How to Tell If Your Language Services Agency Is Providing Qualified Interpreters for Your Company, As Promised?

Unfortunately, many language services agencies do not provide qualified and properly trained interpreters, even when they make such promises and state to have a great selection process. I know this because I have gone through some of those processes and I have personally witnessed how untrained interpreters are assigned to work in the field. In the end, it becomes even more expensive for your company because of their poor performance.

This situation only hurts you, the client. Not only does it make you look unprofessional, but it actually has a negative effect on your own clients. The messages are not interpreted correctly, code of ethics is not followed through and your end customer leaves with a bad feeling of not having understood or, even worse, not being understood by your company.

I was once told by someone in charge of hiring interpreters, and I quote: “I rather hire people that are bilingual and that have never interpreted before so that I can train them myself and not deal with their previous habits”. I cannot put into words how unprofessional and disrespectful it is to train an unqualified person at the expense of your own client! It is like hiring a hair stylist that has never grabbed a pair of scissors and telling her to practice on your client’s hair! This type of behavior is what we need to eliminate by making sure your company hires an agency that truly respects and values the interpreting profession, which will, in turn, elevate the level of service you provide to your own clients. This is why we highly encourage our clients to verify the credentials of our interpreters.

No parent should ever go to a school meeting regarding their disabled child and not understand or be understood by the staff because of an untrained interpreter. No patient should ever miss anything a doctor tells them because the interpreter was not certified and did not study the appropriate terminology for the type of consultation. In fact, as Terena Bell explains, “failure to provide a certified medical interpreter can be met with a $70,000 fine under the ACA —for each encounter with a patient. Which means that the cost of not providing an interpreter, even if it doesn’t lead to errors, is astronomically higher than the cost of paying for one.”

When you hire an agency for interpreting services, make sure they have a quality test process that does not only pre-qualify their contractors, but that also performs field observations. Make sure you understand what the difference is between a certified interpreter and a non-certified interpreter. Ask to see credentials from the interpreters when they show up. Ask them if they are certified and what experience they have as interpreters. Check if the agency recruiter has any experience in this field. Ask to see the hiring process and the tests that the candidates have to pass before they start working and representing your company. 

With a good agency, you should never have to worry about this. Unfortunately, this is an issue that is out there and we are doing all we can to educate companies and improve the standards!

If you have any questions or comments, please contact us. It would be our pleasure to help you!