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I was recently offered a contract for simultaneous interpreting in booth, where all information about the job was given in the offer except the name of my colleague. As I prefer to know beforehand, I asked for the name, and to my surprise, I was told that I would not get the name until I had signed the contract.

It has happened to me earlier that the name of the colleague did not appear in the first request, but then it has always been due to the fact that there had not yet been a confirmation from the other colleague, but in those cases agencies have always been happy to tell me who they asked.

I ended up accepting this contract, and it all went relatively well. But I must admit that I have declined the next offer since I cannot really accept not knowing who I will work with. What is your experience in this matter and what would you have done?

asked 31 May '12, 03:37

tulkur's gravatar image


Thank you for all interesting answers and comments. I'd like to stress that I got the name almost immediately after I signed the contract, which gave me time to contact the colleague, prepare and so forth. But it was puzzling and uncomfortable not knowing before accepting it. I suppose I decided to sign and see out of curiosity. My curiosity is now at peace, and as I said I declined their next offer, for reasons in line with all the comments below. I'm still puzzled though.

(31 May '12, 15:41) tulkur

I would agree with the others - for me, the alarm bells start ringing if an agency (particularly a new contact) is not completely forthcoming with all information about the job, and that includes names of colleagues. I always ask for the names of all team members, not just that of my boothmate, and if I see that they are reluctant to provide them, I simply turn the option down.

I have learned from past mistakes to ask for full names as well, since once I was told that "Joe" from Madrid would be on the team, and as it turned out, it wasn't the "Joe" I assumed it would be, but someone completely unknown. Also, comments such as "you will be working with your colleague from Valencia" aren't enough, for the same reason.

There are lots of good reasons to want to know the full team make-up. For one, you want to ensure that the language coverage is correct. Some might try to pair you with someone who doesn't even have the right active language for that booth (!). Maybe it is just a lack of awareness on their part (e.g. they assume any interpreter with English in their combination will be able to work into it), but of course, even if it is well-intentioned on their part, we end up being the ones paying the price for the mistake on the day. Also, you want to be working with trained professionals, since the performance of the whole team will be judged by its weakest link. I also feel that you need to know who your teammates will be so that you can be in touch with them in advance to prepare the event.

There are many other reasons to have the full information provided on the team. To be honest, I can't think of a single good reason NOT to provide it...

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answered 31 May '12, 10:15

Michelle's gravatar image


A long time ago, another agency gave me a signed contract with one colleagues name on it and the evening before the job they called me in some other business, and happened to mention that I would be working with another person than the one on my contract. A person whom I suspected was not an interpreter, that time I cancelled.

(31 May '12, 11:04) tulkur

Ça m'est également arrivé avec un client direct qui ne voulait pas révéler le nom du collègue.

Il s'est avéré qu'il s'agissait d'un traducteur de la compagnie qui n'avait aucune expérience en simultanée. J'ai du faire une bonne partie de son travail.

Depuis lors, j'insiste pour obtenir le nom. C'est également utile pour préparer la conférence en équipe.

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answered 31 May '12, 06:03

Angela's gravatar image


This time it went well, but obviously that is what I feared as well. And I also usually get in touch with the colleague beforehand, just to see if we can plan preparation and so forth.

(31 May '12, 10:55) tulkur

... the only acceptable reason why the name of one concabin is not disclosed would be that his/her identity still isn't confirmed... if everything else is kosher,I would accept conditionally, stating that I would reserve my final decision until such time as his/her identity is indeed known AND made known to me. I can't think of one single good reason why, once known, I should be kept in the dark... and I would therefore refuse if that were indeed the case.

Furthermore, such an offer would not be coming through a recruiting colleague, another reason to be wary.

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answered 31 May '12, 06:19

msr's gravatar image


edited 31 May '12, 06:23

Angela's gravatar image


The interesting thing in their case is that they gave me the name as soon as I had returned the signed contract. And they mumbled something about disclosure, however that experience was so uncomfortable that I prefer not to work with them again. I cannot help suspecting that they've had trouble with using interpreters that other interpreters were not comfortable working with.

(31 May '12, 10:58) tulkur

Hi Tulkur, I have NEVER not known who I was going to work with. It is important for all the reasons stated by other colleagues above, but I want to react to your last point: if two people really do not get on well with one another... it is a very bad idea to put these two people in the same booth. I do expect any of my colleagues to behave professionally, but interpreting is team work and that is a lot easier if there is no tension in the booth to start with, I feel.

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answered 31 May '12, 11:47

Fiona's gravatar image


Yes, I agree, even worse in that case to force people into the same booth.

(31 May '12, 15:36) tulkur

Interesting question! I think it would depend on whether I knew the agency and had worked with it before. Otherwise I would decline. Best Ulla Schneider

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answered 31 May '12, 05:27

Ulla's gravatar image


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question asked: 31 May '12, 03:37

question was seen: 9,384 times

last updated: 31 May '12, 15:41

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