It’s actually quite simple: the proof of the pudding is in the eating. You can fill your CV with all sorts of bold statements and claim to be the crème de la crème of translators. We’re not saying that people are deliberately lying. It’s just that nobody is going to admit that they’re mediocre at best, let alone tell you that they’re crap. So tests are surely a better and safer way forward. Unless you want to ruin your reputation and drive your proofreaders mad, that is.
Our tests are generally around 300 words long and assess a wide range of skills that make all the difference. There will be grammar and spelling issues, specific terminology, deliberately misspelled proper names, hyperlinks that need updating, a specific layout and details, lots of details. And each paragraph demands a different style, as it’s on a totally different subject. In short, we pack every possible angle into those 300 words. As under 10% of tests are completed successfully, we see no reason to skip this testing procedure.
One point I would like to stress is that we do not judge translators. We judge specific translation skills. So a failed test doesn’t mean that you are not a skilled translator, you may simply not have the skills we are looking for. A great technical translator does not necessarily make a great literary or fashion translator.
And no, we don’t pay for tests. Why not? Because we believe that any professional translator will view a short test as a long-term investment, not as a waste of time. We invest a lot of money in testing by paying senior proofreaders to evaluate every test. We also take pride in the fact that every translator who takes the test will receive a corrected test and a detailed evaluation form. So even if you don’t pass the test, you still have something you can work with and learn from.
Why would someone be willing to spend time and money on personal branding, building a nice website, writing a blog, creating a social media presence and attending translation conferences but not on a 300-word test? It just wouldn’t make sense. If you ask me, translation tests are the best ROI for everyone involved. Even if you fail the test, you can still learn from it.