Recruiting Bilingual Candidates Efficiently

How-To Guide for Recruiting Bilingual Candidates

According to a 2017 report from the New American Economy (NAE), the demand to recruit bilingual employees has more than doubled in five years. Whereas in 2010, there were postings for around 240,000 bilingual jobs, in 2015, about 630,000 positions were aimed at people who spoke two or more languages. So what makes bilingual recruitment so important for employers?

When you hire multilingual employees, you bring a lot more to the table than the ability to translate materials or interpret the odd conversation. Recruiting bilingual staff is most prevalent in industries that require high levels of human interaction, such as customer service, government offices, banks, etc. This is probably not news for you, but currently, around 41 million people in the US speak Spanish as their first language. That’s a good enough reason to recruit Hispanic candidates to a customer-facing role right there. And a recent Census Bureau report determined that another 350 languages are spoken in US homes. Add to that fact that a lot of companies are facing global clients and investors, it only makes sense to think outside of our English bubble as well. But how do you do it in the most efficient and cost-effective way?


1) Write a job description in languages

This is a great way to weed out the wrong kind of candidate. Instead of just translating the same add in both languages, try writing the job responsibilities in English, and the qualifications needed in the second language, for example. This will help make sure that only people who are fluent in both will apply. Of course, before you do that, you need to understand the level of proficiency needed for the role. If it’s not that high, only place a few sentences. If it’s native, write the entire ad in the second language, and try to use more complex words as well. This ad should be placed on both regular job boards and those that specialize in bilingual roles.


2) Recruit bilingual employees on social media

Social media is a great place to try and hire multilingual employees, as you can approach those candidates directly. There are many Facebook groups that are dedicated solely to bilingual job postings, or groups aimed at expats in a specific location and Reddit groups where you can try your luck and LinkedIn groups. Meetup.com is also a great resource, with many groups focused on languages exchange skills, or foreigners living in a new country.
When trying to recruit bilingual employees, don’t forget to utilize your usual social media channels and post in the foreign language as well. If you already have employees who speak that language, ask them to share that post, which may bring referrals from their friend group, to people who also speak that language.


3) Hire multilingual employees with a specialized firm

When looking to fill a difficult role, the easiest way may be to outsource the recruiting process to an outside firm. There are some recruiting firms that specialize in bilingual roles and can bring in their special set of expertise. You can easily find those firms using the Recruiters Lineup search.

Not only will those recruiters already have a list of potential candidates that they know and have vetted, but they are also much more experienced in the interview process of bilingual talent. They probably even have recruiters who speak the language they deal with, and can help you with anything from writing the job description, to figuring out a written test and an interview procedure. This leads us to the next point.


4) Interview and screen in both languages

If most of the work your candidate is meant to do is written, you may want to compose a written test to be taken during the screening process. You can find some automatization tools to help you with that. But you shouldn’t rely on a written test alone. You should also conduct at least one interview in the second language to check the candidate’s level of fluency. If the candidate is meant to communicate in both English and another language, you may want to employ a “code-switching” method. This means switching back and forth between languages to check if they can comprehend and can keep up.

During the process of bilingual recruitment, it is also important to make sure that the candidate is fluent in the language relevant to the role. For instance, if you are in the healthcare profession, make sure you ask specific questions that require the use of medical terms. For this, you’ll need to make sure your HR person is fluent as well. Alternatively, as mentioned, you can hire a recruiter who specializes in bilingual recruiting.