How and when to test language proficiency in the hiring process

You are well-versed in the valuable skill set that multilingual professionals bring to the workplace. You want to tap into their excellent communication, problem-solving, analytical, and relationship-building skills. As for their creative flair and close attention to detail – yes, please!


Good decision! But now what? If the position you’re recruiting for requires fluent French and Chinese – but you don’t speak either language – what is the best way to test your candidates’ fluency? Some job seekers may overrate their level or perhaps they have a different understanding of ‘fluent’ to you. And just because someone has a degree in a language, they may still fall far short of fluency.


Please read on to discover our top tips on the matter.

  1. Conduct a language test pre-interview

Pre-interview language proficiency tests are one of the most effective ways to filter out candidates whose language skills don’t make the grade. This can be done in the form of a standardised test – such as the TOEFL or IELTS – or a customised test designed specifically for the role that you’re recruiting for. There are companies that focus exclusively on this aspect of the interview process.

  1. Invite a colleague who is fluent (ideally bilingual) in the target language to have an informal conversation with the candidate at the first interview.
  2. Invite a certified foreign language instructor to participate in the interview, putting the candidate’s skills in reading and writing comprehension, verbal communication, grammar, reasoning, and/or relevant vocabulary to the test. Depending on the level of language required by the role, the instructor may just cover a few general conversation topics or simulate likely work scenarios such as customer pitches, including industry-specific terms.


To further explore the topic, please visit Recruiting Daily.


When it comes to language recruitment, ABL Recruitment is the UK’s go-to, expert consultancy. We have been sourcing talented, multilingual professionals to fill vacancies quickly and cost-effectively for over three decades. Our expert recruitment consultants pre-vet all our candidates for job suitability, including as regards their language skills. If they’re not native speakers of the languages we cover, we put their language skills to the test before presenting you with a shortlist of great-fit candidates.


Thanks to our vast, constantly-refreshed pool of talented, multilingual job seekers – many of whom you wouldn’t be able to access via other routes – we will accelerate your search for great-fit candidates. We know who the right people are and we know how to reach them. Quickly and cost-effectively.


So what’s next? Please get in touch at or on 020 7092 3911 to discover how we can fast-track your search for top talent today!