Interviewing in Spanish without speaking the language

The HiretheWorld team is based entirely in Vancouver, but we work with a global community (members from 127+ countries), so we encounter a huge diversity of languages on a daily basis.

When I began working with some of our freelancers on projects like our Community Spotlight Series it was clear that I needed to increase my linguistic IQ very quickly. For this specific project, I needed to conduct an interview with John Bermúdez, whose first language is Spanish – and produce two publishable versions of the transcript: one English, one Spanish. This project had two main criteria:

  • Tease out the most interesting aspects of John’s story that pertained to online work
  • Present John’s story, in his own words, as authentically as possible

Because we weren’t sure of exactly what we wanted to know, I needed to be the one asking the questions. As a result, I couldn’t pass the entire project off to a translator, but I also couldn’t afford the time or the money to have each email translated. Here’s what I did instead:

  1. Used the translate function in Google Docs to get a basic understanding of John’s responses
  2. Hired a Spanish speaking writer to translate the final transcript

Google Docs to the rescue!

Fortunately, John speaks enough English that he could understand my questions when written in English. He isn’t as comfortable writing in English, so his responses came back to me in Spanish. As his responses came in, I compiled them into a Google Doc, so I could send the entire thing to my hired translator at the end.

In the meantime, I discovered that Google Docs has a ‘Translate’ menu. This feeds your document to Google Translate and creates a new copy of your document, translated into the language of your choice – perfect!

The translations it produced were good but not great – I couldn’t publish them – but they were enough for me to get the gist, allowing me to ask intelligent follow-up questions and finish the interview process successfully:

Image of the English Transcript in Google Docs, showing the translate menu and the resulting Spanish version.

I ended up with a Spanish transcript of John’s responses.

Getting Spanish Translation done Online, at HiretheWorld

I’d completed the interview and assembled a final Spanish language transcript. Google translate gave me some idea of what he was saying, but for me to produce an authentic article written in John’s voice, I needed a professional translator to produce a final, publishable, English translation.

I posted a translation project on HiretheWorld and got a 3 applicants within a few hours.

I decided to Hire Elena and sent her the transcript. She had a professionally translated and polished English version back to me before the deadline, ready to publish: Community Spotlight: John Bermúdez | Colombian Web Designer

You can hire Elena – and lots of other great Translators – on HiretheWorld:

Implications

Overall, this project was a huge success. John was thrilled to see his story on our site, I was happy we were able to do it so quickly and affordably. This experience shows that there are a lot of tools out there to help you get your work to a nearly complete state, and lots of professionals who can help you add that final polish, without breaking the bank. I’ll be using this approach any time I need a professional writing result, in any language.

About Duncan Lock

Duncan is a Senior developer at HiretheWorld. He spans the boundary between development and marketing, spending his time coding in PHP, SQL, CSS and fixing bugs - as well as doing SEO, Marketing and Writing.
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