I'm a in-house translator at a company. We sometimes test new freelance translators to help us when we are short of in-house resources.

One of our criteria for collaborating is to have the same tool as we have.

Lately, a potential freelance who has a different tool insisted to be tested by us, telling that she would get the same as ours if she succeeds in the test. Thus, I made an exception, asking her for specific file-formats for delivery.

She delivered one file in the right format but in a very different way as the source format and could not deliver one other format. Thus, we can see/test the translation but we cannot use it and we need a lot of extra work to fix it (although we wanted to save time by outsourcing).

When I asked her to deliver another format, she criticised our recruitment process and was very angry that the technical aspects are as important to us. She will not send us the bill and doesn't want to hear from us any more.

I fear for the reputation of my company and mine. I want her to understand that the point is not only the technical aspect, but the manner she deals with us as a client (not helping to find a solution). How can I answer her mail in a professional way?

I simply want to close up this encounter in a graceful manner.

  • 4
    How much were they to be paid for this "test"? Standard rates? A discount? Commented Aug 20, 2019 at 9:37
  • 5
    @Mindwin Who cares? She has made it perfectly clear that there is no way the OP can work with her, even if she is the best translator in the world.
    – alephzero
    Commented Aug 20, 2019 at 17:54
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    @Ukko I think this was more of a contract to hire than an interview as the candidates were paid full rate for the work OP said.
    – Vality
    Commented Aug 20, 2019 at 20:36
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    How much would the new tool have cost her? (in % of the total she makes from the test contract) I guess it would have been necessary to provide her with the tool for the duration of the test.
    – Alexander
    Commented Aug 22, 2019 at 9:33
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    "One of our criteria for collaborating is to have the same tool as we have [which she did not have] ... she would get the same as ours if she succeeds in the test..." - Why was she not supplied with the proper tools for the test? It seems like the company set her up for failure.
    – user25792
    Commented Aug 22, 2019 at 11:44

4 Answers 4


Dmitry is right in his answer in that you allowed the candidate to submit the sample work in a different format without knowing what the consequence of that change would be.

This is something that you need to be proactive in admitting is your problem.

You also need to point out why this has resulted in the rejection of this candidate.

For the purposes of this trial, you requested to use a tool that isn't standard for our organization. We allowed this in your case as we wished to see the standard of your work. Unfortunately, our process is particularly technology-assisted and the file format of your submission was too incompatible to adequately assess your translation. For this reason, we have regretfully had to reject your candidacy.

We admit that we unintentionally misled you regarding the format of the submission and didn't realize that the result would be unworkable for us. We apologize for the conflict this has caused. Naturally, you deserve payment for the work you have done for us. If you don't wish to receive payment yourself, please feel free to nominate a charity of your choice.

  • 6
    @Snow. This is a good answer. We did approximatively like this, explaining that the technical part is even more essential in this specific case as we are absolutely under pressure at the moment.
    – Amu
    Commented Aug 20, 2019 at 11:32
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    @Amu usually recruiting under pressure is already a recipe for problems further down the line. Commented Aug 20, 2019 at 17:38
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    +1 for the "charity of your choice". Beautiful touch! Commented Aug 21, 2019 at 23:42
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    I think that "we have regretfully had to reject your candidacy." could be softened to, say, "we have regretfully been unable to confirm your suitability for this role". It's not "we know you are not suitable", it's "we do not know you are suitable", which is a difference that is subtle, but not completely unimportant. Commented Aug 22, 2019 at 18:47

You allowed this person to be tested using a different tool. To me, that would mean that you wanted to evaluate the quality of the translation, not the format of the submission. Perhaps that person assumed the same and felt that her time was wasted.

In any case, this person got angry dissatisfied with your recruiting process, and I don't think that explaining that you didn't like her manners will make it any better. The best thing would be to apologise that the test didn't work out (even if you don't think an apology is due), and move on.

  • 3
    You don't have to be sorry by admitting fault. Just say, "I am sorry to hear that we could not reach a solution together. Good luck with your translation tools." No need for explanations or anything.
    – Dan
    Commented Aug 20, 2019 at 16:29
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    Wouldn't this insincere apology be a nonpology? Commented Aug 20, 2019 at 17:36
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    @Mindwin See the 3rd paragraph of your link: "Statements that use the word "sorry" but do not express responsibility for wrongdoing may be meaningful expressions of regret". In this case the idea is to express regret that they were unable to work together, not to (non-)apologise for a wrongdoing. Commented Aug 20, 2019 at 23:00
  • @Mindwin Yeah, I meant something along the lines of "Sorry for wasting your time", but then Snow came up with an example of how such an apology could be phrased, and I decided that writing an example of my own would not add anything useful. Or were you replying to Dan's comment? Commented Aug 21, 2019 at 7:52

You tested her and she failed, that’s it. Because she didn’t deliver what you needed, and because you can do without the drama.

You can reply that the technical aspects created you lots of costly extra work (that should explain to her why it is important to you), and that you will not be using her services in the future.

Or, you can go to your manager and ask them for advice. Your company’s reputation will not be negatively affected by this.

  • 9
    +1 (so much) - from a Loc perspective; the technical aspects are 100% part of the job. A translator who isn't willing to take responsibility for delivering files in working condition, to the client's specification, are not fit for this industry. There is no reputation risk, and the company doesn't need to do anything other than pay and walk away.
    – user81330
    Commented Aug 20, 2019 at 11:02
  • 1
    Thank you Bilkokuya. I completely agree with you.
    – Amu
    Commented Aug 20, 2019 at 11:29
  • @Bilkokuya There's always a reputation risk when refusing a candidate in the sense that the said person can badmouth the company afterwards. I assume the asker is trying to minimize that risk. Commented Aug 21, 2019 at 7:57
  • It should not be important to OP that they make her understand how important this is to them. Their problems are theirs, not hers (particularly since they are caused by OP's own deviation from requirements) -- they should deal with them and move on. Commented Aug 21, 2019 at 17:11

I coordinated translations for localization at one of my previous jobs, so I can commiserate.

We used QT for our translations, and it comes with a built in tool for doing the translations (QT Linguist). For our first round of translations, we allowed our contract translators to use any text editor they pleased as long as we got the XML from them. This turned out to be a big mistake, as we ran into constant errors with their translations that required me to fix them. The biggest mystery came about with line endings (DOS vs Unix) because it never occurred to us that it could be the problem. There were also constant errors with unclosed or missing XML tags, elements & attributes not correct, etc. Editing those same files in QT Linquist resulted in usable files.

So, when we sought bids for future translations, we stipulated that they must use QT Linguist for their translations. Some of the previous translators balked and we had to find replacements for them, most just accepted the change and carried on. We never heard from the ones who balked again, and never expected to.

The upshot is there's nothing to worry about with your company's reputation, it sounds like you're just dealing with someone who's difficult or insecure (or both!), neither of which are your problems. Let her contract expire and find someone who can deliver the product you need without drama.

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