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Technology & Future

New technologies in the service of HR

by Ewelina Piorun, exams manager Poland, British Council
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Social media, websites, virtual job interviews, chatbots answering job candidates' questions – these are just some of the solutions that human resources specialists are using. Among the various types of computer-based tests, language ones are available.

Organisations are changing into 'digitised' workplaces where even employees, in a sense, are becoming digital. It is not only due to technological progress but also to the next generation that is just entering the labour market. Its representatives are often labelled as digital natives, a name that arouses much controversy. Whether it is justified or not, the fact is that they use new technologies and share information ably. They want to work independently and effectively. HR departments are now facing a challenge, which is to create an organisation that meets the time and employees' needs. Many tools may support this process. They also include modern computer language tests. They are particularly useful in several situations.

Faster, better, more efficient...

Most organisations require a good command of English from job candidates, who tend to define their competences differently in their CVs. They name certificates and tests along with results or provide short descriptions. Some of them even present these graphically, using icons. With such diversity and the tendency of some to overestimate their achievements, it is still worth assessing candidates' skills. The most popular methods are job interview (face to face or telephone), quick assessment tests and preparation of a short text. All these solutions are time-consuming and burdened with considerable risks. They usually check only one or two skills, and their result may be unreliable due to improper preparation or non-meritocratic considerations. The use of a computer-based test minimises the risk of incorrect evaluation of individual candidates and also entire groups. All candidates approach the same exam, have the same amount of time, similar conditions and are subject to the same criteria. And it guarantees time saved for the recruiter and the candidate, as well as providing flexibility, especially appreciated by the younger generations of employees.

Excellent command of English?

Some employees have English command documented with a certificate. Some of them have an annexe to the university diploma. Some of them declare practical knowledge at a good, very good, advanced, beginner level, B2 or some other level. In this situation, the assessing the quality of which all employees of the company speak a foreign language in professional situations is almost impossible. An audit may deliver a reliable and broad picture of the organisation's competences. It can be carried out as part of a one-off process, although more benefits are brought by repeating it regularly, at similar intervals – which then shows the dynamics of the staff's language skills development. Using a computer-based test, also in this case, is a good solution. It allows you to check the skills of even a large number of employees at the same time, which brings significant benefits. Unified individual and corporate reports will help in making further training and business decisions.

Employees' development tailored to company’s needs.

Non-wage benefits, along with remuneration, a company's prestige, and development opportunities, are becoming now one of the decision-making conditions when choosing an employer. The most popular are co-financing language courses or foreign language classes conducted during business hours. They support the process of building the employer's image, strengthen staff engagement and enable improvement of qualifications. A training programme addressed to employees' needs brings the best results. Guidelines for its preparation can be taken from an audit. And after the process is complete, it will enable the effectiveness of further activities to be assessed –  forming the source of recommendations for their continuation. It is beneficial to use tests developed by an institution not involved in the programme – this will guarantee  independence and credibility. Choosing a solution based on new technologies will enable employees to reconcile their professional duties with participation in the development programme easier. They will be able to take a test anywhere and anytime because it remains active on the online platform.

Before you choose a test for your company


  • rely on brief conversation in English – it evaluates only the conversational ability of the candidate, leaving their writing and reading skills untested, and it does so on a very basic and unreliable basis

  • use tests that are not backed by research – many companies use English tests designed locally or in-house. These tests haven’t been carefully trialled and therefore risk producing biased, incomplete and unreliable results

  • test your employees with basic online tests as it can produce only a snapshot of a candidate’s English skills that is too broad and does not include speaking or writing skills.


  • use reliable testing with specific benchmarks, backed by thorough trials and academic research

  • map your employees’ English skills to an international standard

  • choose tests that show precise language skills gaps to best design and assess training programmes.

Order a language audit from the British Council. FREE TRIAL APTIS TEST! aptis@britishcouncil.pl

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