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Translator Interview
Questions

30 Questions and Answers by Clara Canon

Updated November 30th, 2019 | Clara is a career coaching expert and has supported individuals landing positions in education, nonprofit, corporate, and beyond.
Question 1 of 30
What types of text do you most enjoy translating?
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How to Answer
Translation is a broad profession and encompasses any number of text types - literature, articles, scientific studies, patents, subtitles for movies, and much more! The interviewer is looking for what texts will likely give you the most energy and excitement, and they might be exploring whether or not your interests align with the texts they often receive. When providing a response, be sure to choose a text type that you have some experience in - you want to put forth something you enjoy that balances your strengths in the field.
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Top 30 Translator Interview Questions with Full Content
1.
What types of text do you most enjoy translating?
Translation is a broad profession and encompasses any number of text types - literature, articles, scientific studies, patents, subtitles for movies, and much more! The interviewer is looking for what texts will likely give you the most energy and excitement, and they might be exploring whether or not your interests align with the texts they often receive. When providing a response, be sure to choose a text type that you have some experience in - you want to put forth something you enjoy that balances your strengths in the field.

Clara's Answer
"I have experience translating quite a range of texts, from patents to fiction literature, and I enjoy working withmany texts. That said, I most enjoy translating news and journal articles. I love the fast pace of the translations as well as the challenge of balancing and navigating the content and cross-cultural nuances. It keeps me informed about my audiences, and it leverages my strengths in efficiency, keen observation, and attention to detail."
2.
What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of a career in translation?
Your response to this question could take any number of spins. You might reference the lifestyle associated with being an independent contractor, drastically different clients and needs from one project to the next, or adapting to unfamiliar terms and content. Whichever is true for you, be sure to frame your response using positive language. You want to ensure that your answers are solution- and growth-oriented, particularly when referencing challenging content.

Clara's Answer
"The most challenging aspect of a career in translation for me is actually the same thing that draws me in and keeps me in the field: texts with unfamiliar content and terminology. Of course, it is difficult to dive into a complex text that I don't understand, and it certainly takes me more time and effort to translate. That said, I value the learning I gain from such texts. It makes me a better translator and a more knowledgeable person in general, so I embrace the challenge."
3.
What word or phrase have you learned as a result of a translation project that you now use in your daily life?
The interviewers are sprinkling in some fun with this question, so play with it! Consider how the word or phrase is unique - is it very regionally-specific? Is it a new slang term, or an old one? Avoid a word or phrase that is common enough for you to be expected to already know it.

Clara's Answer
"My favorite phrase that I now use regularly is 'revenons ? nos moutons,' or 'let's return to our sheep.' It is used as a way of getting back to the topic, so it's more like 'let's return to the topic at hand.' It's so applicable to so many circumstances, and I love that such a matter-of-fact intention references sheep."
4.
How do you handle a client that is unsatisfied with your translation or finds an error within the translated text?
It can be difficult to please everyone, particularly in a profession that specializes in interpreting and executing someone else's vision. Unsatisfied clients can be expected at one point or another, and mistakes happen. The interviewer is looking for how gracefully you handle the customer-facing aspect of this job. Allow your customer service skills to come through in this response, and consider drawing connection to a story of when you've navigated an unsatisfied client in the past.

Clara's Answer
"First, I always try to frame my thinking and perspective around the situation. The client is the reason I am able to work on this project, so it is my job to complete it to a standard that they expect. I am very receptive to feedback from my clients because I believe that it better informs my work in the future and makes me a better translator. If I find that a client is unsatisfied, then I apologize that the result isn't currently up to their expectation, ask how I might best be able to bring it up to their standards, and seek feedback on what I could do in the future to better fulfill their needs earlier on. If they find an error, then I fully own the error and apologize for it. I do not offer excuses or promises that I can't keep."
5.
How do you balance the satisfaction and expectations of your client when they might not align with the reality of the project?
Clients of translation projects often don't understand how complex thei 'asks' might be. Even seemingly straightforward texts can be nuanced, and the completion of a translation can take longer than expected. Translators have to balance reality and expectations using a customer-oriented approach. The interviewer is looking for your ability to walk this line, so respond by demonstrating that you can make the client satisfied while not making promises you can't keep.

Clara's Answer
"My primary objective is to maintain open and honest communication with my clients to ensure that there are no surprises on their end. I want them to know that their satisfaction with the final product is my goal, and if I see that I might not be able to fulfill those expectations then I will direct them to a better-suited colleague. If I'm in the middle of the project, I try to avoid misunderstandings by keeping clients fully up-to-date with progress and milestones and checking in on any updates to their goals and needs. I will offer projections at the beginning of the project and re-iterate them along the way."
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