• Loie Favre

3 questions you need to ask when testing a translator

Updated: Nov 8, 2020

When hiring a translator, you need to test them, not only by asking them to translate or proofread something within a given time, but also about the methods used to deliver the best possible results. Here I will explain what types of questions you should ask potential translators and why.

1. How long did it take them to complete the translation?

Though you may have given them an allotted amount of time, their response is key in knowing what kind of turn-around time they will be able to deliver - they might include some valuable information that you can use. For example, they may answer in terms of hours or days, which will let you know how you might be able to employ them in the future, for either urgent or less urgent translations. You will also be able to identify a professional if they answer you with their average translation or typing speed. This gives evidence to their level of experience and ability to properly gauge the amount of time needed to successfully complete a high-quality translation.

And finally, you can compare the time with the finished translation they provided. If the quality is bad and they did it in no time at all, then you know that you have got an amateur on your hands.

2. Which tools/dictionaries did they use to do the translation?

This question highlights their professionalism, allowing you to know what type of linguist you are dealing with. Someone who has relatively no experience in the translation industry will answer something basic, like one language website for example. However, someone with more experience will know that not all successful translator needs can be met with one website alone. It takes a combination of resources, tools and dictionaries to provide an accurate translation, or, they can mention that, with their many years in an industry, like medical translations for example, translating this type of text has come second-nature to them, yet they still have a variety of resources at their disposal for cross-checking.

3. Do they have any relevant comments regarding the texts or a section of the text/word that they found difficult to translate?

In this case, you will know if they actually put in the work to give you a good translation. Chances are, that in the translation test you provided, there would be words or passages to expressly confuse or stump the person completing the test. This question shows that they put some thought into their translation if they answer it, explaining just how they solved a problem, which is an important trait for a translator. No translator can translate without any research 100% of the time.

Also, once you check the translation and see that in fact they provided you with inaccurate translation without having done research, it will be clear that this person won't be a right fit for your needs.

What types of questions do you ask translators prior to hiring them? Share in the comments below.