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EPSI - Newsletter Fall 09
   Editor's Note
   The Interview
   What would the Dr. do?
   Personality Tests
   Conferences and Expositions
   What's Happening in HR!
   EPSI Experts
  EPSI - Newsletter Fall 09

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Focusing a Spotlight on Innovation and Recruitment!

Welcome to the 2009 Fall Edition of the EPSI Newsletter. During the last two years, major events within the business world have forced HR practitioners to alter the manner in which they provide services in their organizations. Consequently, there has been an increase in demand for innovation in staffing and recruitment products and services by our new and existing clients.

HR practitioners know that innovation and change in the strategies and approaches they propose are critical given that the consequences of poor decisions have become increasingly significant. In addition, management expectations have risen and employees rely on HR personnel to guide them through these changing and challenging times. The current overall situation is a perfect opportunity to introduce new practices and push organizational boundaries. Thus, now is the time to create change by taking advantage of the opportunities afforded by innovative HR technology and incorporating the advantages into daily practices.

In this edition of the EPSI newsletter, we suggest ideas on how to use the structured interview in your selection process, and the differences between the structured and non-structured interview. We also present the expert advice of our president André Durivage, Ph.D., a highly respected author and HR specialist in regard to the acquisition and use of a competency model within an organization. Our featured article provides the latest information regarding the use of personality tests in staffing and recruitment, while our EPSI expert gives us his perspective on what is happening in the field of online testing and what we can expect in the next few years.

Once again, we would like to thank you for your continued readership and the loyalty that has been demonstrated in EPSI and our Compmetrica assessment products.

By Franco Maimone and Natalia Camargo Santos

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the practical and efficient guide - reliable answers for your Interview Inquiries


Maximizing the Effectiveness of the Interview

By Mathieu Durivage

More than ever, organizations are looking for the right fit for the job. A number of assessment methods are suggested for this, the most widely used of which is the interview. As a matter of fact, the vast majority of organizations use this assessment means for determining the ideal individual for the position to be filled. An interview can take various forms but more particularly, can be conducted using a structured or unstructured approach. The unstructured method consists of asking various questions in no specific order in addition to changing the type of questions at the interviewer's discretion. This type of interview does not necessarily take an employment setting into consideration and the questions can vary depending on the nature of the discussion. Selection can therefore be biased by a number of assessment errors. As a firm specializing in assessment and selection, we suggest that organizations adopt a more effective and reliable method - the structured interview. This approach will enable organizations to better predict how candidates will do in the job and achieve greater validity. It is important to standardize the procedures for this type of exercise by inserting guidelines for the assessment. By determining how questions will be asked as well as establishing strict quantitative assessment procedures for a set of defined criteria, organizations will obtain an effective and reliable evaluation tool. Another component that must be taken into account is compliance with the laws and policies to prevent complications and disputes. The structured interview complies better with laws and policies than the unstructured interview because it limits assessment errors that are caused by a lack of standardization. So, a structured selection interview enables organizations to limit assessment errors and to better protect itself before the courts. By the same token, a structured interview process creates a level playing field among the candidates. From the interviewer's perspective, processing the information is easier and allows the selection committee to make a better decision.

Standardizing the process also enables the selection committee to compare the candidates on the same basis. Thus, it is easier to determine which candidates are potentially better suited for the job to be filled. Finally, the candidates have the same opportunities to make an impression during the assessment. However, we suggest steering the interview questions toward the actual situation of the position to be filled in order to better predict each applicant's performance.

The structured interview has been proven in recent years, but it requires preparation and certain knowledge in order to successfully carry out the assessment process. Developing the interview questions and assessment criteria is a great deal of work and requires expertise on the part of the designers. EPSI's experts have therefore created a tool to enable organizations to quickly design an interview guide on the basis of the criteria established during analysis of the positions. In less than 10 minutes, organizations can create a complete structured interview including behavioural and/or situational questions, designed by professionals and meeting the organization's needs. However, in order to use this assessment tool effectively, it is important that the users understand how it functions and the procedure to be used.

EPSI has developed a training workshop that is offered to clients so that they may strengthen their interview processes. The training provides information in regard to the use of the structured interview at the various stages of the assessment process, as well as information pertaining to its features. With this training HR advisors and managers can acquire important knowledge about a very effective and useful selection tool.

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Dispensing expert HR advice from the highly respected author and EPSI President André Durivage, Ph.D.

Q: I currently work for an SME (editor's note: small to medium enterprise) and we are thinking of purchasing a professional and validated competency model. Is it worth the cost, or should we look at building our own in-house?

Kelly M, via email

A: The question of whether to develop a custom-built model or purchase a generic one is a subject that has arisen with many of my clients over the years. Originating in the mid-1970's, the competency based approach has become a mainstream human resources practice that is the foundation for nearly all HR initiatives. The benefits associated with using a Competency Management approach to HR strategies are substantial, and result in an efficient and improved selection process. A competency model is an asset that all HR departments should invest in as it is essential to an integrated human resources system, and can be used for all levels of positions with an organization. It provides an organization with standard methods and criteria for employee recruitment, selection, training and development, succession planning, etc. Every organization that employs an effective Competency Management approach in their HR strategy uses either a custom-built or generic competency model. An organization's needs and resources dictate whether it should develop its own competency model, or purchase an existing one.

EPSI President - André Durivage, Ph.D

If an organization chooses to create a custom competency model, the objectives sought must be clearly established, for example; recruitment, selection, training and development, retention, and succession planning, amongst others. Decision-makers would be required to outline the human resources needed for the project, the availability of content experts, the associated timelines and action plans, and most importantly the methodology or scientific approach to be used.

A custom-made competency model involves the direct participation of employees from all sectors of the organization; it requires multiple focus groups and a strong facilitator at each group and level within the organization. Observation is also commonly used, for example; a resource with the appropriate expertise may observe employees within an organization whose performance is representative of varying levels of achievement. This observation is used to identify the competencies needed within the position for appropriate performance.

Once the analysis of information gathered is completed, the initial development of competencies and sub-indicators can begin. Distinct competencies identified within focus groups are consolidated and behavioural indicators for each competency are developed. When development is completed, a second validation by the content experts takes place to ensure the content is correct. Once the competency model is completed and approved, employees must be trained in its use and applications.

Overall, creating a custom-built competency model requires extensive time and effort, experienced human resources and substantial financial resources. If these factors can be met and the endeavour is deemed feasible by the organization, then they may chose to meet their competency management needs by developing their own competency model.

For the vast majority of organizations, excellent generic competency models that can be effectively integrated into any organization currently exist on the market. Most valid and legally defendable competency models have been developed and validated using various sized organizations in all sectors (private, public, para-public). These models are intended to provide users with a set of competencies that can be used to create a competency profile for any position in your organization. Most generic models tend to provide between 20 to 70 competencies, with behavioural indictors defining each competency. While there are many options available, it is important to note that a complete competency model should present a certain amount of competencies accompanied with a definition and the primary behavioural indicators.

An example of a generic competency model on the market is EPSI's own Compmetrica Competency Model. EPSI currently uses this competency model in all of its HR functions, test development and consulting work. This professionally designed competency model is also currently used by numerous private and public sector organizations, including various human resources management (HRM) consulting firms and recruitment specialists.

The Compmetrica Competency Model contains 60 competencies grouped in eight (8) specific areas, and each competency includes a definition and a set of six behavioural indicators. This innovative model also provides you with a description of the repercussion of excessive or insufficient presence of a competency within an individual, as well as other pertinent information.

In conclusion, which approach should you use? I believe that as long as you ensure that your development or purchase of a model is validated and reliable, your decision need only reflect your specific organizational and operational needs.

To submit a question to be answered by EPSI's president André Durivage, Ph.D., please send an email to info@epsi-inc.com with ‘Question for the Doctor' clearly marked in the subject line.

Other suggested resources:

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An interesting perspective on the use of personality tests

By Sabrina Poirier and Philippe Longpré

While specialists have been concerned about the nature and impact of psychometric tools for decades, the use of personality tests in the workplace is once again being questioned and giving rise to debate. Indeed, being refused a job or promotion due to poor results on a personality test is of particular concern to candidates, given that results reflect a person's inherent nature. As a result, employees are concerned about the use of personality tests and their fundamental rights. In many cases, these concerns have people asking: can establishing a person's profile based on a personality test lead to discriminatory selection from a legal standpoint, under the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms? 1 While this matter is rarely the subject of legal dispute, review of jurisprudence in Québec and Canada on the use of personality tests and the notion of handicap have revealed a marked distinction in this respect.

Organizations today have a wealth of psychometric tools at their disposal; and as a result there are a myriad of scales that can be used by employers to determine candidates' psychological profiles. Some tests describe the candidate's personality, while others provide insight into an individual's mental health. The latter type of psychological test can therefore serve to detect serious psychiatric disorders, as the tests are designed to highlight characteristics of an "abnormal" personality, such as depression, anxiety or delusion. However, regardless of what type of test is applied or interpreted, the practical outcome of the diagnosis is the same. This type of psychometric tool can lead to employers dismissing certain candidates based on enquiries of a medical nature.

However, psychological tests that are designed to measure traits, preferences or habits do not constitute medical exams. In fact, it is impossible to diagnose mental health problems with such an evaluation tool. As such, it is important that organizations choose personality inventories that measure individual characteristics, with various continuum scales that reflect specific traits, habits or preferences. To do this, individuals must be selected based on qualifiers that provide an objective description of the person and not based on a diagnosis. For instance, it is possible that one person is more conscientious and organized than another, or that one person uses concrete logic, while another uses abstract logic. Eliminating a candidate based on such differences does not mean he or she has been the victim of discrimination based on a handicap, whether real or perceived.

In short, the courts have ruled that personality inventories used to measure traits occurring in a so-called "normal" population cannot lead to discrimination based on a psychological handicap. The review of jurisprudence also revealed that personality tests rely on concrete benchmarks that in no way invalidate the personnel evaluation and selection process. In fact, those tests that meet recognized industry standards of quality and accuracy are considered a source of valid scientific data. Nonetheless, the courts emphasized the need for organizations to exercise caution in applying such methods. Prior to using the results of a personality test within the selection process, human resource management professionals must ensure that the tool is designed, administered, scored and interpreted according to the psychometric qualities and rules set out in the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing 2 (1999). More precisely, the courts stressed that selection criteria must reflect the true nature of the work to be performed, adding that human resources systems must be backed by a rigorous analysis of each job. Despite these parameters, it is important to bear in mind that every situation is unique, and thus the use of personality tests in the workplace should be approached with discretion.


2 American Educational Research Association, American Psychological Association & National Council on Measurement in Education. (1999) Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

References :

Syndicat des employés de la Caisse populaire Desjardins St-Jérôme c. Caisse populaire Desjardins St-Jérôme. Décision arbitrale de grief en vertu du Code du travail du Québec (L.R.Q., c.C-27), grief #99-001, 13 juillet 2001

Québec (CDPDJ) c. Montréal (ville) et Québec (CDPDJ) c. Boisbriand (ville) [2000] C.S.C.

Carignan c. Sûreté du Québec [2007] R.J.D.T. 1430, par. 52

Syndicat canadien de la fonction publique, section locale 311 c. Centre hospitalier Rouyn-Noranda, 2000T-942.

Insurance Corporation of British Columbia c. Office and Professional Employee’ International Union, Local 378 [2001] B.C.C.A.A.A. No 285.

Commission des droits de la personne (Arsenault) c. Institut Demers et Groupe Conseil G.S.T Inc. [1999] R.J.Q. 3101

Karraker v. Rent-A-Center, Inc., Case No. 04-2881 (7th Cir. 2005).

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Read about our experiences as we participate in various conferences across North America.

By Pascal Leguerrier

SHRM Conference in New Orleans
EPSI's presence and its COMPMETRICA assessment products were noticed at the 61st SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) Annual Conference. This conference, which brings together nearly 10,000 human resource professionals, is considered the most prestigious in the field. Attending the conference provided EPSI with the unique opportunity to make our COMPMETRICA assessment products better known, particularly our Competency Profiler and Compmetrica Interview Builder.

EPSI was able to initiate a multitude of contacts with US and international organizations who said they were impressed with the quality and variety of the products offered by the COMPMETRICA line. We invite you to visit us next year in the magnificent city of San Diego as EPSI continues to make its presence known in the international market.

For more information about this conference, feel free to visit the SHRM website

2009 CRHA Conference
On September 29th and 30th, the Ordre des conseillers en ressources humaines agréés [order of certified human resources advisors] (CRHA) – will hold its 2009 conference at the Palais des congrès de Montréal. Focusing on the theme "LA COMMUNICATION au cœur de la fonction RH" this conference will bring together human resource specialists from every area of the HR field. Approximately fifty presentations will be given addressing all aspects of human resources management with communication as the common theme.

EPSI would like to take the opportunity to invite you to the conference to visit our booth, located at number 222. We will introduce you to our brand new website and provide a demonstration of its new features. In addition, we will show you what's new regarding our COMPMETRICA assessment products, particularly our selection of objective management products, and our tests regarding cultural diversity and organizational values.

If you are a CRHA member, you will also be able to attend the presentation given by the firm's president, André Durivage, Ph.D. and CRHA entitled "Communiquer avec ces gens venus d'ailleurs" which explains how to adapt our communication styles for cultural differences and facilitate the selection and integration of newcomers to our country.

For more information about this conference, feel free to visit the CRHA website. (Available in French only)

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How Technology is changing the face of HR in the workplace.

By Natalia Camargo Santos

What's Happening in HR!

In the last century, technological advances have had a tremendous impact on all aspects of our personal lives, as well as having transformed our workplace. In both of these areas, advances continue to help individuals be more effective and productive in completing task. Technological developments have also permitted individuals to interact and communicate with one another in new ways (i.e. webinars, online forums and communities, instant messaging, blogging, etc.) In addition, technological developments have provided individuals with the ability to contact anyone, anywhere in the world. Finally, advancements have increased the flexibility of work schedules for the workforce, as individuals are able to access their work from home or during their commute.

The Human Resources (HR) community has quickly adopted the use of technology in various fields, such as recruitment, assessment, training, career development, planning, etc. The overall conclusion in a report tabled by the Special Expertise Panel on Technology and HR (part of the Society for Human Resource Management) was that IT is being leveraged by various HR disciplines to benefit almost every aspect of day-to-day operations. As technology continues to improve while costs decline, it is expected that the implementation of technologically driven HR applications will continue to rise.

The role of HR practitioners will be to assess how this technology should be integrated in the workplace and to evaluate the resulting effects upon their workforce. It is important that improving business efficiency not come at the expense of workforce alienation or deteriorating workplace relationships.

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EPSI presents 
its new IT testing center - 20 individual work stations, use of leading edge IT equipment, Bilingual Administrators and much more ...


Mario Sabourin's picture, EPSI Expert

EPSI's Experts provide interesting and informative perspectives on various aspects of HR. Below are some thoughts from one of EPSI's Experts.

By Meaghan Huet

In order for an organization to benefit from innovation and available technology, it must have the right personnel who are knowledgeable, capable, dedicated and ready to take on new challenges.

The Fall Edition of this newsletter features Mario Sabourin, an individual who actively participates in the strategic direction of our organizational IT objectives and is a highly valued and respected member of EPSI's IT personnel.

At the start of his career at EPSI in 1999, Mario Sabourin began work in our Department of Psychometric Testing, where he developed an appreciation for and an expertise in personnel assessment and evaluation. In addition, he gained considerable experience in the application of psychometric principles of standardized testing methods and statistical analysis (i.e. Objectivity, Standardization, Reliability, Predictability and Non Discrimination).

In early 2004, existing clientele expressed a great need for online testing. By the end of that year, the development and implementation of the EPSI online testing platform was a complete success. Mario's analytical skills and technical expertise were significant contributing factors in this accomplishment.

During development of the EPSI online testing platform, Mario bridged the gap between the services offered in the Department of Psychometric Testing and those of the Information Technology Unit. He also served as the main technical expert to support clients in using the newly developed platform.

Mario continues to apply his knowledge to the demands facing EPSI Evaluation and Assessment Consultants, creating useful tools that assist in the development of assessment and selection products. Mario's 10 years of organizational experience with EPSI, his educational background and his technological expertise have provided a unique background for him to experience the innovation that has taken place within EPSI's recruitment processes, strategies and evaluation methods.

  1. What led you into the area of information technology?

    I've always had a passion for information technology but my online multimedia training is what led me to want to use the Internet as a powerful and accessible work tool. Aside from its marketing appeal, the Internet is also the most comprehensive information network in the world. The management of information that is received and disseminated online has a direct impact on the operational efficiency of organizations. The work is stimulating since the results are always concrete and tangible.

  2. What do you think is the biggest advantage that new technologies bring to the field of Human Resources?

    New technologies are increasingly about accessibility and interactivity. There are many technologies these days that generate quick results, whether you're a person looking for a job or a company trying to manage your talent. Most organizations have to deal with a shortage of qualified labour and they can use these services to shorten their evaluation times while making more informed decisions to ensure that the best people are hired.

  3. Are there any specific technological tools that you think are particularly interesting or useful within Human Resources?

    Interactivity is the focus of Web 2.0 tools. Distance has become an increasingly negligible factor for organizations that want to offer or obtain information since many remote training sessions, presentations and interviews can now be done via webinars.

    For personal evaluation purposes, the use of online testing services is a definite advantage for an organization. EPSI has offered this type of service for the past six years. Essentially, we put a bank of several dozen tests at the disposal of organizations. All they need is an Internet connection and a computer. The fact that this type of testing requires no paper supplies, that there are no correction delays and that all the results are housed on a secure service makes this a premiere tool for many of our clients. In fact, we have hundreds of users who regularly log on to this service to register candidates, administer tests and retrieve test results on our platform.

  4. What do you think is the future of technology and recruitment, and how is EPSI adapting toward this future?

    Testing is a natural part of the selection process. Since every organization has its own unique set of needs, EPSI wants to offer more flexibility on the online testing platform. Some of the new functions we're currently studying or developing include an online test creator, a standards generator, as well as tests that will offer audio and video support to optimize the candidate's online testing experience. These are some of the exciting projects that we're working on in order to optimize processes and maximize results.

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