Now that you have made the decision to move forward, you probably have many questions about how the process works. Below is a step by step guide to applying for, interviewing, selecting and welcoming your au pair. Let’s get started…
Don’t Think About it for Another Minute, Hire an Agency!
It seems expensive and IT IS, but generally, it is worth the expense. Among other things, agencies source candidates, conduct interviews and background checks, obtain and manage VISAs, schedule flights, help the girls get integrated into the community by introducing them to friends, and help address any family conflicts. While the fee seems very high for the placement, consider it like insurance—it really comes in handy when something goes wrong. There are many online placement services that provide less service for much lower fees but we suggest going to a full service agency.
There are also some families that independently manage the au pair process, but this is time consuming, complex and has many risks.
We recommend using Au pair Australia and Aussie Au pair representatives in Europe. These agencies work with the largest number of placements annually and are among the most reputable. However, their placement processes are quite different.
Au pair Australia is for people that want control over their research process. They send multiple candidates to review at a time and even allow you access to their database for personal searches. This is great because the family can compare candidates easily. The downside is that many families can contact an au pair at once so the process can become very competitive and an au pair can become indecisive.
If you prefer, Au pair Australia can always provide the family one candidate to review at a time and allow a family to “own” the candidate until they make up their mind. This often results in an au pair that is very eager to join your family because they aren’t certain there is another family that will contact them.
Start the Process Early
If seeking an out of country au pair, it is recommended that families start the process 2 months in advance of when childcare is needed. Plan to spend several days to get through the family application, a couple of days to interview candidates and then another 2 weeks for visas to process. Plan to start early so that you are not rushed and you are positioned to source the best possible candidates. If you find yourself needing last minute care, there is the potential to hire an in-country au pair that is in transition. However, remember, girls overstate their experience, so be discerning.
Be Thoughtful About Your Application
Once a family decides they want to sign on with an agency, they are asked to complete what is called a Host Family application. This is no small task. Plan on investing time in building out your family profile. As a family, you should expect to do the following:
• Determine what is important to you in an au pair- driving, sports, English, nationality. Then, weigh those preferences.
• Write an essay about your family detailing who you are, where you live, what you value and what you seek and expect from an au pair.
• Then, you need to collect photos that show your family dynamics, where you live and give the au pair a sense of your family life.
• Determine your au pair schedule. Let the au pair know what kind of schedule they should expect. It is also recommended that you include a copy of your “house rules” so that there is no confusion about what life will be like in your home.
Get prepared for the process
Now is your time to finalize the criteria you will use to evaluate the candidates. Think through what is really important to you. Consider such things as prior work history, organization, age, maturity, driving skill, dietary habits. Determine the top 10 areas that you want to probe during your interviews and craft some interview questions that you will ask all the candidates.
Second, go buy a calling card. Be certain to purchase a calling card that allows you to call multiple countries inexpensively. You can simply recharge that card.
Begin to source applicants
Just after you submit your application, you will be entered into the “system” and will receive information about process and fees. Then, you should begin to get au pair profiles from available candidates.
Every agency differs a bit on this process, so ask questions in advance about how this will work. For example, have a good understanding of when you should receive your first applicant.
Take the time to form a relationship with your placement counselor. This is the person that will be helping source your childcare provider. They need to know how much you care and how thoughtful you are going to be.
In general, you are typically given the option of receiving au pair applications online so that you can quickly review candidates