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Seeking opinions on test translations
Thread poster: Ondira

Ondira  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:32
Member (2012)
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Oct 25, 2012

Thank you - this is all very helpful! I am glad I asked this question here.

 

Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 05:02
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
SITE LOCALIZER
My (bad) experiences Oct 25, 2012

I remember one case in which I took great pains to do a largish test translation, involving a lot of formatting to boot, which I was later informed by the Project Manager that it had fetched them the job. But I never got the job. The agency used my skills to pass the test and probably gave the job to a cheaper translator.

There was another curious case of a dodgy agency which not only got me to do a test translation but had also the shamelessness to ask me if I would also evaluate t
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I remember one case in which I took great pains to do a largish test translation, involving a lot of formatting to boot, which I was later informed by the Project Manager that it had fetched them the job. But I never got the job. The agency used my skills to pass the test and probably gave the job to a cheaper translator.

There was another curious case of a dodgy agency which not only got me to do a test translation but had also the shamelessness to ask me if I would also evaluate the test translations of other translators!

So test translations are a contentious issue and need to be tackled on a case by case basis. I still do not refuse tests from agencies who seem above board, after all, in an internet setting where agencies (as well as we translators) have to work with a totally unknown person, we need to submit to some form of quality checking.

Mostly agencies which are not sure of themselves insist on tests. The more confident ones are able to identify talent by studying the resume, profile, kudoz record, etc. There are many agencies for whom I have been working for years, who never asked me to do tests in the first place. Usually the first job you do for an agency should serve as a test of your capabilities. If you satisfy the end client with your first job, you usually move up in the esteem of your agency who then rewards you with repeat jobs.

So my advice would be, do the tests if the agency seems genuine and if you happen to have the time. But don't bank too much on tests fetching you any jobs. I agree with Sheila that those agencies which burden you with tests, forms, references, signed contracts and other red tapes usually never give you any work.
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Marie Safarovic
Russian Federation
Local time: 02:32
Russian to German
+ ...
My positive experience Oct 25, 2012

A test translation was how I got my current job as an in-house translator.

First step: I sent my CV with a brief but nice covering letter
Second step: They sent me a test translation
Third step: Job interview
Fourth: Got the job

Within 3 days.

Just my two cents of thought


 

Meta Arkadia
Local time: 06:32
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Perfect Score Oct 26, 2012

Meta Arkadia wrote:
Positive response: 100%.

Messages like the one below may ruin my perfect score. So far, they didn't.



Cheers,

Hans

[Edited at 2012-10-26 04:51 GMT]


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 00:32
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
SITE LOCALIZER
@Marie Oct 26, 2012

Marie Safarovic wrote:
A test translation was how I got my current job as an in-house translator.
...
Second step: They sent me a test translation


Wow, that was nice. When I got my first job as an in-house translator, I had to write the test at the client's premises, and the client had this weird idea that you can get a better idea of how a translator translates if he does it in pencil. A three-hour test with a pencil is not fun.

I must add that you can't really compare in-house job tests with the test translations given to translators for what is potentially just one translation task (even if it promises to lead to more).

If a potential employer (i.e. for an in-house job) were to ask me to work at his translation office for a whole day, for free, to see how I cope, I'd gladly do it, but I won't do more than about half an hour's free work for a client (agency or no), unless I'm fairly confident that the test will lead to a job.


 

Flora Iacoponi, MCIL  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 23:32
English to Italian
+ ...
test translations for in-house jobs vs freelance Oct 26, 2012

Marie Safarovic wrote:

A test translation was how I got my current job as an in-house translator.

First step: I sent my CV with a brief but nice covering letter
Second step: They sent me a test translation
Third step: Job interview
Fourth: Got the job

Within 3 days.

Just my two cents of thought



I must say, I got two in-house jobs easily thanks to test translations but now that I'm doing them as a freelance translator it's a completely different story, I find the process much more difficult and frustrating.
Agencies tend not to send you feedback even when they say they will so you can't even learn from your mistakes (in case that's the reason why you don't hear back).
I think in some language pairs and specializations (like mine) the competition is just too much and I don't know if agencies just receive too many applications and therefore have too many tests to review. Not sure really, but I find it totally frustrating. On the other hand, after word of mouth, it's one of the best ways to expand your clients pool so I guess I have to persevere and keep doing them

[Edited at 2012-10-26 15:15 GMT]


 

Michelle Kusuda  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:32
English to Spanish
+ ...
Agree - Paid sample translations if it has to do with current project! Oct 27, 2012

ATIL KAYHAN wrote:

My own experience with test translations is very similar to yours. That is why I do not do them anymore, either. At least not the free test translations. A good compromise is PAID test translations. You can always ask the company that you will do the test translation provided they pay for it. If the company is legitimate and serious about you, they should accept it. If they do not accept paid test translation, it is definitely their loss, not yours. This is the way I look at it.





I just had a similar experience. Being new to Proz.com, I was encouraged when one of my quotes got a response. I was sent some files to evaluate whether I could perform the translation. After I confirmed I could do it and gave a timeframe for completion I received another email requesting me to provide 1 page (700 words, very small print) as a sample. I asked that the sample be paid. Response "If not a full page, I really need at least 1/2 page sample." When I mention that I cannot spend all my time providing free samples, I then get told "I would prefer someone from xxx country."

My first flag was that the contact person did not ask for references, was only interested in the (1) one page translation sample.

Lately I have been receiving checking/proofreading jobs that seem like "test samples" patched together given the inconsistency of paragraph headlines terms being different in every other paragraph!

If that outsourcer had been serious, I do not see why they would object to the paid sample since it will be part of the project. Am I so wrong?


 

Michelle Kusuda  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:32
English to Spanish
+ ...
Hard not to become cynical! Oct 27, 2012

Tom in London wrote:

Ondira wrote:

..... in 80% of the cases I never hear back


In my case it's 100%. I don't do them any more.

If I were cynical I'd say they send a different piece of text to 100 different translators, then stitch all the pieces together to get a free translation of a whole document.

But of course I'm not cynical, so I wouldn't say that.



[Edited at 2012-10-24 09:06 GMT]



I just got done revising a document that looked exactly like what you described! Everything happens for a reason because I no longer do "free" samples.

Cheers!


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:32
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Hmm Oct 27, 2012

Michelle Kusuda wrote:

Lately I have been receiving checking/proofreading jobs that seem like "test samples" patched together given the inconsistency of paragraph headlines terms being different in every other paragraph!


Hmm. So maybe I *should* be cynical.


 

Michelle Kusuda  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:32
English to Spanish
+ ...
Hmm you should be cynical! Oct 27, 2012

Tom in London wrote:

Michelle Kusuda wrote:

Lately I have been receiving checking/proofreading jobs that seem like "test samples" patched together given the inconsistency of paragraph headlines terms being different in every other paragraph!


Hmm. So maybe I *should* be cynical.






Yes, you have my permission to be cynical!

A serious outsourcer normally pays for the sample and applies it towards the project final invoice. I also notice that serious outsourcers send sample of material in order to firm up estimate and follow through with a purchase order along with materials to be translated. I hate time wasters!


 

Sandra Gianesini  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 00:32
Member (2011)
Italian to French
+ ...
what about negative response without any feedback or explanation on mistakes Nov 14, 2012

my experience is that 90% of the tests that I've sent back to agencies were judged negatively. Their answer usually is: "YOU DID NOT PASS THE TEST", but they don't provide (even after I ask them) a proper proofreading, or feedback on the mistakes that I've made.
At first I thought that I might not be a good translator as I thought, but as I'm translating for 7 years now and that clients feedbacks are 95 % positive, I started to wonder if tests would be just a way for the agencies to get ac
... See more
my experience is that 90% of the tests that I've sent back to agencies were judged negatively. Their answer usually is: "YOU DID NOT PASS THE TEST", but they don't provide (even after I ask them) a proper proofreading, or feedback on the mistakes that I've made.
At first I thought that I might not be a good translator as I thought, but as I'm translating for 7 years now and that clients feedbacks are 95 % positive, I started to wonder if tests would be just a way for the agencies to get accurate free translations...?
I'm not going to take tests anymore.

What do you think? What is your experience?

Any agencies that can confirm this opinion?Thanks.
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They get their projects done for free that way Nov 14, 2012

Sandra Gianesini wrote:
At first I thought that I might not be a good translator as I thought, but as I'm translating for 7 years now and that clients feedbacks are 95 % positive, I started to wonder if tests would be just a way for the agencies to get accurate free translations...?

Yes, I have the same exact opinion about this.

Let's say they have a project of 5000 words and they divide it into 10 paragraphs with 500 words in each one of them. All they need is 10 translators (each one translating 500 words) to get that whole project done for free. And for a 10000 word project they need 20 translators which I'm sure they can find that many in one day on the web.
This sounds like common sense... just didn't know if you all ever thought about it.


 

Flora Iacoponi, MCIL  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 23:32
English to Italian
+ ...
I don't think so Nov 15, 2012

Salithealbo wrote:

Yes, I have the same exact opinion about this.

Let's say they have a project of 5000 words and they divide it into 10 paragraphs with 500 words in each one of them. All they need is 10 translators (each one translating 500 words) to get that whole project done for free. And for a 10000 word project they need 20 translators which I'm sure they can find that many in one day on the web.
This sounds like common sense... just didn't know if you all ever thought about it.


I think this is a myth. It would be too risky and counter-productive for an agency to use this strategy. Think about style and terminology consistency only.
Only agencies at the very bottom of the market might do such a thing and I imagine they wouldn't be on the market for very long.

My opinion on translation tests producing negative results or no results at all (i.e. no feedback given) is that there are just too many translators competing for jobs and translation agencies simply don't have the time to reply to all the translators who do tests for them or to discuss feedback. This may be true especially for the most common language combinations (EN > IT being one of them) while translators with less common ones may have a better success rate.
It's deplorable, frustrating, and downright disrespectful towards us but I'm afraid that's how it is.


[Edited at 2012-11-15 13:32 GMT]


 
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