So, you’ve decided to hire multilingual employees, and that makes your organization simply amazing! Why? Because as confirmed by the New American Economy Report, “Americans lose almost $2 billion each year because of language and cultural misunderstandings.” Thus, hiring multilingual talent is clearly a smart business decision.
Now comes the tricky part—how do you find the most qualified multilingual candidate? Who will have the right level of language proficiency to get the job done? How do you do this with a reliable assessment? Who do you partner with? Perhaps, you are not multilingual yourself. Leave it to the experts!
Experienced human resource managers use language assessments to hire multilingual employees and follow these three important steps:
Step 1: Have a clear understanding of the position and the associated tasks
What are the tasks you will be asking your new employees to complete in the target language? This is very important in determining the language level they’ll need for the position.
Many hiring managers make the mistake of assuming all multilingual candidates have the same level of language ability. This assumption can be very misguided. It is important to understand how the language skills were acquired. Did they have formal training in college? Did they live or grow up abroad? Are they heritage speakers who learned the language from family and friends as a child around the kitchen table? Each scenario means a very different level and command of the language.
Depending on the position, some candidates with lower levels of language proficiency can get by; however, do they have the confidence to get the job done? Will your customers be satisfied with the service they receive? Is it fair to put someone in a role he or she can’t do well?
Some positions prioritize written language skills, and in these cases, a formally educated multilingual candidate is likely the best fit and the most qualified. The level of formality required in the language spoken (or written) may also determine what level of language skill your ideal candidate needs.
Consider if there is a cultural aspect to the position you’re looking to fill as well. Having a native speaker from the same country as your customer base can help to create trust between them and your company as well as aid your team in successfully navigating what may otherwise end up as costly cultural confusions.
Step 2: Test the skills
Once you know the tasks and the level of language proficiency required, it’s time to make it clear to job applicants. This saves you time and money. Candidates will appreciate the transparency. Not sure what the level of language proficiency should be? Check out this great guide to Oral Proficiency Levels in the Workplace.
According to research, candidates may misrepresent their abilities on resumes, and language proficiency is certainly a skill that can be tested and measured reliably. Thus, there is no reason to take chances.
Multilingual candidates tend to overestimate their language skills, perhaps not intentionally, but unless you are a native speaker yourself, you probably won’t find out until there are issues with performance on the job. Protect yourself from making costly hiring mistakes by testing candidates’ language skills prior to hiring.
Step 3: Don’t skip importance steps the process
We all know the importance of process when recruiting talent. Organizations spend more time than they’d like on hiring, and unfortunately, hiring mistakes are costly. Language testing during the hiring process makes it efficient to find qualified candidates to fill multilingual positions. You will spend less time reading resumes of candidates who mistakenly self-assess and less time conducting interviews with unfit candidates, ultimately reducing the time and money spent on hiring your new employee.
Assessments during the hiring process also lower your turnover rates and even increase productivity, as quality communication skills can nearly always be correlated to higher sales volumes and happier customers.
About Language Testing International
Since 1992, Language Testing International (LTI), a Samsung company, has been the leader in the development of language proficiency testing for more than 120 languages, globally. In partnership with the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), we proudly offer our corporate clients valid and reliable reading, writing, speaking, and listening tests. Each test is designed to properly determine the specific proficiency level of an individual and ultimately to provide a valid and defensible language credential.
From Fortune 500 corporations to small and midsize companies, LTI works closely with your human resources department to identify the appropriate level of language proficiency required for the position you are looking to fill. Once your needs have been identified, we will help you qualify the right candidates with the language skills needed to be successful.
Contact us today for a free consultation on best practices for hiring multilingual talent!
Lisa March is a bilingual Marketing and Sales Executive. She works closely with LTI on strategic partnerships, business development and marketing. Her efforts help LTI scale the use and implementation of language assessments in schools, institutions, corporations and government agencies.