Business Translation Center

How to hire the perfect interpreter

by OFER TIROSH 07/08/2019

If your business is looking to use interpretation services for the first time, there’s plenty to consider. That’s why we’ve put together these useful tips about how to hire the perfect interpreter. 

Vet your interpreter

No doubt you want to use an interpreter with plenty of experience and superb language skills. Vetting candidates can be time consuming, particularly when you don’t speak one of the languages that you need them to interpret. As such, using an agency is a good move, as they will vet their interpreters thoroughly before allowing them anywhere near your business.  

Seek out specialist knowledge 

If you work in a sector that uses lots of jargon, it’s worth seeking out an interpreter who is familiar with your industry. Whether it’s medical phrases, legal terminology or construction industry concepts that you need your interpreter to deliver in another language, finding someone with the right experience can ensure that everything runs smoothly. This online medical dictionary from mediLexicon, for example, contains over 100,000 medical terms. Hiring an interpreter who keeps having to look terms up - in one or both languages - will hardly make for a positive interpretation experience!

Routing your interpretation requests through an agency can help here, as agencies will keep track of their interpreters’ particular areas of expertise, so can quickly tell you whether or not they have the right person for the job. 

It’s worth bearing in mind that interpreters who provide specialist knowledge as part of their work can cost more than those providing a more general service. Allow for this in your budget to ensure that the linguist you hire has the right set of skills for the work at hand. 

Understand your interpretation needs

Different scenarios call for different kinds of interpretation. If you’re in a business meeting and need an interpreter to translate for the attendees, it’s consecutive interpretation that you need. If you’re delivering a conference and need someone to translate the speaker’s words for delegates to listen to through headsets, you need simultaneous or conference interpretation. Understand your own needs in order to hire the right kind of interpreter to meet them. 

Think about more than just language skills

It’s essential that your interpreter is fluent in the two languages that you need them to translate between. However, language isn’t the only consideration. If you’re going to need an interpreter on multiple occasions, be sure to opt for someone who has the flexibility to fit in with your needs. It’s also important to opt for an interpreter that you gel with. After all, a personable interpreter who can make all those present feel at ease can be a real asset during a business meeting. 

Pay attention to quality assessment 

There are various ways in which you can assess the quality of your interpreter. Before you commit to using them, be sure to read plenty of online testimonials and reviews about the service that they provide. What do their former clients flag up as their best skills? Are any areas of weakness mentioned? It’s worth checking out their Facebook business page and LinkedIn profile too – it never hurts to be thorough when it comes to quality assessment. 

It’s also important that, after hiring them and on an ongoing basis, you listen closely to your interpreter’s use of language, particularly when it comes to mentioning any specialist phrases that are relevant to your industry. Poor interpretation can lead to misunderstandings, which can have major consequences in a business setting. As such, if your interpreter is using clumsy phrasing, or not keeping pace with the conversation, it could be time to review your current arrangements. 

Be aware of additional service needs

The guidance above should help you to find the perfect interpreter. However, it’s also worth thinking about any other language services that you may need. Many companies start by using interpretation services and then find that they want to use a translation company to work on their written materials too. As such, opting to use an agency that provides an array of language services from the outset can save time looking for translators later on. 

Final thoughts

The right interpreter can help you meet your business goals and make global connections. Follow the tips above to ensure that you hire the person who best meets your interpretation needs.