Hiring an Interpreting Company: 7 Things to Consider

Searching for reliable, professional interpreting services can be stressful. To take the hard work out of the hiring process we’ve created a simple checklist you can work through. It includes key questions you need to ask, plus a couple of considerations you’ll need to make to ensure things run smoothly.

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Do they have fluent speakers in both languages?

What are interpreting services? Simply put they’re a chance to have a native speaker sit by your side, or remotely, and tell you what someone speaking a foreign language is saying. There are apps that will claim to be able to do it, but they’re nothing but a pale imitation of the real thing. 

What you want to know is whether or not the company you approach has fluent speakers in your language, and the language of the person you’re speaking to. You’re looking for someone who speaks word-perfect English as their second language, and who has the knowledge of the other language that only a native speaker can acquire. 

Are you hiring an interpreter or a translator?

If you want to settle the age-old interpreter vs translator debate you’re going to need to know the difference between a translator and an interpreter. 

Translators will typically be used to turn written text from one language into another. They’re certainly useful, but they’re not what you’re looking for here. An interpreter will be able to instantly convey nuance and meaning in the spoken word. It’s a vital skill and one that’s certainly distinct from translation. 

Which type of interpretation will you need?

Ask the translation company whether they offer a choice between simultaneous and consecutive interpretation. The former allows you to hear what the foreign language speaker is saying in real-time, whilst the latter waits until they’ve finished to bring you up to speed. The choice will largely be determined by the speed of the exchange and your personal preference. Give it some thought and you’ll be well equipped when you’re ready to do business. 

Are there any reviews or testimonials you can take a look at?

Every qualified language interpreter will have a mountain of 5-star reviews you can take a look at with the click of a button. Better yet, why not ask for references and referrals from their previous clients? This is a great way to get a feel for how the two of you will work together if you decide to go ahead. It’s also a great way to get a picture of how the process worked from someone who has already been there and done it. 

Is your interpreter familiar with your niche?

If you’re discussing a highly technical or complex matter it’s essential you tell your interpreter in advance. Whilst they don’t have to be an expert on the subject, any background information and context you can give them will definitely be greatly appreciated. 

Check their availability and pricing before making plans 

Interpreters are in high demand, so it’s essential that you book your person of choice well in advance. You might find that a freelance interpreter gives better flexibility in terms of pricing and availability as they’re less likely to be tied down to longterm commitments. Take your time to draw up a shortlist of options, and make sure you avoid the common mistake of always picking the person who will do it for the smallest fee. 

Create a clear contract so everyone knows where they stand

When you want to hire an interpreter you need to have a contract, there’s simply no getting away from that fact. Whilst the industry is well regulated and governed, you’re going to need to explicitly outline the scope of the role. You want to get the best out of your new partnership, so take the time to think about how you can explain things as clearly as possible. Once you’re both on the same page you’ll find you get through your work effortlessly. Just what you need when you want to take the stress out of things. 

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