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Assessments in the workplace are aimed at identifying what skills and knowledge, acquired over time, a person can bring to the table. This also includes language assessments. Language is something you can study in school and get a degree for. However, to measure what a job candidate can do with language, the employer needs fair and reliable assessments, instruments, and processes in the form of proficiency assessments.  This will not only ensure consistency, but also prevent personal bias from entering the evaluation equation.

On a recent episode of LTI’s “Language Is Your Superpower” podcast, special guest Vinay Patel, PhD, explained the importance of using standardized language testing to assess language proficiency, especially in customer-facing positions, to provide consistency for the employer and an unbiased hiring process for the job candidate.

Vinay Patel is the Senior I/O Psychologist for AT&T in Dallas, Texas. In his role as an Industrial-Organizational Psychologist—a position that studies human behavior in organizations and the workplace through a combination of science and practice—Vinay focuses on assessment development, test validation, and organizational consulting. Vinay’s goal at AT&T is to apply his and the organization’s collective knowledge and principles to create a better, smarter workplace. For Vinay, an ideal workplace is one where people are genuinely happy about their jobs and contribute to their organization in a meaningful way, while the organization does everything in their power to keep their employees fulfilled. It is this vision that motivated Vinay to work towards his doctorate in I/O Psychology, and to continue meeting new people, experiencing new things, and never wanting to stop learning and improving his skillsets.

When discussing the importance of standardized language assessments at AT&T, and for businesses in general, Vinay believes that “it’s crucial to how business is conducted nowadays. So, from the business side of it, we want to make sure that the people that are entering are really prepared to do the work, so there isn’t that much time [for the employee to have to] catch up or hit the ground running.”

Vinay pointed out that standardized language testing benefits not just the employer, but also the employees. Vinay stated that “from the employee’s side, we really work hard to build reliable and valid assessments, so we’re really measuring only the things that are job-related. So, only the things that determine success and performance on the job, and really not any external characteristics or anything like that, that humans are normally biased when they’re making these judgements. So, it’s really built towards having a fair process for both the company and the employee.”

Vinay then elaborated how a properly conducted language assessment “allows employees to really showcase the skills that they have, rather than being conscientious about, anything else that they may think that the company is trying to measure, or if there are any biases in that process.”

At LTI, we know we live in a world where the mention of “standardized testing” may suggest negative connotations for some. However, as Vinay Patel, PhD, shared with us on our podcast, whether consciously or subconsciously, personal bias is human nature. So, when LTI language assessments are implemented and conducted properly, and for the right reasons, especially in a workplace environment like AT&T’s, they can be the key in ensuring that the employer is consistently aligning the best employees for the jobs at hand, based solely on the employee’s ability to perform the tasks required for those jobs – and nothing else!

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