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Language Interpreter Interview
Questions

24 Questions and Answers by Rachelle Enns

Updated August 17th, 2018 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
Question 1 of 24
When did you decide to become an interpreter and why?
View Answer
How to Answer
You can add a personal touch when answering this question as very often we choose our career based on an experience in our younger years.
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24 Language Interpreter Interview Questions
Win your next job by practicing from our question bank. We have thousands of questions and answers created by interview experts.
Interview Questions
  1. When did you decide to become an interpreter and why?
  2. Do you want to keep learning and developing yourself?
  3. Do you feel you have what it takes to perform the role as an interpreter successfully?
  4. Is this opportunity a good fit for you?
  5. Do you see yourself staying in this kind of work for a long time?
  6. Do you have a passion for this type of work?
  7. Have you taken classes/workshops to expand your education and skills that will help as an interpreter?
  8. What interpreting experience do you have?
  9. Why are you interested in working with us?
  10. Where have you gained the experience necessary to perform the job as an interpreter?
  11. What have you done to prepare for this job?
  12. What do you do if you didn't hear exactly what a person said but you get the general "gist"?
  13. When you are interpreting, do you try to establish a relationship with the person or do you try to keep the relationship formal and more detached?
  14. What types of clients do you typically work with?
  15. How do you handle stressful situations?
  16. How well can you understand different dialects and accents?
  17. What would you do if you were interpreting and a person used gestures which are not understood in the culture of the other person?
  18. What is so special about being an interpreter?
  19. What can you do for us that other candidates can't?
  20. Tell me about your interpreter experiences.
  21. What languages are you fluent in?
  22. What kinds of people do you have the most difficulty working with?
  23. Did you perform a job shadow or mentorship/internship?
  24. How long have you been an interpreter?
Answer Examples
1.
When did you decide to become an interpreter and why?
You can add a personal touch when answering this question as very often we choose our career based on an experience in our younger years.

Rachelle's Answer
"My family is Chinese-American and I saw first-hand the struggles that they faced when first immigrating to the US. I wanted to find a way to help so I immersed myself in linguistics. It snowballed from there as I realized I had a true talent and passion for it."
2.
Do you want to keep learning and developing yourself?
Being highly engaged in your line of work means that you will spend time developing your skills, even outside of work hours. Talk about this a little bit.

Rachelle's Answer
"I am an avid learner and really do try to take every opportunity that I can to develop my skills as an interpreter. I am a volunteer interpreter in my spare time and I also read many books to help me to further develop my communication and language skills."
3.
Do you feel you have what it takes to perform the role as an interpreter successfully?
If you have been an interpreter for some time this will be a simple question to answer because you can draw upon your personal experience. If you are newer to the industry you should talk about the qualities and skills that you possess that align well with the desired qualities of an interpreter.

Rachelle's Answer
"Yes, I do feel that I have what it takes to perform the role successfully. I am an intent listener and am a strong interpreter. My skills have been proven throughout my internship and I am ready to put them to work for you."
4.
Is this opportunity a good fit for you?
Your research of the company prior to your interview will be an important factor when answering this question. What is it about this opportunity that you feel is a good fit or match for you?

Rachelle's Answer
"This opportunity is a perfect fit for me. The skills you require are all skills that I have perfected over the years. The flexibility in hours and the support that your company offers are all reasons why I see this as a great fit."
5.
Do you see yourself staying in this kind of work for a long time?
Longevity is important to hiring managers. Do your best to let the interviewer know that you are in this career long term. You can also talk about your previous tenure if you have a strong work history.

Rachelle's Answer
"Yes, I do see myself staying in this line of work for some time. I have been a language interpreter for 5 years now and continue to educate myself in a variety of languages so that I can continue to be the best in my field. This is a long term career choice for me."
6.
Do you have a passion for this type of work?
It's okay to make this answer a little bit personal. You will want to show the interviewer or hiring manager that you really do love being a language interpreter.

Rachelle's Answer
"I have a lot of passion for this type of work. As a language interpreter I feel that my skills are incredibly important for many reasons. I love that I get to help facilitate conversations between individuals with a language barrier. I also learn a lot through these conversations. It's a very fulfilling career for me."
7.
Have you taken classes/workshops to expand your education and skills that will help as an interpreter?
A good interpreter will always work to better their skills. Hiring managers would like to know that you are never dormant in your education but that you are always striving to be better.

You could answer like this: "I continually take classes to expand my skills. This past summer I have expanded my skills in the Mandarin language. I plan to take additional workshops this coming year."
Rachelle's Answer
"I continually take classes to expand my skills. This past summer I have expanded my skills in the Mandarin language. I plan to take additional workshops this coming year."
8.
What interpreting experience do you have?
Your current resume should outline your experience but the hiring manager is looking for more specific facts on your interpreting experience.

Rachelle's Answer
"I have a variety of experience that includes both public and private clients. I have interpreted for government, education as well as business. What type of experience are you most interested in?"
9.
Why are you interested in working with us?
Be sure to research the company prior to your interview, and also know the job description really well. This will help you to prepare for questions such as this one. Express your true interest and tie in how well you think you would do, if given the opportunity.

Rachelle's Answer
"I have known about your company for quite some time, as you have a very good reputation in the industry. I have followed your company page online and was very excited when I was alerted to the fact that a new position was open. Your company is well run and the online reviews are strong. I would be very thrilled to be a contributing member of such a reputable team."
10.
Where have you gained the experience necessary to perform the job as an interpreter?
You have likely gained your experience through a variety of avenues. Take a few minutes to tell the story of your experience as an interpreter.

Rachelle's Answer
"My experience as an interpreter started when my family immigrated to the US. From there, I volunteered at our local community association. Realizing that I had a talent for communication and interpreting, I enrolled in the language program at my local college. I have since been an interpreter in the private sector; now fluent in 4 languages."
11.
What have you done to prepare for this job?
Researching the company and ensuring that your skills are what the hiring manager is looking for will be an important first step before answering this question in an interview.

You can answer like this: "To prepare for this position, I have done a great amount of research on your company and your clients to ensure that I am a good fit for this role. My years of experience as a public and private language interpreter also provided much preparation. Should I be given the opportunity, I know that I will be well prepared and ready."
Rachelle's Answer
"To prepare for this position, I have done a great amount of research on your company and your clients to ensure that I am a good fit for this role. My years of experience as a public and private language interpreter also provided much preparation. Should I be given the opportunity, I know that I will be well prepared and ready."
12.
What do you do if you didn't hear exactly what a person said but you get the general "gist"?
Accuracy is of utmost importance when you are working as a language interpreter. Be sure to show the hiring manager that you take the responsibility of your job very seriously.

Rachelle's Answer
"If I did not exactly understand what the person said, I would kindly ask them to repeat themselves. It is of utmost importance to ensure accuracy of words when you are interpreting a conversation. I would never assume that I understood the other party correctly."
13.
When you are interpreting, do you try to establish a relationship with the person or do you try to keep the relationship formal and more detached?
Talk a bit about your personality when interpreting, and the type of relationship that you prefer to have with the person whom you are interpreting for.

Rachelle's Answer
"When I am interpreting, I do try to establish some form of connection with the person whom I am translating for. It helps me to better catch on to their dialect and 'isms' when they speak. This is not always possible but I do try to establish a connection whenever possible."
14.
What types of clients do you typically work with?
Talk about your typical client and give a solid overview of the types of interpreting jobs you have had.

Rachelle's Answer
"Typically, I have worked as a consecutive interpreter for business clients. I do have experience, earlier in my career, as a simultaneous interpreter in a call centre type of environment."
15.
How do you handle stressful situations?
How you respond to stress could determine whether you are a good fit for their team or not. Be sure to back up your answer with a reference to a previous compliment or performance review.

Rachelle's Answer
"I respond well in stressful situations. My previous supervisor often complimented me on this fact as well. When I do find myself in a stressful situation, I am sure to take a step back. I breathe, and then assess before reacting. I am conscious to always react in a way that I would be proud of, no matter how high the stress level is."
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