How to Know You Are Hiring the Best Translator for Your Needs

Jan 22, 2018

Content the best translator for your needs

Finding the right translator is a challenge. Let’s face it. If you knew the target language and all of the cultural and semantic nuances of your target language, you wouldn’t need to hire one at all.

But here you are, and you don’t know where to begin. These steps should help you get exactly what you need.

How Complex Is Your Need?

If your need involves translating personal letters and other such items, chances are you will not need any specialized translation areas of expertise as you look for someone. In instances like this, you can probably go to a local college and find a foreign student in your target language who can provide a quick translation that will satisfy you.

If, on the other hand, you are looking for specific, more complex translations (e.g. business documents, website and other copywriting text, legal documents, journal articles, literature, manuals, etc.), than you do need to find a professional who has the specific expertise you need.

Company or Freelancer?

There are pros and cons of each of these choices. But, in both instances, you will have to carefully check reviews, references, and then prepare a shortlist of candidates for consideration.

In general, freelancers are a bit more difficult to find and check out. Translation companies, on the other hand, if they have been around for a while have a reputation, and there are lots of review sites that provide genuine comments and feedback from customers.

Screening the Candidates

Because most freelancers and agencies work remotely, you will not be conducting face-to-face interviews. However, they do have websites and contact information. Contact them directly and ask questions about their experience, background and the steps involved in the translation of the specific material you need.

The steps in the process are important. Machine translation has come a long way, and it certainly does speed things up. However, it is not a perfected system, and you want to be certain that a human is involved for the more complex parts of translation and to carefully review everything a machine has done. For highly technical and critical contractual and legal documents, you will want to be assured that a human with expertise in this field will be performing the translation.

As for verifiable documentation on an expert you are considering. The translation company that provides this to you is probably a reputable one.


Especially if you are going through an agency, you are looking for Language Service Provider (LSP) experience and an ISO certification. This certification means that the company has gone through the rigorous process of becoming certified with that organization.

Unfortunately, in most countries there are not many certifications for translators. There are, however associations, and freelancers you may be considering should belong to those that are appropriate for his/her areas of expertise.

A Short Test

If you have any type of document that you have previously had translated into the target language, you may ask for a short excerpt of it to be translated by a candidate. Most will be willing to provide a paragraph or two, and you can then gauge accuracy and speed.

Long-Term Translation Work

If you plan to hire a translator on a permanent basis, then you need to have some conversations to determine compatibility. You don’t want to be working with someone who is aloof, difficult or unresponsive. You need a solid relationship and open honest communication. Sometime your first pick will not be a good fit and you will need to look for a better translator. But you have been through the process and now know what you are doing.


A good translator or agency will charge close to the “going rate” for the type of translation you need. This can be checked out with just a bit of research. Beware of any individual or agency that is coming in too low – you will not be happy with the results.

If you go through all of these steps, you know you will have a translator/agency that will do well by you.