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International organisation recruitment procedures: what do you think?
Thread poster: Jason Willis-Lee

Jason Willis-Lee  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:15
Spanish to English
+ ...
May 4, 2006

Hi all,

I recently applied for a staff translator post at an international bank in the US. I was told the selection panel was impressed with my credentials but that I had not made the post. Fair enough. Much later I was invited to conduct a freelance test with a view to being placed on their roster of freelancers when in house work volume gets too demanding for in house resources to cope with. I did the test and after 6 weeks was told that I had not made the grade. When I asked for feedback or the revised file so that I could see where the errors were this was not forthcoming. I was told the exam is not a didactic exercise and that handing back corrected scripts would jeopardise putting the exam to future candidates....

Which is all quite frustrating, there you are thinking you have done a perfectly good piece of work, you are told it is not up to scratch and won't be told why (ever!). So be it.

I would be interested to hear of any of my colleagues' experiences with recruitment procedures of this type especially in the context of international institutions which I increasingly feel are just not they are all cracked up to be.

All the best.

Jason.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 03:15
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
It can be anything... May 4, 2006

Jason Willis-Lee wrote:
Which is all quite frustrating, there you are thinking you have done a perfectly good piece of work, you are told it is not up to scratch and won't be told why (ever!). So be it.


You'll never know what made you flunk the test. They're not in the business of training you -- fair enough. If you know you're good, then just leave it at that. Perhaps you used one word in your translation which the examiner had a superstition about. Could be anything.


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:15
French to English
Just a possibility May 4, 2006

I don't know anything about how it works in real life, of course, but if I know that if I had a pile of translations to work through in order to put people on a shortlist for future work, I probably wouldn't bother doing "corrected versions" as such.

I reckon I'd grab a red biro, and just mark parts of the text that I wasn't happy with. Once I'd hit a certain number of minor errors (or maybe just one major one), I'd reject it, not bother reading the rest of the translation, and move on to the next applicant.

Maybe that's why they can't give you any feedback - it's not available.


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RobinB  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:15
German to English
Standard procedure May 4, 2006

Jason Willis-Lee wrote:
you are told it is not up to scratch and won't be told why


I think you'll find that irrespective of the type of organisation or company, it's standard procedure for marked-up copies of test translations not to be returned to applicants who have failed for whatever reason.

Firstly, as Charlie rightly points out, first impressions count, and if there's a mistake in the first line you just bin it without looking at the rest.

Secondly - and perhaps even more importantly - nobody wants to run the risk of some bloody-minded applicant then engaging in endless correspondence about the translation (happened to us once - never again). And nowadays, of course, there's also a potential litigation risk as well.

So applicants are generally told politely that unfortunately they didn't meet the very high standards blah blah and that's it. But surely this is nothing unusual - if you go for a job interview and you don't get the job, you don't expect the company to tell you why (effing hopeless, can't tie a tie, odd-coloured socks, personality of a depressed actuary, funtionally illiterate), do you?

And it really is true that this sort of translation test is not a didactic exercise, it's a test of ability on a simple pass/fail basis.


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:15
Flemish to English
+ ...
Open Competition.... May 4, 2006

When regard to translations Open Competitions such as at the E.U. are a lottery.
With your copy photocopied 5 times and sent to 5 different people who don't know who you are-there is a number on your test and the avarage is weighed-and with about 1800 participants in each and every open competition, it would require a great effort to give each candidate a detailed feedback about his or her result.
Besides, nowadays, your translation skills do not determine whether or not you will become a translator at the E.U.
The first test for everyone is a test comprising a series of multiple-choice questions to assess your knowledge of the European Union, its institutions and its policies.
Only if you pass those your translation tests will be corrected.
There used to be a time when the above-mentioned tests were not included in the exam, but then you had to translate without the use of dictionaries and the tests were full of far-fetched words. Three compulsary languages, one of which was French and two supplementary languages.
Whenever there is an open competition, I take part in it, but I consider it an occasion to have a look inside how the European parliament building looks like.
Of course, there is such a thing as supply and demand and I guess that the number of candidates combining languages like say Estonian-Greek are rare.



[Edited at 2006-05-04 16:46]


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 21:15
English to French
+ ...
If they are this arrogant... May 5, 2006

...you should be glad that you didn't end up working for them. For what reason would they have fired you later on? You never would have known...

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oxygen4u
Portugal
Local time: 02:15
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Same here!! May 5, 2006

Hi jason!

The same thing happened to me a few months ago. My application didn't arrive on time (post office strike), still they very much liked my credentials. I did an inverview which a passed. I took two tests, which I also passed. Then I took one traslation and one retroversion test which I was really proud of, and then they told me I hadn't passed. Whwn I asked to see what I had done wrong they simply told me it was confidential!! I sent them two more e-mails asking for correction of my tests and they never replied...

You're not alone. The truth is out there...


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:15
Flemish to English
+ ...
Treaty of Employment May 5, 2006

you should be glad that you didn't end up working for them. For what reason would they have fired you later on? You never would have known

The Treaty of Employment of any EU-official (120 pages thick) can be found on the web. The E.U. pays its translators with say a decade of service a very handsome salary (more than a freelancer can earn) and there are a lot of perks. Why do you think so many people compete in E.U.-competitions? Out of the love for the European ideal???


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Jason Willis-Lee  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:15
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
EU comps May 5, 2006

Williamson wrote:

Why do you think so many people compete in E.U.-competitions? Out of the love for the European ideal???



hi williamson,

I too have taken part in EU competitions (the last one in April 2002). Scored 86% on the MCQs and was given a whopping 5/20 on one of the Spanish texts. My text had one mistranslated word in it. I was given a feedback form from them which included invented spelling and grammar mistakes, in fact just about every mistake you could think of except the one actual mistake I made. 900 candidates for 150 places I think it was. Believe you me, you are very well off without them! (although I take your point about the fat salaries and perks...)) )


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Felipe Gútiez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:15
Member (2002)
German to Spanish
+ ...
Information on EU corruption Oct 4, 2006

Hi everybody.
I am looking for a more updated forum about this topic. I hope that someone could read this and help me to found out a suitable updated one.
I passed an EU competition for translators in 1997. I was called for an interview in July 2006. The person in charge, Mr. Miguel Paredes, was not present at the interview and a group of 4 people just tried to prove that I was not good enough for the job offered.
There are 4 people working as temporary agents or contractual agents in the translation unit of the European Economic and Social Comittee. One of them has been working on a temporary basis since 1997. This person has not passed a competition but she is the daughter of a high official of the Spanish COREPER (Comité de Representantes Permanentes).
Has anybody a similar experience?

Thank you for your help


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