Interview Tips for Medical Interpreters
When applying for any job, there are important steps you can take to stand out from other candidates—from your resume and application through the interview process. The medical interpreter hiring process presents its own unique conditions, as much of your interviewing will be conducted virtually. Without the ability to make an impression in person, it’s crucial that you take steps to shine on video and audio calls with your potential employer.
We want to give you the tools to knock your medical interpreter interviews out of the park, so we enlisted the help of our AMN Healthcare Language Services team to provide their expertise. Susan Magdalinos, Kristen Burk, and Karla Reina, who have more than 50 years combined experience in recruiting, interpreting and recruitment leadership, each offered their insights to a successful interview, so you can be confident in any situation.
Interview Tips to Land Your Next Medical Interpreter Job
1. Keep Your Resume Up-to-Date
This may seem like a trivial tip, but when you are not actively seeking employment, your resume can quickly become dated.
“Medical interpreters are not always looking for work, so they might not have current resumes when contacted about an opportunity,” Magdalinos says. “But showing relevant information is key because hiring managers often base pay on experience, training, and certifications that a candidate has.”
Though you can highlight these aspects of your career during the actual interview process, sharing them with potential employers allows them to get to know you better and proactively create a positive impression.
2. Showcase Your Professionalism
As most of your interviews will be conducted virtually and the job you are applying for will function virtually, it’s critical that you demonstrate your on-camera professionalism to hiring managers. Professionalism begins with your interview setup and the way you present yourself.
“When interviewing for a Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) position, you should present yourself as a professional—the same way you would if helping a client,” says Burk. “Make sure you’re interviewing from a well-lit area, free from distractions, and dress the part of a professional interpreter.”
Be sure to behave professionally during the interview as well. Hiring managers might not mention it, but they are constantly observing your conduct throughout the process.
“Make good eye contact on camera with the person you are interviewing with,” Reina says. “Interviewers will notice if you are on your phone, working on an external monitor, or not demonstrating a good screen presence during the call.”
Remember, your medical interpreter job will require you to be hyper-attentive when you’re dealing with someone’s health and safety—so, illustrating those skills to your potential employer can make a significant impact.
3. Be Engaged Throughout the Entire Process
As an extension of professionalism, engagement is a driving factor behind successful interviews and hiring processes as a whole. Being engaged starts when you apply and carries through the entire hiring process—both with hiring managers and your recruiter.
“Part of engagement is going through the hiring steps in a timely fashion to show your recruiter that you are truly interested in a position,” says Magdalinos. “Ask informed questions during an interview and follow up with the hiring manager and your recruiter afterward to keep yourself top of mind during the process.”
“The more engaged a candidate is, the better the results—and the more willing and able their recruiter will be to help them through the hiring process to a job offer.”
4. Be Open and Transparent with Interviewers
When applying for a new position, it’s common for candidates to withhold certain information about their personal lives from prospective employers in the name of professionalism. Medical interpreting, however, is often a part-time or freelance position—so, recruiters and hiring managers understand that candidates are balancing other aspects of their lives.
Communication is key here—your hiring contacts can’t support what they don’t know.
“It’s a changing world,” Burk says. “Recruiters realize that people have things going on in their personal lives, but the more communicative and transparent you are, the more we can work with you and be flexible with new opportunities.”
“This is especially apparent when it comes to scheduling start dates or pre-planned vacations,” says Magdalinos. “Candidates might be scared to mention a planned vacation or if they need time off on the front end because they think it could possibly take them out of the running for a position.”
“But that is absolutely not the case,” Magdalinos continues. “We want to come up with a way to work around those scenarios and even bake them into the offer for them—we want to be seen as a partner.”
5. Demonstrate Your Medical and Technological Skillset
A key word in medical interpreting is, of course, medical. Successful interpreters are proficient in conveying medical information through the language they are using, as each patient interaction will become a referential part of the medical record.
“Hiring managers are looking for candidates who are familiar with medical terminology,” says Reina. “That doesn’t mean that you are a computer and know absolutely every term in Grey's Anatomy, but you need to be accustomed enough to how terminology works in patient care to pass your medical assessment and facilitate effective outcomes.”
In certain instances, interpreters will use layman’s terms during patient interactions to simplify understanding but in order to effectively bridge the gap between a patient and their provider, proper medical terminology is paramount for diagnoses, treatment, and other healthcare measures.
Along with medical terminology, being tech-savvy is an important skill to showcase when interviewing for an interpreter position, as your daily responsibilities will be carried out through a technological platform.
“You don’t need to be a technological expert but tech-adjacent, comfortable,” Reina says. “This is a world you might not have worked in previously, so you’ll be trained on how to operate whichever platform your employer uses—but you have to be able to absorb the training and be receptive as you learn.”
6. Come Prepared
While a new company is getting to know you through the hiring process, shouldn’t you learn a little about the company as well? Proactively doing your homework on a potential employer can not only help weed out companies you aren’t interested in, but also prepare you for an interview with ample background knowledge.
“If you are going to be working for a company, you should know what their values are and make sure they align with your personal values,” says Magdalinos. “By researching the company, you’re making sure that it's a place you want to work, but also showing that you've put the time in to do your homework.”
Conducting research will also allow you to explore employee benefits, job expectations, and company culture—not to mention, adding interview questions to your arsenal!
We hope these tips help you navigate your next medical interpreter interview and future hiring processes throughout your career. Keeping them in mind as you prepare will go a long way in mitigating interview mistakes and building confidence in your incredible skillset.
Are you interested in expanding your language interpreting career? Fill out an application on our interpreter job listings page and bring learnings from this article to life in your next interview!