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Insights Into Using TOEIC Test Scores to Inform Human Resource Management Decisions

Oliveri, Maria Elena; Tannenbaum, Richard J.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report
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Subject/Key Words:
Decision Making Employee Selection Employee Training English Language Skills Human Resource Management Human Resources (HR) Professional Development Promotions Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) Test Scores Workplace Skills



This study provided preliminary insights into how TOEIC scores are used to inform personnel decisions related to the hiring, promotion, and training of employees. The ultimate objective was to support appropriate test score use and meaningful score-based interpretations in order to facilitate human resource management decisions. An example of appropriate use is considering multiple sources of evidence about a person’s English language skills (e.g., grade point average, English language test scores, years of on-the-job experience, letters of recommendation) to overcome the limitations of using only a single measure or indicator of English language skills. Our analysis of how managers use TOEIC scores to inform hiring, promotion, and training decisions in the international workplace provided additional examples of test score uses.  These analyses were informed by two data sources:

1. previously collected stakeholder testimonials

2. examples of TOEIC test score uses collected from managers and TOEIC representatives in multiple countries

Study results revealed examples of how managers use scores to inform human resource management decisions. In relation to hiring, managers revealed using the TOEIC:

1. as a “yardstick to measure job applicants’ readiness”

2. as a way to attract talent by helping to enhance companies’ reputation with international trading partners and of employment offers

3. as a means of increasing confidence that prospective employees will be fluent in English and possess the needed language skills to work collaboratively; network productively; profit from opportunities available in the company’s international markets; and be ready to express their knowledge, expertise, and ideas on professional matters clearly and accurately

Our analysis also revealed the use of TOEIC to:

1. assess whether internal employees have the requisite English skills needed for promotion

2. inform the need to implement a professional development plan to promote employees to more advanced positions

3. gauge employees’ readiness to assume more challenging employment including assignments to international posts

4. reduce the need to hire interpreters to conduct meetings to discuss diverse global issues and to facilitate the business decision-making process

5. identify possible employees who will be most likely to adapt to the company’s corporate environment, thus potentially reducing employee turnover

6. help strengthen managers’ confidence that employees would be less prone to making mistakes, present information accurately both in internal and external communications, or be better able to understand messages conveyed in meetings 

The report concludes by providing suggestions for future research, to develop score user services, and to continue a discussion on how TOEIC test scores may inform decisions related to human resource management.



This report explores the ways in which human resource (HR) managers use TOEIC scores to inform hiring, promotion, and training decisions in an international workplace. Two data sources were used (a) previously collected test users' testimonials that described managers' use of TOEIC scores to inform HR decisions and (b) test-use examples collected from HR managers and TOEIC representatives specifically for this project. Our analysis of test-use examples provided insight into how companies use TOEIC scores to inform HR decisions related to hiring, promotion, and training of employees in international businesses. To conclude, we provide suggestions for future research such as providing services to test users (e.g., assessment literacy, the development of assessments measuring additional components of workplace English, or algorithms to help analyze the various variables relevant to informing HR decisions) to continue to support meaningful and relevant score-based HR decisions and score interpretations.

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