Interpreting Services: The Standard Practices You Should Know

Before you employ any interpreter services, make sure you know these standard practices of interpreting services to avoid errors and liabilities.

How much is there to really know about hiring an interpreter? The services should basically plug in and play, right? While this scenario might seem ideal, it is not realistic, and any interpreting service worth its salt knows this and tries to educate its customers to the standard practices of interpretation.

Why should customers care about standards? For two very important reasons: it saves them money, and it eliminates unnecessary liabilities.

Let’s take a look at some of the industry’s best practices that you should know about before hiring interpreting services:

  • One service does not fit all. If you are looking to hire an interpreter, then you should first understand the differences between consecutive and simultaneous interpreting. You may be able to get the services you need at a more modest price, or at least only use what you really need. (Hint: Simultaneous interpreting is almost always a more expensive service than consecutive interpretation.)

  • One price does not fit all. Some languages are more in demand than others, such as Spanish. Generally, this means your cost will be lower than if you requested an interpreter who could speak a more uncommon language. You should not expect to pay the same price for two different languages.

  • There are price minimums. Top-quality interpreting services typically expect a two-hour minimum whenever an interpreter is requested. Even if you think you may only need the interpreter services for an hour, you should budget for at least two hours.

Besides knowing the expectations for services and pricing, it is also important to understand what you are getting from a company when they provide you with a quote. Unfortunately, we have seen too many organizations accept the lowest bid for a job, only for it to result in linguistic mistakes by an interpreting service that did not really know what it was doing.

By recognizing the standard industry practices for interpretation services, you can more easily identify which companies are truly prepared to perform.