August 29, 2019

3 Mistakes You Should Avoid When Working with an Interpreter

By: Colleen Jilio-Ryan | Posted in: Court Reporters in California

mistakes to avoid working with legal interpreter

When you are interviewing someone who doesn’t speak English, it’s important that you hire a professional legal interpreter. Interpreters understand the interview process and their role in the meeting. However, not every interpreter is suitable for this type of work. Here are a few things you should avoid when hiring a legal interpreter to interview a witness.

Inadequate Preparation

One of the most important things to avoid is not being fully prepared. When dealing with a witness that speaks a different language, you will need to find a court interpreter who has a natural grasp of both the language as well as the terminology you will be using during the interview. It’s beneficial to speak with the interpreter prior to the interview to ensure they have everything they need before they arrive.

Direct Your Questions to the Witness, Not the Interpreter

Many interviewers will speak to the interpreter instead of the witness. The witness is the person being interviewed, not the court interpreter. All questions should be directed to the person being interviewed. While there may be times you need to interact with the interpreter, you should always maintain eye contact with the witness and speak directly to them.

Avoid Interpreters Who Are Inexperienced

Performing legal depositions or interviews requires both accuracy and professionalism. If you want your interview to be as accurate and concise as possible, you need to hire a professional interpreter who has vast experience to do the best possible job. The interpreter must be able to speak the language fluently, maintain the appropriate tone, and above all, stay focused on the job.


Avoiding simple mistakes is easy if you remember a few common-sense rules. Take time to work with your court interpreter and make sure they understand what will happen during the interview. Also, make them aware of what they will be required to do to make the entire process go much smoother. Before hiring a court interpreter, meet with them, and discuss what you expect out of your partnership. Always make sure you are both on the same page before bringing them into the interview room.

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