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Did any other London translators have this strange experience?
Thread poster: philgoddard
philgoddard
United States
German to English
+ ...
Dec 6, 2009

This is an incredibly trivial question, but that's the nice thing about ProZ - you can have a sudden thought that crops up out of nowhere, and seconds later you can be sharing it with the entire profession.

A long time ago, in the mid-90s, I was contacted by a company claiming to be looking for new translators and asking me to do a short sample. I said OK, and then they asked me to come and do it in their City offices, as they'd like to meet me.

I thought this was a strange request, and normally I would politely decline, but I was going through a quiet period and I was bored, so I agreed.

When I got to their office near Farringdon tube station, there was just one man there. It looked slightly empty, with none of the bustle or piles of paper you'd normally expect. He explained that they wanted to test not my translation ability, but my attention to detail and ability to work at speed.

He gave me two sets of near-identical figures in very small print - it might have been a balance sheet or something, I can't remember - and said I had half an hour to circle the differences. I was too polite and British to just say "Look, we're wasting each other's time" and walk out, so I went ahead and did it. He thanked me and said he'd be in touch. And that was the last I heard from him.

This was before I had the internet, so I couldn't Google the company or find out any more about it. I felt stupid, and decided that I'd been the unwitting subject of some weird psychological experiment designed to test people's willingness to comply with pointless instructions.

So did this happen to any of you?


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xxxAdrian MM.
Local time: 22:20
French to English
+ ...
Name of building Dec 6, 2009

Perhaps you can tell us where the office building was e.g. Panther House at Mount Pleasant up the Farringdon Road and where a legitimate trans. agency used to run logical reasoning tests.

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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:20
French to German
+ ...
No, but... Dec 6, 2009

philgoddard wrote:

So did this happen to any of you?

No, but this reminds me of A C Doyle's Red-Headed League... as well as of a job interview which, for no apparent reason, was held... in the public area of a post office.

[Edited at 2009-12-06 10:38 GMT]


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Libero_Lang_Lab  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:20
Member (2006)
Russian to English
+ ...
Being PhilGoddard Dec 6, 2009

philgoddard wrote:

This is an incredibly trivial question, but that's the nice thing about ProZ - you can have a sudden thought that crops up out of nowhere, and seconds later you can be sharing it with the entire profession.

A long time ago, in the mid-90s, I was contacted by a company claiming to be looking for new translators and asking me to do a short sample. I said OK, and then they asked me to come and do it in their City offices, as they'd like to meet me.

I thought this was a strange request, and normally I would politely decline, but I was going through a quiet period and I was bored, so I agreed.

When I got to their office near Farringdon tube station, there was just one man there. It looked slightly empty, with none of the bustle or piles of paper you'd normally expect. He explained that they wanted to test not my translation ability, but my attention to detail and ability to work at speed.

He gave me two sets of near-identical figures in very small print - it might have been a balance sheet or something, I can't remember - and said I had half an hour to circle the differences. I was too polite and British to just say "Look, we're wasting each other's time" and walk out, so I went ahead and did it. He thanked me and said he'd be in touch. And that was the last I heard from him.

This was before I had the internet, so I couldn't Google the company or find out any more about it. I felt stupid, and decided that I'd been the unwitting subject of some weird psychological experiment designed to test people's willingness to comply with pointless instructions.

So did this happen to any of you?


I'm reminded of the job which John Cusack lands himself on the 7 1/2th floor in 'Being John Malkovich'. Perhaps you were unwittingly entering a portal into your own mind?

[Edited at 2009-12-06 15:22 GMT]


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 23:20
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
oh my... Dec 7, 2009

Seems these tests were "invented" long time ago...And not only free test translations (judging from this story)...

I might appear boring to the bone and a little bit off topic, but will say it again - I do not think that anyone can really test the actual level of quality of translators and guarantee quality of real translations later with 200-300 words a free test. Even if the test is of a high level (acceptable), how one can know that this translator did it? Maybe he/she hired for a dozen of euros some professional agency who did this test, and the translator is a scam (cannot even write without grammar mistakes) and then gets a job of 50 000 words (guess what can happen).

About this particular situation - this is a simple disrespect to another person. The author of this post spent a lot of time to go to the office, did the job (how numbers in some accounting sheets relate to translation?) and simply wasted one's time (with no result at all). Good that he was not asked to do a DNR test to be prove his ID or some other complete and irrelevant nonsense.

Despite the fact that accepting or rejecting all these requests for whatever tests is a personal preference, I think we, professional freelancers, shall raise this issue of tests further and shall formulate a simple common "by default" approach towards these testers and time wasters on the principle "tests are time waste" and that ANY professional agency will always have a real and existing QA system (their own trusted translators and revisers) who always supervise any text received from other translators (any serious agency will never download the translation files from translator's email and re-attach and send "raw translation as it is" without at least reading it over first to the client)...Finally, about these ISO certified agencies. Well, this is THEY who are ISO certified and this is THEIR problem (and their expenses of time, energy and cash) as how they test the translators and make their QA function (it seems that ISO does not require anyone to do free tests)...

So, we shall stop this "test translation" madness somehow. Because anyone today asks for these free translation tests. If we do not do this, who knows, maybe we won't even receive 100 words of a translation project without providing a free test translation, CV with a family tree down to the 15th age, DNR analysis, blood test, or even a certificate from our psychiatrists...


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:20
French to German
+ ...
OT: ISO and QA systems Dec 7, 2009

MariusV wrote:
Well, this is THEY who are ISO certified and this is THEIR problem (and their expenses of time, energy and cash) as how they test the translators and make their QA function (it seems that ISO does not require anyone to do free tests)...


Implementers of quality standards can basically put in them "anything" they want, as long as they comply with the ground line of standards, which is Say what you do and do what you say.

But I agree with you here, Marius: free tests are not a mandatory part of translation QA systems, especially not as this contradicts the professional guidelines of associations such as the ATA for their corporate members: As an employer or contractor of translators and/or interpreters, I will uphold the above standards in my business. I further commit myself to the following practices with translators and interpreters: I will not require translators or interpreters to do unpaid work for the prospect of a paid assignment.

See https://www.atanet.org/membership/code_of_professional_conduct.php - point II D.

[Edited at 2009-12-07 08:00 GMT]


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Geraldine Oudin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Japanese to French
+ ...
Reminds me of a movie... Dec 7, 2009

After watching "El método Grönholm", nothing can surprise me in terms of recruitment methods...

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B D Finch  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:20
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Sleepwalking? Dec 7, 2009

Sounds like a bad dream to me!

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Krzysztof Kajetanowicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 22:20
English to Polish
+ ...
questions that are probing me Dec 7, 2009

- are your friends in a habit of messing with the content of your cigarettes?

- please check your bank account history, do you see any transfers to "New Redemption Foundation", perhaps "Global Warming And The Lord" that you do not remember authorising?

Other than that, circling tiny figures for strangers in underground stations seems to me like the everyday thing.


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philgoddard
United States
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
This might have been it... Dec 7, 2009

Tom Thumb wrote:

Perhaps you can tell us where the office building was e.g. Panther House at Mount Pleasant up the Farringdon Road and where a legitimate trans. agency used to run logical reasoning tests.


I think it might have been on Farringdon Road. But why would a translation company run logical reasoning tests?


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Trisha F  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:20
English to Spanish
+ ...
Very bizarre indeed... Dec 7, 2009

I have never had a similar experience with translation-related jobs but I have put up with this sort of thing in other types of companies a couple of times. It's really unpleasant and disappointing because one takes the trouble of showing up and finds out that there is no job interview as such but some really strange test or a meeting with dozens of people who also thought they were having a job interview... Once I was asked to gather contact information about my family, friends and neighbours. I refused, obviously and just went back home wishing I could get that afternoon back.

[Edited at 2009-12-07 15:50 GMT]


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Libero_Lang_Lab  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:20
Member (2006)
Russian to English
+ ...
company website Dec 7, 2009

This wasn't their company website was it by any chance?

http://www.oca.scientology.org/


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 19:20
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Candid camera? Dec 7, 2009

Did you try finding yourself doing it on YouTube?

Maybe in some candid camera compilation...


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John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 16:20
Member (2008)
French to English
Were you a victim's victim? Dec 7, 2009

I remember doing a somewhat similar test in the mid-70s - it seemed unrelated to what the interview was about. I think there were outfits that made and sold such tests, with the promise of revealing much about the person being tested, and I always had the impression that the person administering the test was himself the victim of such a sales pitch!

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xxxAdrian MM.
Local time: 22:20
French to English
+ ...
Logical reasoning Dec 7, 2009

I think it might have been on Farringdon Road. But why would a translation company run logical reasoning tests? [/quote]

El método Grönholm: 'We don't want human beings who look like a...holes. We want a...holes who look like human beings'. Thank you, Geraldine, for reminding me of that hilarious Catalan play.

Despite all the skepticism, logical reasoning and aptitude tests have - on and off - been a US/UK law-school applications filtering method. You need only look at the London City Uni./Inns of Court Bar School/ entry requirements to see that some sort of quota system is constantly mooted.

I don't see the problem with making someone who has qualified in accounts tackle a spot-the-difference numbers-crunching exercise, esp. if there is a translation deluge of annual reports and accounts coming along in the pipeline with all - maddening - figs. needing to be included. Whether the latter is part of a translator's or copy-typist's job is another question.

Again, the trans. agency that used to be at the top of Farringdon Road is still going strong - albeit at another address - and is no worse off for instating such 'eccentric' tests.


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