How to find the best translator, even if you don't know the language: survival of the finest.

As we have explained in a separate blog post, we like to really put our translators to the test. Another question we are often asked about our testing procedure is: “How do you select the best translators in a new language combination?” Fortunately we have been able to draw inspiration from Darwin's ‘survival of the fittest’. Although in this case, ‘survival of the finest’ might be more accurate.

It's certainly not easy. You have to start from absolute scratch, as you don’t yet have a translator whose skills you know and trust, who can evaluate the new translator. So this is how we have always tackled it: we contact the translators on professional translation forums (with paying members) whose work gets both the highest scores and the most glowing recommendations from other translators and clients.

We select a handful of translators, send them a test and ask them to correct each other’s tests. Feedback from this very thorough approach allows us to find out who the best translators are. The more pertinent the comments, the greater the chance that we’ve found the one in a million we’re looking for. In addition, we often get different translators to evaluate a test in order to gain the most objective picture of the testers’ skills.

It’s still an interesting process, to say the least, but the thoroughness of our testing has produced a huge pool of top-class translators over the past 15 years. We now have over 600 translators on our books, but they represent a mere fraction of those we have tested over the years. The success rate is less than 10%... After all, you can't build a good reputation on mediocrity. We can’t think of a better reason to set the bar high!

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