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Questions to Ask a Translator Before Making a Hiring Decision

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Choosing the right translator can be a challenge, especially if it’s your first time hiring one. You might require translation services for your training materials, a global program rollout, a new website, or an expansion of your product line to worldwide customers. In any case, you must ensure that you’re getting good value for your money and that the translator meets all quality standards before making a hiring decision.

Typically, you won’t know how to check the quality of the translator’s work since you may not have in-house knowledge of the target languages. You may also be unfamiliar with the average cost of translation services, and how long it will take for the project to be completed. Fear not; these concerns can be addressed if you learn how to ask the right questions during your interviews. In this article, we’ll give you the most important questions to ask a translator before you make your final hiring decision. 

Important Questions to Ask Your Translator

When you want to hire a translator, make sure you interview them thoroughly by asking the following questions:

Do You Use Translation Memory and CAT Tools?

Is your translator familiar with some of the most popular tools in their industry? One of these tools is a translation memory (TM) database which leverages previously completed translation works that have been approved to help you save time and money on repetitive projects.

The other common translation tool is the Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) tool, which makes the translation process more efficient. CAT tools are not the same as machine translation tools; the former requires human translators to participate in the translation process, while the latter only uses software.

Are You Familiar With Various Formats Such as XML, HTML, Articulate, InDesign, FrameMaker, message.properties, and YML?

An experienced multilingual translator should be familiar with different file formats because the source content may be presented to them in a variety of formats, and will need to be processed quickly. The translator will also need to keep the existing formatting of your content intact when processing documents, along with maintaining any layouts, markups, and encoding already present and required for delivery.

Where Are You Located?

Knowing the location of your translator is essential, mainly because the terminologies in the technology and application industries are changing every day. That’s why you need to be sure that your translator is up-to-date with the current jargon of the industry that you’ll be needing documents translated for; as this will make your brand appear more forward-thinking and integrated with local customs. You might be tempted to hire the most experienced translator you can find, regardless of their location, but you may be doing yourself a disservice in the long run if it turns out that your translator isn’t intimately familiar with the people who will be reading the final product. 

Have You Previously Translated Work That Is Similar to Mine?

Only hire a translator who is familiar with your industry. That way they’ll be able to easily understand the different terminologies and processes discussed in your content. Never expect a translator to work effectively if they don’t have specialized knowledge of your industry or are unfamiliar with its terminology. Ideally they are highly familiar with the subject matter in both languages.

Can You Integrate With Our Content Management System (CMS) and Repositories to Streamline the File Exchange Process?

Never underestimate the importance of executing a smooth and effective file exchange process, especially when you have large or regular translation projects. To do so, ensure your translator can easily integrate their system with yours, or is willing to work within the systems you already have pre-established. If they’re unable or unwilling to integrate with your system, you can expect to spend countless hours sending and receiving files manually, resulting in a significant amount of wasted time and as a consequence, money.

Do You Have Any References Who Can Validate Your Work Experiences?

Always ask your translator to provide one or two reliable references who can tell you more about the translator, their services, and the experience they had when working together. You should also spend some time going through their case studies and testimonials to see what past clients had to say about their work. This knowledge will be useful to you during the final decision-making process because you’ll know which translation services the person offers, how much experience they have, and how they relate with clients.

What Are Your Values?

Knowing the values of your translator will give you a better idea of them as a person. If you choose a translator who is passionate about their work and matches your company’s values, you’re more likely to forge a long-term working alliance. As your company expands, you might keep them on as a valued team member who knows your processes very well. If you choose to bring on someone whose values are quite different from yours, you may find that you’ll be butting heads on a regular basis – which can quickly cause the entire project to get delayed or terminated completely.

In Conclusion

Choosing a qualified, experienced, and knowledgeable translator is vital because it will determine the success of your project. The questions listed in this article above should help you better understand your potential candidates. Remember, it takes extra effort and expertise on both sides to create an excellent product, so take care not to rush the hiring process, and be certain you’ve found the perfect candidate before officially onboarding them to your team. 

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