February 15, 2021

Language Proficiency at PartnerHero

Hiring at PartnerHero has many components like education, professional background, values-alignment, partner-fit and personality fit. Given the work that we do, one of the most important aspects is the language assessment.

We require that all employees meet our language proficiency requirements so we know they can skillfully work with customers across channels (phone, email, chat, sms, and social). This post will walk you through how we think about assessments, what our language standards are and some example audio and written samples so you can know what to expect.


What are the different assessments?


The most common assessments that you’ll hear about in the world of outsourcing are EF SET, TOEFL, IELTS. Regardless of which test someone takes, their language proficiency will be rated on a scale from A1 (least proficient) to C2 (most proficient). This A1 to C2 scale is called the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages). The image below shows the scale from A1 to C2.

Source: https://www.efset.org/cefr


At PartnerHero we ask all applicants, regardless of their background, to take the EF SET test and submit their score as part of their application. We only accept applicants who meet C1 or C2 requirements. On a case by case basis in some locations, depending on the applicant's verbal and written samples we may accept someone at the B2 level for roles that are not customer-facing. Many applicants are turned down due to language proficiency. We provide feedback and tools on how to improve and are always happy when an otherwise great candidate continues to work on their english and reapplies with a better score.


PartnerHero specific assessments


While the standardized tests are a great baseline, we’ve found that it's important to have our own benchmark as well. In addition to the standardized language test, we also have applicants submit writing samples and we evaluate their verbal proficiency during phone screens and interviews.

In terms of evaluating language abilities, this is what the application flow looks like for PartnerHero employees:

  1. Submit an application that includes their CEFR score of at least C1 or C2 as well as a small writing sample. Resumes, in English, are included.
  2. Have a phone screen in which the applicant’s verbal abilities are evaluated. Our recruiters are keeping an ear out for things like accent, grammar and conversational fluency.
  3. If an applicant makes it through the phone screen, the next steps of the application process include a writing sample in which they respond to a ticket or situation provided by the partner that may hire them, as well as sharing their interest in working with the specific partner.

If you are a potential partner and want to include some specific assessments as part of hiring for your team please let us know.

Audio Samples:

For Voice Support roles, we put extra emphasis on our evaluation of the candidates spoken english during phone screens and interviews.

Here are some examples of call recordings for associates in Honduras and Brazil who scored C1 or C2 on the assessment and now cover phone lines for our partners.

Writing Samples:


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