Give feedback to your vendors

I just received an email from a very powerful organization. We were in interviews towards an in-house position in this organization. As part of the interviewing process, I was sent proofreading and writing tests to assess my skills. To their credit, the tests were well designed. Some of the paragraphs contained errors on purpose to make detection difficult unless you spent time reading it twice or even 3 times. An excellent exercise.

But this organization failed miserably when it came to providing feedback. In their formal email, they indicated that I did not qualify for the position because a great deal of linguistic and grammar acumen are required for it. No details, no examples, just a blanket statement, which I found troubling and telling.

In the everyday discussions about QA that many translation bureaus and translation vendors have, feedback is key to secure good assets and nurture good relationships for the long haul.

On another occasion, many years ago, I applied for a position at a well-known multinational from Europe. The translation test was economics. After I sent in my test, I received a terse explanation that it hadn’t passed because I did not know some of the industry terms. Not a word about writing style, grammar or accuracy.

If you provide feedback to your translation vendor or to a candidate, be specific. Better yet, agree beforehand on what constitutes a major or unacceptable error and how many errors are allowed. Do not assume. Spanish is spoken and written in more than 20 countries, and some syntax and phrase variations are going to take place. Style is also an important component in assessing the quality of translation, but it is difficult to gauge because the customer’s reviewer may add too much subjectivity into it. Also, be open to discuss what standards your organization adheres to, whether corporate style is paramount, etc. Again, be specific because it is a way of showing respect to a professional linguist.

1 Comment

Filed under Customer relationship, Grammar, Negotiations, Style, Syntax, Translation errors, Vocabulary

One response to “Give feedback to your vendors

  1. g2lls

    Having been on the project management side, the likely scenario is that you did NOT fail the translation test, they simply went with someone else. There is a good chance your translation test was never even looked at or it may have been but to this side for future use. Especially because you mention that the jobs were for larger companies. If the company tells you did fine, I guess they assume you will question why you did not get the job. If you truly failed the test, there is little room for argument. Either that or, if they contact you in the future, you will be much more willing to negotiate on price, etc.. if you feel that they are “giving you a chance.” Not having received a returned test with your “errors” noted is meaningful, it probably means there weren’t any to speak of.

    My company actually had a situation last year in which a company much larger than ours called us randomly and asked if we could translate a huge document for them into French and Arabic. Of course, we said, “Sure thing!” They asked us for a quote, we gave them a good one they could still make money off of, then they asked us to please give the actual translators that would be working on the text their translation test, which they said was their standard test. Again we said, “Sure, no problem.” It was a long one test and I don’t like to give those to translators anyway but there was the “implication” of further work in the future and “long term partnership” so we went ahead. The translators dutifully complied. We had two translators for each language complete the “test”, both were ATA certified, and both cross checked the other’s work. In addition, we have worked with all 4 for many years.

    After we turned in the tests, two days later the woman at the company that had been contacting our office asked for the translator’s information for a “background” check. I wouldn’t give it. Two days after that we got an email back stating that all 4 translators had failed the translation test. I was furious! I knew that was not the case and they, of course, responded to my queries with robotic responses. Thinking back, I am not sure what that entire thing was about but we were much more eager to “team” with other companies at that point. I know the translator’s didn’t fail and I, of course, even ran their “tests” by other translators to get their take on it. Totally ridiculous waste of time.

    Companies have their policies but I don’t think translators should lose sleep over failing a translation test, it is probably the response they give everyone. Thank you for the post!! It is a great honest reflection.

    Grace Bosworth
    Global to Local Language Solutions

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