It is sometimes said that anyone who speaks two languages can work as a professional interpreter. But reality tells a different story. There’s a lot involved when it comes to being a professional interpreter. There are many specific requirements an interpreter has to meet. We explain five factors below that are important for interpreters:

1. Neutrality

An interpreter has to translate exactly what is being said. As an interpreter, you cannot edit, change or add anything to what is being said; the message has to be exactly what was said. One of the consequences in this context is that interpreters cannot be biased. This also applies to when sensitive topics are being discussed and the interpreter disagrees with what is being stated. The interpreter is prohibited from wording the information differently or being judgemental. The interpreter’s sole function is to make sure parties can communicate with each other. Interpreters keep their opinions to themselves.

2. Integrity

Trust is important. This is because an interpreter is frequently exposed to sensitive information and plays a special role in discussions and meetings. The interpreter regularly receives information on court cases, medical files, or corporate operational results that must remain confidential. That is why it is of prime importance that an interpreter never divulges this information, and sometimes interpreters will be asked to sign a confidentiality agreement.

3. Accuracy

Accuracy is of crucial importance for correctly conveying the message. This begins with listening carefully. If interpreters hear a great deal of information, they often take notes. By doing this, the interpreter doesn’t overlook any important details and accurately conveys the narrative. This is done by speaking clearly and articulately.

4. Speed

Interpreters have to be able to think fast on their feet. Simultaneous interpreters in particular have to listen and then rapidly translate and speak the words they’ve just heard. That’s why simultaneous interpreters are called the ultimate multitaskers. They’re good at anticipating; many interpreters can even predict what is going to be said. This is a special skill.

5. Professionalism

Interpreters are experts in what they do: they know just how to translate and convey not just the client’s words, but the message and sentiment as well. This makes them quintessential professionals in the field of multilingual communication. Professionalism also means being thoroughly prepared; only a well-prepared interpreter can provide the best service. And an interpreter is always punctual and dressed appropriately for the occasion: a true professional.


HearHear has a database of interpreters who possess the abovementioned quality attributes. Are you also looking for the best interpreter for your event? Then don’t hesitate to contact the HearHear team.