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Live Q&A January 17, 2024

Language Services Live Q&A Ep. 3 - New Year, New Interview Tips

Host: Kristen Burk

Guest: Giovanni L. & Jessica D

When: January 23rd at 12:00 PM CST

Join us in celebrating the new year with our AMN Live Q&A series for our Language Services division. In episode three of our AMN Live Q&A series, we are tuning in with Talent Acquisition Supervisor Jessica D. and Haitian Creole Interpreter Giovanni L. to learn more about interview tips for the new year! If you are looking to start or elevate your career as an interpreter, you don’t want to miss this episode.

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Welcome to Our Live Show: About AMN Language Services & Career as Language Intepreter

[Kristen B.] Hello everybody! Welcome to our first live show of the new year. We are really going to have a fun conversation today. I'm so excited to be joined here with two people from my team. We are talking about something that is a little cliché, “new year, new job”, but you know what, it's a great time of year to be talking about this very topic. New employment, you know, fresh start to the year. 

Coincidentally, we are hiring like mad, so everything has come together for this live show to be, I think, very exciting. So, before we get down into the questions, I want to go ahead and just, first of all, thank all of our listeners, any interpreters we have here, thank you so much for joining. A little housekeeping, make sure and drop your questions in the chat because we do want to hear from you. Of course, this is a live Q&A, right, so make sure you're asking your questions. 

We will answer them to the best of our ability and, again, the reason for these live shows is really for us to be a resource for anyone who's looking to join AMN Language Services, looking to get into the interpreting profession, so, yeah, we'll get right into it!  I will let Jessica and Gio introduce themselves. Jessica can you go first? 

[Jessica D.] Absolutely, yeah, so I'm Jessica. I am the talent acquisition supervisor here with AMN Language Services. I've been with the company for about seven years now, and I love every minute of it. 

[Kristen B.] So yeah, Jessica and Gio are on my team, again, love them! Gio go ahead and take it away, introduce yourself. 

[Giovanni L.] Of course, of course, well, my name is Giovanni. I actually used to be a Haitian Creole interpreter and recently joined the team as a talent acquisition specialist, and, yeah, so far I've been having a wonderful time. Been working as an interpreter for four years with AMN, and now, earlier this month, I started as a recruiter. 

[Kristen B.] Yes, yes, so these are our subject matter experts on the topic of how to get your resume recognized by a recruiter here and then also tips and tricks for interviewing, you know, how to make sure you get from point A to point B, and ultimately if it is your goal to be an interpreter with us, how we help prepare you and get you there. 

So, this is going to be an exciting half an hour. First of all, so we'll jump right into it. The first question is for Jessica. The resume, of course, is kind of that front line, right, so what would be some tips you would have for a prospective candidate on how to get their resume noticed by a recruiter? 

[Jessica D.] Yeah, I mean, that's a really great question, right, of course, details, it's always great to have a detailed, you know, work history. I've seen resumes that have had hardly anything on it, maybe just the last job, no dates. It's hard for us to get to know you, right, with those very few details, but you also have to find that nice middle ground, right, and not go too far. I've also had resumes that were, you know, three pages long, and it was sort of written as a story of themselves kind of thing and so that's maybe a little bit too much info, right, but you know just having your name across the top, where you're located because in some instances some of our jobs are in person and then of course your outlined work history with maybe some little bullet points of things you did at that previous job that you think would be good for us to know that you think would be applicable to this job, maybe if it wasn't an interpreting job that you did previously. 

[Kristen B.] Yes, yes, and then you know, language, it's so important. We've had candidates come through and, of course, when you're applying for an interpreting job, we really do want to see what language you're applying for because while we do hire for all of the top languages spoken in the U.S., we don't hire for necessarily all of them at that moment, so it is kind of important to see that. So, thank you, Jessica. 

Now, the next question is for Gio. So, you obviously got hired, you have been working as an interpreter for us until you moved onto the recruiting team. Tell us a little bit about that process, what you remember many moons ago of interviewing with our recruiters. Can you walk the audience through that process a little bit? 

[Giovanni L.] Of course, of course, so here I am, and I remember we were very detailed with the hiring process because you go through a different set of steps. And so the first step I remember was the pre-screen. So basically, what it is is you record yourself answering a few questions, and this really helps the recruiting team realize how you are in front of a camera, your camera presence, your experience or background. Even if you had interpreting experience or no interpreting experience, you are still able to tell your story. And in my case, I had a little bit of Haitian Creole interpreter experience, so that really helped me kind of like tell my background of who I was, what I've done in the past. And after the recording, which can be a little bit nerve-wracking in the beginning, but you get used to it, right, you get comfortable, and you get to tell your story. And after that, I did the language assessment test, which the recruiter was very helpful because they already told me what to expect. They gave me a study guide, which we, I believe, we continue to do too, and it really prepared me to succeed with the language assessment. And then the last one was kind of like the final interview, where you get to talk to someone actually face to face. I see them, and I remember back then my recruiter made me very comfortable. Of course it was a professional interview, so you had to dress like, you know, a regular interview, but she did make everything seem smooth, calm, and, thankfully enough, I got the job, and I was excited. 

[Kristen B.] Yeah, good, good, good. I love hearing that perspective. That's great, and we do hear sometimes that our interview process is a little bit lengthy, but you know, we do want to ensure we're hiring the best of the best, so we're not going to bring just anyone in and put them in front of our clients who are serving patients in these critical times in their lives. We do want to ensure that anyone who goes through the process not only is qualified but also truly understands what they're getting themselves into because, you know, we do have the ability to hire kind of more junior individuals and train them up on interpreting as well. So if you do go through our process, just know that it's a little arduous. There are some steps involved, but it's all for the purpose of delivering quality care. 

So, we did get a couple questions come through in the chat. I'll let Jessica answer this question. So Melissa says, “does a person necessarily need to add a summary to the top of their resume?” 

[Jessica D.] You know, it's fine, if you have the space because, you know, that’s always a good key thing to remember is to keep your resume one page long. It doesn't need to be much more than that if you have the space to put a little summary about yourself, great. If not, that's okay. Like I say, the big key things I want to know are those jobs that you have had in the past, how long were you there and those couple details of what you did at that job. That's going to be more identifying for me than that brief summary at the top. 

[Kristen B.] Yep, totally agree, totally agree. So, as someone who's been in the recruiting industry for 15 plus years, I will say that we are so busy we're scanning that resume for keywords. Do I see “interpreter”? Do I see the language? Do I see maybe medical interpreting? Okay, ding, ding, ding! Or even just experience that we as recruiters know is going to be relevant. Yeah, thank you, and we have one more question, so Alejandro is asking if he's a medical interpreter in Mexico for AMN, could he start working in the U.S. for the future. So if you are already working for us, I would say just talk to your manager about that. They are going to know the specifics of the hiring and the transition from one country to another. But of course, we do, you know, hire from the U.S. 

So great, okay, so I have another question for you Giovanni. How would you say to kind of prepare a candidate for getting through all the admin tasks that we require, what are some tips? 

[Giovanni L.] I would say for a candidate, you know, to be ready is to try to pay attention to details and also to complete the different tasks as soon as possible. For example, for us, as recruiters, when we do send emails and say “okay these are steps one, two, three, four. We kind of like highlight the key things that you need to do and sometimes if you don't really pay attention to those things, it might fall through, and I'll be waiting for you, and you will be waiting for me. So for a candidate, just make sure that you pay attention to details and you complete the tasks as soon as possible. Always remember that although you're applying for a position, maybe it's for Cantonese or Mandarin or you know French or whatever the language is, you know there are a lot of candidates and they also want to have that opportunity. And we may like you, and we want you to move forward, but unless you actually follow the steps as highlighted, it might be difficult for you to get the job. And so we do have a huge need, but one key thing for interpreters coming in pay close attention to details and remember you know this is a professional environment. Sometimes when we have candidates come in, they get really nervous about what to expect, and we try to put them at ease, especially with the phone call interview. This is what we're going to do. This is a brief overview of what we're going to be talking about today, and here are the next steps, just to make sure that they're comfortable and really ready for the next few steps coming up. 

[Kristen B.] Yes, absolutely, that's great advice and really just staying on top of your inbox because we do unfortunately send a lot of paperwork. We have certain things that we need to check boxes on. And as Giovanni said, there are others competing for the same position, so if you want a particular schedule you've discussed with your recruiter it's in your best interest to just be on top of all those next steps as quickly as you can because of course there are others who could be interviewing and might very well get the schedule that you're really wanting. So yeah, great advice.

[Jessica D.] You know, I think, Kristen, to Giovanni's point as well you getting through this process and really paying attention to those details really shows us if you're prepared for the job or not because this is a job where you always have to pay attention to the details. As an interpreter, you're taking your notes while you’re listening and of course then relaying that message and so you always have to be listening and actively doing. I usually tell my candidates, you are actively wearing multiple different hats as an interpreter, so you're always on your toes, and you always have to be on top of things, so if you can do that in our hiring process, then that allows us to recognize okay this is a good candidate to work as an interpreter for us.

[Kristen B.] Absolutely, absolutely, thank you so much, Jessica. The language assessment Giovanni mentioned this is part of the process. I should say, caveat, not everyone is required to take a language assessment. For ASL interpreters, we do require National Certification. They do not have to take any assessments for us. If you are are fully certified yourself, CCHI, CMI, you do not have to take the assessment, but the large majority of our candidates do. 
So, Jessica how would you best prepare? How would you tell our audience to prepare for that moment? 

[Jessica D.] Yeah, that's a great question. Well, anywhere that you take a language assessment from, the company we particularly use, we'll gear people towards their website because there's a ton of resources there like Giovanni mentioned. There's a glossary of common terms, you know, medical terms that are used, and so you can use that to write. It'll have the list in English, and you can write in your language pair what that word is and then study it, so that'll give you a leg up, but also I kind of walk people through and just remind them this is essentially just a regular interpreting session so you are just interpreting whatever is being said and relaying it back and forth. I know that we've had some people in the past get confused about that, and they think that they're doing a role playing scenario kind of thing. So then we have to have them go back and redo that assessment. So, it's just key to walk everybody through, gear them towards those resources. I do believe that even the company we use has a resource that sort of allows you to role play those scenarios before you go in and actually record yourself doing them. So as I say, there's a lot of resources out there and absolutely take those and utilize them before you just hop in and do that assessment. Ultimately, you are going to score better if you use those resources.

[Kristen B.] Yes, yes, and one kind of silly detail that gets people hung up, make sure if you've had a name change, because they do often times request a photo ID. It's a virtual environment, so if you're taking an assessment virtually, make sure your photo ID matches your picture or your face. That's something that can delay the process. We've seen that happen you know multiple times per week. So just one little insider tip there. And, Jessica, next question for you as well. So final interviews, this is something that is required of any candidate that interviews and goes through our process to be hired. They have to have what is basically a live interview as Giovanni mentioned. How would you best prepare the candidate for that grand finale, the final interview? 

[Jessica D.] Yeah, well, this kind of applies for both first of all the prescreen and the final interview. Dress professionally. Giovanni stressed it a couple times. This is a professional environment. I know a lot of people just think, oh, it's remote, I'm just going to throw on a t-shirt and a hoodie and go do this prescreen or go do this final. It's not going to make us automatically say no to you, but it is maybe a little bit of red flag because every day you come into this job, we expect you to be dressed professionally. We want you to look good in front of our clients. 
The next big thing is, to the best of your ability, try not to be nervous. Realistically, this final interview might be your first time being with one of our managers, so it's their first time getting to know you. It's their first time really getting to learn more about what your work history actually looked like on the ground while you were at that job, get to know your skills. It's more of just a conversation, getting to know you and determining is this job definitely a good fit for you. And ultimately, are you a good fit for us, and then overall good lighting. Try to have some good lighting. If you're on your cell phone, it's not recommended, but if you're on your cell phone, put it in a good spot so we see your whole face kind of like you can see all of us right now. Having it just right up here and we can see a little bit of your face, it's not perfect, it's not great because ultimately this job is going to be you in front of a camera on the daily basis so that's a part of it for us too.
[Kristen B.] So, yes, great, great, yeah, and I would just say, as well, you know, be honest with yourself and with your answers. Medical interpreting is a great profession. It's not for everyone, and while we do have younger in their tenure, I should say, individuals who are interested in getting that professional experience or more experience, sometimes we've seen candidates who are just so eager to get the job, they don't want to even hear what we're saying. And asking them some of the hard questions they're just, oh yes, yes, of course, I'm able to do that, but truly, in those interviews, think through the things that the recruiter is telling you and then truly think about is this a profession I want and also be prepared to ask the hard questions because that's really going to set you up for success. 

[Jessica D.] Absolutely, yeah, yeah, this job is high levels of stress on the daily, and Giovanni can attest to that for sure, so yeah, like you said, you know being honest with us and being honest with yourself about those answers is always key.
[Kristen B.] Yep, exactly, and kind of leading into my next question, so Giovanni how would you prepare someone who is maybe Junior level, maybe they've just gotten their Bridging the Gap (training certification) and they're ready to get some professional experience. How would you advise someone or what tips would you give to someone in that boat who's interested in coming on with us? 

[Giovanni L.] Honestly, keep all your notes. I know that it sounds silly, but I remember when I first started interpreting, and I was actually on that boat where I was like I'm excited to do it. I'm excited to interpret, but I was coming from Bridging the Gap. And Bridging the Gap I would say was one of the key trainings that really helped me to know what to expect, what my role as the Interpreter would be, and I was even struggling with medical terminology because you know as one who already knows the target language, you talk to your family members and friends, you learn about the body in school and the different kinds of treatment and diseases, but there are certain things that have to make sense to you, and it makes sense to you once you go through a training like Bridging the Gap and even in the field. Although, some of the stuff that I learned was from Bridging the Gap, but most things that I knew was through my experience. 

For instance, I remember just starting, and I started on VRI, video remote interpreting, and a lot of the appointments started to become the same. So then you know a lot of times you have a pediatrics appointment, you already know what they're going to talk about. But it's good to keep notes sometimes with medical terminology you know or you have an idea of what certain things are or some kind of treatment. Write it down, or if you're typing it on your sticky note on the computer, just keep it there and always go back to it. 

I remember I used to have a small notebook where I would write literally everything I didn't know. I would either go on Google translate or Linguee, and I would just type things in English and see what it's like in Haitian Creole or in French, and I would make sure that I wrote it down on my notes. And then, at the end of my shift, I would go back to those notes, just to fully understand what it meant because sometimes too when you're just starting as an interpreter you realize that not every word in English has a direct word in that target language, for instance in Haitian Creole. I did French and Haitian Creole. In French some things are just the same or very similar, but in Haitian Creole, I really had to understand, okay, what does that mean or what is the whole process of the procedure because sometimes you have to clarify with the provider and say, hey, that word does not exist in Haitian Creole. Could you elaborate on that so I can elaborate for the patient? And for you, that increases your knowledge at the end of that call. Guess what? Write down the notes because that also increases your knowledge. I do know for example, with AMN, we do an excellent job with training our interpreters. Every week, we have about two to three subjects to read over and to personally study and that prepares you not only when you're encountering other sessions that you've never encountered before or medical terminology that you never knew about and you're just learning. 

I remember the first time I had labor and delivery I almost passed out. It was not like the movies because in the movies, you know, it's like one, two, three, four, five, baby's out. We're done. My first labor and delivery, I had a stress ball, and I was squeezing that ball, but for me it was a learning experience, and the next labor and delivery session, I knew exactly what to do. So, keep your notes.

[Kristen B.] That's great. Yeah, really, really good advice, and just preparing yourself for that self-study, I would say, as Giovanni said, we have an excellent training team here, and anyone who was on the last live show might have gotten a glimpse inside our training team. But aside from that, if you are looking to get into this industry, just know, you are going to need to do that self-study just like Giovanni said. Taking notes, practicing interpreting back and forth difficult medical terminology and things like that. So that's great. Anything else either of you would like to add? We're getting close to the the half hour mark here, so anything else either of you would like to add for our prospective employees?

[Jessica D.] That's a great question. We do a monthly job fair, and I tell everybody when in doubt just apply. We're more than happy to take a look over your resume, and even if you're not a good fit for us right now, we can help gear you towards those different programs or companies that you can get some training or other places where you might be able to gain some experience that might help make you a better fit for us. So, don't ever hesitate to reach out. Don't hesitate to apply, and as Kristen said, definitely do some research on the industry on your own for sure.

[Giovanni L.] I will also add too, we're a family here at AMN. Sometimes, you may think that because you're remote, you do not have access to anybody, and you're by yourself, and that is far from the truth. Over the four years that I've been interpreting with AMN, I've seen a lot of changes, and one of the major changes that I've noticed is how close of a community we are. 

We have these different group chats and the different groups. You are always in touch with your co-workers. We always work with each other. We always help each other out, and the language managers do an amazing job with communicating with their interpreters, keeping in touch, and that makes it an amazing community to be part of. So, although you may think that you're going to be by yourself because you're remote, know that you're always going to be part of a team and a group. 

[Kristen B.] That is true, and that's great. Such a good point. I'm glad you added that, Gio. And I did want to add, you know we talk about career pathing all the time . We are really big on promoting our interpreters from within. Did I mention we're growing right now? Holy cow, this is like the craziest hiring that we've done. So, hold on to your bootstraps. But anyway, Giovanni is actually a great example of a career path. So, he is a recruiter on my team, the recruiting team, and he started out as an interpreter. So, we have opportunities for growth, and I can't stress that enough. 

I forget what percentage it is, but a large percentage of our managers, leaders, QA team, training team, they all started out as interpreters themselves. So, just kind of wanted to highlight that and then, again, for anyone who's interested, please apply. We are about to go bonkers with job openings. Spanish in Mexico, Spanish in Costa Rica, those are big pushes right now, Vietnamese, we are creating a Lao and Thai team as we speak. What else Jessica? 

[Jessica D.] Korean and Mandarin, always Mandarin, always Cantonese, right, absolutely. ASL, yep that's going to be another big one that takes off for us again. I know that's where we're at right now, but by next month, we're probably gonna need a little bit of everything. 

[Kristen B.] So, yes, we are busy. So, let's keep Giovanni even busier and Jessica busier with their recruiting. Please apply. If you didn't get to have your question answered during this live show, you can always send us an email, and thank you all so much for attending the show. This has been a great session. We will see you next time!