This interview between Sharlyn Lauby and Alex Alonso, PhD was originally posted on August 20, 2015 by Sharlyn Lauby. Click here for the full post.

Q – What is the SHRM certification and what does it represent?

SHRM certification is the world’s first competency-based certification for early-career and senior HR professionals. These certifications are based upon SHRM’s rigorously-validated Competency Model comprised of the knowledge and behavior needed to succeed in human resources management.


Q – What makes the SHRM certification different and valuable from the other human resources related certifications?

[Alex] I’m asked often what makes these credentials different. They focus on both knowledge and behaviors. The exams are designed to assess two things:

  1. The test is designed to assess knowledge through a written exam. The knowledge of HR held by examinees and an examinee’s ability to address difficult situations common to the HR profession. This is a lot like the drivers’ license tests we all know and love.
  2. The second, is a road test and this is designed to see how proficiently we behave as drivers. This results in a job-relevant exam, meaning examinees will encounter questions that reflect their day-to-day work.

Our examinees keep telling us about the job relevance factor and what it means for them as they sit for our exams. SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP exams are designed to assess both.


Q – Let’s talk specifically about those HR pros who are trying to decide between a PHR / SPHR and the SHRM-CP / SHRM-SCP. It’s a common comparison. How does someone evaluate their options?

[Alex] Certainly, we recognize the value of certification and what it means to earn one. For those considering HR certification, I would advise seeking a credential that demonstrates two things:

  1. A strong research foundation based upon competencies linked to job performance and job success.
  2. The ability to assess both knowledge AND behaviors leading to success.

When considering both of these factors, I advise all my colleagues to consider what an employer is looking for when thinking about HR professionals. In fact, roughly 15% of job postings on HR Jobs are seeking the new SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP credentials. This represents an unprecedented rate of adoption among employers. Employers are seeking someone who brings more than job knowledge. They seek someone who brings business acumen, critical evaluation skills, and much more. When selecting any certification, the goal should be to match the credential to developmental and business needs.


For more information about certification, please follow the links below:

SHRM Certification | MESHRM Certification

I am happy to answer any questions you may have about certification or re-certification!  Please email me at or call 207-402-3329.

Barbara Lovejoy, SHRM-CP, PHR

MESHRM Certification Director