How I Learned to Hire Smart

When I first started my career with Pendleton Translations Limited I was coming from an educational background. It struck me as very strange that there was not a set of strict prerequisites for interpreters or translators that were shared, as there was in the teaching world. Some professionals were certified members of language associations, some were candidates for certification and some did not believe in being members of an association for their own personal reasons. Some had degrees in languages, or translation or interpretation and others had degrees not related to their field of practice. Some linguists even considered themselves “professionals” if they worked a few times a month, while others worked daily in the field.

As I organized projects in both translation and interpretation, it became clear to me that it was impossible to determine a linguist’s professionalism or capability based solely on their education and the associations they did or did not belong to. In fact, some of the most difficult people I came into contact with seemed excellent on paper but were horrible to work with and manage because of their lack of people skills and sense of entitlement. I quickly realized, that while designations and degrees were an added bonus, the interpreters and translators that received the most positive feedback from my clients were ones who worked regularly (daily or almost daily), who had been working for several years in the industry (practice makes perfect) and the ones who were both passionate about their craft and had excellent interpersonal skills. As my main goal at Pendleton Translations was to ensure the highest level of client satisfaction, I carefully took note of those traits.

Over the last 11 years we have grown a huge network of both translators and interpreters who are not only seasoned professionals but also act professionally! Our client retention rate is an enviable 93 percent and I believe it is partly because we were able to make our own rules on whom to hire. We did not use a “one-size- fits-all” approach and did not rely heavily on paperwork—rather we focused on each individual and assessed their strengths and weaknesses to determine if they were a good fit for our clients.

Of course, it was also a great advantage to have a CEO who actually works as an interpreter and translator and hand selects his teams. You can’t get a better sense of someone’s capabilities and character than when you work directly with them at a conference or on a translation project—and that has definitely given us a HUGE advantage over our competitors.

Ultimately, each agency will find an approach to hiring that works for them. I am glad our organization was open-minded enough to interview and hire candidates based on passion, professionalism and people skills– rather than simply just paperwork.