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How I Confirm Interpreters

It's never just first-come-first-served.
Kyle

I often get asked about my approach to confirming interpreters. Understandably, that process can be a bit of a mystery to interpreters, and one firm may take a very different approach from another.

Here’s a rundown of how I make my decisions.

Factors at Play

Let’s start by acknowledging that there are a several factors at play during the selection process. I’d narrow that down to a set of three.

  • Requirements and demands of the job request. This includes the client’s and participants’ expectations, the language and register expected to be used, the duration of the request, and other factors inherent to the interpreted event.
  • Skills and experiences of the available interpreters. Each interpreter brings a unique set of qualifications to the table. The dimensions of these qualifications can include the following, though this list is certainly not exhaustive:
    • Years of experience, vocabulary mastery in source and target languages, fluency with the interpreting process, certification.
    • Community identities and cultural competencies. These may include age, sex, gender identity, sexual identity, race, ethnicity, country of origin, citizenship, religion, disability, and more.
  • Time allowance to confirm interpreters. How much time do I have from the time a request arrives on my desk to the time I’m expected to tell the client I’ve filled the request?

Allowing for Time, Yet Remaining Responsive

The first two bullet points above – the demands of the job and interpreter profiles – are rarely the ones I have any control over. It’s the third bullet point – time to confirm – that I try to find a sweet spot with for each request.

In general, I try to allow a couple of hours for interpreters to respond to job requests before making a decision. This approach does the following:

  • Expands the pool of interpreters’ skill sets to choose from, thereby increasing the likelihood of a best match,
  • Reduces the need for interpreters to be distracted from today’s job in order to book tomorrow’s, and
  • Eases stress all around.

However, there are some clients that expect quick responses, especially those that contract with multiple firms and may send out a request to several firms at once. In these cases, I have to act faster than I would otherwise.

What to Know More?

If you have any questions about how I choose interpreters for assignments, please just let me know. I’m always happy to chat more about my work processes.