According to last year’s CIPD Labor Market Outlook survey, nine out of ten employers say they rely on workers possessing language skills other than English. Apart from that, 56% of respondents say their needs for multilingual workers have increased significantly over the past few years, which brings up the need for language proficiency verification.

If you would like to add more multilingual employees to your team as well but don’t know how to verify their skills, we’ve prepared a list of three practices to test the candidate’s language proficiency level while hiring. Let’s get right to it. 

Why Assess the Candidate’s Language Proficiency?

First of all, let’s answer this question. 

The main reason to go through the assessment process is to confirm the candidate’s qualifications. The supplementary test will help you confirm their certifications and understand the actual level of proficiency they possess. 

That’s why the whole assessment process usually involves a written test and a speaking part. During the text, you have an opportunity to evaluate the core language skills (grammar, vocabulary, listening). Plus, it’s a good chance to check their writing skills, for instance, by asking them to fill in the documentation they would be working with at their job. 

At the speaking part, it’s an opportunity to see how well a candidate can support a conversation. For instance, if you want to check their conversational French, you can ask them to speak on the topics that would put forward their knowledge of job-specific vocabulary. Besides, it’s also a chance to evaluate their level of expertise. 

Now, let’s get to the practices you can employ during the hiring process to test the candidate’s language proficiency. 

Test Before Interviewing

As a recruiter, you know that hiring a candidate can be quite costly. In fact, according to the report by Yello, companies spend $3,000 on average per hire. 

So, how can you cut these costs when hiring multilingual candidates?

You can use language proficiency tests as a way to filter out those job seekers whose competencies are not at the level you expect. Putting a test first is also crucial in work environments where language proficiency is integral to all the processes. 

How Elaborate Should the Test Be?

It can cover basic competencies, such as grammar, listening and writing. Next, if the candidate fits your expectations, you can test their speaking skills during an interview by switching to a different language to discuss their experience or other topics. 

Take a Comprehensive Approach to Testing

Language proficiency is a complex notion and is not about the number of words or grammatical constructions one knows but rather what a person can do with that knowledge. For instance, if you expect a person to have an advanced level in a particular language, they should be able to support their opinions, hypothesize, discuss different topics and be able to handle a particular situation using the linguistic knowledge they have.

That’s why it’s important to test your multilingual candidates holistically, which means you might need to involve several types of tests. There are four of them:

    • Diagnostic – assesses the person’s level and points out the areas of improvement. 
    • Achievement – measures whether a candidate meets specific goals with their language skills. 
    • Proficiency – evaluates how well a candidate can use their knowledge of a language in specific situations (you can make them work-related). 
    • Aptitude – shows the candidate’s ability to learn languages. 

You can incorporate all these test types in the evaluation process. You can skip aptitude testing if you don’t expect the candidate to work on improving their language skills while working at your company. But the most diverse your testing process is, the better it helps you reduce bias during the recruitment. 

Invite a Certified Foreign Language Instructor

As a recruiter, you’re certainly well aware of the company’s expectations when it comes to the candidate’s language proficiency level. However, when it comes to the assessment process, you might not have the skills to actually confirm their skills. 

That’s why it’s highly recommended to involve a certified language instructor to help you with the process. They can put together a comprehensive test for the well-rounded evaluation of the candidate’s knowledge and be present at the interview to hear them speak. 

However, hiring a language instructor can be a costly matter, so consider this option only if you’re hiring a team of multilingual employees. 

To conclude our article, language proficiency testing is a necessity rather than an option in the recruitment process if the job presupposes frequent use of a foreign language. There are three practices of incorporating this assessment when hiring:

    • Testing before interviewing – helps you select the right candidates right away and cuts recruitment costs.
    • Approaching the assessment holistically – involving different types of tests to get a full picture of the applicant’s skills. 
    • Get the help of a certified language instructor – they will help you organize the entire process. 

Ryan Pell

Ryan is a passionate blogger and writer who likes sharing his thoughts and. Now he works as a content editor and internet researcher, you can check his website. He likes to travel and explore new countries.