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Poll: Would you accept to do an unpaid test translation if you were offered a large translation job?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 11:34
SITE STAFF
Mar 2, 2016

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Would you accept to do an unpaid test translation if you were offered a large translation job?".

This poll was originally submitted by Kardas Tradu. View the poll results »



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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:34
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
It depends Mar 2, 2016

I would really have to want to work with the client. Usually I have several jobs in the pipeline and no time to spend on test translations.

Also, I have found that test translations are often graded by matching them against a criterion translation. The criterion translation may not be as good as the client thinks it is.

[Edited at 2016-03-02 08:23 GMT]


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Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 03:34
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Yes Mar 2, 2016

Most probably - and it does depend on the size of the carrot that's being dangled in front of me. If it smells like a bait-and-switch or I see other flashing red lights, Holmsey politely declines.

I will not do it if the offer starts off with "Hi" or "Dear translator".

And, as Muriel quite rightly says, you're only judged by comparison against something else which may be quite inferior. This is why I ask customers/clients about their review process. I hate it when the fate of my test is in the hands of someone fresh out of Uni who hasn't yet earned their wings and can make the necessary value judgments. Grrr


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 19:34
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
It depends Mar 2, 2016

If I’m really interested in that job I'm happy to do a short unpaid translation test, providing we have already agreed on price and payment and there is no deadline set for the test, so I can do it at my own pace. I would rather do a translation test for free than sending diplomas, references and the like and having to fill endless forms. Anyway, that’s how I got some of my best clients (direct clients and translation agencies) and some of my highest-paid assignments.

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Markus Perndl
Austria
Local time: 20:34
Italian to German
+ ...
No, never! Mar 2, 2016

Why should I offer free test translations? Does any other service provider offer such things? And is a new client also accepting a test payment? I will never understand why translators are that submissive...

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svenfrade  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:34
French to German
+ ...
No Mar 2, 2016

Would you ask your plumber/dentist/lawyer to do an unpaid test?

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:34
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Yes but Mar 2, 2016

Teresa Borges wrote:

If I’m really interested in that job I'm happy to do a short unpaid translation test, providing we have already agreed on price and payment and there is no deadline set for the test, so I can do it at my own pace. I would rather do a translation test for free than sending diplomas, references and the like and having to fill endless forms. Anyway, that’s how I got some of my best clients (direct clients and translation agencies) and some of my highest-paid assignments.

Only if all the important boxes had already been ticked in the way Teresa describes, and only then if the client is giving all the right vibes. At that point, it turns from being a test (I hate the idea behind that word) into a sample of my work as an investment in what has the makings of an interesting long-term collaboration. That's worth an hour of my time. Doing a test to have my name put in a database isn't!


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 20:34
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Another depends Mar 2, 2016

I have over the years done a lot of test translations, and these have sometimes convinced clients who proved to be worth the effort.
If they ask about a specific job or project and it is in the areas I work in - and I am likely to be reasonably paid - then I go along with it.

Looking at it from the client's point of view, tests may be a necessary evil. A client once asked me to check a test for a client from a translator who was very good at law. However, the PMs had to note he should ONLY translate law. He could make the breeziest marketing slogans sound llike an invitation to tender...

People have their quirks, and I sometimes wonder what mine are. Some clients like my style and some do not.

So now and then I do small tests. However, I look at the NDA and the rest of the paperwork first. I have seen some horrendous NDAs that assure me I would never want to get involved anyway, and I have been asked to fill in some registration forms that reek of being buried in a database and never seeing any paid work.

Finding the right translator for the job saves a lot of hassle and argument later, so I go along with showing them why they should choose me. Otherwise they will probably just go for the cheapest offer and ask me to proofread...





[Edited at 2016-03-02 09:17 GMT]


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Markus Perndl
Austria
Local time: 20:34
Italian to German
+ ...
No! Mar 2, 2016

Christine Andersen wrote:

Looking at it from the client's point of view, tests may be a necessary evil.


[Edited at 2016-03-02 09:17 GMT]


Sure, but also from our point of view, a test payment may be necessary. How can we be sure that a client will pay within time or at all?

There is no assurance that a translator is skilled, but do you really think you can check the skills of a translator with a short test translation? A new collaboration is always a risk - for both sides! I don't know why we should have to take this risk and the client not.


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xxxIlan Rubin  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 21:34
Russian to English
I understand why it's needed Mar 2, 2016

When I was an in-house editor at an investment bank and had to hire my successor (as I was moving to work as a 'proper' banker) I tested all applicants with worthy CVs, first via a home test, and if that was satisfactory (90% of them failed that) then I gave them a 2nd test in-house. It took me months to find somebody who passed both tests. He had an impressive CV (had worked for our competitors) and we hired him. So I fully understand any PM who wishes to test translators and I try to accommodate (providing that we agree on rates in advance).

The funny thing is, on his first proper day into his new job (after I had spent a few days working with him) he turned up to work about 2 hours late, drunk as hell with a vodka bottle in his pocket, and in a suit that had clearly been getting intimate with the ground. And yes, it was also his last day at work. (Yes, S.W., that was you!).

[Edited at 2016-03-02 09:36 GMT]


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Helen Hagon  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:34
Member (2011)
Russian to English
+ ...
Yes Mar 2, 2016

If the job is a realistic possibility, long-term and interesting, then I would be happy do a *short* test translation. I wouldn't do it for anything small, or for one of those potential tender contracts where I'm unlikely to get the job in the end, but I would certainly do it for a book translation, for example. I do think that a sample of my work is much better proof of my abilities than any references. Plus, it's also a chance for me to take a close look at a sample of the text (if the test is taken from the source document itself) in case of any potential pitfalls.

No, I wouldn't ask a dentist or a plumber for a sample, but I would want to test drive a car before I bought it, or commission a surveyor to provide a report on a house before I signed the purchase documents.


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M. Anna Kańduła  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:34
English to Polish
It depends Mar 2, 2016

But most likely no. I used to do tests, then heard 6-12 months later from the client that I passed, and never again.

I think only once it brought a new client/project.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 15:34
English to Portuguese
+ ...
On breath tests... Mar 2, 2016

ILAN RUBIN wrote:

The funny thing is, on his first proper day into his new job (after I had spent a few days working with him) he turned up to work about 2 hours late, drunk as hell with a vodka bottle in his pocket, and in a suit that had clearly been getting intimate with the ground. And yes, it was also his last day at work. (Yes, S.W., that was you!).


You reminded me of a story told by a colleague...

After a thorough testing battery, a new secretary was selected among many candidates and hired for the sales manager in a company. She was very elegant, polite, and alert. On her third day there, she returned from lunch somewhat tipsy, and almost stumbled on her high heels upon entering the crowded sales office, which caught everybody's eye. Then she sauntered all the way to her desk, climbed to stand on top of it, as if she were to replace a light bulb instead of calling maintenance to do it, ripped most of her clothes off and, clad in flimsy bra and panties, began to sing an opera! Pretty badly, as I was told. Everybody froze, gaping in astonishment. Nobody did anything, as they didn't know what to do! So they let her finish her act, but didn't applaud nor ask for an encore. Security then stepped in, carried her away, and she was never to be seen again in that firm.


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Paul Lambert  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 20:34
Member (2006)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Yes, but... Mar 2, 2016

I have exactly the same misgivings and hesitations about test translations as those that many of you have stated above. Still, if I big job that I really wanted were contingent upon me doing that test, then yes, I would do it.

That said, it is seldom these days I am even asked for test translations, simply because after ten years I have a solid circle of clients who know me and new clients are usually referrals.


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:34
English to Spanish
+ ...
Oh, don't I know that one! Mar 2, 2016

Muriel Vasconcellos wrote:

I would really have to want to work with the client. Usually I have several jobs in the pipeline and no time to spend on test translations.

Also, I have found that test translations are often graded by matching them against a criterion translation. The criterion translation may not be as good as the client thinks it is.

[Edited at 2016-03-02 08:23 GMT]


A large bank tested me (again) for an ongoing contract translation position. They had done it in 2012 and I had passed their test with flying colors. This time (2015), however, different “translation reviewers with good credentials” rejected my test saying it was wordy, convoluted, not using conventional financial terminology.

Yes, uh-huh, sure.

So I take a dim view of translation tests in general, especially if they are unpaid. The best case is when the test will be paid as part of the ongoing project.


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