Close Menu

What You Should Know about Working with an Interpreter

A Interpreter sign

Using an interpreter to conduct a deposition for the first time can introduce new challenges to the deposition process. With a little planning and good communication, depositions that rely on an interpreter can still be productive. Read on to learn about ways to conduct a successful deposition using an interpreter.

Discuss your expectations with the interpreter

Before the start of the deposition, introduce yourself to your interpreter and try to build some rapport. Explain some of the facts of the case and the role of the deponent in the case. Make sure your interpreter understands that you’ll need them to provide a direct translation of your questions to the deponent and not an abbreviated or rephrased version of what you’re asking. Also, ask whether there are cultural differences that your interpreter believes may play a role in the deposition process.

Provide your deposition questions to the interpreter in advance

Your interpreter should have an opportunity to review the questions you plan to ask during the deposition. Your interpreter will be better prepared to translate questions that they’re prepared to hear, though this shouldn’t prevent you from asking some questions that aren’t in your script, depending on the deponent’s responses. This will offer you a chance to go over any technical terms that you anticipate coming up during the deposition, and to make sure that your interpreter’s definition of a term aligns with your own. If you anticipate that any of the questions you ask will stir contention, or that the deponent may be evasive or combative, warn your interpreter of this fact and ask that they remain calm and persistent in seeking answers to your questions.

Communicate with your deponent during the deposition

Even if your deponent speaks English conversationally, they may be less fluent than they appear. As a result, some deponents opt to conduct their deposition in their native language to eliminate the risk that they’ll misunderstand a term and testify inaccurately under oath. At the beginning of the deposition, ask your deponent whether they speak English and, if so, how much they can understand. Ask questions directly of the deponent, and not of the interpreter. Speak clearly and carefully, providing your interpreter a chance to provide a translation to the deponent.

Support your interpreter, and ask for any clarification you need

Limiting your use of slang and the number of times you speak over others in the room will help your interpreter to perform as best they can. Don’t be afraid to ask for a full translation of what your interpreter said if you believe there was an error in translation, or if your question didn’t appear to elicit the type of answer you’d expected. Take note of any confusing or problematic points in the deposition and, immediately afterward, go over those points with the interpreter to ensure you understood what happened. Find out if they think any areas still need clarification.

     5. Only use Court Certified or Court Approved interpreters

In Maryland, this information can be found through the Administrative Office of the Courts, Court Interpreter Program. Nationally, you can find interpreters through the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters & Translators (

If you are planning a deposition in Maryland and need effective and knowledgeable court reporting services, contact the Baltimore offices of Evans Reporting for a consultation, at 800-256-8410.

Schedule Now