Hi Maddie here! This month has been bittersweet for me. I have started the search for au pair number six. I find it difficult to start this step in the au pair process. It is not because it is particularly complex process (all I had to do was fill out a form online to begin searching). I find it difficult because this is the beginning of the end with my current au pair. It is also exciting to think about welcoming a new au pair into our family.
I know a lot of families struggle with the process of selecting au pairs to interview. I try to keep it as simple as possible to save myself time and effort. After writing down my au pair selection criteria, I browse through candidates. I then filter and narrow down to a few candidates for interviews.
Hi, this is Abbie. We recently went through our matching. Sometimes finding an au pair feels a little like being on a dating website. But it’s really important to find the right fit for you. The au pair that’s right for Maggie isn’t necessarily the au pair that’s right for me, and vice versa.
Decide on your au pair candidate criteria
Start the process of searching for au pairs by deciding on your criteria. This au pair selection criteria is specific to your family based on your wants and needs. You will want to look for au pairs who will be comfortable living with your family and be a good fit for your children.
- Are you religious? Will the au pair of a different religion or no religion be comfortable in your home?
- Do you have pets? Will the au pair be comfortable with you big dog or overly friendly cat?
- Do you need daily driving? Will the au pair with little to no driving experience be comfortable driving your kids all over town?
- Do you or the au pair have dietary restrictions? Will the au pair be comfortable with the way you cook?
- Do your kids require special care? Will the au pair with experience with one child at a time be able to handle your four children?
- Do you expect your au pair to step in and run the show or take on a sidekick role?
- Do you have a certain country you want your au pair to be from? Either for language reasons or cultural reasons.
- Is age (under/over 21) important? Some host parents like under 21 because then they don’t have to worry about drinking. Some famlies perfer older, more mature au pairs.
No matter what your criteria, write it down. This allows you to think about it and discuss it with your partner. Decide which criteria are absolutely required and which criteria are a preference. Giving up required criteria to make a quick match is a recipe for rematch.
Search for au pair candidates to interview
Once you have selected your au pair agency (or agencies) and submitted your application, you will be able to review candidates online. With your au pair selection criteria in hand you can start reviewing candidates.
Maddie: I always start slow. I filter, watch a few videos. Filter again, watch a few more. This allows me to get a feel for the current candidates and the matching system. How do the filters work? Where are the majority of the candidates from? Is there a large pool of older or younger au pairs? What happens if I push this button? What is in this pulldown menu?
Eventually, I start the selection process by narrowly filtering the candidate pool. This allows me to start with the most likely candidates first. I watch their videos, read their letters, and look at their pictures. If they obviously don’t meet one of my required criteria, I move on. Once I have narrowed down to a smaller pool of potential au pairs, I start taking notes.
When I get down to a list of five or ten candidates who I like and meet all the required criteria I bring in my husband. We watch the videos again together, take more notes, and decide who to interview.
Abbie: I’m a super indecisive person, so I filter down as tight as possible (age, country) and slowly expand. I only look at candidates that have videos. I scan for things that meet my criteria (driving, cooking, could handle 3 energetic boys, likes cats) and her personality. Would she be happy living in the country, is she outdoorsy, does she like music, etc.
My husband has opinions and is a big picture guy. (I love details, he doesn’t). He’s also a high school band director and use to dealing with a teenage/young adult crowd.
Once I have the initial list saved out, then we sit down together on the couch to go through them together. From there, we decide on our top picks.
Contact the au pair candidates
Next, send an email to the au pairs who make the cut. We send a little intro about who we are and the benefits we offer (Car! No curfew!). We let them know a little about the family, where we live, and why they might be a good match. The email concludes with a request to schedule a time to meet over video call. It is helpful to offer a range of times (converted to their time zone) to reduce the effort of finding a good time to talk.
If they don’t respond in a few days, move on.
Interview the au pairs
We are both strict about interview etiquette. The au pair needs to be on time and ready to talk at the agreed upon time. How will they be ready for work on time if they can’t do the same in an interview?
I usually give them five minutes to log on. Then I contact them by email to see if they are having technical difficulties. The internet is not always as reliable as I would like. If they don’t make contact, move on. Both of us have a policy of rescheduling a missed only if they have a technical issue or emergency. We will also only reschedule once.
What to look for in an interview
There are many schools of thought on what to look for in an ideal candidate. When interviewing au pairs look to confirm the answers to you criteria. Also gauge their ability to
- Be punctual
- Problem solve through technical difficulties and communicate if they are having an issue
- Answer questions
- Take initiative
- Be comfortable asking questions
- Connect on a personal level
When you find a candidate who you think will be great for your family, follow up quickly. Ask more questions, offer to answer more of their questions, and propose some times to meet the rest of my family.
Don’t stop interviewing other au pairs when you find one to move to the next step. Most years my family will follow up with two or three au pairs before we make an offer to match. Instead, repeat process. Adjust your filters and review more candidates. Interview au pairs until you find the right one.
Hone your au pair search skills
Has the search for an au pair been difficult for you? Do you have some tried and true tricks for making the search for au pairs painless? Let us know in the comments below or reach out to My Au Pair and Me Host Family Community on Facebook. It’s nice to talk to other host families and know you’re not alone!