Any recruitment manager worth their salt knows how essential skills testing is before the interview stage. This is especially true of the hospitality sector. Here, language assessment in recruitment is imperative. Not only do you need to check candidates can speak the required language for the job, but, ideally, they'll also speak at least one other language commonly spoken by your guests. This goes a long way to ensuring your company provides the best possible customer service. 

With that said, how can you incorporate language assessment into your recruitment process? 

Let’s take a look. 

What Exactly is a Language Test? 

A language test evaluates the candidate’s ability to operate in different scenarios using the dialect widely used across your business. For instance, if your customers commonly speak two of the US’s most commonly spoken second languages (Spanish and Chinese, including Mandarin and Cantonese), you'll want to examine your candidates' competency in these languages (on top of English.)

Language assessments in recruitment can use various scenarios to comprehensively look at an applicant’s vocabulary, grammar, and ability to listen, write, and read. 

The Best Time to Test a Candidate

Although there isn't a set 'best time' to test candidates for language skills, your job ad must state the level of language competency expected. At this point, make it clear whether applicants need to speak another language other than English, for example. 

To kickstart your language skills testing, more and more employers are using AI (Artificial Intelligence) software. This works wonders for filtering candidates who can speak particular languages and those listing language skills on their resumes.

From here, there’s no reason why you can’t ask candidates to complete a written language test online before moving onto the interview phase. 

However, the time and effort this takes may put some candidates off from applying. So, if language skills aren't a deal-breaker for you or they're not a primary skill required for the job, you may be better off waiting until the interview stage and asking candidates to take a test on the day. 

Types of Language Assessment in Recruitment Tests

These naturally fall into two categories: written and oral, and in both cases, it’s wise to include scenario-based questions when testing a candidate’s suitability for the job in question. Again, you can use AI to mark these tests to help eliminate any inadvertent bias.

Written Tests

With a written language test, you can assess the candidate’s fluency, comprehension, and literacy skills. You'll also get a feel for their vocabulary quality, including whether they understand industry-related jargon. Typically, these tests take less than 30 minutes to complete. 

Spoken Tests

Your interview is the simplest way to assess your candidate’s oral language skills. However, you can also ask candidates a few scenario-based questions and conduct various role-play situations to see how candidates use their words to handle demanding customers and difficult situations. 

What are the Benefits of Using Language Assessments in Recruitment?

Assessing candidates is beneficial to all parties. For instance, where HR Managers are concerned, you get a good idea of the candidate’s language proficiency. Conversely, the applicant gains a better understanding of the level of language proficiency needed for the role, enabling them to work out whether the job's right for them.  


Other Benefits Include:

  • Tests ensure accuracy: Standardized assessments offer a more precise way of evaluating someone’s understanding of language than just a quick conversation. 

  • Tests allow for comparison: It’s much easier to compare candidates’ abilities to see which applicant boasts the best fit, providing you issue the same tests, questions, and scenarios to all. 

  • Tests help ensure your recruitment process is bias-free: There’s no room for bias with these kinds of language tests. If you’re using the aforementioned AI-powered language assessments, the tests are marked automatically. Alternatively, you could hire a neutral third party to score the tests. Either way, this removes any unconscious bias that may exist in your recruitment team. 

  • Tests save you time: A LinkedIn study found that 67% of hiring managers said that AI tests saved them time during the recruitment phase. This isn't surprising when you consider that asking candidates to complete language assessments ahead of their interviews enables you to weed out unsuitable applicants from the get-go. That way, you’re not wasting anyone’s time by taking their application to the next stage. Equally, if a candidate makes it to the interview stage, you can use that time to focus on their other relevant skills.

  • Tests can be job-specific: Language tests can be strictly tailored to assess the specific job you’re recruiting for. This goes a long way to ensuring the test focuses on what matters for the position you’re advertising. 

Overview: 3 Things to Remember

There’s little or no point in testing for testing's sake. Instead, take away these three tips to ensure your language assessment process is as polished as it can be:

  1. Only test for the language skills you need:
    For instance, if you only need candidates to speak well, the written word may be less critical. In that case, focus on oral assessments rather than the written ones. 

  2. Test language in a realistic setting:
    By this, we mean language tests should always be set in the right context. That way, you can evaluate your candidate's ability to use words and sentences related to the job vacancy rather than random language comprehension capabilities. 

  3. Assess throughout:
    While AI and online testing can help shortlist suitable candidates, nothing beats face-to-face interaction. Whether a video call or in-person, an interview allows you to see them in motion and how they use language to adapt to diverse scenarios in different languages. 

Are You Ready to Use Language Assessment in Hospitality Recruitment? 

Hopefully, you now know a little more about language assessment during the recruitment process. Done well, it doesn’t have to be a lengthy or stressful process, and it can save you lots of time further down the line. As such, any busy HR or general manager working in hospitality will benefit from adding language testing to their screening processes. It's a surefire yet straightforward way of bringing you a step closer to hiring the perfect candidate.