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What do we look for in a conference interpreter?

Read the interpreters’ abiding principles below.


Hard Skills

Besides basic training, which may not be exclusively linguistic, interpreters must hold specific training in the foreign languages in which they desire to work.

Interpreters need to master two or more languages perfectly and must have the rare brain skill that enables them to think in more than one language. They must also possess extensive common knowledge, given the fact that various subjects of different levels of difficulty will be addressed at work.

A good interpreter must pay attention to all current political events, nationwide and abroad, and master them in general terms on a regular basis.

A confident, clear and pleasant voice, together with flawless diction, eloquence and certainty are of the utmost importance, as well as the correct mastery of pure languages and not their dialects or accents.

Good memory is of the essence for a good interpreter, since they often have to study extensive terminology before assignments, as if it were a subject for an exam.



Soft skills

Politeness, appearance, modesty and loyalty.

Interpreters must bear an amiable and outgoing nature, be polite, attentive and good "team players" inside the booth; discreet and helpful outside the booth. Although possessing a rare gift, they should not impose any sense of superiority which would disturb and undermine communication with audiences, colleagues and clients. They should also not wish to outperform their colleagues in the booth, in consonance with the clear notion at all times that they are just a piece in the gear and not the protagonists.

Interpreters should always be well dressed, not overdressed, extremely punctual and preferably arriving between half an hour to 45 minutes earlier than requested.

Never should interpreters try to get clients to hire them directly if they are working for an intermediary, declining any approach of this type, referring the client instead to the entity that hired them.


© ALIC - Associação Lusófona dos Interpretes da Conferência, 2017