Hiring managers have more opportunities than ever in our globalized workforce to assemble diverse, world-class teams. The best employees come from all backgrounds; your responsibility in the Human Resources team is to optimize the hiring process to plug the most qualified and skilled candidates into the right roles. One way to measure candidate qualifications is through skills testing. In particular, for applicants whose native language is not English, testing and assessment maintain an even playing field.
Likewise, many roles in today’s globalized economy require bilingual proficiency. For example, consider using a bilingual test for employment. Bilingual tests create a standardized, equitable way for employers and applicants to measure proficiency and skills. Hiring practices are evolving, and Maki’s tools for language testing offer companies quantifiable skills assessments to stay competitive. Read on to learn more about integrating language proficiency testing into your hiring practice.
What Is the Bilingual Test for Employment?
Maki’s tests address hiring goals to their core: finding an applicant with the right skills for the role. Adding tests does not de-personalize the hiring process; it creates more opportunities to offer standardized and equitable evaluative tools for all applicants.
The bilingual test for employment measures language competency in candidates whose first language is different than the company’s operating language. It is also helpful for candidates applying for a role that requires multiple language fluencies.
When your team searches for language tests on Maki’s site, you will find a variety of languages and language skills tests.
In addition, Maki works with experts and professionals to develop their language assessment tests based on high-level standards for proficiency across international settings, including native and cultural proficiencies and workplace vocabulary.
Are you having trouble finding your language in the testing library? Perhaps you are looking for a highly specialized vocabulary. You may also work with an external expert to design a test specific to your needs.
What Is the Purpose of the Bilingual Test for Employment?
Language assessment tests might be more familiar in college application settings, but the same basic principle applies to job applicants. Companies and employees both want to feel confident in their ability to communicate and meet the competitive needs of a multilingual role.
A bilingual test for employment ensures that companies make informed decisions about the candidates they hire. Knowing your top candidate’s language score will also alert your team to potential cultural and language supports the employee might need as they onboard.
Multilingual workforces are unlikely to diminish any time soon. As early as 2005, Human Resources professionals anticipated the rise of multilingual workforces. The spread of international and multilingual environments accelerated when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and virtual work became the norm.
According to a study from the McKinsey Global Institute, about 20-25% of workers in developed economies could work from home three to five days a week without impacting their productivity. The Institute’s reports found that the COVID-19 pandemic suddenly widened the boundaries of applicant pools as remote positions became more common.
The paradigm shift from in-person to remote work broadens the potential geography of workplaces and workers. Offering a bilingual test for employment allows HR managers to maintain fair and equitable hiring practices while broadening the talent and recruitment search to a more diverse, competitive audience.
What Are the Benefits of Taking a Bilingual Test for Hiring?
Bilingual tests for employment don’t just satisfy the needs of employers; your applicants will be pleased to know that they are being held to quantifiable standards as well.
After surveying over 1500 job applicants and employees, the Greenhouse Candidate Experience Report found that now more than ever, applicants are more selective with their job offers. As a result, many seek a more “modern” application process that reflects their desires for clear and transparent hiring objectives.
A language assessment tool strengthens your workplace’s hiring transparency. By asking for a language proficiency test in the hiring process, companies offer upfront and direct communication about their needs and expectations for qualified applicants. In turn, applicants can accept their offers with complete confidence that they can meet the company’s needs.
Furthermore, Greenhouse’s report shared that applicants look for streamlined and efficient hiring processes. Maki’s language assessment tests are under 15 minutes long and disclose the length before candidates begin.
What Are Some Common Methods for Testing Language Proficiency?
Language proficiency tests can evaluate a multiplicity of skills; for example, an applicant can have a mastery-level proficiency over written French but struggle through speaking. Common language-testing methods will differ depending on the skill in question.
Generally speaking, however, most companies will want to identify a language assessment tool that balances a general understanding of the target language with target language use. You’ll need to hire an applicant with confidence that their general language proficiency matches the specific language requirements of the job.
According to a report from the U.S. Foreign Service Institute, some common language proficiency test methods include oral interviews, multiple-choice and writing tests, or reading tests. However, favoring one testing method over the other runs the risk of simplifying the diverse and unique language contexts of today’s companies.
Thankfully, Maki’s experts build bilingual tests for employment with transparent methodologies in the testing descriptions. Often the tests combine methods for a more well-rounded experience. Below are some common testing methodologies in Maki’s tests:
- Basic grammar recognition
- Writing and spelling questions
- Multiple-choice vocabulary questions
- Oral fluency exercises
Many Maki language experts also rely on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) for language testing methodologies. The benefit of using CEFR language testing is that hiring managers are testing applicants on a globalized standard with broad use.
How Can You Determine Which Level of Proficiency Is Appropriate for a Given Test?
To offer a bilingual test for employment that identifies the best and most competitive applicant, consider your company’s needs first.
As you comb through Maki’s library of tests, look at the testing descriptions. These helpful run-downs will detail the level of proficiency the test is assessing and the global standards that the test-maker used to develop the test.
The goal of requiring a language proficiency test is to measure your applicants’ skills and qualifications. If the role you’re hiring for doesn’t require written proficiency in the given language, then look for a test that measures spoken fluency. Standardized skill tests protect your process from bias and help you find your perfect applicant as long as you are clear about your company’s needs and expectations.
How Can You Ensure That a Language Proficiency Test Is Fair and Valid?
All Maki tests - language and otherwise - are designed by experts. The language tests in Maki’s library are built by language teachers, native speakers, and hiring professionals. You can learn more about each test creator on the testing page.
Because so many of the Maki tests are built on CEFR standards, validity and fairness are baked into the assessment. The Manual for Language Test Development and Examining, produced by the Association of Language Teachers in Europe was built to provide test-makers with global, equitable standards for language assessment.
In particular, the Manual lists common core standards that language test developers must include in a test that aligns with the CEFR framework. CEFR language tests must meet high-quality standards for validity and fairness, weighing context and ethics.
Another way to ensure validity and fairness in the language proficiency test is to work with an external language teacher or expert to build a language test for employment from scratch. The benefit of this option is that your company can customize an employment test responsive to your industry’s unique language needs. You can also ensure a deeper involvement in assessing your test’s fairness and validity.
What Are Some Ways to Reduce Test Anxiety?
Test anxiety is a common experience for most people, affecting job applicants and students alike. Sometimes, test anxiety can be severe enough to impact the candidate’s ability to complete the test.
According to research published in Wiley, testing anxiety often reflects the “high stakes” nature of testing and assessment. As early as elementary school, test-takers have reported anxiety that the negative outcomes of a test will alter the course of their future. Testing anxiety in school-aged students responds to cultural messaging about future school funding, course selection, and acceptance in higher education.
Unlike standardized school testing, however, testing in the hiring process responds to a need for standardized and quantified skill assessment. Quantifiable metrics protect both candidates and employers alike from “intuition-based” hiring that is often influenced by implicit biases. With hiring tests, you can breathe easy knowing that you’ve truly hired the best applicant in the pool.
Before your applicant completes their bilingual test for employment, consider sharing with them the following tools to reduce testing anxiety:
- Brush up on rusty vocabulary or language skills
- Get a good night’s sleep
- Eat a well-balanced meal before taking the test
- Find a quiet, uninterrupted environment to take the test
Remember, the bilingual test for employment determines whether the candidate has the language skills to excel in your company and provides an opportunity for your prospective employee to learn more about your expectations. Try framing the assessment as a mutually beneficial opportunity for clarity and transparency, rather than a high-stakes, value-loaded character evaluation.
For example, if your candidate excels in spoken Mandarin but you expect them to be able to write emails and reports with your international partners, the bilingual test for employment will give them a chance to try out their confidence and comfort in your working environment.
What Are Some of the Common Challenges That People Face When Taking the Bilingual Test for Employment?
In addition to test anxiety, applicants could face several challenges in taking the bilingual test for employment.
According to research completed at the University of California Los Angeles, one of the primary challenges language test-takers face is a lack of accountability in the test and testing institution.
Contextual and science-based metrics for a bilingual test are the building blocks of accountability in language assessment. Otherwise, tests run the risk of operating on antiquated, bias-heavy perceptions of non-native speakers.
Thankfully, Maki’s tests are based on international standards of validity and ethics, so accountability is baked in. Before assuming that your applicants have everything they need, however, check in with each candidate to address any of these potential challenges:
- The applicant may misunderstand the purpose of the test
- The applicant may lack access to an internet connection or an adequate testing environment
- The applicant may not have sufficient time for the test
Your candidate should be clear that the bilingual test for employment is a mutually beneficial assessment tool that lays out expectations and needs with full transparency. As long as they have reliable internet access, a quiet and focused testing environment, and a maximum of fifteen clear minutes in their schedule, they should be fully equipped to complete the language proficiency assessment.
The Globalized Workforce
Determining language proficiency in a hiring process can feel daunting, but language is a critical skill that should be evaluated and assessed just like any other qualification.
Some hiring managers might feel anxiety about losing the personal and relational emphasis of the hiring process when they include tests. The good news is that the hiring process is evolving, and even when including skills-based assessments, companies do not have to sacrifice the personal touch. After all, it is essential to make an applicant feel welcomed and heard.
At the same time, standardized skills testing ensures that there are quantifiable metrics companies can point to as a measure of a fair and equitable process. The bilingual test for hiring is a helpful anti-bias tool because international candidates are often applied from diverse backgrounds. Likewise, candidates with fluent multilingualism are competitive and can expand your company’s impact. To ensure you’re bringing on the best, include bilingual tests for hiring in your recruitment process.
As the world grows more globalized, language skills set apart a suitable applicant from an excellent applicant. With Maki’s testing tools, you and your hiring team can bring on the perfect candidate with more confidence.