Draft of A Best Practices Paper from Partners in Communication, LLC about Interpreting Job Interviews

Partners In Communication LLC is putting together a document that we can share with interpreters – kind of a best practices for interpreting job interviews.

We have come up with a basic draft and we would like to share it with the community of interpreters and Deaf consumers to get your ideas and feedback.

Please add your comments, concerns, or suggestions below by clinking here or below on the Leave a reply link. 

We will be collecting comments until December 31, 2013


Interpreting Job Interviews: Teamwork Achieves Best Results –

A Best Practices Paper from Partners in Communication, LLC


Job interviews are just one type of interpreting assignment that can have a tremendous impact on someone’s life.  It’s normal for everyone involved to feel a little nervous. Preparation will go a long way to make things go smoothly. We at Partners in Communication, LLC believe it requires a team effort between the deaf interviewee and the interpreter(s) to achieve the best possible result.


For Deaf Interviewee: You can help interpreter(s) prepare for your upcoming job interview by:

–       Providing Partners with the job description and position announcement that will be forwarded to your interpreter(s);

–       Sharing a copy of your resume and any other materials you prepared for the interview or that illuminate your background;

–       Offering a list of common acronyms in your field that might come up (e.g. names of companies, schools, software programs, etc.);

–       Meeting briefly with the interpreter(s) before the interview so you can become comfortable with each other and you can relay any special instructions and share any points that you anticipate may come up in the discussion.

For the Interpreter(s)

–       Ask for, receive and review the above materials.

–       Arrive at least 15 minutes early at interview location.

–       If appropriate, ask interviewer if there is a printed sheet with interview questions that you can preview.

–       Meet team interpreter and discuss positioning and possible strategies. (It may make more sense for you all to sit closer together to make interview voice interpretation of answers seem as seamless as possible)

–       Meet with the deaf interviewee and review points above.

–       Discuss with deaf interviewee how to handle how to ask for clarification.


In order for deaf interviewees to be relaxed, they need to trust the interpreter(s).  Prior to the interview beginning, it is important that the deaf interviewee and the interpreter clarify with one another how “I need something repeated” will be handled.

Special Challenges of Interpreting Job Interviews

In Reading Between the Signs, (pgs. 163-170, 236-38) Anna Mindess discusses the unspoken sets of rules that govern American job interviews. She likens a job interview to a chess game. “It begins and ends almost formally with moves chosen from a very limited set of possibilities.”  The more comfortable and prepared the interpreter can be, the better.

“In a job interview,” Anna says, “the point is not to recount our previous positions, education or skills, but to present ourselves in a positive way so as to convince the employer to hire us.” She adds, “Advice commonly given to job seekers is to stress their strengths, minimize their weaknesses and even turn a potential negative into a positive.”

Imagine a deaf person who is used to answering questions directly and honestly, without much experience in the pervasive positivity that is expected in many mainstream job interviews.

Consider the following common questions and different ways they can be answered, depending if you are aware of the push for positivity or just answer the questions at face value

1) Did you have any trouble finding our office?

2) Why do you want this job?

3) Why do you feel you are the best-qualified person for this job?

4) Do you have any experience with XYZ software system?

5) What are your strengths that relate to this position?

6) What are your weaknesses?

By being prepared and working together before and during the interview, the deaf client can be assured of the best possible interview environment, and the interpreter can be assured s/he is offering the quality of service needed.