If you are visiting a country where you do not speak the language, whether for business or for pleasure, you will have a much easier time making your way around if you bring along an interpreter. For example, if you're traveling to Somalia, you should hire a Somali interpreter. Such a person can make possible conversations with locals that you would not be capable of having on your own. They can also make it a lot easier to navigate daily tasks like checking in or out of accommodations, ordering food, and hiring a taxi. However, hiring an interpreter is not always are straightforward as you might hope. Follow these four tips to ensure the process goes smoothly and the person you choose is capable of doing the work required.
Look for someone with interpreting experience.
There's more to interpreting than just being able to speak both languages. A good interpreter knows how to translate quickly and how to come up with logical explanations for phrases that are hard to translate. They should also be familiar with local customs and conventions to avoid committing any societal faux pas. So, just hiring someone who happens to speak your language and the language of the country you are visiting is not enough. Look for someone who has specific interpreting experience—ideally in a a few different scenarios.
Ask a lot of questions.
Since you cannot speak the other language, it is hard for you to assess the interpreter's competency in that language. But you can do so by asking a lot of questions—and the right questions. Ask where they learned the language, how many years they have been speaking it, in what contexts they have used it, and whether they consider themselves conversational, fluent, or native. A good interpreter should at least rate their language skills as fluent. Native is even better.
Make sure your personalities are compatible.
Your interpreter will be someone you interact with a lot during your trip. They'll be along for meals, meetings, and bus rides. It's important, therefore, that you get along with your interpreter. You don't have to be the best of friends, but you do need to feel comfortable around each other and perhaps have some things in common to make conversations easier. When interviewing interpreters, pay close attention to the chemistry with each one. If you feel on edge or uneasy around any of the candidates, or if they seem to feel uneasy around you, then they are probably not the best choice for the job.
Make sure the interpreter is familiar with your industry.
This is more important if you are traveling on business than for personal enjoyment. Since your industry will affect the type of terminology that comes up in conversation, it's important to seek out an interpreter who is familiar with your industry. For example, if you are a steel worker, someone who has never worked around the steel industry may not know how to translate the various industry-specific terms. The interpreter does not have to be a professional in your field, but if they studied some entry-level classes in college, had an internship in the industry, or even had a parent who worked in your industry, you can be more confident in their knowledge of the specific lingo.
Because the interpreter's job is so extensive and you'll spend so much time with them, you really must make sure the person you hire is competent, capable, and easy to get along with. Interview as many candidates as is feasible, and then rank them based on these qualities. Chances are, you'll find someone who is the perfect fit and who makes your foreign travels much simpler.