As we continue to be more linguistically and culturally diverse, providing services to customers in their preferred language to meet their needs becomes a necessity. As many as 75 percent of consumers say they’re more likely to purchase a product if customer support is provided in their preferred language. More than half would spend more on a product if a company provided information in their own language. Therefore, customer-facing roles in the U.S. require candidates to be proficient in languages other than English, such as customer support, tech support, and sales to name a few.
Hiring the right language-proficient multilingual candidates to help with the growing need for multilingual customer service builds your brand loyalty in target ethnic markets and turns prospective customers into loyal clients.
But… can candidates for bilingual positions actually speak the language listed on their resumes?
A survey of 2,000 hiring managers by Hloom, a company that provides templates for cover letters and CVs, found that the second worst lie an applicant could put on their CV was foreign language fluency.
Why lie? Candidates tend to exaggerate where it’s difficult to draw a clear line, so language ability is an item that tends to be exaggerated. In addition, language fluency is hard to gauge if it’s not supported by an official language certification. Phrases such as “Fluent in. . .”, “Conversant in . . .”, or “Working knowledge of . . .” are often included on resumes with no explanation or proof of actual proficiency. A recent survey has shown that almost 60% of job applicants overstate their abilities, including their language proficiency.
Hiring bilingual or multilingual talent without verifying their language proficiency leads to miscommunication and carries a risk of legal ramifications and loss of credibility. According to a recent report, as many as 67% of employers believe that miscommunication due to language barriers contributes to inefficiencies and 37% believe that customer service suffers when the employees cannot efficiently communicate in the language their customers prefer.
A simple solution is to make language proficiency testing a part of the recruitment process.
Language assessment in recruitment is used to verify the candidate’s ability to communicate in the language they are expected to use with colleagues and customers. Valid and reliable language proficiency assessments evaluate how well a job candidate uses language within a practical setting. Language tests, such as ACTFL language proficiency assessments, can reliably evaluate a candidate’s speaking, writing, reading, and listening skills. Different jobs require different language skills (for example, a customer service representative should have strong speaking skills, whereas representatives hired to answer customers’ queries via chat should demonstrate strong writing skills), so the decision as to which language tests should be administered depends on the type of role you are recruiting for.
Benefits of Language Assessments in the Recruitment Process
There are several benefits of making language assessment a part of your recruitment process. Below we discuss three.
Efficiency of the Recruitment Process
Requiring your job candidates to take language tests early in the recruitment process allows you to quickly filter out those who do not possess the required level of proficiency. Once you identify those who do demonstrate a sufficient proficiency level, you can then focus on other skills and talents required for the job. In addition, language tests such as the ACTFL language proficiency assessments can be administered online or over the telephone anytime and anywhere over secure networks, eliminating the need for the job candidates to come to your office to take the test.
Standard Ways of Measuring Proficiency
Reliable language assessments can help you standardize your recruitment process, eliminating subjectivity and bias. Before you begin testing job candidates, you should establish the minimum level of proficiency for each role and then measure all candidates against that metric. Language Testing International (LTI), along with a group of Industrial and Organizational psychologists, developed the LTI Task Analysis process to assist companies in establishing minimum-proficiency levels for bilingual positions. By using standardized methods, you ensure a fair recruitment process, and you can easily defend your hiring decision as all candidates are measured against the same criteria.
Confidence in Hiring the Most Qualified Candidates
Reliable and valid language proficiency assessments eliminate the guesswork on whether candidates who claim to be fluent truly possess the language skills required for the job and ensures you select candidates who are best suited for the roles. This, in turn, guarantees employees’ satisfaction as they succeed in their jobs and customers’ satisfaction as they can rely on your employees for accurate and complete information.
Partnering with a Reliable Language Assessment Provider
Partnering with a trusted language proficiency assessment is the first step to ensuring your multilingual candidates truly posses the language skills necessary to succeed in the roles you are hiring for. Consider partnering with LTI:
- We are the exclusive licensee of the ACTFL—providing clients with a valid and reliable measure of speaking, reading, writing, and listening proficiency and candidates with a universally recognized language credential.
- We implement convenient technological solutions to facilitate the testing process for our clients. Our assessments are remotely proctored and can be taken by candidates at anytime, anywhere.
- The independent LTI process mitigates the risk of unfair employment or advancement processes and of customers claiming inferior service in their native language. Our certification results are legally defensible; decades of research and practice assure the reliability and validity of each assessment.
Ready to get started? Contact us for more information.