One of the more difficult challenges for entrepreneurial interpreters is the telephone. We depend on that very important piece of equipment to get work. Every missed call might represent a missed job.
Many agencies that contract interpreters are known for repeatedly calling to confirm appointments. For this reason, some interpreters have been seen talking on the phone while on assignment. What a difficult situation. If an interpreter does not confirm her presence at the assignment with the agency, the agency will become upset and continue to call, which can result in losing a contract with them. Also, if the phone is ringing with new work and it isn’t answered, the work might go elsewhere.
On the other hand, talking on the phone while on assignment is unprofessional and disrespectful. Complaints may likely result in the removal of the interpreter from the assignment.
I would much rather preserve my excellent reputation and lose a few jobs than to gain a couple of jobs in the short run while ruining my good name.
Occasionally, we have a therapist that request our services whenever a client needs an interpreter. Always looking for ways to grow and improve the business, I asked her why she preferred to use us. I had observed some interpreters working at the same location, and as far as I could tell, they did a fine job.
Her answer was surprising. She said that she liked our team because we were attentive. We stand next to the patient ready to do our job. She doesn’t see us wandering around, talking on the phone, or texting. When she has a question for the patient, we are immediately responsive.
She acknowledged that therapy is often very repetitive and the exercises are often learned by heart. For this reason some interpreters begin to make use of their time by multitasking. She has observed them talking on the phone, texting, on the iPad, reading and so on. However, often she has to ask the patient a question and at that moment, the interpreter is not available to do his job.
Although it might seem hard to believe, this problem is commonly observed.