Interpreter quality is the lifeblood of on-demand interpreting.
Connect times and technological bells and whistles do not matter if the interpreter on the other end of the line is not fully capable of delivering the empowerment you desire. It is imperative that language services providers (LSPs) have a sophisticated method for recruiting the finest interpreters in the world to meet your needs.
When evaluating interpreter quality, it is helpful to break the subject into four sections:
- Interpreter recruiting
- Interpreter new hire training
- Quality assurance, monitoring, and ongoing development and support
- Procedures and policies to ensure safety and security of information
In this article, we will address interpreter recruiting. Future blogs will cover the other criteria above.
Questions to Ask
These questions will establish the LSP’s commitment to sourcing quality candidates. For each question, ask for proof: “What evidence can you show me to validate your answers?”
- Are candidates required to pass a language proficiency test?
- Can you describe the content of the test(s)?
- How were the tests developed? Have they been validated by third-party experts?
- How are the test results evaluated?
- What are the qualifications of the evaluators?
- Are candidates required to pass background checks and drug screening tests? What is included in the background check?
- What percentage of your interpreter workforce are employees or contractors?
What to Expect
Here is the information you should expect to learn as a result of asking these questions.
1. Are candidates required to pass a language proficiency test?
The purpose of this question is to determine if candidates have the required base level of language proficiency to be successful.
2. Can you describe the content of the test(s)?
Best-in-class LSPs require tests that include skills such as:
- Bidirectional language proficiency from English into the target language and the target language into English
- Ability to understand written and spoken grammar and syntax in the target language
- Knowledge of industry-specific terminology
- Accuracy and completeness (memory retention, note-taking, and conversion skills)
- Knowledge of interpretation protocol
- Customer service skills
3. How were the tests developed? Have they been validated by third-party experts?
4. How are the results of the test evaluated?
Best-in-class LSPs score the tests using a combination of electronic and human evaluation by skilled raters. Because language is nuanced and representative of cultural norms, it is important to have the language proficiency elements of the tests scored by human evaluators.
5. What are the qualifications for the evaluators?
This question establishes the competency and skill level of the assessor.
6. Are candidates required to pass background checks and drug screening tests? What is included in the background check?
Best-in-class LSPs understand that the integrity of the candidate is important, given the often sensitive or valuable information and situations that the interpreters are required to handle.
7. What percentage of your interpreter workforce are employees or contractors?
This question helps validate the commitment to a qualified interpreter workforce to meet the extensive language demand. Best-in-class LSPs will have a combination of employee interpreters and contractors because contractors are often required for uncommon languages. Although the common belief is that contractors are less qualified, top LSPs can prove that all sessions, no matter the employment classification, are handled by qualified interpreters who are all held to the same high standards.
Download the Checklist
Our new Checklist for Choosing a Language Services Provider walks you through the process of evaluating which interpretation or translation service is appropriate for you. It simplifies your decision-making and makes it easy for you to compare and contrast potential providers.
LanguageLine would enjoy consulting with you on the interpretation or translation assistance your organization needs. Please contact us today.