Face to face or telephone interpreting: which is right for you?

Interpreting services are widely used by the UK’s public sector, specifically within the NHS, police and local councils, to help them communicate with non-native English speakers.

The traditional means of interpreting used in public sector is face to face, where an interpreter is physically present in order to allow the two parties to communicate. Face to face interpreting has its benefits, but we’re seeing an increase in the demand for immediacy – a sort of “on the go” or “on demand” service. And you can see why – many public sector organisations deal with urgent situations where timing is crucial, and that’s where telephone interpreting can help.

Why choose face to face interpreting?  Interpreting - Face to face or telephone interpreting: which is right for you?

Face to face interpreting is ideal for situations where you know there is a need for an interpreter and there is a certain amount of notice, such as a planned medical appointment or an international conference. But in situations where a means of communication is needed more urgently, such as police interviews with certain time constraints, then telephone interpreting is a great way of bridging the language gap quickly.

if the person is about to be given bad news, is deaf or will find it difficult to retain and understand the information to be given, then face to face is a better option. Anything that is particularly sensitive should always be delivered face to face.

Why choose telephone interpreting?  Interpreting-ops

With telephone interpreting, interpreters can be accessed instantly, even in as little as 15 seconds.

Telephone interpreting also offers more flexibility and scalability than traditional face to face – due to our extensive network of linguists, we can create linguist panels for our customers, based on demand and language pair. What’s more, if the non-English speaker isn’t physically present either, you can set up a 3rd party conference call, and re-connect to the same interpreter after finishing the call.

If you’re concerned about security, it’s important to know that all telephone interpreters have the same qualifications as face to face interpreters, and undergo the same security clearances and checks, guaranteeing the highest level of professionalism.

Telephone interpreting has historically been a difficult nut to crack, as many people are wary of being able to speak to someone who is not physically present. And the technology has had to be developed around quite specific requirements – having a pool of interpreters available at any time of day and covering a variety of languages is no mean feat. Thanks to our team of language technology experts and our large pool of professional, qualified interpreters, we’re now been able to release our telephone interpreting platform to customers.

Capita LiveLINK

LiveLINK is our innovative remote interpreting platform, available 24/7 with access to 220 languages. Connecting to the platform is simple and can be accessed via traditional telephone, the web, or smartphone application.

For more information, visit our LiveLINK page:

Capita LiveLINK

More information on telephone interpreting

Remote interpreting podcast

We discuss the benefits of telephone interpreting over face to face

Interpreting services

View our full range on interpreting services


As well as being a self-confessed language geek and baking fanatic, Fiona is the Digital Marketing Manager at Capita Translation and Interpreting. When she's not writing blogs, she often dreams of touring France one patisserie at a time.

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