If you are looking for a candidate who is fluent in Mandarin to welcome to your team, it might be a challenge. Your goal is to discover a candidate who is not only proficient in Mandarin but who will also drive success within your organization. So, how do you test Mandarin fluency reliably to ensure that your candidates have the required language skills for the position?
This article will walk you through:
- The various difficulties your candidates will have faced when learning Mandarin
- The many levels of Mandarin proficiency you might be looking for from candidates
- How to test Mandarin fluency in your candidates
- How to test Mandarin fluency with proficiency tests
- The advantages of using proficiency skills test to assess Mandarin fluency
What makes learning Mandarin difficult?
When assessing your candidates for their proficiency in the Mandarin language, bear in mind that there are four main challenges they will have faced when learning it. Evaluating their fluency requires understanding how successfully your candidates met the challenges of learning reading, writing, speaking, and listening to the language.
The question of how to test Mandarin fluency depends on these four criteria, so here are each of these areas explained in detail:
- Reading – your candidates will have had to develop their reading skills, which includes understanding how to interpret Mandarin characters, to begin mastering the Mandarin language. Are they familiar with a broad range of vocabulary and can they understand complex texts? These are two of the challenges that your candidates will have had to overcome when learning the language.
- Writing – understanding Mandarin characters in their written form is one thing, but can your candidates use them to convey meaning in writing? Are they able to respond to written communication with ease? Your candidates will have had to learn to write a few thousand of the 50,000 characters you’ll find in the Mandarin dictionary and understand how to combine them, to create new words and sentences fluently.
- Speaking – if your candidates can fully understand how the intonation and pronunciation of words and characters in Mandarin come together to convey meaning, they have overcome the challenge of speaking fluently in the language. Can they understand how subtle differences in tone have a significant impact on the meaning of words and how they are pronounced? And do they know that in some cases, various words might be pronounced the same way but that their meaning differs depending on the way they are used? These are more challenges your candidates will need to have conquered when learning Mandarin.
- Listening – interpreting the cadence and speed of the Mandarin language is another challenge your candidates will need to have gotten to grips with. In other words, they will need to be confident in listening to the language in a range of contexts. Are your candidates capable of listening to conversations on the phone, video meetings, and face-to-face meetings? If they are, they have beaten the challenge of listening.
Which level of Mandarin proficiency are you looking for?
If you were wondering how to test Mandarin fluency in your candidates when you arrived at this post, there is one other factor you will need to consider to do so – the Mandarin level you are looking for. Keep in mind that there are six levels of Mandarin proficiency, as described by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. These levels are:
A1 – entry level/beginner
Understanding and using simple words and phrases should be easy for candidates with an A1 level of Mandarin. So, at this stage, your candidates will be able to communicate basic information in Mandarin, such as where they are from and where they live.
A2 – elementary level
A candidate with an A2 or elementary level of Mandarin will be able to understand frequently used words and phrases more easily than at A1 level. They should, for instance, be able to give directions to the post office and exchange information about themselves with little difficulty. In the context of the workplace, they may still struggle to communicate and be understood.
B1 – lower intermediate
At a lower-intermediate level, your candidates should be able to communicate in Mandarin – but they might still be making a few grammatical mistakes when exchanging information. Some of the topics they should be able to discuss include their ambitions, goals, and plans they aim to achieve in the workplace. Your candidates should also be able to write simple texts related to niche work-related topics they are interested in.
B2 – upper intermediate
If your candidate has an upper-intermediate level of Mandarin, they should find it easy to interpret the essential points described in a complicated text. They should also be able to understand technical subjects related to the field in which they work.
C1 – operational proficiency
Understanding the nuances of demanding discussions is no problem for candidates who have an operational proficiency level of Mandarin. These candidates can write well and have an understanding of complex written texts related to niche topics within the work environment. Interpreting colleagues and expressing ideas in Mandarin is not difficult for candidates with an operational proficiency level.
C2 – mastery
If your candidate has a C2 level of Mandarin, they will not encounter any difficulties when expressing their opinions within the work environment. Reading and listening to technical topics in Mandarin requires no effort. Natives are the only speakers who can communicate with more precision, but at the C2 level, your candidates will have mastered the language.
How to test Mandarin fluency in your candidates
You can make the challenge of how to test Mandarin fluency in your candidates simpler with various approaches. To do it, use a few of the following strategies that we’ve described just below.
Solicit video responses to custom interview questions
Video custom questions are great tools with which you can assess your candidates’ spoken Mandarin competencies. By requesting a video response from your candidates, and asking them to record their responses while speaking in Mandarin, you will get a better understanding of their Mandarin skills and find out more about them at the same time.
Conduct a phone interview in Mandarin
Reaching out to your candidates to learn more about them in a phone interview helps you get to know them, but it also gives you a chance to test their spontaneous Mandarin communication skills. You might ask a series of questions in Mandarin and see how competently your candidates respond in the language. Take note of those candidates who can express themselves fluently, can clearly understand the questions you ask, and will use their language skills successfully within the role.
Carry out video interviews all in Mandarin
In a similar way to phone interviews, getting to know your candidates while learning more about their Mandarin skills is simple with a video interview. Ask your questions in Mandarin and see how your candidates respond via platforms such as Skype or Zoom.
Solicit previous university/employer references
Then, at later stages of the hiring process, you might back up what you’ve discovered about your candidate’s Mandarin skills by soliciting references from their previous employers or university tutors. If you want to know whether your candidates are as skilled as they claim to be when expressing themselves in Mandarin, their employer or tutor references are another answer to the question of how to test Mandarin fluency.
How to test Mandarin fluency with a proficiency test
However, if you’re thinking about how to test Mandarin fluency more thoroughly, the ideal method is to use skills tests. In the same way that employer references help you validate your knowledge of your candidates’ Mandarin proficiency, skills tests can help you achieve the same thing. Simply provide your candidates with the test, watch the results roll in, then evaluate your candidates’ aptitudes and select the best match for your vacancy.
Which Mandarin skills tests are available via TestGorilla?
You’ll find two Mandarin skills tests on the TestGorilla platform. These tests are the Mandarin (intermediate/B1) proficiency test and the Mandarin (proficient/C1) proficiency test. Keep reading for an explanation of each of these tests.
Mandarin (intermediate/B1) skill test
This Mandarin (intermediate/B1) skills test will help you evaluate how proficient your candidates are at communicating in Mandarin at the B1 level. Discover whether they can compose sentences, whether they can understand written texts (including Mandarin characters), find out if they can understand spoken Mandarin, and whether their basic grammar and vocabulary are up to the standard you are looking for.
If you aim to discover how competently your candidates can share and interpret information with co-workers, and whether they can use their B1-level knowledge of Mandarin within the work environment, this test is what you’ll require.
The test is ideal for a variety of roles, some of which include customer support agents, and
sales representatives – in short, the test is perfect for any role that requires candidates with a B1 level of Mandarin.
Mandarin (proficient/C1) skill test
The Mandarin (proficient/C1) skill test makes assessing your candidates’ C1-level proficiency simple. The test was created for the specific purpose of evaluating your candidates’ Mandarin knowledge within demanding workplace scenarios. As well as helping you to analyze your candidates’ grammatical knowledge, the Mandarin (proficient/C1) skill test helps you discover whether they can interpret C1-level spoken and written communication.
To make sound hiring decisions and ensure your candidates have the Mandarin skills they claim, the Mandarin (proficient/C1) skill test will ensure you select the best candidate for the position.
This test, like the B1 Mandarin test, is perfect for assessing candidates for a range of vacancies and positions. Some of the roles you might want to use the test for include:
- Content creators, and
- Customer success managers
So, if you are hiring for any position that requires exceptional Mandarin-speaking candidates, choose the Mandarin (proficient/C1) skills test to assist your decision.
What are the benefits of using skills tests for assessing Mandarin fluency?
In addition to verifying your candidates’ Mandarin fluency, there are many other benefits of skills testing.
- A skills testing approach helps you reduce your cost per hire. It does this by making it easier to shortlist candidates and filter unsuitable applicants from the hiring process if their skills are not up to par. This will reduce your time-to-hire which will, in turn, reduce your cost-per-hire as well.
- Skills testing is reputably great for reducing hiring biases. If you want to make exceptional hiring decisions by first widening your talent pool, and then creating a diverse team by making bias-free decisions, skills testing is your answer. Make your final hiring decisions based purely on the Mandarin fluency of your candidate and not on your personal ‘intuition’, or the sound of a candidate’s name.
- By using skills tests you will be able to make solid recruitment decisions regardless of your aptitudes or knowledge of the field. In this case, you might not be fluent in Mandarin, so you might be concerned about how to test for Mandarin fluency if you, yourself, are not fluent in Mandarin.
But the good news is that skills tests are put together by experts in their field. You, therefore, have nothing to worry about when it comes to assessing your candidates’ Mandarin expertise.
Use skills tests to evaluate Mandarin-speaking candidates the simple way
Even though the challenge of how to test Mandarin fluency might seem difficult at first, it doesn’t have to be. There are various approaches you can use to make the best hiring decisions while saving time and recruitment costs.
As we’ve mentioned, you might opt for a video or phone interview, or even request a custom video response answer. But backing up what you know about your candidates’ Mandarin fluency is the smart thing to do.
Do it the simple way with a skills test.