References
Thread poster: Libero_Lang_Lab

Libero_Lang_Lab  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:27
Member (2006)
Russian to English
+ ...
Feb 21, 2011

Hi there,

I'm in the process of reviewing candidates for an upcoming interpreting job. One of the interpreters who I am considering has declined to provide references, saying that this is something they no longer do for "various reasons". Their application seems solid otherwise, but it is hard to look favourably on an application from someone who won't provide references. Can anyone think of any reasonable reason why an experienced and qualified professional in any sphere would not agree to provide them? It's left me a little perplexed, I have to say!

Cheers,

Dan


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Sara Senft  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:27
Spanish to English
+ ...
Respect for privacy Feb 21, 2011

Some interpreters don't feel comfortable providing references out of respect for the privacy of their clients. We interpreters often work with sensitive information, so respecting confidenitality is essential.

That said, I think that is at least one possible reason why he/she is declining to provide references. You do need proof of his/her skills and professionalism, which is totally understandable.

It is ultimately up to you to decide, though.


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Mariella Bonelli  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:27
Member (2004)
English to Italian
+ ...
Delicate matter Feb 21, 2011

Hi Dan,

References are a delicate matter. As far as I'm concerned, I don't like to give them either, at least never on the first contact with a potential customer. Too often we are asked to state them in the first form to fill in in order to enter the database of an agency, for example, and I think this is not too professional, as there would be plenty of important information to consider before. I provide references just and only when I'm sure there is a tangible possible job (by experience, this is not always the case!), I have been asked all other information into details and we agreed on rates, or in the exceptional case of well-known organizations.


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Peter Shortall  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:27
Member
French to English
+ ...
My reasons Feb 21, 2011

I don't provide details of referees because: (1) I don't like bothering clients with requests for references so that I can work for their competitors (I'm sure they have better things to do with their time!); (2) there's always the small but significant risk that those requesting the reference may try to pilfer the client (rare, I'm sure, but I gather from other threads that it can happen); (3) I have signed non-disclosure/confidentiality agreements with most of my regular clients and wouldn't want to bother other, infrequent clients with requests for favours like that. Some of these agreements don't specifically state that I can't advertise my connection with the client concerned; they usually relate to the material translated and my translations, but it's not something I want to take any risks with.

So I can certainly understand why someone would stop asking clients for references. After a while, it could get to be a bit of an imposition and sour relations with them.

If a potential client asks me for references and I'm interested in working for whoever it is, I usually cite reasons (3) and/or (1) above (but not (2), for obvious reasons of diplomacy!) and offer to do a short test translation instead. Only once has this offer been turned down; on all other occasions, the reference requirement was waived.

You could, of course, ask the interpreter what the "various reasons" are! Discretion, protocol... who knows?

[Edited at 2011-02-21 14:14 GMT]


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Maria Lila  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:27
French to Spanish
+ ...
Agree Feb 21, 2011

Hi Dan!

I definitely agree that references are a delicate matter. I do not provide them for the same reasons as Peter.
However, some agencies propose short interpreting tests, maybe that could be an option. Paid, of course
I understand your point to check his/her competences.
Best, María Lila.


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Ania Heasley  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:27
English to Polish
+ ...
Not being able or willing to provide references is strange Feb 21, 2011

If you start a new permament job your employer asks for references from previous employers as a matter of routine, so why working as a freelance translator/interpreter should be any different?

Besides, does nobody here work for agencies??? They are very happy and very used to giving references to their almost on a daily basis. Most translators/interpreters have several clients or at least have done work for several clients in the past, so not being able to provide references from any clients seems strange to say the least.

Personally, if somebody is cagey or evasive about providing references I would not consider giving them work.


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Mariella Bonelli  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:27
Member (2004)
English to Italian
+ ...
Employers v. clients Feb 21, 2011

Ania Heasley wrote:

If you start a new permament job your employer asks for references from previous employers as a matter of routine, so why working as a freelance translator/interpreter should be any different?


Exactly because we don't have employers, we have our own clients, so except if I am really sure that the information will be dealt seriously (and during the first approach this is not always evident) I keep my clients for myself, even if they are agencies.
Besides, I also have the impression to bother agencies asking permission to mention them and I do it only if there is a real need for.

[Edited at 2011-02-21 22:06 GMT]


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Interpreter246
Local time: 08:27
Re references Feb 23, 2011

I absolutely agree with those who are reluctant to provide referees' details for all the reasons specified.
I do not have any problem with providing proof of my qualifications or doing a short test.
Providing references seems to be just a formality (very annoying one). It just seems you have to involve a personal aspect in a process that should be strictly professional otherwise.
I would not like my clients to know who else I am working with neither would I like to give out their personal details to anyone else.
Besides how can it be expected that references will constitute any objective criteria and therefore be fit for purpose? You would have to check with your referees first to see if they wish to provide references and understandably if they agree they would agree to give good references not bad?


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Mariella Bonelli  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:27
Member (2004)
English to Italian
+ ...
As simple as this Feb 23, 2011

Interpreter246 wrote:
You would have to check with your referees first to see if they wish to provide references and understandably if they agree they would agree to give good references not bad?



I have never considered it that way. That's a very good point!


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Interpreter246
Local time: 08:27
No point Feb 23, 2011

Ha thank you! References should not be asked of freelancers at all! Just no point!

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Libero_Lang_Lab  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:27
Member (2006)
Russian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
No point? Feb 23, 2011

Interpreter246 wrote:

Ha thank you! References should not be asked of freelancers at all! Just no point!



Well, I am not quite sure I would go that far!

Before I hire someone I have not worked with, I am going to need a little more background info, as part of the due diligence procedure - freelance or not. References are one logical means of doing this. However, as several interpreters have stated here, these are not always sth that they are comfortable providing, for reasons which are now clearer to me.

[Edited at 2011-02-23 15:39 GMT]


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Interpreter246
Local time: 08:27
Still no point Feb 23, 2011

Dan, what Im just trying to say that references as a criterion or a background info are pretty useless. By all means you can ask for references but I would ask for proof of qualifications or test the candidate.
If you ask for references from a permanent employer thats fine, it can be used as a background check.
But for freelancers its different. Lets say Ive done four jobs-one was brilliant, other three were a complete disaster. Who do you think I will ask to provide references for me?
Also, I probably shouldn't say that but on few occasions instead of bothering important and busy clients with references' request I just asked someone I know. How would you be able to check that?
Certificates and tests don't lie!


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