When you’re hiring bilingual job candidates, especially for customer-facing roles, language assessment is a very important part of your process. Language skills are essential for mutual understanding, compassion, problem solving, and effective communication. And when language skills are missing, the important work you’re trying so hard to accomplish suffers big time.
You may be working on quality control for many aspects of your language assessment process, but how much time have you spent considering scoring? Remember, your language test is only as effective as it can be if your scores can accurately reflect what you need to know–how competent your tester truly is in your target language.
So, here are some questions to ask yourself when evaluating the scoring of your language assessment solution:
1. Which skills are most important for my agents to have?
I invite you to really make sure you know the answer to this question, because it’ll be very important later on. Do you need your agents to be able to pronounce words correctly, rather than comprehend what someone’s saying? Do you have agents that need to read customer complaints? Craft responses?
You should also consider how expansive their skillset needs to be. Reading and writing may be the primary skill, but how hard are the questions going to be that they’re answering? Will they need to have the necessary speaking skills to communicate with coworkers and find new information? Will they be answering the same questions over and over again, therefore requiring a lower skill level, or are they going to need to answer challenging questions with research involved?
2. How can I communicate value to my stakeholders?
When considering an assessment solution, you should think about your “audience”—who are the stakeholders and decision makers that will need to know your scoring information? How will they use it? What do they already understand about language testing and assessment scores?
Let’s say, for example, that you provide customer service for international companies.
Most of your clients will be concerned with the language skills of your agents because they know that capable communicators provide better service. They’ll probably also know the level language ability they want your agents to have to be effective in meeting their customers’ needs.
So, you’ll need to be able to communicate how well your agents know their target language in a way that makes sense to your clients. For this use case, the CEFR standards would be very helpful—they’re a more or less universal scale that’s familiar to organizations worldwide.
And, the CEFR’s broad buckets of differentiated language ability are good for quickly communicating general ability to people like your clients that don’t need all of the details about their skills.
3. What do language assessment scores need to look like for my internal teams?
Clients aren’t the only people you need to consider using your scores, though. Language assessment results will be imperative to your inside teams as they hire, maintain, and grow your business. If your language assessment solution doesn’t provide the right kind of scores for your inside teams, it’s not worth the resources.
Let’s consider the CEFR standards again (For more detail, click here). They worked great for a client use case, right—clients can understand the level of language ability your agents have as they communicate with their customers.
But your internal teams need more detail about a person’s language ability than CEFR can provide. They’re answering questions like:
- Which candidates have more skill than the others, even by small margins?
- Which employees are improving their language ability?
- Do you really need to invest in hiring C1 level communicators, or are high B2 level communicators sufficient for your language skill needs?
- How can I track my employees’ language progress for learning and development?
For detailed, specific, and targeted language ability information, you’ll need a more granulated scale that can give you more accurate insights into the true abilities of your testers. Remember to keep your internal teams in mind when thinking about your language test scoring needs.
Language assessment is important for your success, and it’s challenging to make sure you’re doing it right. We hope these questions will help you find the best assessment and assessment scoring system for your organization.
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