Hiring a Professional Translator? Here are 6 Steps for Evaluating Applicants

Chances are that if you have ever gone online for hiring a professional translator yourself, you have posted on multiple job boards such as oDesk, eLance, ProZ and maybe even Craigslist. You have then likely received hundreds of responses, all stating how individuals are incredibly capable of and experienced at exactly the job you are offering. Their quotes likely run from 1-2 cents/ word to 30-40 cents/ word.

Without speaking the language, how can you ensure that you are hiring the right translator within your budget? Here are 6 things you should ask for and evaluate candidates on: 

  1. Native Language and Location: Always ask for the location of the translator and their “native” language. Translators should only translate into their native language. In addition, if the translator is located in the country you are targeting, it gives the added comfort that he/ she is familiar with the local customs and nuances of language there.
  2. Public Profile: If a translator is even mildly serious about their work, they will maintain a professional profile on LinkedIn or even their own website or blog. Faking positive ratings on oDesk or eLance is far too easy these days. Make sure that your translator lives and breathes the profession you are hiring him/ her for.
  3. Area of Expertise: Most professional translators prefer to only translate content they have industry expertise in. Always ask about what expertise they have, and even samples of work they’ve translated in the expertise you need for your content.
  4. Sample Translation: Always provide a short sample of the content you are looking to translate, asking applicants to provide translations for the sample. Once you have several sample transaltions, ask someone on your team to review these samples and rate them. Alternatively, you can the translators rate each other (by paying them a small amount for the reviews).
  5. Rate: Always ask for the translator’s rate per word of content, and if he/ she offers discounts based on volume of work. You should note that some languages are more “expensive” than others (Scandinavian language, for example), so don’t be surprised if you see different rates for multiple languages.
  6. Responsiveness: The applicant’s responsiveness to your inquiries during the selection process is a good indicator of how communicative they will be on the actual project. Keep an eye on who is responding to your inquiries right away, and who is taking several hours/ days to get back.

Your lack of expertise in a language shouldn’t deter you from hiring the right translator for the job. These steps will help ensure that you are able to objectively and quickly evaluate multiple applicants and get your translation started as soon as possible.

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