5 Tips for Hiring Bilingual Candidates

Have you decided that the time is right to start hiring bilingual candidates for your organisation? The truth is that hiring top bilingual talent is a challenge and you will need to alter your usual recruitment process to get it right. However, with the benefits associated with hiring bilingual candidates, ultimately, it will all be worth it. 

So, what steps should you take to attract and hire the best bilingual workers? Here are our five top tips. 

1. Write a job description in two languages

To attract bilingual candidates, you need to show that you are a multilingual organisation that is language inclusive and makes the effort to build other languages into everything that you do. Writing the same job description in two languages will help you do that. It’ll also increase your reach dramatically by making your post appear in job searches using native language and second language terms.   

2. Advertise on local and foreign job sites

While posting on local job sites is very important, you’re just as likely to find a bilingual speaker who is fluent in English by advertising on sites in countries and regions where your target language is spoken. While hiring candidates who do not currently live in the UK has been made more difficult by Brexit, you could become a Skilled Worker Sponsor to hire workers from the EU and outside the European Economic Area (EEA).   

3. Be specific about what you’re looking for

Despite the demand for bilingual candidates, there still seems to be some ambiguity about the terms used to describe an applicant’s level of language proficiency. Terms like ‘intermediate’ and ‘business level’ are commonly used, but can mean different things to different people. Therefore, it’s important to decide on the requirements of the role and to be specific when communicating them.  

Ask yourself:

  • How much will the candidate use the language in question?
  • How proficient should they be?
  • Will they primarily be communicating orally or in writing?
  • Will they be speaking to customers, clients and internal teams with different dialects?  

Once you have a thorough understanding of your specific language needs, you can then include a detailed list of the skills required for the role as part of the person specification.

4. Make it immediately obvious what language you’re looking for

The biggest mistake a lot of organisations make when hiring bilingual candidates is not leading with the fact that it’s a bilingual job or including the language they are looking for right at the top of the posting. Burying this information makes the job more difficult for bilingual speakers to find and prevents it from grabbing their attention.

5. Test language skills before inviting applicants to interview

The simplest way to vet bilingual candidates is to ask them to complete online English and target language proficiency tests before you invite them for an interview. There are plenty of language tests to choose from that are quick and can be taken remotely and submitted online. If a candidate passes the test and has a great CV, then it’s time to schedule an interview.

Let us do the hard work for you

At Linguistica Recruitment, hiring bilingual candidates is our bread and butter. All of our candidates are reference-checked and undergo comprehensive written and spoken language tests to check that their language skills (both English and their second language) are of the required standard. Find out more about our process and call 02392 987 765 or email info@linguistica-recruitment.com when you have a multilingual role to fill.

How Breaking Language Barriers Improves the Employee Experience

Conversations about gender and ethnicity and their roles in boosting the diversity of big businesses are now commonplace. But one dimension of inclusion that seems to have been forgotten is language. 

English is widely accepted as the lingua franca of multinationals for everything from everyday emails to client meetings and presentations, and despite the increasingly globalised world, that doesn’t look like changing anytime soon.

To highlight the extent of the problem, of the 1.35 billion English speakers around the world, only a little over a third of those (37.5%) are native speakers. The rest are asked to perform at their best in a language they do not naturally think or communicate in. They are asked to adapt all day, every day, and their struggles to understand nuance and local idioms can make the workplace a difficult and frustrating place.   

‘Just the way it is’

As a native English speaker, it’s easy to dismiss this situation as ‘just the way it is’. However, if native English speakers were forced to make a phone call or write their next email in a non-native language, they’d very quickly discover just how stifling it can be. Understandably, the impact it can have on the employee experience and the business can be dramatic. 

The business impact

Businesses that adopt this single language mandate can expect to experience several detrimental effects. Firstly, organisations that do not engage with employees in their native languages could see levels of staff engagement and retention rates fall. In turn, this could lead to a loss of key talent and an increase in retention costs. It could also damage the business’s reputation as a good and inclusive place to work, and that could make it more difficult to hire the best people in the future. 

There’s also the risk that businesses that overlook the importance of language skills are more likely to hire native-speaking candidates over non-natives in the future. That could come at the cost of creative thinking and problem-solving skills that are an important asset for any team. 

If language skills continue to be ignored, then potential foreign business partners may start to look elsewhere and overseas opportunities could be missed. If these issues relating to workplace culture and the loss of key talent continue to go unchecked, then ultimately, the success of the business could be at risk.

How can businesses better support their non-native workforce?

The first step is for businesses to create an understanding workplace environment that welcomes, values and encourages discussions and education around different languages and cultures. Introducing internal initiatives such as workplace language and cultural training to upskill English native employees could be a great place to start. 

Offering secondments and placements to branches and departments in other countries is another way to enhance the education around languages and encourage teams to embrace new cultures. This type of experience can be extremely rewarding for employees in terms of morale and engagement and hugely beneficial for the business, with skills swaps helping to build more complete teams.

Simply displaying more empathy for non-native English speakers could also improve the employee experience dramatically. Asking employees whether they’d prefer to complete tasks in their native languages and using subtitles for presentations and video calls could immediately enhance accessibility and help employees to overcome the challenges they face. 

Take a more inclusive approach to language

Is your business ready to take a more inclusive approach to language? Then contact Linguistica Recruitment today. We have a pool of talented multilingual candidates who are ready to broaden your horizons and take their next career step in the UK.

Read more about how we work with our clients and call 02392 987 765 or email info@linguistica-recruitment.com to discuss your skills gaps with our team.