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The importance of English proficiency assessments during campus hiring

Talent Assessment | 6 Min Read

The importance of English proficiency assessments during campus hiring

A range of customer-facing job roles requires optimum employee communication and language skills, such as customer support, sales, marketing, human resources, and tech support. This is because offering business services to a diverse customer base using their preferred language improves outcomes and service quality.

According to W3Techs, nearly 60% of the websites use the English language for corporate communications.

Forbes further explains that many multinational companies, such as Microsoft, Daimler-Chrysler, Airbus, and SAP, have English as a mandatory corporate language. It is used for communicating across various service users and in different business endeavors.


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What are pre-employment English tests?

A pre-employment English test assesses candidates’ proficiency in the English language. It helps understand candidates’ performance in verbal communication, reading comprehension, grammar, writing abilities, reasoning, and other aspects of the English language.

For instance, Mercer | Mettl’s English Reading Comprehension Test determines whether potential candidates can read and understand textual information to derive logical conclusions.

Similarly, businesses and corporate organizations can conduct related tests to evaluate candidates’ English proficiency before hiring.


What makes pre-employment English tests important?

Effective colleague and customer communications


Effective communication with colleagues, subordinates, managers, executives, and board members is important to create a fulfilling and thriving work environment.

Research published by Salesforce explains that nearly 86% of executives believe ineffective communication and collaboration is the primary cause of business failure. English language proficiency helps organizations encourage smooth and effortless communication among employees from diverse backgrounds. It additionally improves connection with global clients and stakeholders.

of customers say that they are more likely to buy products if they avail information in their language. ss-CSA Research

Therefore, businesses with an English-speaking customer base benefit from a workforce proficient in English. This is why conducting a proficiency test before employment is necessary. It helps to know whether candidates have business-level language skills and effective written and verbal communication skills.


Determine resume authenticity


Scoring an interview with leading companies in this fiercely competitive marketplace is a challenging task for professionals. Therefore, it is likely for them to oversell their skills in resumes to attract better opportunities.

According to the press release by Career Builder, nearly 75% of candidates include false data on their resumes. Hloom even highlighted that foreign language fluency ranks second among the top 15 lies on resumes.

Therefore, conducting an English proficiency test can help gauge the authenticity of candidates’ resumes.


Four crucial language skills for the workplace and methods for determining competency

For a candidate to be competent in any language, it is essential to prove proficiency in four areas: reading, writing, speaking and listening.


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Reading can enhance knowledge and open up the mind to different perspectives. Therefore, a reading test is crucial for companies to know how candidates perceive, interpret, and draw conclusions based on textual information. Reading and accurately comprehending information is essential for effective communication.

English reading skills are important to:

  • Understand company policies and processes
  • Execute tasks assigned by managers
  • Interpret customer messages and emails based on facts, context, and emotions
  • Understand written communication through chats, emails, and other ways with colleagues in case of remote working
  • Think logically and constructively interpret feedback and escalations

Method to determine competency

One of the methods to determine reading skills competency is to conduct a reading comprehension test. It involves reading sample paragraphs, emails, and documents, leading candidates to grasp information, respond appropriately and derive conclusions.

Mercer | Mettl provides an English Reading Comprehension Test to help corporate organizations, retail store owners, and business chains ease the selection process during campus hiring.


Writing, when properly managed, is but a different name for conversation.

Laurence Sterne
Novelist and Anglican clergyman

A writing test is important to know whether candidates can write information in concise, easy-to-understand sentences and paragraphs.

English writing skills are important to:

  • Create internal and external presentations
  • Develop training materials and reports
  • Communicate with colleagues, stakeholders, and executives through mails
  • Communicate with customers in clear, concise, and easy-to-understand language
  • Modify written language based on requirements

Method to determine competency

Companies can give a real-time scenario to candidates and assess their written responses to determine their writing skills.

For instance, a customer has given a negative service review on the website. The candidate should respond with a promise to improve service, offering assurance and resolution to the customer.


You can speak well if your tongue can deliver the message of your heart.

John Ford
American film director and naval officer

Speaking skills are important to ensure effective internal and external communication because it plays a crucial role in making people connections.

Where effective internal communication creates a pleasant, fulfilling, and thriving environment at the workplace, external communication leads to strong customer connections and increased business opportunities.


Method to determine competency

Recruiters can conduct face-to-face, phone, or video interviews to determine how candidates deliver their responses, articulate their feelings, and communicate their technical or job-relevant skills.

Mercer | Mettl’s Spoken English Assessment evaluates English-speaking skills using an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered tool named SpeechX. The tool identifies candidates with excellent speaking skills during campus hiring.

Companies can also conduct group discussions and debates during campus hiring to know how candidates express their thoughts and communicate with fellow candidates. This helps understand candidates’ views, opinions, and beliefs.


Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.

Karl Menninger
An American psychiatrist

Listening skills are essential to understanding and helping business customers as it allows learning about customers’ issues, needs, and demands.

Evaluating listening skills involves gauging candidates’ expressions, nuances, feelings, mannerisms, accents, cultural terms, and motives.

English listening skills are important to:

  • Know different ideas and ways to solve a problem
  • Take business plans forward while understanding the 360-degree perspective of people with diverse opinions and approaches
  • Understand the issues of customers and offer the best possible solution
  • Let customers speak more and reveal their issues and demands without hassle
  • Resolve strategic differences in meetings and discussions

Method to determine competency

Recruiters can assess listening skills by playing pre-recorded audio during interviews and asking questions about the audio contents. Based on answers, it can be judged how well candidates understand and respond to some crucial situations portrayed in the audio clip.

This activity also helps gauge body language signs, accents, tone changes, and mannerisms.

Candidates with balanced language skills are competent to work in various job profiles related to sales, marketing, and other customer-facing roles. Assess candidates using the above competencies and improve your hiring efficiency.


What are the various levels of language competencies?

The Common European Framework of Reference for Language (CEFR) is one of the most universally-accepted measures for language proficiency. It grades English language competence on a six-level scale. These levels include A1 (Basic), A2 (Elementary), B1 (Intermediate), B2 (Upper Intermediate), C1 (Advanced), and C2 (Mastery).

Let us understand what each level entails:

Level Competency
A1 Ability to understand and utilize everyday and familiar expressions along with basic phrases
A2 Ability to comprehend sentences and frequently-used expressions regarding personal and family information, geography, shopping, and others
B1 Ability to understand things related to familiar matters at work, school, and others, and handle situations while traveling in the language-speaking area
B2 Ability to understand major ideas in a complex text, different topics, and fields of specialization, and interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity to communicate with native speakers
C1 Ability to understand longer texts, recognize meaning, and express fluently and spontaneously, utilize language flexibly and effectively during social and professional interactions
C2 Ability to easily understand everything and summarize information in different spoken and written ways, and express spontaneously, fluently, and precisely while differentiating between nuances and expressions


How can Mercer | Mettl help in carrying out English language proficiency tests?

Mercer | Mettl provides an extensive suite of online assessments to help recruiters and corporate organizations during campus hiring. For English language proficiency, they offer comprehensive English communication assessments to test the critical spoken and written English skills of candidates. These tests are backed by advanced technologies to ensure accuracy, and help in speeding up the hiring process.



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Assessing language proficiency during campus hiring helps businesses determine the communication capabilities of the potential workforce. Each of the four areas defines internal and external collaboration and communication. And a balance in these English language skills helps execute tasks appropriately, coordinate with colleagues and executives, solve ongoing customer problems, and contribute to organizational success.



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Originally published December 22 2022, Updated January 17 2023

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About This Topic

An English proficiency test software is used to evaluate the English-speaking and comprehension skills of an individual. Customer-facing industries like hospitality, retail, BPOs, etc., often used some variant of an English proficiency test software to assess the pronunciation, fluency, accent, intonation and grammar of potential employees.

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