Qualities of a Professional Interpreter

In Blog by Rafael MorelLeave a Comment

The need for interpretation services continues to grow. This is especially the case these days, with more businesses taking advantage of the foreign market. When participating in conferences and similar large meetings, you’ll need simultaneous interpreters.

These professionals often work in soundproof booths to eliminate distractions. For smaller meetings that usually take place between two people speaking in person, you’ll need a consecutive interpreter.

These interpreters provide various services and have different skills. However, some proficiencies are the same for both of these experts. For example, both types must have extensive language proficiency and excellent interpreter skills.

They also need the ability to adapt to different situations to provide professional services at all times. When your company is searching for a language interpreter, qualifications are the first things to look at.

You want to choose an agency or individual that has the training and experience required to do the job. However, there’s more to this position than speaking two languages and interpreting what is being said correctly.

The interpreter you hire for your business must have certain interpersonal skills and qualities. These qualities will make them a good match for your company. He or she must also have the knowledge to perform the job well and accurately.

For example, an interpreter should know your industry and have high moral standards. There will be many times when your interpreter will work with sensitive information. The privacy must stay confidential to help maintain your good reputation.

In this article, we will show how to find a good interpreter and what are the essential interpretation and interpersonal skills.

Required Interpreter Skills

A professional interpreter will perform the job in such a way that the conversations will flow smoothly. As a result, it will seem like the interpreter is not even there, and that’s how it should be. However, it takes a trained professional with these qualities to make that happen.

Five qualities that are required include the following:

  1. An interpreter should always practice active listening skills that help understand the spoken words and their meaning. This is so that the true and accurate message is interpreted and not just word for word.
  2. It is important that they have trained themselves to think fast and keep up with the conversation. Speaking clearly when relaying the message to avoid misunderstandings is also a must.
  3. An interpreter should have lots of patience and the ability to stay calm and focused, no matter what’s going on around.
  4. An interpreter must be dependable. You can count on them to be available and ready to do the job as needed. In fact, you can rely on your interpreter to avoid unnecessary interruptions during the meetings.
  5. The knowledge and experience to take care of any problems that arise quickly and discreetly.

When you find interpreters with these five qualities, you know your meetings will go smoothly. If any problems do arise, you can count on these experts to handle them quickly and professionally.

These skills and qualities are a must-have for a professional interpreter. Fortunately, you can expect this type of high-quality assistance when using our services.

Language Proficiency

Interpreting requires having excellent language proficiency in the target language. This means an interpreter has to have an extensive vocabulary and skills to express opinions clearly.

Knowledge of terminology is another important part of being an interpreter. If your clients work in the legal or medical industry, look for an interpreter who has profound experience in the specific field.

Successful interpretation depends on the interpreter’s level of knowledge; thus, the inability to interpret might negatively affect your future cooperation.

It is easy to find a linguist who is skillful in more than one language; however, it is quite challenging to find an interpreter with a superior understanding of cultural intricacies, terminology, and even idioms.

Cultural Interpretation From One Language to Another

An interpreter shouldn’t be limited to only knowing the languages. Culture is a significant factor in interpreting clients’ communication. It is vital to understand that some words in English can be absent in Spanish, Arabic or Portuguese, etc. An interpreter needs to be prepared to adjust the meaning according to clients’ cultural backgrounds. For instance, baptism in Christianity could be explained as Aqiqah in Arabic. However, those are two events that are solely exclusive to speakers’ cultures. An interpreter will be required to translate highly culture-related concepts that can be unknown to another speaker.

The cross-cultural interpretation includes interpreting unique words, idioms, proverbs. That’s why an interpreter needs to be aware of the culture and integrate with it. For most of the time, a skilled interpreter will have a role of a mediator who can explain the reason for certain behavior or clarify the meaning of the client’s message.

A successful interpreter is one who has a cross-cultural understanding of the source and target languages.


An experienced interpreter should have a relevant university degree, go through rigorous training, and keep up with the development linked to the chosen industry.

Before cooperating with an interpreter, check for certain certification that proves the interpreter’s abilities to do a good job.

Proper training and education are vital for a linguist to be better at interpreting. Educated and professional interpreters are less likely to make mistakes and get stressed during business meetings or conferences.

Personal Appearance and Attitude

Personal appearance and attitude are qualities to look for when choosing an interpreter. An interpreter should have perfect language proficiency combined with social skills and a pleasant and friendly attitude, no matter what is going on at the time.

This job can be very stressful and exhausting, so having an easy-going personality is vital for this position. Social skills mean the interpreter also needs to be an attentive listener. And for the most part, interpreters should be in the background. But for those times when they are not, you don’t want them to be rude or snap at anyone. This will mean that they have poor social skills.

Interpreters should also be well-groomed and professionally dressed. They should never show up in casual clothing such as jeans and a t-shirt.

Normally, they should match your business attire, whether your dress code is business casual or a suit and tie. Even though they do not work directly for your company, they still represent your business. In other words, how they dress will reflect positively or negatively on you.


Dependability is another personal quality to look for in an interpreter. It would reflect badly on your company if you have to delay the meeting because your interpreter showed up late. Imagine how embarrassing it would be for your company if this happened.

In addition to the embarrassment, it will damage your reputation if this happens too often. Not only that, other professionals in the industry won’t take you seriously.

When choosing a language interpreter for your business, keep in mind that how they look and act will reflect your company. If they perform badly in any area, not just in interpreting, it can worsen the company’s prestige.

For this reason, make sure you choose a reputable interpretation agency to do business with. This is so you don’t have to worry about getting someone with poor social skills or who has a problem making it to meetings on time.

It’s also a good idea to meet with the interpreter in person before you actually hire someone. This will allow you to see how the person presents himself and get an idea of his social skills in advance.

This will help you make the best choice for all of your language interpretation needs.

Professionalism Is Always Required

The interpreters you choose represent your company. The way they act and their personal appearance reflect on your business. That is why it’s very important that they always show professionalism.

This is one of the most important interpreter’s or translator’s skills. That is why our interpreters here at Lighthouseonline.com will always act appropriately. This is the case before, during, and after all meetings.

We understand how important maintaining a good reputation is for your business.

Because of that, our interpreters strive for excellence in every way. You can expect them to provide excellent social skills and maintain a friendly and pleasant attitude always. This is still true even if things are not going according to plan. They will also be well-groomed and dressed properly.

International marketing can take your company to new heights, and we would like to help you accomplish all of your goals. Give us a call to learn more about how we can help your company succeed in all of your foreign marketing endeavors.

With our team, you will find the qualities of professionalism you’ve been searching for. Also, remember that there are different types of interpreters. It’s best to keep that in mind when looking for an interpretation service.

Want to learn more about choosing the right translation services for your next event? Download your free eBook to find the services you need.

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