close up of a resume

You are actively looking for a job and you also happen to be bilingual or multilingual. You come across a job posting by a potential employer with a job that is perfect for you and requires the languages you are fluent in. You have hit the jackpot! You apply, and during the selection process the recruiter asks you to take a language assessment. Why would an employer ask you to take a language assessment?

In a recent episode of “Language is Your Superpower” podcast, guest Vinay Patel, PhD, who is a Senior I/O Psychologist working with AT&T, shares why language assessments are so important to the hiring process. He used himself as an example as a speaker of Hindi. He considers himself fairly proficient. However, he questions how fluent he would be in a job interview. His perception of how proficient he is might not match what his actual proficiency is when measured with a proficiency assessment. It is easy to overstate one’s language ability. In fact, about 60% of all job applicants overstate their abilities on resumes, including language proficiency. Therefore, employers who rely on bilingual and multilingual employees need to have a reliable and validated method of checking job candidates’ language abilities so they can perform the tasks required for their jobs. Validated and certified language proficiency testing offers an accurate measurement of language level and eliminates the guesswork on whether a candidate truly possesses the language skills required for the job.

According to a recent ACTFL report titled, “Making Languages Our Business: Addressing Foreign Language Demands Among U.S. Employers,” 9 out 10 employers rely on language skills other than English to conduct their business and this demand is expected to increase by 56% in the next 5 years. Client and community facing departments, such as Customer Services, Sales, Marketing, Management, and IT have the greatest need, particularly with Spanish, Chinese, French, Japanese, German, and Russian, to name a few.

Dr. Patel advises that when and how a business employs a language strategy to track, test, and train employees’ language competency and proficiency it depends on many variables. If you are applying for a job and knowing a specific language directly relates to the minimum qualifications of the job that you are applying for, you may be asked to do a language assessment before employment. Or, if you are already on board, your employer may use your language skills as part of your professional development plan. Either way, Dr. Patel shares that the tool used to assess language proficiency is often contingent on the cost, strategy, and development involved in creating the tool. This is to ensure that the language test is reliable, valid, and doing what it is intended to do – assess the employees’ proficiency in a particular language competency that relates to their job roles and responsibilities or their professional development. Additionally, if you feel that the assessment was not fair, valid, or job related, it is an opportunity to provide feedback to your potential employer or to collaborate with your employer to better serve employees, the organization, and most definitely, the customers.  After all, the goal is to ensure that the employee meets the job qualifications, can effectively communicate with the community, and creates an extraordinary customer experience.

All in all, when you include “bilingual” or “multilingual” on your résumé or an employment application, don’t be surprised if the employer asks you to take a test pre- or post-employment as AT&T does with LTI as their language proficiency assessments provider. And even if they don’t, you can always validate your language proficiency by getting certified anytime, anywhere with Language Testing International. Get certified with LTI today!



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