Choosing the right interpreter for your project can sometimes feel daunting, especially if it is not something you do every day. In the age of the internet, the most logical thing to do would be to go online and check for interpreters available in your area or in the language/s you need.
And so it begins, the perusal of the World Wide Web.
Besides general good first impressions and the “feeling” that the candidate is the right fit, what else should you keep in mind when selecting your interpreter?
I have already talked about what to look for in an interpreter’s CV. You can read the full post here. So, let’s discuss now what key telltales to look for to spot a good interpreter online.
Not all interpreters out there – good or bad – have an online presence. However, those who do usually tell a lot more about ourselves than we think. Luckily for you, it is all out there, coded in ones and zeros, for you to see.
What to pay attention to when looking for a professional interpreter online?
- Professional (or professionally looking) profile photo
It seems obvious but, sadly, it still ranks first on the list. Why does this even matter?
Well, in my view, it is a sign of the care with which they present themselves and how they are likely to present themselves on the day of your event. Interpreters, like any other professional, should be judge on their skills and performance.
However, a professional demeanour and some care in their online presence are a good reason to believe they will add to your own professional image while interpreting for you by being and looking professional themselves.
- Properly setup LinkedIn profile
LinkedIn is the online professional network par excellence. Needless to say, any self-respecting professional does (or should) have a properly set up and active LinkedIn profile.
Now that you have found them on LinkedIn, check their qualifications, experience, specialisms, professional memberships, and writing style to make sure they match your needs and requirements. Just like physicians and lawyers, not all interpreters are the same. A conference interpreter with twenty years of experience may not be the best fit to interpret in court proceedings and vice-versa.
No one knows better what you need than you. So, do yourself and your interpreter a favour and invest a little time in verifying and understanding your interpreter’s credentials.
- Professional associations directories
Many professional associations offer listings of their members organised by languages, specialisms, geographical area, and more. These professional bodies usually screen their members before granting them membership so, in a way, membership is already a good sign.
- Website and blog
Those interpreters who opt to have an online presence usually have a website, which often includes a blog. This website is the virtual equivalent of a window display and the perfect cyber-spot to learn more about your potential interpreter, what they do, how they do it, how long they have been doing it, etc.
Here, you can also get a glimpse at their professional style and tone.
- Social media
This is the ultimate, non-airbrushed source of information about your potential interpreter.
What social media channels are they active in? Do they keep their personal and professional communications separate?
If there are any videos or podcasts by them, how do they sound? Do they speak clearly enough? How fluent are they in their non-native languages? How fluent are they in their mother tongue? Do they have a strong accent?
How eloquently do they express themselves? How do they interact with others? Are they respectful and well-mannered? Are they collaborative and approachable? How do they respond to criticism and negative comments?
If impartiality is important for you and your event, are they impartial in their postings? If they are not impartial, are they partial to your interests?
It seems a lot to take into account but, actually, it is just about finding the right fit for your organisation and your needs so that you can achieve your goals effortlessly.
Think of interpreters as what they are: part of your team. Put the same care in selecting them as you would in hiring a new employee. If all goes well, you will only have to do it once and then just focus on building a long-lasting and fruitful relationship with your trusted interpreter of choice.
- Advice to Buyers by the UK Institute of Translation and Interpreting