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How to Determine if a Job Candidate is Actually Bilingual

You are interviewing a job candidate, and one of the things that stood out to you on their resume was the fact that they are bilingual. You really need someone who is bilingual to expand your division, so you need to know how to determine if a job candidate is actually bilingual. Keep reading to find out how to weed out the resume padders and your ideal bilingual candidate.

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Ask About How They Learned the Language

This is a simple enough question, but it will help you get a better picture of the person’s experience with the language. If their answer is that they took two years of the language in high school, you can probably discount their bilingualism as resume padding. If they go on to say that they continued to study it in college, you are more likely to have a bilingual candidate. If they tell you that they have a parent that is from a country that speaks the language they are claiming to speak, you might have a bilingual. Do realize that just because a candidate has a parent from the language’s country of origin, does not mean that they raised their child to be bilingual. If your candidate says that they grew up speaking the language, you are more likely to have a bilingual job candidate in front of you. 

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Ask How Often They Use the Language

A simple way to determine if a person is bilingual or not involves asking how often the job candidate uses the language they claim to speak. If a candidate tells you that they do not use the language daily, you might need to do some further investigating to determine their level of fluency in the language. If a candidate does not use the language daily, they may be fluent in the language, but they may not be fluent in the culture. You want candidates who are both linguistically and culturally competent. If a candidate says they use the language daily, it may or may not aid you in determining their bilingualism. They could be completely bluffing or being completely truthful. Add their answer to how they learned the language, and you can start to piece together the veracity of their statement. The next tip will help bring you closer to determining the job candidate’s language fluency.

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Give Them a Placement Test

If bilingualism is essential to the position you are seeking to fill, a language placement test is invaluable. It does not need to be an extensive test. This Spanish placement test takes an average of 7 minutes to complete and gives you the test taker’s language fluency level at the end. A placement tests not only their knowledge of vocabulary in the language, but also their grasp of grammatical concepts and structures. You might also consider having them complete a cultural competence test as well. A placement test will demonstrate their understanding of the language in written form. You will also need to test their understanding of spoken language and their ability to communicate verbally and in written form with native speakers of the language.

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Bring in a Language Expert

When bilingualism is essential for the position that you are seeking to fill, bringing in a language expert will help you determine a candidate’s ability to communicate in the language. A language expert will immediately be able to determine whether the candidate is bilingual or bluffing. Likely, if your candidate was bluffing, they would have refused to take the placement test. It may be, however, that they are able to understand written language and have a good grasp of the grammar. Placement tests determine their understanding of a language. It will not tell you how well they speak it or understand it in verbal form. It also does not determine how well they write it. Allowing a language expert to ask them questions in the language in verbal and written form will get you the answer you need. Language experts can conduct their part of the interview in person or virtually. Depending on the position you are seeking to fill, the extra cost will be worth it to gain surety of your job candidate’s language abilities. 

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Ideal Candidate Already Work for You?

Maybe you have already hired your ideal candidate for the job and decided that them being bilingual would do wonders for your company. Instead of going through the interview process again to find someone with the same level of skills plus fluency in another language, you might consider offering language training to your employee. When a company invests in language training, they gain access to professional language teachers, well-versed in business language and culture in the target country. The classes can take place at your company or virtually. You can have one employee participate in the language training or multiple employees as there are both individual and group lessons offered. Contact us about language training for your employees today!

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