Hiring teams shouldn’t rely on their subjective judgments to assess a candidate’s communication skills. You need the right tools.
Most of the world’s one billion knowledge workers spend their time writing messages on Slack, exchanging emails with clients, and participating in video calls with co-workers. This is because their jobs are almost entirely communication-based.
Despite this, most hiring teams treat communication skills as an afterthought.
Recruiting teams conduct a loose assessment of a candidate’s communication skills during screening calls and job interviews, but it’s usually in a pass-fail sense. Most recruiting teams don't look much deeper than a candidate's language fluency and conversational ability.
However, given the importance of communication skills to an employee’s performance, hiring teams should standardize evaluating a candidate’s communication skills.
We've compiled a list of the best communication assessment tools to help you hire people with exceptional communication skills.
Table of contents
- Why communication skills assessments are necessary for hiring
- The challenges of testing communication skills
- 7 effective communication assessment tools
- ✅ Optimize hiring with TestGorilla’s communication assessment test
Why communication skills assessments are necessary for hiring
We probably don’t need to convince you that communication skills are essential, regardless of the role.
Communication skills impact employees’ relationships with their co-workers, customers, vendors, investors, etc. So if you want to build a great team, you need to hire great communicators.
As a result, determining a candidate's communication abilities can’t be left up to chance.
Communication skills assessments are pre-employment tests that evaluate a candidate’s ability to communicate effectively and with professional etiquette. They assess a candidate on both their verbal and written communication skills. Some communication skills assessments may also evaluate a candidate’s active listening skills and ability to detect non-verbal cues.
A communication assessment tool is a software program that assists you in delivering these skill evaluations as efficiently as possible.
Here are five reasons why every hiring team should include a communication assessment tool in their HR technology stack.
1. They help you hire better candidates
According to research, multi-measure pre-employment assessments that evaluate candidates on various skills are the most reliable predictor of job success when used in conjunction with interviews.
2. They help you assess more candidates in less time
If you evaluate communication skills solely through screening calls or interviews, you limit yourself to the number of prospects you can effectively assess in a day. Communication assessment tools can help you filter out candidates without spending one-on-one time with each one.
3. They help you reduce time-to-hire
Assessing more candidates quickly and accurately means you can fill your vacant positions in less time.
4. They combine with your other tools
Most communication assessment tools are part of a more extensive talent management or talent assessment platform that works with your applicant tracking system (ATS) or your human resources management system (HRMS).
5. They reduce hiring bias
Your affinity towards a candidate may influence how you perceive their communication skills. This is known as interview bias.
For example, suppose you have something in common with a candidate. In that case, your conversations will flow smoothly, but this doesn’t mean the candidate has strong communication skills overall. Communication assessment tools help you reduce hiring bias by providing a data-driven approach to evaluating a prospect that doesn’t rely on personal hunches.
Assessing communication skills is not without its challenges.
The challenges of testing communication skills
Communication assessment is challenging—even with the right tools. Here are some of the factors that make the task of testing communication skills so complex:
1. Communication is multi-modal
Communication is a complex skill set that includes writing, listening, speaking, and emotional skills. For example, just because a charismatic candidate doesn’t mean they’re also a great listener. Therefore, communication assessments must be designed to evaluate all aspects of communication rather than just language fluency.
2. Communication is multi-platform
Workplace communication isn’t limited to a single platform. We interact face-to-face occasionally, but we communicate more frequently by video, phone, chat, or email.
3. Communication is situational
Communication never takes place in a vacuum. It’s always associated with a specific goal or situation. Therefore, it is crucial to assess communication skills in the context of a problem. For example: how to respond to an email from a frustrated customer.
4. Communication is bidirectional
Most communication involves back-and-forth interaction between two or more people. Therefore, even if a single person takes the communication assessment, it should still be designed and structured to capture the essence of multi-person interaction.
With that in mind, here’s an overview of the best communication assessment tools.
7 effective communication assessment tools
We’ve compiled this list of the most popular communication assessment tools to make your search a little easier.
With TestGorilla, you can create comprehensive pre-employment assessments that are made up of multiple tests. For example, you can incorporate role-specific tests, cognitive ability tests, software skills tests, and more in addition to testing communication skills.
Hiring managers may administer TestGorilla’s assessments to candidates as soon as they apply for the position or after you’ve pre-screened the candidate, whichever makes the most sense for your organization.
The TestGorilla Communication Test assesses a candidate on four skills:
- Understanding written communication
- Active listening and non-verbal interpretation
- Ability to summarize messages effectively and outline next steps
- Etiquette in professional communication
You can use the Communication Test to evaluate candidates for any English-speaking role that demands strong communication skills to establish a collaborative environment—whether in person or virtually.
The test assesses a candidate's ability to listen carefully, speak with confidence and open-mindedness, and offer empathetic criticism—in addition to basic writing and reading skills.
The test is formatted as a series of forced-choice questions. It takes approximately 10 minutes for a candidate to complete.
Here’s an example question that assesses a candidate’s ability to understand the core meaning of a lengthy email:
In response to this sample question, the candidate must explain how they would handle a challenging scenario with a coworker:
For more sample questions, check out the sample communication skills test.
In addition to the Communication Test, you can also use TestGorilla to test a candidate’s language skills.
TestGorilla's growing library of Language Skills Tests offers assessments for various levels of competency based on the CEFR system (e.g., B1/intermediate vs. C1/proficient). It is available in the following languages:
- Portuguese (Portugal)
Combining TestGorilla’s Communication Test with a Language Skills Test and a range of other skills tests can provide you a clearer picture of a candidates capabilities. This allows you to recruit the right fit for any role.
To start hiring better candidates, try out TestGorilla for free.
2. Mercer | Mettl
Mercer | Mettl is an online assessment technology solutions provider for HR teams and education institutions.
They offer a wide range of pre-employment assessment tests to evaluate a candidate’s fundamental qualities and acquired skills, as well as learning and development tools to help you identify top talent within your organization.
The Mercer | Mettl’s communication tests evaluate candidates in four categories:
- Speaking skills
- Listening skills
- Reading skills
- Writing skills
Their primary communication testing platform is called SpeechX. It’s an AI-powered English-speaking proficiency assessment tool that mimics an in-person evaluation of a candidate’s fluency and pronunciation.
This video-proctored assessment tool administers a 71-question, 45-minute test that evaluates candidates’ pronunciation, fluency, grammar, and listening comprehension.
The test is designed to assist you in assessing the candidate’s spoken language proficiency and offer a breakdown of critical, non-coachable communication errors versus trainable communication errors.
Because AI-powered conversation tools are still in their relative infancy as a technology, they should be considered with caution. Speech recognition technology, in particular, is still prone to errors and biases that may not paint a fair picture of each candidate.
Harver is a volume-hiring solution that allows you to create a client application portal, conduct pre-employment assessments, and match candidates to the right roles.
Harver’s assessments include tests for hard skills, cognitive and learning agility, behavioral assessments, and job fit.
Concerning communication, their spoken language assessment evaluates candidates on their word choice, pronunciation, and fluency.
The test is designed primarily to assess overseas candidates working in a contact center role. The test provides candidates with text snippets containing terms and phrases commonly used in a contact center setting and then asks them to read those snippets aloud.
The test can be customized in terms of length, difficulty, or company-specific scenarios. It evaluates applicants based on fluency-related variables such as speaking pace, pauses and hesitations, cadence, and pitch.
Harver’s situational judgment test also contains questions about workplace communication. Candidates are given challenging video scenarios and are asked to respond.
The eSkill Talent Assessment Platform helps you create assessments to screen a large volume of candidates and then follows up with customized training plans for each employee during the onboarding process.
The assessment platform includes behavioral assessments, cognitive aptitude tests, and other skills testing.
eSkill's test library includes tests for language and communication skills such as
- Business communication (in English)
- English-language skills
- English proofreading
- English spelling and vocabulary
- English as a second language (ESL)
- Reading comprehension
- French (CA & FR), German, Italian, Japanese, Modern Arabic, Portuguese (BR), and Spanish (ES) proficiency tests
In their Business Communication test, candidates are assessed on meeting skills, vocabulary, communication channels, listening skills, and writing skills.
Criteria offer a wide range of talent management solutions, including pre-employment testing, video interviews, and talent analytics.
Their assessment library includes assessments that evaluate cognitive skills, personality traits, emotional intelligence, risk management, and job-readiness skills.
The Criteria Basic Skills Test (CBST) is a broad communication assessment that evaluates a candidate’s basic math and verbal skills.
The test is a 20-minute, 40-question assessment that evaluates a candidate's grammar, spelling, math, and language skills. Its primary purpose is to assess candidates applying for entry-level clerical, administrative, and customer service positions. However, because the test is relatively basic, it wouldn’t be appropriate for more advanced positions.
You may also consider their Emotify test—an evaluation of a candidate’s emotional perception, comprehension, and management—a communication skills test.
Vervoe is another candidate assessment platform that allows you to develop screening assessments based on a library of pre-existing tests.
Their AI-powered assessments enable you to compare candidates against millions of others who took the same tests.
Vervoe incorporates communication skills test questions into the majority of their role-specific tests. For example, their personal assistant skills assessment includes assessing communication skills.
The English Proficiency skills assessment is Vervoe’s only standalone communication assessment. It’s an 11-question assessment that evaluates grammar, spelling, writing, and reading comprehension.
Imocha is another skills assessment platform meant for both recruitment and learning and development.
The platform also includes coding simulations and one-way video interviews in addition to skills assessments.
Imocha’s automated one-way interviews can help you assess a candidate’s communication skills in the same manner as a live interview would. In addition, you can screen more candidates in less time if you use recorded video interviews.
On the other hand, one-way interviews have the disadvantage of being unable to capture the back-and-forth dynamic of regular dialogue. Furthermore, candidates frequently have time to rehearse answers.
Imocha’s test library features four language and communication tests:
- AI-EnglishPro test: a 30-minute test with 12 questions that assess speaking, writing, reading, and listening skills. The exam employs natural language processing (NLP) to provide automated feedback on a candidate's English competence.
- Email etiquette test: a 20-minute, 10-question assessment that focuses on email dos and don'ts, email formatting, and how to respond to specific critical circumstances.
- English proficiency test: a 20-minute, 26-question test covering grammar, vocabulary, and reading comprehension.
- German grammar test: a 20-minute, 7-question test.
- German proficiency test: a 25-minute, 12-question test.
Optimize hiring with TestGorilla’s communication assessment tools
We hope you found that list helpful!
If you’re ready to stop relying on your subjective judgment of a candidate’s communication skills, give TestGorilla a try.
Sign up for a free trial of TestGorilla today to start hiring candidates with stronger communication skills.