Hiring candidates who are able to communicate effectively in more than one language is a sound strategy for companies that are looking to reach international consumers and build a more diverse workforce.
The ability to speak more than one language also brings a range of other benefits, from an enhanced ability to multitask and process information to improved listening skills.
Are you looking to fill bilingual positions within your organization? Here are some of the most important benefits of having bilingual employees, as well as the four main skills you should test for in a language assessment.
Why should you want bilingual employees?
In today’s globalized market, organizations need bilingual and multilingual candidates to fill both low and high-skilled positions. Bilingual employees can add value in just about every role, from sales and customer service to administrative and financial service positions.
Most importantly, bilingual employees can communicate with and appeal to non-English speaking customers as well as partners and suppliers. Research also shows that the ability to speak more than one language can have a number of other social and psychological benefits, from conflict management to multitasking.
For example, one study found that bilinguals tend to perform better than monolinguals on tests that measure ‘divergent thinking,’ which is the ability to generate creative ideas by exploring a variety of potential solutions.
Other research has shown that bilinguals perform better on verbal and nonverbal tests, and also tend to be better at reading people. One study even found that bilinguals tend to be more empathetic, as they find it easier to overlook their own feelings and perspective when reasoning about other people’s beliefs.
Clearly, bilingualism can benefit organizations in a number of important ways, but what’s the best way to determine an employee’s language abilities? Below are the four essential language skills that should be assessed when hiring for bilingual or multilingual roles.
The skills you need to test for when it comes to hiring for bilingual positions
Corporate language tests are a good way to assess a potential hire’s language abilities during the recruitment process. They can also help organizations assess the language proficiency levels within different departments and identify areas for improvement.
Because most job seekers understand the importance of language skills, many resumes will likely include phrases like “Fluent in Spanish” or “Working knowledge of French.” Without administering a language proficiency test, it can be difficult for hiring managers to determine just how accurate these self-assessments might be.
With this in mind, here are the four most important language skills you should be testing for if you’re looking to hire employees for bilingual positions.
Testing a candidate’s ability to speak a foreign language fluently is important when hiring for roles that involve direct interactions with clients, contractors and business partners.
Although simply speaking with candidates during a job interview will already reveal a good deal about their fluency, language tests can further assess grammar and vocabulary as well as articulation and intonation.
Listening is considered a passive language skill. A person’s ability to listen to and make sense of a foreign language usually begins to develop well before they are able to speak the language.
The ability to understand spoken language is important for everything from taking phone calls and meeting with clients to sitting in on presentations. Language tests can assess a candidate’s level of proficiency in understanding complex topics and terminology or even different accents.
Writing is a language skill that will be particularly important for roles that involve communicating in written form, whether this entails answering customer emails or communicating internally with employees.
Having applicants submit a cover letter can be a good way to assess their writing ability, although language tests can more comprehensively assess an applicant or employee’s grammar, vocabulary and sentence comprehension.
Testing an applicant’s reading ability is important in order to gauge how accurately they are able to understand written texts such as emails, company guidelines, instruction manuals or supplier contracts.
Depending on the level of reading proficiency that’s required, language tests may require applicants to read a text and then answer multiple choice questions about it or even rewrite the text or sum it up succinctly.
Are you looking to incorporate language testing in your organization’s recruitment process? Or maybe corporate language tests would help you identify areas that your team could stand to improve in? Berlitz offers language testing services to help organizations screen potential hires more effectively or provide current employees with more opportunities for advancement. Find out more.