Home Language Testing and Certification Using More Precise Data to Make Better Hiring Decisions

Using More Precise Data to Make Better Hiring Decisions

by Emmersion
strategizing at business meeting

At Emmersion, we are all about the data backing our solution. Our mission is to close the global communication gap. One of the main methods we accomplish this is by providing actionable data to our clients.

In language learning and recruiting, no data is more crucial than the proficiency score of a candidate. In my role as vice president of client success, I have the privilege of onboarding our new clients. Most clients decide to use Emmersion because they are looking to save time and money while being more accurate and consistent in evaluating candidate language ability.

Current global standards for language scoring

There are many standard language scales used throughout the world. Some of them are used more predominantly in particular geographical regions or industries. The most common scales are CEFR, ACTFL, and ILR, though there are many others. When new clients start with Emmersion, we typically find that they have developed their own, custom internal rating system or scale for evaluating language ability.

The problem with the standard scales, and usually the custom-built scales, is that they only provide a measure of ability at 5, 6, or 7 levels. The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) is the most commonly used scale internationally for recruiting purposes. CEFR is a very helpful tool that provides six proficiency levels from beginner to mastery: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2. 

Frustrated candidate sitting in front of interviewer

It is difficult for a human who is evaluating another individual’s ability to speak and understand a language to break down that ability beyond just a few buckets. So, it makes sense that when using a human-rated approach to language assessments, there would only be a handful of levels. 

Language ability is much more nuanced than just a handful of ability levels.

The benefits of AI-driven scoring

Because Emmersion uses an AI-driven system to provide automatic language proficiency scoring, we can get much more precise in our scoring of language ability than a human rater. Our proprietary TrueNorth scale provides 100 unique points of measurement of language proficiency while still providing the comparison to the CEFR, ACTFL, and many other scales, if needed.

Here are four benefits that the TrueNorth scale provides as compared to other language scales:

1. More actionable data

Imagine you have five candidates who have applied to your language program or for an employment opportunity. They are evaluated for their speaking proficiency and received the following results on the CEFR scale, ranked from beginner to advanced by a human rater.

 CEFR Score

With this information, you get a sense of their general ability levels. However, it leaves some questions unanswered. Which of these individuals should you hire? How far apart are Taylor and Alex in their ability? Are Alex and Riley the same ability level? If we were to hire Taylor, how soon would we expect her to be at a B2 level? If we are breaking these candidates into learning cohorts, how should we place them?

Adding in the TrueNorth score gives much greater insight and answers these and other questions.

 CEFR ScoreTrueNorth Score

We can draw a few new insights from the TrueNorth data. For example, we can now see that Taylor and Alex are at almost the same ability level. Taylor is at the very high end of the B1 level, and Alex is at the low end of the B2 level. We can also see that Riley is substantially more proficient than Alex, though they are both B2-level speakers.

Using this more granular data, we can make better hiring and placement decisions.

2. The ability to train, coach, and promote

Receiving specific data about an individual’s language ability allows supervisors to be more specific in the training, coaching, and promoting of these individuals. 

Many of our clients have different language ability thresholds based on the position they are attempting to fill. An entry-level position may require a B1 level of language proficiency, but the individual could be promoted if they were to advance to a B2 or C1 level. Since the candidate took the Emmersion speaking assessment, the company knows definitively how far of a reach it will be for that particular candidate to improve.

Manager and colleagues congratulating employee on promotion

If their score is just below a threshold, your company can hire them knowing that, with a little bit of practice and more time using the language, they will move to a higher level very soon. Your company can offer your employees coaching to help motivate them to continually practice and improve. Then, Emmersion can retest them after a while to see precisely how much they have grown.

You can measure improvement much more frequently because the TrueNorth scale measures at 100 points of ability. Where it may take months or years of practice for a learner to jump between the large levels on the CEFR scale, you can see a measurable improvement after just a few weeks using the TrueNorth scale.

3. Building specific candidate profiles

The TrueNorth scale allows you to build more specific candidate profiles. Many contact centers recruit for many open positions at one time. Recruiters are asked to build a profile of the applicants to be used to match agents to the most appropriate accounts or campaigns. By having more precise data, you can build an applicant profile that is very specific and gives the operations team more information to make the appropriate matching decisions.

4. Building client trust

BenJoe Markland from Focus Services recently shared with us how having third-party data has led to increased trust with his clients and increased sales. He said, “Our clients started wanting to get involved in the recruiting process. By using a third-party tool, we added credibility and earned trust from our clients. It’s a selling point now. I’m leading with, ‘we use AI to pick the best English speakers’, and it changes the whole conversation.”

Employee smiling while talking on the phone

Another of our BPO clients in Mexico began to receive concerns from a Fortune 50 account about the language ability of the agents they were recruiting. After adding the Emmersion assessments to their process, they were able to share reports for each hired agent that gave a precise measurement of their language skills. The account asked that Emmersion test language throughout the other regions where their agents were. This has resulted in a stronger relationship between our client and the BPO they service.

Data You Can Rely On

The beauty of automated language assessments is that you can receive and use much more precise data about each person’s ability level. With that data, you can make better business decisions, as well as provide a clearer roadmap for language learner progress over time.

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