Translation tests
Thread poster: Francesca Sfondrini

Francesca Sfondrini  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 10:24
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
Feb 28, 2012

Years ago I decided to stop performing free translation tests. Therefore, before applying for jobs posted on Proz I always check if a test is required. Unfortunately some agencies mention that only at a later stage, usually when responding to my application. Isn't there a compulsory "test translation field" on Proz.jobs that needs to be filled in? If not, how can I avoid to waist my time? Thanks, Francesca

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Lucia Leszinsky
SITE STAFF
"Sample text" field in job posting form is not a required field Feb 28, 2012

Hello Francesca,

The job posting form provides a "Sample text" field outsourcers can chose to complete, http://www.proz.com/post-translation-job/ . However, adding a sample text / test translation to a job posting is not compulsory. Have in mind that outsourcers may ask for a sample test at a later stage, depending on the information they have on a given service provider (to make a decision on accepting or rejecting a quote).

Regards,

Lucia


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Phoebe Indetzki  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:24
German to English
+ ...
Why not? Feb 28, 2012

Hi Francesca,

Why not see test translations in a more positive light? Yes, it's a small investment in time - but it can easily pay off. If you produce a good quality test translation, clients will be more willing to pay a higher rate later, because they know what they're getting.


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Arrowly
Argentina
Local time: 05:24
English to Spanish
Worth it Feb 28, 2012

I agree with phoeberuth, maybe you waste some minutes, but doing a sample translation is an important factor that may decide whether you are elegible or not.

In many cases a test is compulsory, and doing the test will put you on a "higher position" than other applicants.

But always have in mind that the test have to be short, if you receive a sample text to translate and its, I don't know, 1000+ words, forget about it.


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Nikita Kobrin  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 11:24
Member (2010)
English to Russian
+ ...
Why not? Because it's time wasting in most cases. Mar 1, 2012

phoeberuth wrote:

Yes, it's a small investment in time - but it can easily pay off.

No, it's considerable investment in terms of time: if I did all the free tests I'm offered I wouldn't actually have time to work. Tests rarely pay off.


phoeberuth wrote:

If you produce a good quality test translation, clients will be more willing to pay a higher rate later, because they know what they're getting.

On the contrary: according to my experience those who insist on free tests as a rule tend to pay peanuts... Serious clients usually know how to find proper LSPs without tests.

I refuse 95% of the free tests offered to me.

Nikita Kobrin


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Francesca Sfondrini  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 10:24
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
It's a personal choice Mar 1, 2012

Hi everyone, and thanks very much for you comments. My question, however, was not meant to discuss translation tests. I just wanted to know if there was a way to avoid being asked to take one after submitting a quote on Proz.com Job. I thought that agencies publishing ads without test translations would simply not require them, but I undestand from Lucia that this is not the case. So basically, an agency can publish a job ad which does not include a test but then still ask for one when contacting the translator individually. I guess my only way would be adding a line to my application saying: copies of diploma's, samples of translations and reference letters availabe (no test translations).

About test translations, I am still convinced that asking for free work is not fair. Have you ever heard of someone asking let's say, a plumber, to come and repair the sink for free just to make sure that he/she can then repair the shower?

ciao,
Francesca


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flechina
China
Local time: 16:24
Thoughts from the Other Side Mar 2, 2012

Thank you for posting this.

I'm the newly-hired project manager at a LSP. Upon being hired, I was told that we normally ask our freelance translators to take a short translation test. Yet, I have found, (and as some of these posts demonstrate,) varying degrees of resistance to taking tests.

Of course, no one likes tests, especially when they do not lead directly to jobs. Yet, speaking from the other side, I think tests can be a very useful, (as only a single - never the only,) criterion for choosing a freelancer.

I feel that there are many factors to consider when hiring a freelance translator. For example: quality, price and turnaround time. Yet, I believe it is also important not to overlook ease of cooperation. I never remove a translator from my list simply because they refuse to take a test. However, people who are agreeable and easy to get along with definitely move up my list.

After all, there are so many translators available online here. So I'm asking the following question sincerely, (even at the risk of appearing naive.) In your personal opinion, what is the best way to select a translator for the first time? Of course, experience is always the best teacher, but I want to be as careful as possible before trusting my company's professional reputation and translation quality to any unknown freelance translator for the first time.

In fact, I do want to be considerate and sensitive to the needs of any freelancers that we work with. So I think at least I should personally limit tests to a short list of candidates that I am seriously thinking of hiring for the job, rather than simply requiring one from every person who replies to a request to be added to our database. (And it's always good to have more than one translator at the ready for each target language in the event that our preferred translator is busy or sick.) Would most of you agree that this a reasonable "middle ground" suggestion?


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 06:24
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Because... Mar 2, 2012

phoeberuth wrote:
Why not see test translations in a more positive light? Yes, it's a small investment in time - but it can easily pay off. If you produce a good quality test translation, clients will be more willing to pay a higher rate later, because they know what they're getting.


Quite often the entire process could be described as either or both sides playing a game of cards (poker, gin rummy, bridge, you name it) by standard telephone (audio only).

Translators sometimes hire more experienced colleagues to proofread/edit their tests. Some kind of a Cyrano de Bergerac setup.

Outsourcers sometimes hire less-experienced and/or less-skilled reviewers than the candidates themselves. Such reviewers see the threat of that outsourcer switching to better and sometimes more affordable vendors, as well as a strong need to show their worth, so they botch up what was a perfectly good translation. In most cases, the outsourcer has no reliable way to ascertain who is right.


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Gudrun Wolfrath  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 10:24
English to German
+ ...
Good agencies Mar 2, 2012

usually pay for test translations.

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xxxwonita
China
Local time: 05:24
My last test translation Mar 2, 2012

flechina wrote:

I'm the newly-hired project manager at a LSP. Upon being hired, I was told that we normally ask our freelance translators to take a short translation test. Yet, I have found, (and as some of these posts demonstrate,) varying degrees of resistance to taking tests.


The last test translation I did ever was for an end client in Austria. After sending them my price, they told me it was OK and before we could settle down our cooperation they would like me to do a very small test translation. All sounded reasonable, so I did it.
The result: We have asked 6 translators to do the test (came out only after the test!), and your translation was among the best 3 according to the evaluation of an independent institute. The job was given to the best price offer among the best 3 translations.

That was my last test translation and will be.


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 10:24
French to German
+ ...
Reminds me of something... Mar 2, 2012

Bin Tiede wrote:

flechina wrote:

I'm the newly-hired project manager at a LSP. Upon being hired, I was told that we normally ask our freelance translators to take a short translation test. Yet, I have found, (and as some of these posts demonstrate,) varying degrees of resistance to taking tests.


The last test translation I did ever was for an end client in Austria. After sending them my price, they told me it was OK and before we could settle down our cooperation they would like me to do a very small test translation. All sounded reasonable, so I did it.
The result: We have asked 6 translators to do the test (came out only after the test!), and your translation was among the best 3 according to the evaluation of an independent institute. The job was given to the best price offer among the best 3 translations.

That was my last test translation and will be.


This reminds me of a personal anecdote. A PM at some British agency insisted that the agency would determine the price they were willing to pay based upon the internal assessment of my test translation.

IF agencies want professional translators delivering high quality, they should get more involved in independent procedures for ensuring quality instead of picking up translators nearly at random on the Web.


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DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
sty Mar 4, 2012

Actually I also used to find it annoying that another 'prospect' client wants another free test translation. But later I have found something out that really worthy clients with good name want to see my job done property, not silly writings the majority of middlemen -- agencies -- crave for. And relevant samples of translations would do nicely!

I'm not going to discuss poorly selected (perhaps?) tests which have nothing to do with the translation fiend, let alone its size and coverage, but most direct clients either asked me for the portfolio or to translate, say, 5 pages of the assignment, scan it through -- and always paid for it. Then if they were interested they might mention any remarks and sent me a part or the whole job.

Why?! I mean why one should work for 'free' or 'testing'?
Isn't it a savage oxymoron?


Now when a prospect client wants a free test translation I cheerfully ask him for a free test payment


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Shai Navé  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 11:24
Member
English to Hebrew
+ ...
I agree with Francesca on the sample test field Mar 4, 2012

I think that in addition to the current sample test field (in which the poster inserts that text itself) it might be a good idea to add an additional field indicating if somewhere along the process a recruitment process a translation sample will be required.

As to the free translation samples issue in whole, I strongly agree with those opposing this practice for all the above mentioned reasons and many more.
In my opinion, as a professional you should never give your work for free. There is a difference between offering something for free (such as advice, insight into your processes, outlining a solution in general, etc., usually as part of negotiation and with a client) and between offering everything for nothing (i.e. completing your entire professional process and then handing the final product, that otherwise you would have charged for, to a business entity for nothing - Non-profit entities excluded) for the vague promise that, maybe, you will get some kind of work. You are committing your time and effort, that otherwise you would have charged for, for someone who is, basically, just fishing and not committing to you in any way.
Some flexibility is in order when the situation warrants it, but this should be really specific situations.
Before accepting such free sample test I personally recommend considering these 3 main points:
1. Is this the first request in the process - if so, I advise against accepting it as the client is more often than not just fishing around and will probably choose the lowest bidder anyway (but might send the best sample to their client as a proof of competence while securing the job).
2. Will a detailed feedback report be provided at the end of sample process? One that you can comment about (as was mentioned, sometimes the reviewer is not very capable and/or botches the translation out of personal agenda) - if not, I strongly advice against proceeding.
3. In case the sample will be rejected (and even if it will accepted) do you hold all copyrights for it? If not, and the client insists that this is their IP, propriety text, etc., I advice to just walk away. If you hold copyrights you can use this as a sample in other project, your portfolio, etc. so at least you "earned" something for the future from the time and effort invested.


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Little Woods  Identity Verified
Vietnam
Member
English to Vietnamese
I agree with Nikita Nov 20, 2013

In less than 6 months, I have received 5 free translation tests, some are for the registration procedure and some for the assessment before a project. I realized that it is a waste of time. When we take test, we invest considerable time in it in order to make it perfect so It can't be a little investment but we often get no feedbacks.

I also agree that there are cases your reviewer may see you as a threat to their cooperation with the agency and can drop you saying your work is not up to quality work. They might change your word with another word of the same meaning unnecessarily or use another way of spelling for the same word (it is true in my country, there are words with same meaning but having 3 ways of spelling). Your work will be full of red track changes and appear poorly. Worst case, they don't give you feedback and say they totally trust their reviewer, period. There are reviewers who made changes to translation whatever they like saying they have more experience but reluctantly admit it is their fault when another point out their errors. I think if it hadn't been so grammatically obvious they might have let it pass.

So I advise agencies or companies be careful with your reviewers if a translator say they made changes by using another word for the same thing unnecessarily or changes in style. I knew cases which is not in the translation industry but in journalism where an editor made a beautiful text into a lousy one and didn't even realize it while others can't understand his thinking. The recruiter is really to blame for here.

Back to the testing topic. Even if I pass their tests, it is a coincidence that in all cases I would never hear from them again after being added to their base or will receive jobs with really low rate. Those agencies that gave me decent jobs usually based their decision on my experience and projects, and they ensure the quality by having it proofread.

So now I only take test if my time allows it and I may not do it anymore in the future.

[Edited at 2013-11-20 13:23 GMT]

[Edited at 2013-11-20 13:24 GMT]

[Edited at 2013-11-20 13:25 GMT]

[Edited at 2013-11-20 13:26 GMT]

[Edited at 2013-11-21 08:38 GMT]


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