5 Tips to Nail Medical Interpreter Interview Questions

Interviews are generally stressful, and those for medical interpreters are no different. Luckily we have some tips about preparing for medical interpreter interview questions, as well as advice on pursuing advanced medical interpreter training.

Finding a job as soon as possible after completing medical interpreter training is the goal of most students. Luckily, interpreter training will help put most people on the right track to landing their first interviews. However, the interview process for medical interpreters is slightly different from those of other jobs.

What are common Medical Interpreter interview questions you can expect from interviewers?

While you will likely still be asked standard questions regarding your past experience, why you want to work with a certain institution, and about your strengths and weaknesses, you will also be asked to prove your abilities through a language assessment.

What Does a Language Assessment Cover?

Medical Interpreter Language AssessmentWhile there is no set standard for language assessments by hospitals and healthcare institutions when hiring interpreters, an ideal assessment would be composed of a variety of parts testing fluency, knowledge of technical terms, ability, and understanding of cultural differences.

In general, you can anticipate to be asked to demonstrate the following:

  1. Ability to communicate clearly and accurately in your language pairs
  2. Understanding of the interpreter code of ethics, and how to apply that to real life situations
  3. Knowledge of basic and highly technical medical terms and concepts
  4. Recognition of potential cultural barriers that can occur in common medical settings (such as with receiving treatment and interacting with doctors and staff)
  5. Accuracy in providing sight translation for certain documents

While many of the aforementioned points are skill-based, one of the most important medical interpreter interview questions will be the one covering your knowledge of basic and highly technical medical terms and concepts. After all, if you aren’t able to accurately convey what a doctor is telling his or her patient, then you run the risk of the patient suffering severe health-related consequences.

That in mind, how do you effectively prepare for a language and culture assessment?

5 Interview Tips to Help You Land the Job as a Medical Interpreter

Practicing your interpreting skills  Medical Interpreter Interview Questions

  1. Practice interpreting scenarios with friends or classmates – Interpreter training programs will introduce you to the basics of interpreting with role plays. These exercises are good practice for both language assessments, and real-life interpreting, as they teach you how to focus on what different parties are saying, and interpreting them consecutively.


  1. Practice translating documents out loud – Medical interpreters may be asked to perform sight translation from time to time to help patients fill out medical forms. Sight translation can be compared to simultaneous interpreting, as you will have to both read and render the words into the target language at the same time.


Practicing this skill can be as easy as taking a form or document (preferably medical in nature), and reading it out loud into your target language. You can either record yourself to go back and listen in on how you did, or practice with a friend who is also bilingual, so they can critique your clarity in rendering the message.
Staying on top of your Medical and Culture Knowledge

  1. Make flashcards of medical terms – When it comes to medical terms you will likely have to memorize a few in order to get started. With experience you will be involved in a variety of situations and use medical terminology enough to not need to memorize every word; however, when you’re just getting started it’s helpful to have an arsenal of words at your disposal.


We recommend making flashcards, either physical or online, to quiz yourself on common medical terms and concepts.


  1. Research differences between U.S. health practices and those of the cultures that predominantly speak your target language – If you aren’t aware already of common cultural barriers you might encounter on the job, now is the time to do a little research about them.


Not only will this help you if your interviewer asks questions on cultural barriers, but it will help you understand where some of your future clients may be coming from in terms of their healthcare decisions.


  1. Expand your medical knowledge – This tip is more long-term than some of the others, as it requires you stay up to date with the medical industry (as there are often new developments), as well as continue learning about areas of healthcare you may not have covered in interpreter training program.


But how do you do this?

Expanding Your Medical Knowledge

Medical Interpreter Interview Interpreter training programs are beneficial to gain a base understanding of the medical field and common medical vocabulary terms, but in a real-life scenario you can run into a healthcare topic that might not have been covered in your training.

You also run the risk of this happening with medical interpreter interview questions.

While there is no way to predict what might be asked during your interview to be a medical interpreter for a hospital or other institution, you can prepare by continuing to develop your medical knowledge through advanced medical interpreter training programs.

Advanced training programs will generally cover topics and vocabulary than an intro to interpreter training will not. These can range from Oncology to Psychiatry.

There is a high chance that you will run into interpreting jobs that deal with these topics, and it would not be unexpected for a hospital to potentially test you on them. Therefore, pursuing advanced medical interpreter training can not only help you further your career – it can help you land a job!

Language Connections offers a 7 week, Advanced Medical Interpreter Training session covering 11 healthcare subjects not discussed in our Intro to Interpreter Training Program. The course will introduce new terminology and techniques to help medical interpreters build on their skills.

Want to make sure you’re extra prepared to answer any medical interpreter interview questions, and for your future job experience? Enroll in Advanced Medical Interpreting today!


Get the necessary, in person training in order to become a competent professional interpreter. Register now for one of our interpreter training programs: Medical Interpreter Training, Legal Interpreter Training or Community & Business Interpreter Training.

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