Business Translation Center

How to assess the quality of your interpreter

by OFER TIROSH 03/07/2019

As a professional translation and interpretation agency, Tomedes has procedures in place to assess the quality of the translators and interpreters with whom we work. It’s part of our day-to-day operations. However, we appreciate that there are many businesses out there that are keen to assure themselves of the quality of their interpretation services, in order to ensure that they are benefitting from superb language skills. As such, here are our top tips on how to do just that. 

Growing demand for interpretation services 

Just as demand for document translation is growing, so is demand for interpretation services. In fact, according to this article on future interpretation service need from Job Monkey, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of both translators and interpreters will increase by 22% over the coming eight years. Those specialising in Arabic, along with European languages including Spanish, French, Italian, German and Portuguese are most likely to find their services being sought out with greater frequency. 

Interpretation service quality assessment

A common concern for those hiring both document translation specialists and interpretation staff is how they can tell whether or not they are getting a good service, in terms of the language being used. After all, the reason for hiring a translator or interpreter is usually the need to produce a document or deliver a conversation in a language that you don’t speak. And if you don’t speak the language, it can feel near-impossible to judge the quality of it. 

Thankfully, there are some steps that you can take to assess the quality of the services you are receiving, even if you don’t speak a single word of the language being interpreted. 

Use interpreter reviews

If you’re hiring an interpreter through a freelancer site such as Upwork, put plenty of time into reading reviews. Make sure you hire an individual who has nothing but glowing reviews – not just for their language skills but also for their timekeeping and customer service. A good interpreter has to deliver the whole package, being prompt and personable as well as linguistically talented. Make sure that the reviews you read have recent dates, too, so that the feedback you’re using is current. 

Once you’re satisfied with an individual’s reviews, be sure to discuss your needs in detail with them before making the hire. That way, you can get a feel for their level of customer service before you commit to using them. 

Hire through an interpretation agency 

Relying on an interpretation agency is also a good way to find a talented language professional. The agency will take care of vetting and quality assessment of the individuals it uses, so all you need to do is to investigate the credentials of the agency itself. Reviews, again, are a great help in this respect. Make sure that they are current and from multiple sources, as well as relating to the language and/or specific subject for which you need an interpreter. 

It’s also worth looking at how long the interpretation service has been in business. An agency that has been operating for many years is obviously getting it right! 

Set up a test conversation

If you really want to test the mettle of your interpreter, there are various ways to do so. One of the easiest is to engage someone online – a language teacher is ideal – in order to assist you. All you need to do is pay for an hour of the teacher’s time and an hour of the interpreter’s time. The teacher speaks in the target language and the interpreter translates what they say. At the end of the conversation, you talk to the teacher in your native tongue about how well the interpreter performed. It’s a simple test that can give you the confidence you need to proceed with using the interpreter in a business setting. 

Why top quality interpretation is important

When you use an interpreter to speak for you, they become the representative of your business. As such, if you’re trying to impress clients or potential partners, using a top quality interpretation service is absolutely essential. A poor service indicates that your company doesn’t place much emphasis on quality, which is hardly the impression that most businesses want to make! 

If you have any questions or would like to hire an interpreter, please speak  to the Tomedes team for further details.