What are the qualities of a good interpreter?

Good interpreter skillsWho is an interpreter?

An interpreter is a person who converts a speech from one language to another verbally. The person translates speech verbally unlike actual translation. This work can take place in person or through media such as video or voice calls. An interpreter can provide simultaneous or consecutive interpretation services. Usually, large conferences require the former service whereas smaller business meetings require the latter. Let us look at the different clients that require interpretation services.

Consumers of this service

A person in this field works mostly as a freelancer. Whereas many of them work as full-time employees for different organizations as well. Some of them are

News channels

News channels are a regular consumer of interpretation services. They require this service for onsite journalism. They also employ these professionals on a permanent basis. People having a degree in journalism are preferable for this job.

Multi-National Companies

Multi-National Companies often conduct meetings and conferences to discuss various topics. And they often hold these meetings with companies from other nations. And hence, interpretation services are important during these meetings.

Political Parties

Political parties take frequent use of interpretation services. Leaders often employ personal interpreters for this job. This is necessary for a multi-lingual country such as India. This is a very critical job and a person in this field needs to be very careful during work.

Documentary film producers

We have often the use of interpretation services in documentaries. It is a much sought after field as it is very close to the entertainment industry.

 International Diplomats

International diplomats such as presidents and prime ministers use interpreters to convey their messages in meetings and conferences during their visit to other countries. It is a very respectable field. It requires years of experience and very high qualifications to work at such levels.

International bodies

International bodies such as the United Nations, the World Health Organisation, and other bodies take the help of world-class interpreters during summits and conferences. Working at such levels also requires years of experience and very high qualifications.

Translation companies

Translation companies often employ interpreters and provide interpretation services to the above consumers of this services.

Now, let us look at the essential skills of a good interpreter.

Qualities and skills of a good interpreter

Amazing Language Skills

A good interpreter is a master of the source and target languages. This is the most important skill of an interpreter. He/she should be fluent, have a vast vocabulary, excellent written and verbal communication skills and have knowledge of various expressions and idioms of the languages.

Specialty Knowledge

Most translators work in a specific industry or field (i.e. healthcare, legal, business, etc.). This means they need to have specialized knowledge in a certain area to be successful communicators. Even though someone might be an amazing multilingual speaker, they wouldn’t get far interpreting at a hospital if they had no experience with medical vocabulary and lingo.

Cultural Aptitude

Cultural aptitude is something which a person cannot learn in a short time. It is a very important quality which helps an interpreter perform to his/her best. This is the ability to detect certain nonverbal cues or customs that are specific to a particular group of people or geographical place. Having a strong grasp on cultural norms will help an interpreter better convey what a non-native speaker is trying to get across.

Good listening skills

This is one of the most important skills of an interpreter. This requires a personality that tries to understand whatever another person is trying to convey. Good listening skills depend on many other factors.


Patience is an important factor while performing Interpretation services. During long hours of conferences and meetings, patience is very vital.

Strong memory and focus

A strong memory is something which determines the efficiency of an interpreter. Focus is also very important which matters a lot. This is especially true during business meetings and conferences.

Good communication skills and confidence

An interpreter is not only a verbal translator but also a performer. Hence high confidence and good communication skills are essential.

Quick thinking skills and current affairs knowledge

Quick thinking skill is key to deliver a message in another language in a nice manner. Also, an interpreter should have good general knowledge and knowledge about current affairs.


The last but not the least important qualification of an interpreter are the certification that he/she holds to her name. Certifications and degrees help a person learn some of the skills of an interpreter. This helps ensure that an interpreter is very likely to perform good interpretation work.

Please tell us what you think in the comments section and feel free to check out our other content in the blogs section.

2 comments to “What are the qualities of a good interpreter?”

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  1. I would like to thank you for sharing this amazing and knowledgeable content with us. The most informative point in the content is ‘Good communication skills and confidence’, the interpreter must know the skills & should have full confidence.

  2. Warm regards for sharing this amazing and informative manual with us. I would say that the content is full of information and useful for us. Most informative point is ‘Amazing Language Skills’, the interpreter should have triggered skills of the native language.

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