Translator Interview Questions & Answers

Culture varies from one country to another and intercultural communication is a must to take important decisions in every aspect of life whether it is a decision for a business that is globally established, or whether it is a conversation between our world leaders. Hence a translator here plays a vital role. 

A translator is a bridge or in other words, a mediator to communicate amongst people with different beliefs, opinions, cultures, and businesses. Thus, the need is completely fulfilled by the translator as he/she has to translate with the exact meaning of the conversation. 

Top 21 Translator Interview Questions To Pass The Interview With Ease

1. What languages are you fluent in and have experience translating and what is your additional skill set for this role?

Sample Answer 

I am trilingual, I am fluent in English, Hindi, and French. I have previously translated in all three languages. I have good listening skills which are most important for the translation of any sentence in any of the languages. 

2. What kind of translating experience do you have?

Sample Answer 

I have experience in creating subtitles for movies/TV shows, translating official documents and speeches in real-time. I have in-depth cultural knowledge, profound research skills, quality review processes and I possess a capacity to make decisions consistently for good translations.

3. Why do you want to be hired by our firm rather than continue with the previous freelance work you were involved in?

Sample Answer 

I want a job of surety which freelance work does not guarantee, as freelancing is very competitive. I would like to have a fixed source of income. As at my previous work as a freelancer, I was not feeling the security of job so I thought if provided an opportunity to switch the job I shall be guaranteed my financial stability. 

4.  What is the main difference between a translator and an interpreter?

Sample Answer 

The main difference between an interpreter and a translator is that an interpreter’s job is to orally translate messages whereas a translator’s role is more focused on written communication. But what makes both the profiles common is that both require deep culture, understanding, expert knowledge of the subject matter, and the ability to communicate clearly. 

5. How well can you understand different dialects and accents?

Sample Answer 

I can understand and differentiate between dialects and accents quite well. I have worked with a diverse team of international colleagues in the past which gave me significant exposure to various accents and dialects. I have worked on American, British, Australian, Scottish, Hindi, and French projects. Throughout my career as a translator, I have received many compliments on my ability to understand even the most difficult of dialects and accents.

6. What makes a good translator?

Sample Answer 

The most important quality is fluency in source and target languages. A translator should be well-read and should have exposure to as many kinds of genres as possible. Listening attentively is another quality a translator should possess. Attention to detail and time management skills are also important in this type of work. One should have skills to make the audience more attentive while translating speech in an event. 

7. What should translators always carry with them? 

Sample Answer 

Translators should always carry a notepad and a pen to make notes or a recording device such as a mobile phone to record the messages to be translated. Having a good pair of earphones makes the translation process efficient and accurate. It would help the translator to bring out the most important point from the topic which the person wants to convey to the audience.

That important point later can help in some other speeches which have planned to be delivered. This will reduce the duration and at the same time, it can reduce the effort of the translator. 

8. What do you know about CAT tools?

Sample Answer 

CAT tools, also known as Computer Assisted Transition Tools, are tools used for easy, quick, and efficient translation of long and complex texts. OmegaT, MemoQ, BasicCat, Virtual, MateCat are some examples of CATs. It might be more time-consuming and difficult for the translator if he/she has to work for long texts. So with the help of CAT tools, the translator can easily bring out the summary of that long text and can then bring it back to the audience. 

9. Why is cultural awareness just as important as language fluency?

Sample Answer 

It is essential to know about different cultures to translate effectively. Literal translation does not always produce the best result if the cultural essence is missing. The meaning can be lost in translation. It is basically where (in terms of geographical location) you are going to deliver the speech, all cultures have different languages and due to it, it is important to give importance to the culture while translating text. 

10.  Cite an incident where you were in an ethical dilemma and how you handled it.

Sample Answer 

There have been times in my translating career when I have had to translate some works which highlighted some political and social ideologies I did not stand for. I believe in personal and professional boundaries which is why I did not let my personal opinions stand in the way of my work.

Another event when I felt I was in an ethical dilemma was while translating some speeches, few words seemed very arrogant to me and were very uncomfortable to deliver. But the translator’s role is to translate and convey it to the audience without any biased opinions and within some strict rules and regulations which would create a good image in the mind of the audience. 

11. What kind of people you have encountered difficulty working with?

Sample Answer 

I have personally experienced that staying updated is the key to a healthy life. Therefore those who keep themselves updated and always have no source of real importance are the ones who cannot take challenges and overcome the hurdles in life. Also, they cannot make their life meaningful and more precisely they leave no impact on society. An updated co-worker environment keeps my surroundings much more favorable.

12. By your previous work experience, what improvements have you made in your job as now you are an experienced translator?

Sample Answer 

 As a translator, the main aim of any person would be learning the finite language structure, with the lapse of time and with the hard work I have excelled in this aspect. Also I have learned, the accuracy in translating my work by breaking my record. Moreover, when the text is unclear and not appropriately written, I try to decipher the same and overcome these challenges by providing the best translation result possible. 

13. How do you handle the situation when you have not heard something clearly while one of the meetings of the office?

Sample Answer 

Well, this type of situation is tough to handle, but there are two approaches. Firstly with a smile on my face, I will ensure that I have heard the correct thing or not. Then with the leading conversation, I will express, the exact message that the conveying person needs to repeat for me to deliver, and hence the problem about such instances can be easily resolved. The second approach, if I may have made out some different meaning to the conversation I would once again clarify it by asking what I understood as right or not and hence pass on the message.

14. How do you prepare for a translating session

Sample Answer 

I simply created the base of following my 5 rules theory.  First, be aware of the latest new words. Second, create style formatting. Third, carry out a rough sketch of the concerned translating material. Fourth, check out the words which I would not be sure of. The final step includes a  final revision of the document with all the necessary changes to be made. 

15. What would you do when you have made a mistake in the translation or when you have not understood the key term?

Sample Answer 

I believe that complete transparency is the best policy to adapt during these. The situations let the clients know that there is an error in the work documented by me. In other cases, if I have found out that the mistake I have committed before the client has noted it, I would ensure that I fix mistakes as soon as possible. In case of the worst scenario, I would try to reduce a bit of the charge fees, rather than losing the potential client.

16. Do you have a certain area of specialization, or do you work on generic translation projects?

Sample Answer 

As I have mentioned earlier, I like challenging roles and I am a person who is always ready to tackle problems, therefore the experience has taught me that I can work with all types of generic translational projects, and also I have excelled in the different genres whether it is literary or professional.

Amongst the genre of technical and administrative, I have also completed my assigned task in this area, as assigned. To be more precise, puns and rhymes are very challenging to me so if given a choice I would be willing to go for the Literary Translation projects

17. Do you hold any translational certification where you have excelled? 

Sample Answer 

The answer is Yes. As in the previous role, I was added as the “Star performer of the year”. Also, during one of the seminars conducted by my previous company, I was nominated for the best employee in this work field of mine with well respected and honorary experts.

18. What type of training do you take in to continue to improve your skills?

Sample Answer 

Staying updated by the means of continuous learning is my main aim to improve my set of skills. Also, developing a sense of cultural awareness is important because the nativeness of a particular language is not lost and hence, cultural awareness is the main aspect of this job that can not be lost.

I have a strong belief that “Practice makes a man perfect”. Therefore, improving all the above-mentioned qualities are the key facet to improving my skills.

19. How would you help a client when he has experienced some sort of problems in your work?

Sample Answer 

The most important thing when this situation prevails with my client shall be apologizing for the discomfort caused by me. Secondly, I would reassure the client to rectify the problems he has faced and I would be taking the responsibility to complete the task as on as possible and finally, I would solve the errors committed in my work.

 20. Why did you decide to be a translator?

Sample Answer 

I am a person who has an inquiring mind, meeting a large number of people with different perspectives has always excited me, different cultural perspectives have always been cherished by me. Puzzle solving is my hobby. I consider both languages as puzzle questions and thus translation became my passion. This was also fuelled by my love for learning new languages.

21. In your opinion, what role does communication play in the job of a translator?

Sample Answer 

Communication is crucial for the role of translator. This is because of the style of conversation required and the different accents involved in delivering the results. Also, the nativeness of the language is maintained keeping the cultural and historical aspects in mind. Also, one must make sure that the immediate effect and the intention of a message should be specified and clarified immediately.


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