The Do’s and Don’ts of Evaluating Language Competency When Hiring

Language competency is especially important in business communication as the world you are living in is a globally competitive one; it is not uncommon to see big companies such as Google, GlaxoSmithKline and Apple branch out and have offices in different countries across the globe. It’s also why language is extremely important as you will not want anything to be lost in translation. Whether this is in Cantonese, Spanish, German or most importantly, English, you will want the people you hire to be a well rounded and fluent in the language. This only means they need to know how to do not just general communication in it, but business communication as well. To help you out when hiring, here are some dos and don’ts in evaluating language competency when hiring.


Sometimes a candidate will think of themselves as highly qualified for the job as the language is their mother tongue. No. These native speakers may be proficient in general communication, but when it comes to business communication  they just might flunk the exam. Remember, just because someone grew up speaking the language does not necessarily mean they are the best at it.


Some candidates may present to you their scores in language competency examinations, such as for English, the Test of English for International Communication or (TOEIC) and the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). These exams can help make your job easier as these candidates have actual proof of how good they are in the language. Of course, one must still have a bases of measurement, with one of the scales you can base your measurement on is the Inter-Agency Language Roundtable scale.


Base it on your own experience—sometimes people are not who they say they are on their resumes.

If someone says they are fluent in both written and spoken Portuguese, it can be hard to prove unless they took a certified language proficiency exam. In addition, since it will be a company setting, the fluency that they think have in one language may not translate well into the business world. Some interviewees may overestimate their language skills, saying they are highly fluent, but it turns out they are highly fluent in general communication and not business. These can be prevented with one simple solution: a test.


As said earlier, people may say they are good in one language, but in truth they may be lying through their teeth just to get the job. This may be out of a sense of desperation to get employed, but if there is one way for you to make sure they are eloquent in the language. And this is through giving them language proficiency tests created by the company.

It is completely up to you on how these tests will be conducted. You can have it verbal, written or audio. You can test their business communication proficiency in the language by inserting questions asking them technical terms, fill in the blanks and the like. For verbal, you can have it conversational with an employee who is well versed in the language. As for audio, it will be a listening test for the candidate where they will be provided a pen and questionnaire and they will have to answer the questions the audio recording asks. Of course, these are just suggestions, but it is highly recommended to truly test the candidate’s knowledge with this sort of exam.

When it comes to language competency, always make sure you are getting someone knowledgeable in not just general communication, but in business as well. Hopefully these dos and don’ts can help you get the best candidate possible or the job.

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