Correct.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:22:36.17] Ok, one other question we have from a student is they wanted to know if they could. Well, I guess we have two. Standing up and down, can they stand up and move around or do they need to stay in like a fixed location?
Liz Grater: [00:22:48.76] They should mostly stay in a fixed location. That doesn’t mean you can’t sort of move around in your chair a bit, stretch a little bit, but you don’t want to sort of get up and walk around the room or leave the view of the webcam. So I don’t want someone to think they physically cannot move during the exam. Certainly stretched from the chair. Move around a little bit, but making sure to stay stay in view of their webcam and not not kind of walk and get up and actually walk around the room.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:23:13.78] Last question from one of our students is reading the questions aloud. Is that something that they’re able to do with you guys?
Liz Grater: [00:23:20.98] They are not. That will get if they if the proctor hears somebody speaking out loud, they will they’ll sort of interrupt and say, excuse me, you might be reading the questions. Please don’t do that out loud.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:23:31.55] OK. It’s sometimes you don’t even know you’re reading them out loud. So it’s good that the proctor’s there and can kind of gently remind you.
Liz Grater: [00:23:38.65] Yes.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:23:39.52] Another question that I wanted to ask is, once you’ve completed the exam, do you receive a preliminary pass or fail after the exams complete, or do you have to wait the four to six weeks?
Liz Grater: [00:23:50.74] You don’t have to wait nearly that long. They don’t receive you won’t receive a preliminary score when they complete the exam in the same way that you do on a test. And again, if anybody’s taken one of our exams at a test center, they know that you get a printed score report on your way out the door. The printed score report isn’t immediately on the online exam, but within about an hour or so after testing, they can log into their HRCI account and they’ll see an exam result there and also within within 24 to 48 hours, they’ll also get an email from Pearson VUE notifying them that their web based score report is available so it’s they can log into their HRCI account or wait for that Pearson VUE email. But either way they’ll be able to get it’s not immediate upon the moment you hit the end exam button, but you can still get pretty much the same day result.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:24:37.39] And do you see when when you get that report, is it is it just a pass report or does it or a fail report or does it have more detailed information regardless of the outcome of your exam?
Liz Grater: [00:24:48.73] Yeah, it’ll give you sort of a breakdown of the domains based on the exam that you took. So all of our exams have the exam content online. So it’ll show sort of the breakdown. It’s not a domain score, but it’s just sort of a general indicator of sort of strengths and weaknesses, how you performed in each of those domains. So it does give a little bit more information than just a simple task or bail decision.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:25:08.53] I think that’s awesome, because, you know, if you’re moving up from the PHR to the SPHR, it’d be nice to have that information specially maybe you make the decision to take the test relatively quickly.
Closing: [00:25:21.61] Whether you’re taking an exam remotely with SHRM or HRCI, it’s important for you to get familiar with the resources and requirements of either exam. I’ll link to some resources in the resources section of this podcast episode so you can check out your technology requirements, learn how to make an accommodation request and find out where all the information is so you can learn how to get the support you need, whatever exam that you’re taking. I have more resources like this interview available to HR pros who are looking toward certification. You can find out more by joining our HR Certification Study Group on Facebook.
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