Hiring and recruitment

Why Job Interviews Don't Work to Assess English

Many employers trying to determine if applicants have the English skills for their jobs rely solely on interviewing them. Even some widely used English language tests use interviewers to assess speaking skills.

Intuitively, this method seems as though it should work, but it is not reliable.

One important reason is that all but the most highly trained interviewers unconsciously adjust their questioning to meet the level of the interviewee's speaking ability. This means that interviewees come across as more proficient in English than they actually are and comprehension problems are missed that will haunt the employer later.

Another problem is that interviewers are only human and so results will be affected by factors having nothing to do with English ability such as--

Setting the Right English Scores for Your Company’s Jobs: We Make It Easy

Every organization and every job is unique. TOEIC test developers recognize that and so rather than setting “one size fits all” pass-fail standards for hiring or employee evaluation, they encourage employers to define what English language skills people in particular positions need to succeed with their individual job responsibilities.

Such flexibility makes sense—an assembly line worker does not need the same English language skills as a software consultant. In the U.S., such distinctions also need to be considered to ensure compliance with government anti-discrimination standards. 

But how do you know what score levels you need for your organization's different types of positions? The answer is that you don’t have to know. We will help you.

We have access to a range of tools from simple charts and industry averages to a questionnaire analysis process or statistical review of actual pilot testing.

FAQ: TOEIC Test Quality

Many programs start out using "in-house tests" to determine English levels. It's a bad idea that can lead to problems from poor placement success to complaints filed with the EEOC.

I recently found and updated an FAQ developed by ETS some years back that is quite helpful in explaining in a brief format some of the reasons using TOEIC tests provides quality advantage.

Those who want a bit more detail can also explore this publication fully focused on explaining TOEIC reliability, validity, and fairness

A Growing Consensus: AirAsia Adds TOEIC English Testing

Last week, the AirAsia Group, Asia's largest low-fare airline, announced that it would be requiring TOEIC test scores for all flight attendant applicants.

The company, which is based in Malaysia and serves some 400 destinations in more than 20 countries, is in agreement with many others in the industry who have been finding TOEIC tests to be the right fit for their needs.

"We have always insisted on a good standard of English," commented AirAsia People Department regional head Adzhar Ibrahim, "but now we have this global standard that ensures that the same high level is maintained throughout our countries."

Other airlines have adopted TOEIC tests for similar reasons, using them in varying ways:

Success Story: Reordering Hiring Steps Saves Employer Money, Improves Results

Thai Airlines since 1988 has used the TOEIC tests, the gold standard for workplace English proficiency assessment, to screen flight attendant applicants. However, a recent, simple change in their hiring process steps has now provided them with significant savings as well as improving the quality of their screening.
Becoming a flight attendant is an extremely popular goal, with about 10,000 applicants for Thai Airlines typically competing for around 100-150 open positions. Originally, the airline did an initial screen to try to determine which applicants seemed to fit their broad range of qualification requirements. This initial screening typically cut candidates down to about 1,000 applicants.
Claimed English proficiency was one initial screening measure. Those applicants that made it through the initial round then took the TOEIC test to confirm their English proficiency claims.

Hiring Non-Native English Speakers Can Help U.S. Businesses

When I talk about TOEIC testing with businesses, many wonder why they would need such testing here in the United States. The U.S. after all is an English-language-speaking country. Isn't it?

Maybe not to the extent you would think.

According to the latest Immigration Outlook study from OECD, the United States is the world's top destination for permanent immigrants. By 2009, the most recent year for which census data is available, 13% of U.S. residents were foreign-born, and the percentage continues to grow.

Especially in large, insular immigrant communities and among those who immigate as adults, English is learned slowly. For example, one in three of all Asian Americans report problems communicating in English according to a recent report from the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice.

TOEIC® Success Story: China Southern Airlines

It surprised me initially to learn that so many airlines use TOEIC tests. While it makes sense, given the tests' focus on everyday, workplace English that is international rather than specific to any given country, aviation-industry-specific tests do exist, including those created by the International Civil Aviation Organization.

Two of several reasons why TOEIC tests are preferred are

Hiring and English Language Skills: When is Testing Discriminatory?

Human resource management professionals are careful to avoid discriminating against job applicants based on national origin, especially since such discrimination is prohibited by U.S. law. They need to knowto what extent is assessing the language proficiency of job applicants or employees from non-English-speaking countries allowable? 

Fortunately, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission provides clear guidelines on when such testing is allowed and appropriate. In brief

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