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Hiring Interpreters – Questions To Ask and Factors To Pay Attention To

We at Translators USA understand the importance of working with the right interpreter(s). After all, if you want your event to succeed, you need an interpreter or a team of interpreters who can handle their task successfully. Obviously, a question occurs how can you tell who is up to the task and who isn't? Selecting the right interpreter(s) can be very challenging, especially if you are new to organizing multilingual events. We have therefore prepared some of the key questions to ask and things to pay attention to in the selection process:


  • Are all language combinations covered? Ideally, your interpreters should cover all the languages at your event for two reasons. The first reason is to be able to take turns every 30 minutes which is crucial to sustain the highest level of concentration and render the highest quality interpretation from the beginning to the very end of the event.
  • The second reason why your team of interpreters should cover all language combinations is because the alternative – relay interpretation (the interpreter who understands the source language interprets for their colleagues who then translate the interpretation for the listeners) - poses an increased risk of misinterpretation.
  • Qualifications. Interpreting is much more than just converting one language into another. It is about communicating the original message or meaning which often also requires a high level of attention to and understanding of non-verbal elements. And it is crucial to choose the right words instantly. There is no time to think about different options or correction. And if interpreting simultaneously, the interpreter also needs to listen to the speaker while rendering interpretation to the listeners. Therefore, it is crucial for your interpreting team to consist of language specialists who have the best qualifications (e.g. holding a diploma from a reputable university) possible.
  • Skill level. Even though they have the same qualifications and received the same amount of training, some interpreters are more skilled than the others. Obviously, you want the most skilled ones.
  • Do interpreters have experience with the subject of your event and venue size? You are highly recommended to ask for interpreters who have experience with the subject of your event and venue size. Why? Because an experienced interpreter knows how to behave, dress, etc. for your type of event and most importantly, is more likely to handle any unplanned or last-minute changes successfully.
  • How are confidentiality and privacy ensured? Just like translators, interpreters often have access to very sensitive and highly confidential information. Therefore, it is highly important to ask how are confidentiality and privacy ensured. Are interpreters bound not to disclose or use any information obtained during interpreting for their own benefit by a contract? Is there a code of ethics? How can you be sure that they won't break it?
  • The cost. Let's be honest. The cost matters. If you are not provided with the total cost in advance, you should be at least provided with an estimated cost. You are advised to hire interpreters for your event as soon as possible because many interpreters are booked up weeks in advance. It is possible to fly them in from elsewhere, however, this will increase the cost due to travel-related expenses.
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Thursday, 18 January 2018
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