How Should Medical Interpreters Prepare for an Interview?
So you’ve been researching the job opportunities for medical interpreters, and you’ve decided it’s something you want to pursue. You’ve seen a variety of different medical interpreter training programs advertised, and are happy with the curriculum you’ve found – but something is still missing. You’ve yet to find any detailed information on what to do after you’ve completed an interpreter training - namely how to go for an interview at a hospital.
Luckily, going for a job interview as a medical interpreter isn’t too different from going to any other interview. In order to give you a better idea of what to expect, we’ve compiled a list of tips ranging from what to wear, to what to say.
What do Medical Interpreters Wear to an Interview?
Just like with any interview, when speaking to a potential employer at a hospital you want to give off a professional impression. You should not show up in any of the following:
- Pajamas or sweats (they’ll think they’re supposed to be treating you!)
- Tight and or ripped jeans
- Crop tops and very tight shirts
- Low cut shirts
- Flip flops
Generally you should dress as if you were attending a relatively conservative event – business professional clothing or business casual clothing is your best bet. You should try clothing from the following lists:
- Suits / Blazers
- Sports Jackets
- Button Down Shirts
- Dress Shoes (or nicely kept shoes)
- Suits / Blazers
- Dress Shoes (flats or heels, or other nicely kept shoes)
- Conservative Blouses
As a rule, you should stick to neutral colored clothing like black, navy and tans. Bright colors and patterns are usually discouraged.
What Should Medical Interpreters Expect at an Interview
Aspiring medical interpreters will have a slightly different experience at their interviews than other professionals. For one thing, it’s sometimes expected that you will have passed the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreter’s exam. However, this certification is not required by most hospitals. For many languages, a Medical Interpreter Training Certificate of Completion is sufficient. Aside from that, the hospital will ask you questions directly relating to your language and interpreting ability, as well as on your knowledge of Medical Interpreter’s Core competencies (Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics).
Medical Interpreter Certificate
In order to obtain a Medical Interpreter Certificate, you will have to pass a fairly rigorous exam. The test consists of two parts – an oral and a written assessment. Those who have passed this exam are better prepared, and have an advantage, when first entering the medical interpreting job market.
In order to prepare and gain the skill and knowledge base needed to pass this exam, you should enroll in a medical interpreter training course. In these courses, such as Language Connections’ Foundation of Medical Interpreting Course, instructors will cover not only the medical terminology you need to know in both your native and target languages, but also the skills needed to interpret. These include:
- Proper introductions
- The proper point-of view you should be speaking in to doctors and patients
- What is and is not included in the job of an interpreter
Medical Interpreters Are Tested on their Language Ability and Their Knowledge of Core Competencies
There are a variety of questions you should expect when going for an interview as a medical interpreter. While you may just be starting out, and you may not necessarily have a lot of experience in the field yet, you should do your best to answer all the questions. Below are outlined 5 interview questions you may get, and some example responses.
- What are some challenges or mistakes you’ve made on the job as an interpreter, and how have you learned from them? While you may not have any on the job experience when going for your first few interviews, you can discuss challenges/mistakes you encountered in your training and how you overcame them. You can also do some research into issues other medical interpreters commonly face, and acknowledge that you’re aware of such challenges and how you’re prepared to deal with them.
- Why should we hire you as an interpreter for our hospital? For this question you can highlight certain experience you have, the training you’ve received, and of course that you have a Medical Interpreter Certificate. You can also discuss why you want to become an interpreter in the first place, and how you plan on using that passion on the job.
- Interpret the following phrase… Here the interviewer will be testing you skill level with interpreting, your ability to relay the information calmly, and of course your medical vocabulary knowledge. Best advice is to stay calm, and remember your training.
- Why do you want to work as an interpreter at our hospital? This is another question in which you can describe what motivates you to be an interpreter and why you are passionate about it. Make sure you do your research on the hospital you’re applying for, in order to really explain to them why their hospital interests you.
- What would you do if you were interpreting, and the client used gestures or language that do not directly translate into English? This is another question that you could rely on your interpreter training to help you answer. Generally you should describe to the interviewer how you would best handle the issue of a language barrier, in order to ensure that what the patient was saying to the doctor is communicated clearly and accurately.
How Should Aspiring Medical Interpreters Without Experience Prepare for an Interview?
The best way to prepare to become a medical interpreter is to learn the basics through a medical interpreter training course. Courses such as these will help you learn best practices for interpreting, and the skills necessary to pass the challenging oral and written interpreter exams.
Language Connections offers a 7 week, medical interpreter course that covers the medical interpreter’s code of ethics, standards of practice, anatomy and physiology, and medical terminology in English and the target language. Our courses are taught by professional medical interpreters, who are native speakers in a variety of different languages.
Get the necessary, in person training in order to become a competent professional interpreter. Register now for one of our upcoming Medical Interpreter Training courses.
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