800 words test
Thread poster: Anne-Elisabeth Schweitzer

Anne-Elisabeth Schweitzer
Greece
Local time: 09:01
Member (2013)
Greek to French
+ ...
Sep 26

Dear all,

I was contacted by an agency looking for EL-FR translators and they requested that I do a free test, which I accepted. When I received the test, I realized that it was a doc included 4 texts of identical type and the total word count was 800 words. Also they asked for me to send it back within 24 hours...

What do you think about this?

Thanks

Anne


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Katharina Mergl
Germany
Local time: 08:01
Member (2016)
English to German
+ ...
Does not sound like an agency you would necessarily want to work with Sep 26

Hi Anne-Elisabeth!

The agencies I have had good collaborations with were usually ones with tests not larger than 400 words and no deadline, if tests at all. Also, one or two agreed that the tests would be paid if their feedback was positive together with the first assignment, which they then did. I know of quite a few more experienced translators who would not even consider doing unpaid tests, but know that as a beginner with not that many references you are much more willing to do unpaid tests. However, from my experience, even as a beginner you just feel frustrated if you spend more than one unpaid hour for an agency that will, perhaps, not even pay well. Also, bear in mind how many of the agencies you contact may ask you to do a free translation test and how much unpaid time you may spend with not much return.

Only very recently, I agreed to do a test for a very large translation agency. On their online portal, they provided me with a selection of four texts, each around 350 words (+ a few questions on grammar and CAT tools). I translated one of the sample texts and answered the questions. When I wanted to upload my test files, I noticed they wanted me to upload TWO test files. I had already been a bit upset because the agency only offers € 0.08 per word and I had only agreed because they are very large and I am currently looking for larger assignments for periods during which I cannot yet use my full capacity. But then already having spent more than one unpaid hour and noticing they wanted me to spend more, I just had to immediately send a polite e-mail asking whether it was a mistake that I had to upload two tests, and that I was only used to tests of max. 400 words, and they agreed that it was fine doing only one of the tests.

So, in other words, I think that if you want to work with the agency for whatever reason, just try talking to them. Otherwise, I would just drop the idea of working with them. If they expect translators to do more than one unpaid hour (if at all unpaid work), they cannot be taken seriously as an agency that knows what freelancers are doing exactly.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:01
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Start as you mean to go on Sep 26

If you give an agency client the idea right from the start that you're just going to "do as you'te told", not only will they fail to respect you (meaning they'll act a bosses and feel they have all sorts of rights they should never have in a B2B relationship, such as unilaterally reducing your rate, "finng" you and ignoring payment deadlines), but they'll also not be able to fully trust you. There are times when a supplier needs to query the client rather than just spending time on what seems like an odd request - it's their money and they don't want it wasted just because they sent the wrong file.

Of course, I'm not advocating being "difficult" with a reasonable agency client. There's nothing at all wrong with just following instructions, if they're all reasonable. But if you want to have a happy long-term relationship, you need to set some boundaries from the start.

Maybe just one of the texts will suit them fine. Maybe they meant to send four in totally different subject areas (something that I don't see as justified but you may be happy with), or maybe they're a "do as I say and we might give you some poorly paid work one day" type of agency. You have an excellent opportunity to find out.


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DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
fuzziness Sep 26

Though clients might have no idea how to organize it better, it's not the case with agencies, so if one doesn't understand or like something, it's hight time to make it clear right from the start, not when it grew too big to roll on as a routine.

Say, isn't some 250-300 words enough to show the quality?)


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Daniel Frisano
Monaco
Local time: 08:01
Member (2008)
English to Italian
+ ...
Par condicio Sep 27

Ask them to make a test payment of 80 euros (or whatever amount you deem appropriate) to your bank account. That's what I do.

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AnneGS  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 08:01
Member (2016)
English to French
Polite and professional, but firm Sep 27

Personally, I would adopt a very professional, but firm tone with them and "test the waters". I would offer the agency a choice between 2 options: completing the whole test and be paid for it (for a price that is in line with the rate you have negotiated with them for your potential future collaboration), or doing a 200-250 word test for free.
It would show that you are keen to prove yourself and work with them, but not willing to accept ridiculous working conditions. If they agree, it's a good sign (although the fact that they even expect you to complete such a long test for free in the first place does not bode well)! If they don't, maybe they are not a client worth wasting time for... That's my humble opinion anyway.
If you do come to an agreement and complete some kind of test for them though, then make sure you give it your best shot and spend as much time as needed to give the best impression possible.

Good luck!
Anne


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Anne-Elisabeth Schweitzer
Greece
Local time: 09:01
Member (2013)
Greek to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks to all Sep 27

Thanks to all for your feedback.

I decided to ask for a smaller test and the agency accepted and today I got a 20000 words project. So although I had many doubts, it was finally a really good choice...

Thanks again

Anne


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 08:01
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@Anne Sep 27

Anne-Elisabeth Schweitzer wrote:
[The test] was a DOC file [and] included 4 texts of identical type and the total word count was 800 words. Also they asked ... me to send it back within 24 hours...


1. 800 words is a bit long for an unpaid test. I would tell them that I'd do two of the four texts.

2. There is nothing wrong with a time limit on an unpaid test (even as tight as e.g. "within 3 hours"), but I feel that the fact that there is a time limit must be known in advance. It is unreasonable to inform you of the time limit only at the start of the test. I would tell them something like "Unfortunately, I'm fully booked for today and tomorrow, but I can deliver the translation by [day after tomorrow] at [12 PM client's time zone].


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Bo Wang  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 14:01
Member (2014)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Don't do it Sep 27

That is too much, and risky. It can easily take you 2 to 3 hours to do it. A free test within 300 words is reasonable.

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Eleonora_P  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 08:01
Member (2012)
English to Italian
+ ...
Max 300 words Sep 27

DZiW wrote:

Say, isn't some 250-300 words enough to show the quality?)


That's exactly what I always say.
A few weeks ago I was contacted by an agency for a test of about 350-400 words. I kindly replied that I usually take tests with no more than 250-300 words and that's because I think it's enough to prove a translator's ability and quality.
We reached an agreement and I was finally able to take the test with "my" count.


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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:01
French to English
Agreed Sep 27

Samuel Murray wrote:

There is nothing wrong with a time limit on an unpaid test (even as tight as e.g. "within 3 hours"), but I feel that the fact that there is a time limit must be known in advance. It is unreasonable to inform you of the time limit only at the start of the test. I would tell them something like "Unfortunately, I'm fully booked for today and tomorrow, but I can deliver the translation by [day after tomorrow] at [12 PM client's time zone].



I've had this. We simply agreed another start date/time for another text. They then took weeks to say yes/no, but that's another story!


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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:01
French to English
Wow! Sep 27

Anne-Elisabeth Schweitzer wrote:

I decided to ask for a smaller test and the agency accepted and today I got a 20000 words project. So although I had many doubts, it was finally a really good choice...

Anne


That's a good start with a new client! God luck with it.


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