Five Key Items to Identify when Hiring Conference Interpreters

Before planning your next multilingual event consider these five key items when hiring conference interpreters.   

1 Ethics

Professional, skilled interpreters are aware of the existence of their code of ethics.  It makes sense to confirm that the conference interpreters you select know and follow the code of ethics and can provide references. The following basic principles are to keep in mind.

  • Confidentiality should be at the top of the list when hiring an interpreter, especially in sensitive matters;
  • Interpreters should also serve as conduits of communication and always remain unbiased when rendering the source message into the target message; and
  • Professional conference interpreters don’t paraphrase or interject personal views.

2 Experience/Training

It is of paramount importance to hire an interpreter with plenty of experience and training. Simultaneous interpreting is a special skill not all interpreters can master.  It requires a lot of time and practice to achieve competence.  Your language professional must not only have significant conference interpreting experience, but that person must also possess the ability to learn subjects quickly.  That is why a paraprofessional will show up for the least amount of money, having no idea what he or she has gotten into.  Then that wannabee runs for the door because the job is much harder than originally thought.  An educated conference interpreter will request much information, materials, programs and glossaries to ensure preparation for your event’s success.  All the prep time invested is included in the conference interpreting fee.

3 Skills

Whenever possible, locate interpreters familiar with the conference’s subject matter. Every industry has specific jargon, and that jargon is usually dissimilar from one language to another.  This terminology will familiarize the interpreter with the upcoming event.  The safety industry uses vastly different terms than the textile industry or even the legal field. Discover the ethical conference interpreter whose skill, training, experience, and professional development best fits your industry and conference needs.

4 Teamwork

Simultaneous interpreting is an extremely rigorous and mentally taxing job.  Therefore, once you secure the most qualified interpreter for your event, you’ll need a second one.  Due to cognitive fatigue, interpreters typically work in pairs, taking turns every twenty to thirty minutes. For this reason, a team must be able to work well together in order to ensure a seamless delivery. They need to be professional, compatible, and flexible.  A true professional will already have one or two conference interpreters with whom she prefers to interpret.  If the interpreter you decide to hire tells you that any other interpreter is fine, head for the hills.  When an ill-paired interpreting team is in a booth, disaster will be at the door (‘it’s too hot, no it’s too cold; the light bothers me, I can’t see without it; etc.).

5 Location

Cost control is necessary, as few organizations have unlimited funding.  Interpreters flown in from out of state will have the added cost of travel, lodging and meals.  However, that may be unavoidable depending on your location.  Conference interpreters are not a dime a dozen.  In big cities like Atlanta and Charlotte, professional conference interpreters in common foreign languages are easier to find. Alfonso Interpreting is located in Greenville, South Carolina a great resource for the southeast.

As soon as you know your event will be a multilingual session, that is the time to contract interpreting services.  The money invested by having a capable, expert team will reap you benefits far more than any food provided.  Those non-English speakers are coming for the presentations.  It is your duty to give them what they came for.

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