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. Only about 30-35% of the second round candidates were generally able to reach the airline’s cut-off score.
ETS suggested that the airline make TOEIC testing the first rather than the second step in their hiring process. Because applicants pay for their own testing, this initial review cost the company nothing. The change also proved to greatly reduce their staff time and labor costs.
In addition, the smaller number of remaining applicants has allowed Thai Airlines to involve only only their most experienced recruiters in the applicant review. Greater recruiter screening quality led to better, smaller groups of candidates proceeding to subsequent rounds than had been the case in the past.
We have seen an increasing number of employers in the countries where we work in the Middle East and North Africa taking the same approach. This approach is also valuable in the United States especially for positions where a large number of expatriates are applying and/or where knowing two languages is essential: work in largely immigrant communities, in tourism and hospitality, of course at airlines and other international transportation positions....
In English speaking companies, a TOEIC score is also particularly important for job applicants because of a common, if unstated (and illegal), type of screening used by many employers. In the 15 seconds or so typically spent reviewing a submitted résumé, country of origin can be a “red flag” that moves the résumé to the reject pile—because the employer is concerned about English proficiency.
TOEIC test scores (and especially a Speaking test score) keeps the applicant in the running, since it provides a quickly scannable, objective, and widely recognized proof of English proficiency level for workplace use.
If you would like to learn more about Thai Airlines experience, details can be found in an ETS TOEIC Success Story. U.S. employers will also benefit from reading our blog post about why TOEIC tests are the ideal tool to meet Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regulatory requirements, while applicants in any country will benefit from our tips on how to describe TOEIC test scores on your résumé as well as use of credential evaluation.