How to Assess Communication Skills the Right Way

Effective communication is paramount in any business. It’s the foundation of every relationship, whether with clients, employees, or among team members. However, finding the right employees with excellent communication skills can be a challenge.

When it comes to selecting people with great communication skills, it’s important to look beyond surface-level traits. While charisma and confidence can certainly be assets, effective communication encompasses so much more.

So how can you know that you’re hiring the best for your team?

In this blog, we’ll discuss exactly what you can do to measure communication skills the right way with some practical advice on how you can leverage the BUPLAS framework for your recruitment needs.

What is BUPLAS?

First, what is BUPLAS?

BUPLAS stands for “Business Process Language Assessment System”.  It is a workplace communication assessment framework developed by Applied Linguistics expert Dr. Jane Lockwood, who has worked in Language Education for over 50 years, with numerous research articles, conference papers and books published on call centre communications. The BUPLAS framework is closely correlated to TOEIC and CEFR, two international standards for measuring language proficiency that are highly respected worldwide.

In the context of Recruitment, it is a framework that can be used to assess a person’s communication skills in these four areas: Pronunciation, Grammar and Vocabulary, Discourse and Interactive Skills. 

Unlike other language assessments, The BUPLAS framework measures both proficiency and performance. This means that it assesses not only a person’s general language ability (Pronunciation, Grammar and Vocabulary) but also their ability to communicate effectively in specific situations or scenarios (Discourse and Interactive).

This makes it a great tool for assessing the communication skills of potential candidates who are highly likely to perform on the job and deliver outstanding business results.

Measure both proficiency and performance

Measure the 4 critical communication domains

  • Assess Pronunciation
  • Assess Grammar and Vocabulary
  • Assess Discourse Skills
  • Assess Interactive Skills

Test the 4 communication domains in the right context

Leverage technology for efficiency


A communication assessment framework is the perfect solution if you’re looking for a way to test the communication skills of applicants for Recruitment

 In this guide, we’ll share best practices on how to measure communication skills the right way. And then later, we’ll discuss how you can leverage the BUPLAS framework to implement these recommendations.

Measure both proficiency and performance

First, you need to test an individual’s full range of communication skills. For the most accurate assessment, this means measuring both proficiency and performance. 

Simply put, proficiency is a person’s ability to effectively communicate in a language, while performance is their actual level of communication when used in different contexts. 

This is critical because simply measuring proficiency, without looking at how they actually perform in real-world situations, can lead to over or underestimating a person’s true communication ability. On the other hand, if you only measure performance and overlook an individual’s language skills, it may lead to inaccurate assessments. 

For example, someone may appear to pronounce words eloquently, but display poor performance when speaking in a professional setting, say a customer-facing role.

Measure the 4 critical communication domains

When measuring both performance and proficiency, you need to focus on the 4 communication domains critical to KPI success. These are:

  • Pronunciation
  • Language (Grammar and Vocabulary)
  • Discourse Competence
  • Interactive and Strategic Competence

Pronunciation is important for forming the sounds of language correctly and accurately. Grammar and Vocabulary refer to using words and phrases in the right way. Together these make up the proficiency aspect of communication. 

Discourse Competence involves organising ideas into meaningful units, and Interactive Communication refers to being able to produce messages that are meaningful and appropriate to the context of the conversation. These two make up the performance aspect of communication. 

Because Discourse and Interactive skills are closely correlated to KPIs (Key Performance Indicators, or performance measures in contact centres), candidates scoring high on these performance skills are most likely to score higher in operational metrics such as CSAT, NPS, or AHT. 

When assessing candidates for roles requiring above par communication skills, it is important to consider these four aspects in order to find the best-suited individual for your company.

  • Assess Pronunciation

    When assessing a potential hire, it’s important to pay attention to their pronunciation skills. 

    Why? That’s because accurate pronunciation is an important part of effective communication. It enhances the clarity of a person’s speech and ensures that they can be properly understood. On the other hand, poor pronunciation can lead to misunderstandings, confusion, and frustration – both for the speaker and the listener.

    To accurately assess pronunciation, you need to ask questions such as: Is the applicant globally comprehensible? Can they use intonation and stress to create meaning? Is their pace appropriate?

  • Assess Language

    Grammar and vocabulary are also important elements to consider when evaluating communication skills.

    Having a good grasp of grammar is essential for effective communication. It helps the speaker express their ideas more accurately and clearly, while having a wide range of vocabulary allows them to describe their thoughts in more vivid detail.

    When assessing grammar and vocabulary, you need to ask questions such as: Can they use correct grammar structures? Do they have a wide range of grammar and vocabulary? Do they know how to use the appropriate words for a given situation? Can they self-correct and repair errors when required?

  • Assess Discourse Skills

    Discourse is another crucial communication domain that you need to consider. It involves being able to put your ideas into coherent and well-structured sentences and paragraphs.

    Having good discourse skills helps a person communicate more effectively. It allows them to convey their thoughts in a clear and organized manner, while also keeping the conversation going smoothly.

    For example, a call center worker who has good discourse skills will be able to quickly and effectively respond to customer inquiries. They will be better equipped to structure a seamless conversation, and explain processes in a way that the caller can understand. Without effective discourse skills, there may be miscommunications or misunderstandings that could have been avoided if the worker had been able to accurately express themselves. 

    To measure discourse proficiency, you can ask questions such as: Can they explain concepts clearly and logically? Are they able to manage conversations and express ideas in an organized way? Are they aware of discourse expectations and tailor responses accordingly?

  • Assess Interactive and Strategic Competence

    Interactive communication is another important component of effective communication. It involves being able to actively listen, as well as expressing your opinion in a respectful and considered way.

    Mastering interactive communication allows you to understand the other person’s point-of-view while also expressing your own ideas in a meaningful way.

    For instance, when working in a cross-cultural setting it is important to be able to communicate effectively with colleagues from different backgrounds and cultures. An employee with great interactive skills will be able to understand and respect cultural differences while still expressing their own point-of-view in an appropriate manner.

    When assessing a candidate’s interactive skills, you can ask questions such as: Can they build rapport? Can they manage feelings through language choices? Can they adapt and repair communication breakdown when necessary? Can they pick up on cultural cues such as sarcasm and humor?

    With this in mind, it is clear to see why using a robust communication assessment framework can be invaluable in Recruitment.

Test the four communication domains in the right context

Aside from testing the different communication domains, it is also important to test them in the right context. This means assessing candidates in relevant communication channels, such as using a voice assessment, writing assessment and, chat assessment


  • Best Types of Communication Assessment to Hire the Best Candidates
  • What is the BUPLAS VA: Voice Assessment?
  • What is the BUPLAS WA: Writing Assessment?
  • What is the BUPLAS Chat Assessment?

By testing candidates in the right context, you can get a better understanding of how well they are able to convey meaning and express themselves in the medium they are expected to use. This is particularly important for roles such as customer service or technical support where interactive communication is key.

Leverage technology for efficiency

Finally, it’s important to leverage technology for efficiency. 

Online systems make it much easier to do this than traditional methods like pen and paper, especially in an age where recruiting talent remotely has become part of the norm. You can set up a system that candidates can securely access anytime and anywhere, while having provisions against impersonation and cheating.  The system should be able to record audio or video of candidates, which can then be used to assess how the candidate performs on specific markers like tone of voice, clarity of speech, rapport-building and so on. 

A good system should be able to create reports that show how each candidate is performing in terms of communication skills. This can help you identify any areas that need improvement, and help notify recruitment leaders of trends or issues in performance that can impact the team’s future direction.

So why BUPLAS?

Although many companies struggle when trying to measure applicants’ language proficiency and performance skills , BUPLAS provides a straightforward solution. 

BUPLAS is the perfect choice if you’re looking for a comprehensive communication assessment framework that meets the international standards of a valid, reliable, and objective assessment tool best suited for workplace communication.

  • It is the only communication assessment tool that gives a complete picture of candidates’ full range communication skills, allowing you to better understand not only how well they speak or write, but how well they will perform in a work setting. 
  • It measures the 5 communication domains critical to success – Pronunciation, Language, Discourse, Interactive & Strategic Competency, and Solution Strategy. These 5 domains are closely correlated to KPI success such as NPS (Net Promoter Score) , CSAT (Customer Satisfaction),  and AHT (Average Handling Time).
  • It measures the 5 communication domains in the right context – speaking, writing, and chat.   This ensures that applicants can communicate effectively in any medium they will be expected to use.
  • It leverages the use of technology to make the assessment process more efficient and secure, with video proctoring, live reporting, and automated dashboards, through the cloud-based platform QUARTO

This makes BUPLAS the perfect choice for assessment of communication skills in any workplace setting. With its comprehensive yet easy-to-use framework, it helps organizations measure their candidates’ language proficiency and performance accurately, efficiently, and objectively – all while adhering to strict assessment standards of validity and reliability.

In Summary:

To sum up, we discussed BUPLAS and gave an overview of how to measure communication skills the right way. This involves testing a full range of communication skills with an eye on the critical domains – Pronunciation, Grammar and Vocabulary, Discourse, and Interactive. By measuring these domains coupled with the guidelines outlined in the blog post,  you can ensure you are hiring employees with high language proficiency and high performance skills. Doing this will ensure the job they take on will be more successful – and the organisation as a whole benefits. 

So why BUPLAS? Give it a try and find out for yourself.  If you want more information please feel free to request a demo to see BUPLAS’ full range of Recruitment solutions.

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