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Asked to do translation test by agency for whom I've already done a long job.
Thread poster: Jenny Forbes

Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:07
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Jun 8, 2007

An agency (in Sweden) with a good Blue Board record, for whom I did a long job (21,000 + words) about two weeks ago, which was accepted with thanks, has just emailed me asking me to complete a translation test for recruitment to their list of translators.
I am surprised at this, as I should have thought that 21,000 words delivered on time etc. was sufficient evidence of my capabilities or otherwise.
Is this request normal or reasonable?
Also, in view of another current forum here, I'm wondering how meaningful a good Blue Board record actually is.
I'd like to keep this agency as a new client if they really are good and don't want to antagonise them, but I've also had such a dismal result from a translation test recently that I'm reluctant to get embroiled in another one!
Before I reply, I'd greatly value the opinions of the Prozians.
Kind regards,
Jenny.


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:07
English to German
+ ...
Oversight? Jun 8, 2007

Hi Jenny,
To me this looks like a clerical oversight - why don't you just politely point out that you just delivered a job?

I would simply pick up the phone and ask the person whether there was some mix-up.

Best regards,
Ralf


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Paul Lambert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:07
French to English
+ ...
Strange Jun 8, 2007

Hi Jenny

If it's a client you think would be a good potential future source of income, then I understand why you might not want to turn down the test. What I would do in this situation is probably send them a polite e-mail, reminding them that you did a job for them last week - and stating that, of course, if they still need you to do the test, you'd be delighted

That way you're letting them know that you'd be willing to do the test, but in a "nice" way that won't upset them!

To be fair though, I think it's pretty ridiculous that they've asked you to do this - so maybe it might just be an oversight on their part (another PM sending you the test, for example).

¡Suerte y buen finde!

Paul

[Edited at 2007-06-08 10:27]

Looks like Ralf beat me to it!

[Edited at 2007-06-08 10:48]


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megane_wang  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:07
English to Spanish
+ ...
Maybe want to evaluate possibilities in other fields or tasks? Jun 8, 2007

Hi Jenny,

Yes, that sounds funny. But maybe they gave you that job "in a rush" and now they just want to evaluate your abilities in an structured way that allow them to put you into their database according to their own set of parameters.

I'm not an agency expert, but I have found that some of them have very structured ways to test a translator before starting to work with him/her.

Some of those tests become a real waste of time as soon as you come to talk about pricing, but if the agency looks good, why not??

I'm sure that they would not suggest a test if they were not satisfied with your job!!!

... my thoughts!

Ruth @ MW


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Giovanna Graziani  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 02:07
Member (2002)
German to Italian
+ ...
Maybe... Jun 8, 2007

... the final client ( anew one) asked the agency a test and they passed it to you. The agency already knows your skills, but the client wants to test them in his particular context and maybe judge it directly? To me it has happened sometimes, although in this case the agency has clearly explained the situation when sending the test.

Otherwise, yes, it looks like an oversight.


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 01:07
Dutch to English
+ ...
Don't tar them all with the same brush Jun 8, 2007

Hi Jenny,

I agree with Ralf, it's probably a question of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing, unless a totally different subject matter - maybe they want to test you in an additional field like Ruth suggests.

I like Paul's suggested way of dealing it

The other agency that tested you aren't worth worrying about, just shove them to one side and concentrate on this potentially good contact.

Have a good weekend
Debs


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Tracey Denby  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:07
French to English
+ ...
ISO Quality Assurance Jun 8, 2007

Jenny

Like you I recently had some negative experiences regarding translation tests and have decided to try to avoid them where necessary. After several email exchanges one agency finally reverted saying that to comply with ISO quality assurance measures you had to either a) pass a test or b) provide 2 references.

If this is not a clerical oversight, why not try asking if references would suffice to underpin your proven track record.

Good luck!


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Martin Wenzel
Germany
Local time: 02:07
English to German
+ ...
Wait and see - have another cuppa Jun 8, 2007

Hi Jenny,

This is indeed strange and shows a lack of communication between their staff. 21,000 odd words isn't exactly a small translation, so one would assume that the product managers talk to each other...

I have had that happen to me before and it makes my toe-nails curl if A does not know what B is doing. I always make a mental note of that...

However, as Ralph and others suggested, one should not always assume an MCA or -- as Americans would say -- the worst-case scenario.

Give project managers credit for making mistakes, too.

I am ever so careful before accepting a job, always checking the delivery date against the actual date in the calendar. Sometimes project managers give wrong dates (deliberately??), i.e. a date that does not match with the respective day of the week in the calendar....


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 21:07
English to Portuguese
+ ...
What does ISO actually require about references? Jun 8, 2007

Tracey Denby wrote:
After several email exchanges one agency finally reverted saying that to comply with ISO quality assurance measures you had to either a) pass a test or b) provide 2 references.

If this is not a clerical oversight, why not try asking if references would suffice to underpin your proven track record.


A few agencies demand sine qua non THREE references, claiming a mandatory ISO quality requirement, saying that they simply cannot hire a translator without them and preserve their ISO certification.

I keep a strong house policy of not disclosing my clients' contact info, to safeguard them from spam and job peddling. Some NDAs enforce this position of mine as well.

I tested exceptions to this policy. Having forewarned three of my clients, I released their e-mail addresses to a couple of such references-obdurate agencies. It was a matter of minutes before all them received by e-mail a) a questionnaire on me and my life that would take an hour to answer and/or an e-mail message saying something to the effect that "whatever it is, we can do it much better, faster, and cheaper than this jerk who's been working for you".

I could easily get one or two dozen reference letters from people who think I'm a great translator and an excellent person to work with, however I don't think they would mean much. I might have brilliantly rebuilt a management development program in a different language and for another environment, however if I had translated some medical procedure I might be facing a few manslaughter charges.

So, what does ISO certification actually require in terms of references?


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 19:07
English to Russian
+ ...
Possible reasons Jun 8, 2007

1. Totally different subject.
2. Different editor(s) with the right to assemble and approve the translator team for the project they will be responsible for.

Both options carry a legitimate rationale for separate test.

Several years ago I have done 2 separate and quite extensive tests (legal around oil, and air missile defense) for the agency I have already worked for as a praised:-) interpreter for 3+ years, doing the same subjects. The owner is a good friend of mine but in both cases after winning the projects she hired professional editors with proper education and experience, gave them the list of "her people and washed her hands" - from that moment on I could earn my place only with the blessing of that particular editor. Many might shrug their shoulders but I respect such professional approach. In both cases it was a true pleasure to work with the editors and the rest of the bunch. We were great minds thinking alike:-) and had our cards on the table from Day 1. If I were to run my own large agency I would not do it any other way.


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:07
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you, everyone Jun 8, 2007

Lawyer-Linguist wrote:

Hi Jenny,

I agree with Ralf, it's probably a question of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing, unless a totally different subject matter - maybe they want to test you in an additional field like Ruth suggests.

I like Paul's suggested way of dealing it

The other agency that tested you aren't worth worrying about, just shove them to one side and concentrate on this potentially good contact.

Have a good weekend
Debs


Thank you, Paul, Debs and everyone for your suggestions. It is odd, because the inquiry about doing a test came in an email thanking me for turning around the 21,000 word job so quickly, so the agency does know that I've done a job for them and was presumably happy with it.
Anyway, I will take up Paul's suggestion and offer to do the test, while politely reminding them of the work I've already done.
Regards,
Jenny.


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Tae Kim  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:07
Member (2007)
English to Korean
+ ...
Happened to me too Jun 8, 2007

It has happened to me too. I did a translation job for one agency, and two weeks later, they asked me to do a sample test, and I replied with my sample test, and they failed me!, saying that I'd need to wait two years to take the same test again to work for the agency!

Well, the aency's office that gave me the job previously was located in London, and the office of the agency that asked me and failed me was located in New York somehow. But both offices are for same company. I guess the London office handles project distribution and the New York office handles payment distribution.

Agencies should just simply trust us translators and ask for references in lieu of sample tests. To us translators, sample tests are really waste of time.


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:07
French to English
End-customer request? Jun 8, 2007

Jenny Forbes wrote:
It is odd, because the inquiry about doing a test came in an email thanking me for turning around the 21,000 word job so quickly, so the agency does know that I've done a job for them and was presumably happy with it.


That does make it a slightly different kettle of fish, since the left hand not knowing what the right is doing is now presumably not an explanation.

An agency I had worked with every month for a couple of years asked me to do a test a few months ago. They were up front about it, and said they were asking quite a few translators to do the test, because the end-client wanted to make the final selection, or draw up a shortlist of their preferred translators, or somesuch. This was for a fairly large, long-term project.

Sounds like a possibility here, altho' obviously it would have made life easier for you if they said so at the outset, in much the same way that a few people here could have saved their breath if they'd known that the request to do the test was actually in the very same email thanking you for the 21,000 words


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:07
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Sorry about not making it clear Jun 8, 2007

Charlie Bavington wrote:

Jenny Forbes wrote:
It is odd, because the inquiry about doing a test came in an email thanking me for turning around the 21,000 word job so quickly, so the agency does know that I've done a job for them and was presumably happy with it.


That does make it a slightly different kettle of fish, since the left hand not knowing what the right is doing is now presumably not an explanation.

An agency I had worked with every month for a couple of years asked me to do a test a few months ago. They were up front about it, and said they were asking quite a few translators to do the test, because the end-client wanted to make the final selection, or draw up a shortlist of their preferred translators, or somesuch. This was for a fairly large, long-term project.

Sounds like a possibility here, altho' obviously it would have made life easier for you if they said so at the outset, in much the same way that a few people here could have saved their breath if they'd known that the request to do the test was actually in the very same email thanking you for the 21,000 words


Sorry about not making it clear, Charlie and everyone. Didn't want to go on about it too long in my first entry.
The agency acknowledged receipt of the 21,000 word job about a fortnight ago. Then this morning I received the email thanking me for the job and then asking me to take the test "for inclusion in their database of translators", which is what makes the whole thing seem a little odd.
Following the various helpful replies I've received from Prozies, I've emailed them politely saying that I've already demonstrated my reliability, etc., but agreeing to take the test.
If I take it, would you guys like to hear the eventual results, or do you feel you've already heard enough about this?
Kind regards,
Jenny.


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Laurent Boudias  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:07
English to French
+ ...
limits of Quality Assurance Jun 8, 2007

It seems that this agency must have a test done by the translator to have him/her in its database.

Therefore it doesn't matter whether you did or didn't do a job for them before. It's like filling out an application form. It's mandatory to have your profile in its database. I'm pretty sure it's a QA process, which shows the limits of QA.

QA is nice (that's my main activity) but it's nice when it's used in a smart way, not in this type of situations where it doesn't make sense. It tells you a lot about how people use tools. QA is a tool, processes are here to help a company being more efficient, it's not something you must follow no matter what.

Jenny, I think you are one of the numerous victims of what I call the QA syndrome.

Laurent

PS: If I were you, I would have asked them what to do if I failed the test. Should I send the money from the 21,000 word project back?


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