Translation Job Tests

Employers use language proficiency tests, cultural knowledge assessments, and verbal reasoning tests to find qualified translation and localization experts. Strong translation candidates combine strong understanding of language and cultural differences with the ability to accurately capture the essence of their source materials.

Translation Assessments

Language Proficiency

Candidates are asked to select the languages they have experience with and their level of expertise within those languages (working, fluent, etc.). Candidates will be asked a combination of simple and complex proficiency questions depending on the employer’s needs. This assessment is typically completed in 8 minutes and has an average score of 4 out of 9. The top 10% of candidates score 7.5 out of 9 and complete the test in under 5 minutes.

Written Translation

The Written Translation test asks a candidate to translate simple and complex text and tests their writing abilities in both the source language and the target language. Candidates will be asked to complete short writing samples in both languages in a timed setting. This assessment is typically completed in 14 minutes and has an average score of 6 out of 16. The top 10% of candidates score 11 out of 16 and typically complete the assessment in 9 minutes.

Verbal Reasoning

This assessment asks candidates to paraphrase simple to complex passages on a range of different topics. Candidates are measured on their ability to comprehend the text and correctly select a paraphrased version in a timed setting. This assessment typically takes 16 minutes to complete and has an average score of 11 out of 19. The top 10% of candidates score 15 out of 19 and complete the assessment in 11 minutes.


During the Typing Test, candidates are asked to type a paragraph in each of their selected languages in a timed environment. The test measures a candidate’s ability to type quickly and with minimal errors. This assessment typically takes 5 minutes with an average score of 37 WPM / 99.1% Accuracy. The top 10% of candidates score 63 WPM / 100% Accuracy and typically complete the test in under 3 minutes.

Translation Job Skills

Successful candidates bring a wealth of knowledge in their field, a drive to constantly improve their language skills, and a dedicated eye for detail. Ideal candidates also demonstrate a strong sense of integrity in their work and are comfortable working on a deadline. Employers use the following dimensions when reviewing potential candidates:

Language Proficiency

Translators will spend a large amount of time working with both their native and their source language and so it’s no surprise that proficiency in those languages is desired. Successful translators understand the complexities and nuances of both the languages they’ll be working with.

Attention to detail

Translators work with a lot of information and spend the majority of their time writing, re-writing, interpreting, and dissecting different texts. Attention to detail is especially important as a translator as mistakenly translated passage can result in text that ends up sounding off or even worse, ends up making no sense at all. Catching small mistakes or typos can also reduce the amount of revisions a translator needs to make, saving them time and allowing them to work on other projects.

Writing and Comprehension Skills

Writing skills are necessary for more obvious reasons, if you’re going to be translating text, you’ll need to be a good writer! Even though translations are based off of others’ works, great translators have excellent writing skills and can make a text shine in both languages. Writing skills are also necessary for effective communication across all lines, especially during deadline-restricted projects.

Cultural Knowledge and Awareness

Understanding language is an important part of the translation process, but having a deep knowledge of the culture surrounding a language can turn basic translations into excellent translations. Understanding a culture at its fullest often requires complete immersion and candidates who have made it a point to understand the culture of their language often produce better translations.

Communication and Speaking Skills

In line with writing skills, communication skills are important to all translators as they’ll be communicating constantly with other members of their team. If problems arise, translators need to be able to thoroughly explain topics that might be complex or confusing to those who aren’t fluent in the source languages.

Job Duties

Translators are responsible for translating various pieces of material from different sources including both written and verbal sources. Successful translators who excel in mostly written translation are often excellent writers with a passion for learning languages and the differences between them. They possess a superior command of both their source and target languages and are able to discern translated material from a native speaker vs. translated material from a non-native speaker. Successful translators have exceptional communication skills, respect for deadlines (and for languages), and are comfortable working as a part of a team or on their own.

Translators often have a high level of responsibility and trust instilled in them as they might be the only member on a team that is fluent in their language. It falls on them to ensure their work maintains a high level of quality, accuracy, and suitability for the project that they’re working on. Employers generally look for a native level of speaking when it comes to the languages they need assistance in as often times translators without a native level of expertise will provide translations that appear off or obviously translated to native speakers.

Employers often look for candidates who have a history of demonstrated success in their field as a translator and might even require candidates to provide certifications for specific projects. Alongside that, successful translators will often have a specialization that allows them to help in fields that a general translator can’t assist in. Candidates who have demonstrated these traits and bring a general sense of responsibility, respect for the material, and attention to detail will excel in their role as a translator.

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