Put through their paces

Mitja Sternkopf describes how we choose our translators.

Put through their paces

One of the aspects I noticed as soon as I started working for kothes as a translation manager is the selection and quality assurance process that translators have to complete in order to join kothes.

Our translation management is certified according to international quality standard ISO 17100, which means that all translators must demonstrate that they meet the criteria specified in the standard, regarding professional training and work experience. This ensures that candidates are only considered if they work as professional translators.

However, demonstrating that they meet these requirements is only the first step in our selection process. Next, the translators applying must pass a few specially-developed translation tests to ensure they are capable of translating complex technical and marketing texts. Among other things, these tests ensure that the source text is not only comprehended in full, but also critically examined. As technical translators constantly have to deal with new topic areas, their research skills are also examined and evaluated.

After this initial test phase, we, as translation managers, then strictly monitor the quality of the supplied translations. Human control is complemented by special software solutions that subject the translation to a whole series of automated checks that are adapted precisely, according to customer requirements. After submission, translations can be checked for quality and correctness by an independent second translator according to the dual-control principle. All results of these checks flow into a specially-developed rating system, where they are recorded and monitored, and which provides an overview of how each translator has progressed. The translator is kept informed about their performance and any identified weaknesses, allowing them to initiate corrective measures. Of course, our collaboration can only continue if the rating stays above a certain level.

When I started working here it quickly became clear to me that you need a lot of experience and skills to succeed as a translator for kothes.

But of course we do not just leave our translators to their own devices. To ensure, for example, that they make the best possible use of the software tools provided and that the collaboration functions smoothly, we offer an in-house training program with webinars that, for example, explain the latest software functions and process optimisations; translators can attend them at no cost. It is important for us to meet our specialist translators in-person, so we regularly invite them to a translators’ meeting at our Berlin office; where we conduct training and collect both suggestions and feedback. This creates a cooperative and trust-based relationship that, along with fair pay and optimal working conditions, in my experience strengthens the motivation of all employees.

Mitja Sternkopf
Blog post Mitja Sternkopf
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