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Interview: language levels
Sprachkenntnisse bewerten

Hand, Quelle: photos.comAnne-Louise Quarfoth/ Photos.com
In today´s world speaking more than one language is an asset. But how can you establish whether or not a potential employee has sufficient command of a language to make them an asset to the company? Read on.

Try also our Quiz: Language levels.

Internet tip!
Download an assessment grid that you can use to assess your own language level here.

The scenario

Jessie, an HR manager and Ronaldo, a new intern, are discussing some upcoming interviews that they will be carrying out later in the week.

  • Jessie: So, Ronaldo, I know Portuguese is your native tongue and obviously your English is excellent, but which other languages do you speak?
  • Ronaldo: I spent a few years in Spain as a child, so I can get along quite well in Spanish, and I also learned some Japanese at school. But I´m not sure I could really carry a conversation in Japanese.
  • And with Spanish, when you say quite well, what exactly do you mean? Have you used the language as an adult, in a business setting? I´m asking because we have some candidates coming for interviews later in the week to be interviewed for positions on the international sales team. So we obviously need to assess their language levels in various languages.
  • But won´t they tell you? People know how good they are at a language, surely?
  • Yes, I´m sure they will, but a layperson´s evaluation of language skills - "quite good" or "I get along", for example - is not the same as knowing that the person can negotiate a sales contract. Alternatively, being able to order dinner in a certain language doesn´t mean you can do a presentation in it.
  • I see, yes, of course. So you need a more accurate and impartial assessment. How do you usually get that, do you have to give them some sort of a test?
  • We use the CEFR to assess competencies in a variety of spheres.
  • Ok. What does that mean, exactly, I´ve heard of the CEFR, but what is it?
  • Well, the Common European Framework of Reference is something we use to assess proficiency. It helps us work out exactly what a candidate can do in an language, the sort of tasks they could easily carry out and those that might prove difficult, a "can do" approach, really. It would range from A1, a real beginner, to C2, someone who can use a second language almost to a native speaker level. Let´s think about your Spanish, for example. If I were interviewing you I´d start by asking if you were comfortable watching Spanish-language TV or watching films in Spanish. Depending on your answer, I would then work deeper, asking if you felt you could grasp the gist of a show or, alternatively, if you had any issues with regional accents or dialects. By asking these kinds of questions I´d get a fair idea of your listening comprehension level. Then I´d think about your speech and I´d ask you if you felt comfortable discussing a large variety of subjects, even ones you knew little about, or whether it was easier for you to be in familiar situations, discussing more familiar topics. We´d discuss different accents, specific occasions on which you had used the language and how you felt about your proficiency. Finally, if you seemed fairly confident in using the language, we´d discuss using it for business and I might even call in a colleague who spoke the language well and ask them to chat to you a bit, just to make sure.
  • Well, I see, that really is very detailed. What about reading and writing levels, though, do you check them too?
  • No, that´s not usually the most important aspect for me, as we look for people who can use the spoken language, but we could go into that too if necessary. Here, look at this, it´s a breakdown of the competencies that will give you more of an idea of how and why we phrase questions the way we do, how to carry out an assessment.
  • Thank you, I shall look at it carefully
Erstellt am: 08.10.2013 15:25, Letzte Änderung: 04.01.2017 08:14

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