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Top tips on hiring the perfect interpreter for your project

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There are a multitude of reasons why modern companies need to use interpreters. For some, interpretation services provide a way to communicate with clients. For others, professional interpreters fulfill a business to business role. And, of course, there is always a need for interpreting solutions when it comes to connecting with international conference and event audiences. 

If your company is looking to hire the perfect interpreter, then it’s important to understand the different types of interpretation services that are available and when each kind of service is most appropriate. You can read more here about professional interpretation and why it is relevant to your business. As such, we’ll look below at what the different kinds of interpretation entail, as well as how you can ensure you end up with the right language professional to meet your needs. 

 

How to hire the perfect interpreter 

Finding the right interpreter for your project is about more than just language skills. Obviously, your interpreter needs to be able to translate Spanish to English and English to Spanish (or whatever your language pairing may be) quickly and accurately. However, being able to translate from Spanish to English isn’t always enough – which is why many companies are prepared to pay more for medical interpreters, legal interpreters and so forth.

Be clear from the outset on any particular experience that your interpreter will need. Just as you would use a medical translator to undertake document translation if you worked in the health sector, so too should an interpreter’s background suit the industry in which their clients work.

You can vet your interpreter yourself by digging around online, or else us an interpretation and translation agency to do that part of the work for you. The agency will gauge each interpreter’s skills and abilities and then pair them with their clients’ needs. 

Wikimedia Commons/Goshka888

How to judge an interpreter’s quality 

You can judge the quality of your interpreter in several ways, even if you don’t speak one of the languages they are translating. Reading reviews is always helpful here – both of the interpreter and of the interpretation agency, if you’re using one. 

You can also judge an interpreter’s quality in person. If you’re using a Spanish translator, for example, but don’t speak Spanish yourself, you can still assess how well they are delivering phrases in English by reviewing what they’ve written. It’s the same with interpreters – how natural does the language that you hear sound? If their English delivery is poor, it’s fair to assume that their Spanish phrasing could be too. 

 

Getting along with your interpreter

Another key ‘soft skill’ that successful interpreters possess is the ability to exude a sense of calm and inclusion. Even in the most fraught professional scenarios, a business interpreter needs to remain calm and collected, delivering each person’s words without expressing their own opinion at any point. 

Remember that your interpreter is your mouthpiece to connect with those with whom you are meeting, so if he/she can make people feel at ease, the meeting is likely to run more comfortably. 

 

Which type of interpretation service do I need? 

If you’re holding a business meeting or working with a client who doesn’t speak your language, you need consecutive interpretation. This is where one person speaks, the interpreter translates and then the next person speaks. The human translation element allows for the conversation to flow freely, albeit with pauses at regular intervals to allow for the translation to be delivered.

If you’re delivering a presentation, for example as part of an event, you need simultaneous interpretation. As the name suggests, this is where the interpreter translates your words as they are spoken, so that those listening to you can do so almost in real time, even though they don’t speak your language. 

Conference interpretation is one of the most commonly used forms of simultaneous interpretation, with major conference venues providing booths for interpreters to work in and headsets for delegates who would like to listen to the speakers in other languages. 

 

What does it cost to hire an interpreter? 

Hiring an interpreter is often more expensive than using professional translation services for written documents. That’s partly because the interpreter has to factor in travel time and often has to prepare for a job by reading relevant documents, such as those to be discussed at a meeting or the outline of speeches to be given at a conference. 

As you can see if you click here, Totaljobs reports that the average salary for interpreter jobs in the UK is £41,571, while US News pegs it at $47,190 in the US. Of course, most companies will seek to hire an interpreter for just a few hours or days, rather than full time, in which case expecting to pay around £15 or $20 per hour is not unreasonable. 

Bear in mind that the languages required, along with any specialist expertise, can alter the cost substantially. An interpreter providing professional Spanish translation at an event that requires no particular specialism, for example, is likely to be cheaper to source than an interpreter providing legal translation for a rarely spoken language. 

 

A quick word on translation

When searching for the perfect interpreter, it’s worth considering whether you will also need translation services. If you’re holding a meeting that requires an interpreter, will you be presenting any written documents? If so, you’ll likely need professional translation as well as interpretation. 

If that’s the case, it’s worth finding an interpretation service that is also a translation company. That way you only have to liaise with one project manager in order to explain your needs. You could even try to negotiate a discount if you’re looking to commission multiple pieces of work at once! 

 

Top tips for hiring the perfect language professional 

If you’re ready to get to work on finding the right language professional to meet your needs, here’s a quick reminder of our top tips:

  • Be clear on any specialist knowledge or experience that your interpreter needs.
  • Read reviews online from their past clients. 
  • Use an agency to take care of the vetting part of the process.  
  • Seek out an interpreter who has ‘soft skills’ that can put those around them at ease. 
  • Remember to think about any translation requirements as well as your interpretation needs.

 
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