Comparing au pair agencies: how au pair agencies recruit and screen au pairs

May 28, 2013

Comparing au pair agencies: how au pair agencies recruit and screen au pairs

In our first article about comparing au pair agencies, we looked at how to compare the fees au pair agencies charge.  But when it comes to choosing the right childcare option for your family, the first thing on your mind is probably the well-being of your children and finding the right person to care for them.  If you’ve decided that hosting an au pair is a good option for your family, you may want to consider how au pair agencies recruit and screen au pairs before deciding which agency is best for you.

How do au pair agencies recruit au pairs?

Au pair agencies tend to recruit au pairs from a limited number of countries.  There are a number of reasons for this, but if you want an au pair from a certain country or region, be sure to choose an au pair agency that offers candidates from that area.  Cultural Care Au Pair recruits au pairs from 20 countries, and has a local presence in each of those countries to directly oversee the screening of au pairs.   Above, some of Cultural Care’s overseas recruitment team is pictured, including our Country Managers from Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and Mexico.  However, many au pair agencies rely on third-party agents in foreign countries where the agency doesn’t have a local presence.  This can lead to inconsistent screening of au pairs in different countries.

How do au pair agencies screen au pairs?

The U.S. Department of State requires all au pair agencies to screen au pairs to determine the suitability of the candidates for the au pair program and their level of proficiency in English.  Au pair agencies are also required to provide all au pair candidates with certain information about the au pair program including the rules they must follow in order to participate in the program.

Cultural Care Au Pair’s extensive au pair screening process includes a pre-screening call, attendance at a Screening and Orientation Meeting in the candidate’s home country, an in-person interview and English evaluation, a review of the au pair’s application in both the home country and by staff in the U.S., and verification of the candidate’s personal and professional references.  Cultural Care Au Pair verifies that each applicant has passed a criminal background check, completed their secondary education (or equivalent), has a valid driver’s license in their home country and has a certificate of health from a physician.  Each au pair candidate is also given a DISC personality profile assessment to provide greater insight into the candidate’s personality traits.

Some of the criteria evaluated during the au pair screening interview are:

  • The level of English proficiency of the candidate including successful completion of a mock emergency call (only those with level 4 or higher on a scale of 1-7 are accepted)
  • The candidate’s motivation for wanting to participate in the au pair program
  • The candidate’s understanding of what to expect from the au pair program

Questions to ask au pair agencies

Before you decide to work with a specific au pair agency, you may want to do some research to find out how they recruit and screen au pair candidates.  Here are some questions you may find helpful.

  • How selective is the au pair agency when they screen potential au pairs?

Of all of the candidates who express interest in becoming au pairs, Cultural Care accepts fewer than 10%, ensuring only the best applicants make it to the stage where host families can review their applications.  At the same time, Cultural Care Au Pair offers the largest selection of au pairs of all the au pair agencies, giving host families the opportunity to find the best au pair for their needs.

  • Who is in charge of recruiting and screening au pairs?

If an au pair agency is outsourcing the recruitment and screening of au pairs to third-party agents, there may not be consistency in the screening process.

  • How is an au pair candidate’s English proficiency tested?

If you don’t speak the au pair’s native language, it may be important to you to have an au pair who can communicate very well in English.  This question will help you find out what an au pair agency considers a good level of English ability.

  • How satisfied are the au pair agency’s host families?

It’s always helpful to hear what other host families think of the au pair agency.  Does the au pair agency provide references from other host families who have worked with them?  Based on the annual host family survey, Cultural Care Au Pair reports that 98% of host families are pleased with their choice to use Cultural Care Au Pair as their au pair agency.

Next week, we will discuss how au pair agencies handle the process of matching host families and au pairs.  We will also look at the training that is provided to au pairs once they are matched with a host family.

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