How to Hire the Best Interpreters

How to Hire the Best Interpreters

Our company, American Language Services, has been providing professional interpreting Services through the U.S and internationally for almost 4 decades. It is safe to say that we have vast experience and knowledge in this area and are happy to pass some good tips along to you.

Proper Planning is Key

The first key step is to plan your event on a timely basis. The general rule is that the larger the event is, the more time in advance the planning should take place. For an event that is considered larger, it is recommended that planning be completed, and the event scheduled a minimum of 90 days prior to the event start date. Please note that this is a minimum number of days. We would highly recommend that the event get planned and scheduled more than 90 days prior to the event start time, if possible.

For small and medium size events, it is recommended that the event gets planned and scheduled 60 -90 days prior to the event start time.

The first big advantage of proper planning is that the longer lead time you have, the higher the likelihood that you will have the most qualified and experienced interpreters available. The best interpreters tend to get booked first so by planning your event on a timely basis you have the best change of locking down the best interpreters.

Type of Interpreting Needed?

A decision needs to be made as to what style of interpreting is needed at your event. The 2 main styles are Simultaneous and Consecutive interpreting. For conferences, Simultaneous is the most popular method of interpreting. Simultaneous interpreters convert what is said in real-time. There are no pauses in conversation between the speaker and the interpreter. Therefore, the event moves in real time.

Consecutive interpretation takes place when the speaker speaks for smaller longer chunks of time and then stops. The speaker is followed by the interpreter’s translation of what was said to the audience. During these sessions, there are pauses or breaks between sentences when each party is speaking.

You can consult with our agency to help you determine what style is appropriate for your needs. Once you determine which style you will need, then we can continue to narrow down the parameters.

What language Languages are Needed?

The next step is to determine what specific languages your guests need and how many will need the services. The language requested needs to be specific. Some examples: ask for Brazilian Portuguese rather than just Portuguese, request Eastern Armenian or Western Armenian. When Chinese is needed, the two main languages are Mandarin or Cantonese, specify which one is needed. French has EU and Canadian.

After the language is determined, the next step is determining the country of origin most of the guests will be from. This way the interpreters will be matched up with the specific country and regional or local dialect.

Experience, Background, & Credentials

In many industries, it is generally acknowledged that people with the most direct experience usually do the best job. In the Interpreting world, this is true as well. Practice makes perfect as it is suggested. For conferences, the interpreter should have a minimum of 3 years’ simultaneous experience.

The background of the interpreters is also very important. Do the interpreters have the direct experience working within your specific industry? Do the interpreters have experience with both on-site and virtual assignments?

It is also imperative that, whenever possible, the interpreters are native speakers in the target language and English is a secondary language. This is important to make sure they have the knowledge to localize properly to specific markets.

For background information on the interpreters, you can ask you provider for Resumes, CVs, or a quick synopsis. Their background will show their experience, industry specialization and credentials.

Some of our clients also like to set up a quick phone interviews to get a feel for the specific interpreter’s proficiency. Please note that these are good steps but are only effective when things are planned in an appropriate time frame. Reviewing a resume or conducting interviews and delaying booking the assignment may end up with a candidate you select who is no longer available.

Locations, Rare Languages and Other Factors

Another important, and sometimes overlooked consideration, is where the event taking place.  If planning is done on a timely basis, the location is in a main metropolitan area and the languages are more common, booking an excellent local interpreter is highly likely.

However, if the location is off the beaten path, the language is rare or rare in a particular geographic area, then it may be challenging to book a local interpreter.  This is another great reason to schedule things well in advance.

In the circumstance of a remote location or rare language, agencies will search further out, starting within a 50-mile radius to find the right interpreter for your event. The further out the interpreter’s location is, the more costs are involved for travel, transportation, etc. Feel free to ask your professional questions about availability in this set of circumstances.

About American Language Services

Founded in 1985, American Language Services was there to help pioneer the rise in remote ASL interpreting options. Our dedication to quality and client satisfaction in interpreting allowed us to shift from a one-woman agency into one of the most successful language agencies in the world. Our language experts provide CART and ASL interpreting services to people all around the world. Because of our 24/7 availability, you’ll never have to worry about us not picking up the phone.

AML-Global has some of the most impressive linguistic talents in the world. These highly skilled language professionals are recruited, screened, and tested to ensure high-quality work.

Contact us by email at or via phone at 1-800-951-5020 for a free estimate.


Quick Quote