Selection procedures for staff and freelance interpreters in international organ

Summary of the AIIC Staff Interpreters Committee's survey of members at 10 national and international organisations that together cover over 90% of meetings held by public institutions world-wide.

As promised by its chairman at AIIC’s Dakar Assembly, the Staff Interpreters Committee has carried out a wide-ranging survey among its members of the selection procedures for interpreters of 10 representative national and international organisations which use the services of both staff and freelance interpreters. Between them these organisations cover over 90% of meetings held by public institutions world-wide. The information collected has been synthesized into two summary tables (see below) to succinctly present comparative data on:

  • recruitment procedures for staff interpreters
  • accreditation procedures for freelance interpreters

Table 1 : Staff Interpreters

The survey highlights in particular that:

  • with just one exception (where the decision is based on real-life performance in the booth), all the organisations concerned recruit staff interpreters on the basis of tests or competitive examinations
  • in addition to testing simultaneous interpreting, half of the organisations also test consecutive and general knowledge
  • in all organisations candidates are interviewed by a panel (often a large one), a majority of which is composed of professional interpreters (including the head interpreter in half of the cases).

Table 2 : Freelancers

Among the most salient features regarding freelancers, the survey reveals that:

  • half of the organisations require freelancers to pass an accreditation exam, which almost always tests consecutive as well as simultaneous
  • the other half contracts freelancers who have been approved by another major organisation or recommended by experienced professional interpreters, gives a priori approval to AIIC members, or selects on the basis of real-life performance in the booth
  • in almost all organisations candidates are interviewed by a panel with at least a majority of professionals and in some cases entirely composed of professional interpreters.

These findings indicate that the organisations responding to the survey apply professional and impartial selection procedures. This could be deemed to be all the more true where compulsory exams test for general knowledge and consecutive interpretation in addition to simultaneous. The Staff Interpreters Committee believes that the procedures in place are generally sound and provide a good basis for selection of professional interpreters. We are happy to present the results in the following tables.

Table1 : Recruitment procedures for staff interpreters

ORGANISATION

Fed.Gov.
CANADA

NATO
Brussels

NATO
NDC Rome

ICAO

OECD

I.

FIXED-TERM CONTRACTS

Not applicable

Not applicable

Not applicable

yes

yes

I.1

Duration

3 years

3 years with 6 month- probation period

I.2.

Admission requirements for tests

I.2.A

Diploma

no

I.2.B

Professional experience

yes

I.3

Consecutive tests

yes

no

number

3 per language

duration

type

General in nature

I.4

Simultaneous tests

Not compulsory. The Head Interpreter.listens to candidate in real life booth or dummy booth

number

duration

10 minutes

type

I.5

Interview

yes

yes(40 minutes)

I.5.A

Focus

Prior experience and long-term motivation

Personal qualities, interaction with colleagues, knowledge of set subjects

I.6

Make-up of panel

Interpreters of the same booth and the Head Interpreter who makes a recommendation to the Administration

2 interpreters, 2 officials of the service, the Head Interpreter, a HRM representative

II.

PERMANENT CONTRACTS

yes

yes

yes

Not applicable

see section III

II.1

Competitive examination

yes

no

yes

II.1.A

Admission requirements

II.1.A.a

Diploma

Diploma of recognised Interpreting School

(preferable but not compulsory)

II1.A.b

Professional experience

yes

II.1.B

Consecutive tests

no

yes

non

number

1 per lang.(direction)

duration

5 minutes each

type

Specialised political or military subject

II.1.C

Simultaneous tests

yes

yes

yes

number

2 to 3

1 per lang.(direction)

1 per lang.(direction)

duration

20 minutes each

15 to 20 min each

10 minutes

type

general, political, economic ;

original speeches from conferences or parliamentary debates, shown on video

political, military or technical

General geostrategic issues.

Texts read by a NDC non-linguistic staff member

II.1.D

Interview

yes

yes

yes

II.1.D.a

Focus

General discussion

Personal qualities and fluency in both languages

To shed light on candidate's personality

II.1.E

Make-up of panel

3 staff interpreters

NATO staff interpreters (6 to 8), half English A, half French A

NDC officials representing the Administration, staff and Faculty (6 to 8 persons)

Interpreting tests assessed by linguists

II.1.F

Other tests

Sight translation (political text)

5 minutes per language or direction

Translation tests for translator-interpreter posts

II.2

Probation or trial period

1-year probation period

1 year

III.

Others

All recruitment subject to obtaining security clearance

No document setting rules of procedure for competitive examinations, which may therefore vary

Translation tests, the results of which are taken into account for recruitment (all interpreters also work as translators)

Once vacancy notice has been posted, the HRM department draws up a long-list of applications, from which the Head of Department prepares a short list. Following the tests described above, successful candidates obtain a 2-year contract (probation: 6 months), normally renewed for one year, which then becomes a permanent contract

ORGANISATION

UNO
New York

Ital.Parl.
(Cam.Dep.)

EU/Court of Justice

EU/Commission

EU/Parliament

I.

FIXED TERM CONTRACT

Yes (becomes permanent contract)

Not applicable

not applicable

not applicable

not applicable

I.1

Duration

Limited to trial period before permanent contract is granted

(see section II)

I.2.

Admission requirements for tests

I.2.A

Diploma

I.2.B

Professional experience

I.3

Consecutive tests

number

duration

type

I.4

Simultaneous tests

number

duration

type

I.5

Interview

I.5.A

Focus

I.6

Make-up of the panel

II.

PERMANENT CONTRACTS

yes

yes

yes

yes

yes

II.1

COMPETITIVE EXAMINATION

yes

yes

yes

yes

yes

II.1.A

Admission requirements

II.1.A.a

Diploma

Univ. or recognised interpreting school diploma

Completed university diploma or equivalent professional experience

Completed university diploma + minimum 2 C

University diploma or equivalent professional experience

II1.A.b

Professional experience

2 to 3 years, depending on diploma

Recruitment as LA 7 or LA 6 depending on experience

Not required for LA8 recruitment, 150 days required for LA7

Training or extensive professional experience

II.1.B

Consecutive tests

no

yes

yes

yes

yes

number

2 per lang. (direction)

1 per C language

1 per C language

1 per C language

duration

4 minutes each

7 to 8 minutes each

5 minutes each

5 minutes each

type

Political, economic or legal subjects ;

speeches read

general, political, economic, or legal subject ; speeches oralized not read

general, political, economic, legal or cultural speech, not read

all subjects

II.1.C

Simultaneous tests

yes

yes

yes

yes

yes

number

4 per language

2 per lang.(direction)

1 per C language

1 per C language

1 per C language

duration

6 to 10 min each

7 minutes each

Approx. 20 minutes

8 minutes each

8 minutes each

type

Recorded tests, of increasing difficulty and speed

Political, economic or legal subjects ;

speeches read

General subjects, optional legal test (10 minutes)

General, political, economic, legal or cultural speech, not read

All subjects

II.1.D

Interview

yes

yes

yes

yes

yes

II.1.D.a

Focus

Assessing the candidate's attitude and personality. General knowledge + knowl. of the UNO

General culture, knowledge of the EU , motivation , aptitude, etc.

General culture and questions about EU

personality, general culture, knowledge of EU and EP

II.1.E

Make-up of the panel

Head of Service, 5 or 6 experienced interpreters , 5 or 6 representatives of the administration (staff, administration, recruitment, examinations, etc )

Officials representing administration and staff, staff interpreters/ translators, and freelance interpreters and translators with university teaching experience

Head of Service + at least 2 interpreters from the same booth (1 of whom is appointed by the Staff Committee) or lawyer-linguists if no interpreter available and assessors depending on language combination

Chairman from outside the Commission (often an academic) + 4 experienced staff interpreters ( 2 representing the administration + 2 the staff) + assessors where required, depending on language combination

Chairman + 3 other members (and 1 alternate) representing administration + 1 member (et 1 alternate) representing staff. Head of booth also present

II.1.F

Other tests

2 translations per language (in both directions) ; legal and political texts. Eliminatory marks

Optional tests : additional C language, or "retour" or legal speech

1 non eliminatory written test of general culture, prior to oral tests

May opt to sit non-eliminatory consecutive "retour" test

II.2

Probation period

2 years

1 year

9 months

9 months

9 months

III.

Other observations

Interpreter/translator posts


Table 2 : Accreditation procedures for freelance interpreters

ORGANISATION

Fed.Gov.
CANADA

NATO
Brussels

NATO
NDC Rome

ICAO

OECD

I.

Admission requirements

I.1

Diploma

Diploma in interpreting or equivalent university diploma

Diploma in interpreting from a recognised school

Preferable but not compulsory

no

I.2

Professional experience

100 days for candidates not having a diploma in interpreting

At least 1 year

yes (see section IV)

AIIC member. Sound experience in other international organisations

yes

II.

Tests

yes

yes

no

no

no

II.2

Consecutive tests

Yes for foreign lang.

yes

number

2 to 3

1 in each language

duration

10 minutes each

5 minutes each

type

general, political or economic subjects

political or military subjects

II.3

Simultaneous tests

Yes all languages

yes



Recommended citation format:
Staff Interpreters. "Selection procedures for staff and freelance interpreters in international organ". aiic.net June 27, 2002. Accessed December 15, 2017. <http://aiic.net/p/768>.



Message board

Comments 4

The most recent comments are on top

DURAND Claude

   

Toutes les corrections demandées par l'OTAN et la CJCE ont été apportées.

C.DURAND, Président de la CdP.

Total likes: 0 0 | 0

Caren Baviera-Betson

   

A number of inaccuracies are unfortunately contained in the sections dealing with the Court of justice; pending correction by the CdP I should advise interested persons to obtain information on our selection procedures directly from the Court of Justice Interpretation Division

Total likes: 0 0 | 0

Edna Setton, NATO Staff Interpreter

   

Correction to II.1 : the selection procedure for staff interpreters at NATO involves an individual test only, NOT a competitive examination.

Total likes: 0 0 | 0

Hong Jiang

   

This is a very interesting survey and I would like to learn more about the results. How can I get a copy of the full report?

Also, did the survey cover the procedure and method of marking of the various organizations?

Total likes: 0 0 | 0