customer service employee smiling talking to customer

Language Testing International (LTI) helps many of its corporate clients implement language assessments for their job candidates and employees. At first glance, one might assume that these third-party language assessments are only designed to help LTI’s clients, the employers, and not necessarily designed with the job candidates or employees’ benefit in mind. However, at LTI, we work very closely with our clients to ensure that all parties are carefully taken into consideration with each step of the assessment process.

As a case study example, on a recent episode of LTIs “Language Is Your Superpower” podcast, special guest, Vinay Patel, PhD, shared how language assessments can serve both the employer and its employees.

Vinay Patel, PhD, is the Senior Industrial-Organizational Psychologist for AT&T in Dallas, Texas. In his role as an I-O Psychologist—a position that studies human behavior in organizations and the workplace—he applies his and the organization’s collective knowledge and principles to create a better workplace 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. He and his team at AT&T, when choosing a language testing partner, take into account that “in I-O Psychology, we measure different types of validity. And the one that’s often ridiculed by academics is face validity, because it’s basically looking at a test and saying ‘yeah, it looks like it’s measuring what it’s measuring’. But that’s really important from a candidate’s standpoint, right?” Vinay went on to give the example, “Let’s say you want to be a forklift operator and I’m asking you questions that have nothing to do with forklift operations. You’re not going to think the process is fair. I could have all the science behind that that says it predicts performance, but if candidates think they’re being cheated out of something, that’s not something your company wants to necessarily endorse or use.”

With LTI as AT&T’s language assessment partner, Vinay explained that “before implementing any kind of assessment, we want to collect data to ensure that assessment is valid and reliable, and job related. So, that was one of the first things that was done is to determine relevancy to the position. Also, at what level does the language need to be spoken to kind of meet the minimal qualifications? We want to make sure that the people that are coming in through the door can communicate with the customer in another language if they have to, and that they provide a good customer experience. So, the decision is made with the customer at heart. Really, those two things are absolutely necessary; making sure that the customer is happy with our service, but also making sure that we are doing everything in our steps to ensure that all of the things that the test is measuring are tied to the job.”

Vinay mentioned an additional benefit for job candidates, namely the official language proficiency credentials that come with each test and that each test-taker can showcase. “Whenever you pass the SAT’s or GRE or something like that, and you get a high score, you’re proud of it. It’s like this was a measure of aptitude and this is where I lie.” So, the job candidates, whether they land the job or not, obtain real-world certificate credentials, as well as a better understanding of how and where their language skills may be applicable in the workforce.

Vinay illustrates how, with the help of LTI, AT&T has been able to tailor their language assessments to specific roles in the company. Vinay gave specific examples of how “within the call center and retail spaces, we do ensure that the questions asked are really custom to the business. They are conversations that you would have in a call center space, or conversations or topics that would come up in a retail space. So, it’s not really just general ‘how well can you speak?’ or, you know, if you’re using slang terms or anything like that. It’s really specific and tied to the business.”

At LTI, we know that when our client’s customers are satisfied with the customer service they receive in different languages, and when our client’s job candidates and employees trust and have a positive experience with our language assessments, that our client’s customer satisfaction and their bottom-line usually tend to benefit as well.

Learn more about language proficiency assessment here.

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