The quality of Ablio interpreting services much depends upon our interpreters’ professional skills. This article describes what’s happening “behind the doors” of our selection, evaluation and training processes.

Unfortunately, the qualification of an interpreter cannot be immediately recognizable by checking his or her certifications or enrollment in professional associations: in order to properly verify their competences and capability to stand up to the high standards of interpreting service. It is therefore important not only to carefully analyze their curriculum, but also to test their skills in real scenarios.

To do so, Ablio has created its own verification, validation and monitoring model for testing the competences, which improve all current international best practices and defines a new standard of reference for the whole industry.

The Interpreters platform

Ablio aims to provide services in every language combination. That’s why every month we evaluate dozens or even hundreds of new applications of interpreters from all countries, from Italy to New Zealand, in a great variety of language combinations. We’ve therefore conceived a totally new approach, managed through a dedicated online platform entirely built in-house, that ensures optimal and efficient management of all processes related to the activities of our interpreters.

After sign up, candidates have access to information sections where they can gain a clear view of our operating procedures—the nature and requirements of the duties of an interpreter. They can therefore submit their application by filling out a set of forms and questionnaires, then uploading additional required documentation such as curriculum, diplomas and professional certificates.
This initial documentation is assigned to an internal “coach”: an expert interpreter and linguist in one of the candidate's language, which will provide an initial screening and evaluation. Our evaluator coaches have at least five years’ experience and a training specialty, and once assigned to new applicants, they will follow and attend them during their entire permanence in ablio.

Oral exam

After the initial screening, the candidate is requested to take an oral exam, consisting in a 30 minute interpreting session in the required languages match. The oral test takes place online and it is a simulation of a real service session like the ones that the candidate will be faced with as an interpreter working in ablio. Dialogs are pre-recorded with proper silence pauses in between utterances to be filled by the interpreter’s bi-directional oral translation. The entire oral test is recorded and added to its digital profile in order to be heard and evaluated by the related coach. In this way we no longer have the necessity to organize multiple sessions where interpreter, evaluator and actors must be present. The whole process happens at different times and places, plus we ensure to test everybody against a very similar and equal scenario.

As usually applied in most divers application fields, a test can be structured to have a determined difficulty level. Compared to oral language exams performed by the most renowned language schools, ours is certainly the most difficult and challenging, deliberately set in such a way to highlight the true candidate’s qualities.

The evaluation

After the oral exam, a quality score is assigned to the application by the coach. The candidate is then allowed to operate at service levels where minimum thresholds have been exceeded.
We have implemented an evaluation model—inspired by the European Parliament commissions’ models—based on objective criteria that take as reference a grid of ten parameters which benchmark our Standards, thus allowing us to apply a uniform paradigm throughout our entire coach team.
In order to be able to operate at the Expert level, candidates must also take further tests to verify their knowledge and skills in terminology and practices within specific contexts, such as medical and hospitals, or legal and courts.

Support services

At the end of each session the customer is invited to provide a personal evaluation of the quality of the service, assigning a rating that will update the overall quality score of the interpreter. Through constant monitoring of their performances and periodical coaching sessions we are able to ensure the optimal quality of interpreting services.
Furthermore, all interpreters are supported by the Technical and Specialist Service available 24/7 and have access to the "ablioteque": a vast repertoire of on-line courses, glossaries, exercises for constant professional training and improvement of their skills.

Conclusions

Such system has required remarkable commitment in the engineering development of an online digital platform capable of managing the entire cycle of processes in a fluid and automated way. On the other hand, any other form of traditional management would have requested unsustainable costs or penalized quality standards.
This unique model allows us to operate with great efficiency, with an ever-growing community of interpreters deployed anywhere, but united in the common goal of delivering the best interpreter service ever.