October 1, 2019

How to find the right au pair

Our top 4 tips for success

4 minutes
Advice for host families

Are you ready to join other families across the USA who have welcomed a reliable, flexible, and trustworthy caregiver into their lives? Once you’ve decided to become a host family, you may be wondering how to find the right au pair for your family and home life. Rest assured—you are not alone! Families on the Cultural Care Au Pair program are assigned to a personalized Matching Specialist who will help them navigate the au pair matching process. With their help, families can create a host family profile that attracts top candidates, filter through options for au pairs with potential, and find a match that will suit their lifestyle and needs based on questions, personality assessments, interviews, and more.

There is comfort and convenience in having a real human to help you with this process—ensuring you stay open-minded, on deadline, and focused on what really matters when choosing your au pair. However, there are several things you and your family can do on your own to help you in your au pair search. Here are our best tips on ways to ace the matching process and choose the perfect au pair for your family:

1. Start early

One of the best things you can do to improve your chances is to get yourself in the pool of host families early on. The more lead time you have to look through au pairs and get to know them, the better chance you’ll have of picking one that will align with your schedule and needs. Many overseas au pairs apply as far in advance as a year ahead of when they’d be ready to join an American family—so you may think it’s too early to get started, but in reality, you’ll be looking at just the right time to potentially catch a great candidate just as they’re entering the au pair matching pool.

2. Be honest about your needs

“Know thyself” is an important part of becoming a host family—after all, the family who has thought carefully about their “must-haves” and can own that when on the hunt for an au pair has a greater likelihood of finding the right match upfront. That’s because you’re setting the right expectations and being honest—something all au pairs appreciate!

If you know what your au pair’s schedule will need to be, then share it! You’ll help filter out au pairs who won’t be a good match on a day to day basis. If you or your children have any special needs or accommodations, tell them! No need to sit on something if it’s going to come up eventually anyway—the best policy here is open communication early on.

Everything from house rules, to car use, to neighborhood expectations can help you attract the right au pair candidate. The more confident you are in your needs and deal breakers, the better an experience you’ll have while matching.

3. Know that good things take time

Of course, the ideal situation is an easy and quick matching process—but some good things take time, and that’s often the case with finding the right au pair! You and your family should be prepared to invest time and energy into the search. Reviewing profiles, interviewing au pairs via email and video chat, and time spend debriefing with your spouse … it all adds up. But what it truly adds up to at the end of the day is an au pair you can feel comfortable welcoming into your home, and an extended family member that will become a loving caregiver to your children.

It’s also best practice to ask lots and lots of questions. Don’t hold back! Au pairs are excited to share things about themselves so they know they’ll have a family who cares about them. And for you, it’ll be important to learn as much about what they want to get out of their au pair experience as you can so you can feel like you’re making a well-educated decision when the time does come to officially match. Remember you’ll be asked lots of questions by au pair candidates, too—and that this is a good thing! Again, it shows investment, curiosity and care on their part. All good qualities.

4. Keep personality top of mind

It may be tempting to choose an au pair with lots of experience, or someone who has specialized skills and interests like swimming or hiking, or who speaks a certain language. But host parents across the country will tell you—the real key to finding the right au pair is choosing someone with a personality that meshes with yours.

You can get to know a lot about a person through questions and answers—but it’s in those video interviews where you’ll have the chance to chat, laugh, and bond with a candidate. Pay attention to those moments: How do they make you feel? If you feel that spark—that personality alignment that makes you feel comfortable and happy—then you may have a real winner on your hands. Of course, if the candidate meets all the other must-have attributes of an au pair, then our advice is to keep their personality top of mind. This is someone you’ll be living with day-in and day-out for at least a year; go with your gut and choose someone who makes you and your family happy, who you’ll enjoy spending quality time with. That can make all the difference.