Working with Interpreters

1. Introduction

Interpreting in this context is used to describe an activity where a third person (interpreter) provides aid in communication between two people who do not communicate in the same language.

Appropriate and relevant language provision is central to the Council's Equal Opportunity Strategy and the use of a professional interpreter is central to providing equal access to services.

2. Accessing Interpreters

Service users should be made aware through initial contact or signs in reception areas of the availability of interpreters in different languages.

To establish a person's spoken language, put the prompt sheet (available from Community Language Service in front of them and ask them to point at the language they speak and understand. They may be able to recognise the script, even though they may be unable to read the words. Another good way of establishing a person's actual spoken language is by asking them firstly which country they come from and then the region of that country. If the person is unable to understand either the spoken or written prompts determine whether he/she can communicate in another spoken language or whether they are deaf. If they are deaf they may wish to use British Sign Language. For these cases the member of staff should contact Services for Deaf People. For all other cases contact Community Language.

To book a sign language interpreter contact:

Kirklees Interpreting Service (K.I.S.) 

To book a spoken language interpreter contact:

Kirklees Community Language

3. Interview

3.1 Preparing for the Interview

Check out if the interviewee would like an interpreter to make things run more smoothly.

Think about the sort of interpreter that is needed:

  • What language/dialect does the interviewee need?
  • Does age matter?
  • Is a different gender going to create problems?
  • How important is knowledge and previous experience in your particular area of work?

Think about the venue:

  • Accessibility, i.e. for disabled people to get in and around the building and have accessible toilet;
  • Background noise - can it be shut out partly for people with a hearing disability and also so that everyone can concentrate;
  • Lighting - so that people with a hearing disability can lip-read and/or see British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter;
  • Furniture - moveable to help people with a disability and also allow the interpreter to set up the room for best results.

Make sure any information needed for use in the interview or as background reading is given out in plenty of time in the appropriate language or format, for example in Urdu or Braille. This is particularly important for people using a BSL interpreter, as they need to watch and concentrate on them throughout the meeting and not keep looking down at lots of pieces of paper.

If necessary seek advice from the interpreter before the day of the interview on any cultural problems or differences in language that will be used in the interview.

The interpreter should always be briefed before the start of the interview.

3.2 During the Interview

Check that everyone involved is comfortable with the layout / positioning of the room and understands each others role i.e. interpreter.

Make sure you are familiar with the role of the interpreter based around the 'Code of Ethics'.

Explain the structure and procedure of the interview and make sure the interviewee knows that the interpreter is only there to interpret and that the interviewee knows how decisions are made.

Allow the interpreter time to convey the information.

Ask questions to check the interviewee has understood, for example, if the spoken interpreter says a lot more than you or vice versa. This will not apply in the case of a sign language interpreter due to the method by which they interpret.

Do not interrupt unless necessary and don't let more than one person speak at one time so that the interpreter can keep up.

Do not ask the interpreter's advice or views on the subject being discussed.

3.3 After the Interview

If you are happy with the interview and need to interview the service user again it may be preferable to use the same interpreter, and this should be arranged through Community Language Services or Services for the Deaf. No formal agreement should be undertaken with the interpreter.

If you were unhappy with the interview in relation to the conduct of the interpreter, contact the service that provided the interpreter.

The Spoken Language Interpreter will ask you to check and sign a claim form (available from Community Language Services).

The sign language interpreter will send an invoice separately via Services for Deaf People.