Do Our Careful Reviews of Au Pair Applications Actually Make A Difference?

by cv harquail on February 1, 2014

Awesome Contributor and Host Mom Dorsi asks:

“If you were to revisit the applications of your best and worst Au Pairs, what would you learn about making a good choice?”, Dorsi asks.

fakeWould you actually learn…. anything?

The Oh-So-Wise ShouldBeWorking  replies:

“What kills me about how fabulous our current match is is that there was NOTHING remarkable about her profile. She looked “ok”. No especially outstanding experience with children. She’s a scientist.

We basically only took her because she was a local AP in transition. Her previous HF said she was “fine, but not outstanding” and for 6 months it seemed like a good-enough solution.

So now she’s fabulous!  Yet—  there is nothing I could have foreseen about this!!  So how can I know anything about anyone?

The title of the book I should write: “Existential issues in the AP program.”

“I’ve been doing this, reviewing applications to see what I missed or gleaned or could learn from. It’s hard.

Grumpiness would not have been visible on one grumpy AP’s application, although in Skyping we had a little tension at one point. But who knew? A great AP had a great profile, so that was easy and accurate. Our current great AP has an unremarkable profile.

I feel more uncertain now about my own sense of judgment than I did 3 APs ago!

Now I wonder if when I see “big smiley friendly” if it hides “needy unrealistic immature”; or when I see “aloof dull” it hides “unflappable calm”.

Tea leaves, I tell you!!


How about you? Can you learn anything from your Au Pairs’ applications, after the fact?

Image: Attribution Some rights reserved by Jen SFO-BCN


Angela Slaton February 2, 2014 at 5:23 am

I know this might sound super weird but all my favorite ap have done this same thing. Believe it or not they use emoctions when they chat with me via IM. It shows friendly and creative . I sincerely don’t know if ap pool is getting worse or I’m more picky the more ap I have. Side note all my ap who used emoctions also stayed two years that is three out of five. Yep you guessed it my last three ap. I look at other things to prior to iming. Like age and my favorite region. I usually know after a conversation or two if they are the one . I’m going to have to match soon after two years after not and all the ap moms on my FB group say what slim pickings that are out there . Wondering if other hm feel the same

mona February 2, 2014 at 7:00 am

Our first au pair showed unflappable calm in her au pair video: there were children climbing all over her while she spoke to them in Swedish and the camera in English, all while improvising (no script!). I was instantly sold. Then it turned out she was a little too cold…it took three month for our toddler sons to warm up to her. She was great with him eventually, but we decided to look for someone more warm and bubbly the next year. We found her, and within moments of our first Skyping I knew she was “the one”. Turns out she not only had an incredible toddler-connecting ability and unflappable calm with the children, but was exceptionally naive in her personal life. We could not take the extreme stupidity any longer (even though it was not affecting our children, it did affect our car and needing to go fetch her from dangerous situations at 3 am!) and rematched after 6 months. Now looking for out of country we are looking for deep maturity over bubbly and much more experience. We’ve found that, yet I’m again afraid she might turn out to be cold again. But after “naive” I decided a slow burn type relationship is more important than a flameout.

Host Mom in the City February 2, 2014 at 8:01 am

In my sample size of three, so admittedly small, the two that fit my criteria and that I extensively interviewed worked out great. The one that I chose quickly and that met pretty much none of my criteria, was a disaster in exactly the ways I thought she would be. Who knows if that’s just luck, but in my experience I have found that all three of them have been exactly the way I thought they were going to be based on their life profiles, experience, and the personalities that came through in Skype and their applications. I feel like I just had to let myself see that personality and truly admit it if I had any nagging doubts, to just say no without being worried about hurting someone’s feelings.

And to the poster right above mine, I’ve said a number of times that I think maybe 90% of the applications I see should never have been accepted in the first place. I take a month or two to match because there’s no way I’m settling. But then, I guess I probably would have said that any really compliant 18/19yos that still love with their parents and don’t have much experience shouldn’t be in the program, and that’s where the “NJ picker” has all her success!

Anna February 2, 2014 at 9:56 am

I used to think that I can figure out what worked what not from analyzing our good and bad matches…. Most of the bad matches were young (19) and not too smart (bad or mediocre grades at school and no academic ambition that I now use as a screen), or one with overbearing personality (didn’t speak to a close relative she saw daily was an indication of that – I can use that as a screen now “is there anyone in your family or close circle of friends you don’t talk to?”) There was also this sign that with great matches my intuition was great, and with bad matches I didn’t have that “she is super perfect for us ” feeling.

After this year I am not so sure.
I had two rematches in a row where applications were great, and I screened out for our failed match qualities…. And my gut instincts felt great! The first rematch was a bad fit (not energetic and not happy au pair), I probably could have interpreted her seriousness on Skype and methodical questioning of my children that way… but I looked at it as her trying to speak correct English and doing the right research on the age-appropriate conversation with each child! And she was smiley enough…After all she was from a beach town in Brazil, how could she be gloomy? The second rematch was probably my poor understanding of au pair’s culture and thinking she was different than her culture, and interpreting her having a boyfriend in the area as a plus (she won’t be homesick! she already has friends here!) instead of a minus it turned out to be (quick marriage after two months here and no attempt to make friends other than her boyfriend).

There are still things in common that all of our good au pairs had. We had four good years out of six and a half, so four good au pairs (and six rematches)…They were very excited to match with us, and they were proactive in interviews, they wanted our family as much as we wanted them. One girl who was one of the best au pairs we had – I almost passed on her. She saw that I released her application and contacted me asking why and saying that she really liked our family! I answered, and we started talking, and we matched…
They were all older, older than 22, and had work experience. Two out of four were childcare professionals (elementary/kindergarten teachers) . And, get this – three out of four, the best three, were from Sao Paulo Brazil!!! We had three other Brazilian au pairs we rematched with, and none of them were from Sao Paulo!
In fact last year I decided to only look for Paulistas, but ended up taking a chance on a Brazilian girl from another large city and that ended in rematch…

Should be working February 2, 2014 at 1:10 pm

“Knows we are the family she wants” is not a good criterion for us. We are geographically desirable, older kids, with CCAP’s one-at-a-time matching, so almost any AP we talk to is delighted and ready to commit–and I really respect the ones who aren’t. I like it when the AP is more careful and deliberate. I also prefer if they have already interviewed with other families. How else can they know what’s out there?

TexasHM February 2, 2014 at 1:57 pm

Agree we like candidates that have talked to other families and side note on my response below that I would not consider us geo- or stat desirable (APs think Texas is cowboys and deserts and we have 3 kids) so having an AP super excited about us tells me that she is open minded (geo) and not afraid of the work (3 kids, 45 hours) which are two of my checkboxes so triangulate that how you will, it works for us!

TexasHM February 2, 2014 at 10:32 am

Interesting! So we have had two Brazilians from Sao Paulo area and the first worked and extended but in hindsight we should have rematched half a dozen times and chalk it up to first time HF. Second one was amazing – got nominated by us for Au Pair of the Year and extended. I have to say though, I too was disappointed first round in the candidates (probably why we ended up picking problematic first AP). Second AP we saw her video and were sold (playing guitar and singing Call Me Maybe with her little sister). Obviously we spent 4 days vetting and 100 emails back and forth but as was mentioned previously she was proactive, wanted us as much as we wanted her and was clear about that. I am almost beginning to think that should be a factor in our process – don’t match until the AP makes it clear that we are the only family for her. This round for 3rd AP I was horribly disappointed in the candidates. I interviewed literally 50+ candidates, had a couple close to match but either they picked a different family or we started to have doubts. We ended up looking at a different agency and I was SHOCKED at the difference in quality of candidates. I only looked at two profiles, a french nurse and a russian elementary school teacher that plays piano and interviewed them both and they both were FANTASTIC. I actually cried when we had to choose between them! (Hey – there is the most amazing Russian teacher in rematch right now in case anyone is in rematch and can make a decision by Friday!) For the record we switched APIA to Interexchange. I had always heard great things about Interexchange (non-profit) and APs had told me many girls apply there and then quit and switch to the big two agencies because its a much easier process. After seeing the interview notes and testing they do – I can see why. Psychometric testing, published background checks, interviewer goes through about half the questions that used to be on my first round email plus a few from my second round AND they get a lot of information from the AP about what they want and are comfortable with upfront so you don’t have to guess if they are just desperate to match or telling you what you want to hear or playing you against another family (thank you exclusive match Interexchange, I now understand why HFs rave about you).
Moral – I think you have to vet hard and we won’t change that. With the awesome APs we vet and it gets better and better and they are exactly like we thought when they get here. With the mediocre it went well the entire process but those little things I wondered about in my gut did appear and nag us throughout the two years.
The rematch french nurse we are getting on Monday had a meh video but being a nurse and having a great essay we gave her a shot. As we progressed we got more impressed and when I talked to her LC housing her the LC gave specific examples of the qualities I had been suspecting so I am trusting our process and praying we are right! LC said best AP she has ever housed in 10+ years! Fingers crossed!

Anna February 3, 2014 at 4:52 pm

I want to correct myself – our great au pairs were from the city of Sao Paulo, the city itself, not the area or the state.

And Interexchange was the agency I had most rematches with.. but that was before they switched their matching system to online, it was when they emailed you pre-selected candidate dossiers… so maybe chalk it up to the inept matching coordinator, or maybe their recruiting improved since I left? In that case I will consider them again for next year, I was very happy with their customer service and that’s why I stuck with them despite so many bad years…

Seattle Mom February 10, 2014 at 5:20 pm

That is very interesting.. I have a good friend who works at the Interexchange HQ (but not for their AP program- he works for the intern program). A long while back he told me I should consider them, but then I got all caught up in CCAP and now I’m afraid to work with a small NYC-based company. Maybe I’ll give them a second look next time I’m matching.

Should be working February 2, 2014 at 1:21 pm

Meanwhile the book idea is not entirely a joke. The questions we discuss *are* existential and broadly philosophical ones: commitment, fairness, growth, rules, love within and beyond family, the nature of decision, employment ethics, and on and on. Maybe blogs are more monetizable than books these days, but maybe CV is sitting on a book model.

TexasHM February 2, 2014 at 2:22 pm

A tangent to this discussion as well very could be the rematch/transition experience. Shouldbeworking mentioned this analysis came from the fact that she took a transition AP that was phenomenal in spite of her ok application. I have a friend in NY thats an experienced HM (6 APs now) and she swears by the transitions. In fact, she no longer takes out of country APs at all! I was shocked and asked her to explain and she said that the girls in transition know all too well how important it is to have a family that follows the rules and is good to their APs and they are worlds more appreciative, often have better English, often already have state drivers licenses and know that a major part of this program is work – childcare. Since our current fabulous AP is headed home in less than a week (dad in the hospital) unexpectedly I was forced to consider rematch candidates and I must say, I think she might be onto something! I was very impressed. Of course I took them through the same process as we do out of country and vetted thoroughly and we changed agencies which I think had a huge influence on the quality of candidates in hindsight but these girls just get it. I don’t know that I am quite ready to follow my friend in just waiting until 3 weeks before my current AP finishes to start interviewing rematch APs (no joke – I told her she has some cajones!) but she swears she did that for the last two and had no issue. Wow.

HM in SoCal February 3, 2014 at 5:33 pm

Since I am about to rematch, I will definitely be interested to see how this rematch process goes this go around. I agree having someone in country is helpful regarding DL and understanding the job. Last time we rematch, the aupairs in rematch left a lot to be desired. Of the pool of 4 aupairs, 1 was on diet drugs with huge mood swings, 1 wanted to only work from 9-3, 1 had rematched 3 times in past year and one barely spoke English. We had to go out of country to find someone. I am really hoping our pool is significantly better than last time. Like previous posters, we should of rematched a couple of months ago (after extending) and drew it out until we could handle it anymore. What agency did you switch to, you if you don’t mind me asking. Please wish us luck.

NoVA Twin Mom February 4, 2014 at 9:36 am

Just wishing you luck HM in SoCal, and adding that you can also look at extension au pairs – I know on APIA’s website you can see them as “Available Now – Year 2” if you aren’t logged in. Our rematch pool a few months ago looked a lot like the one you describe, but we found a fabulous extension au pair. We had to wait about a month for her to be available, but it was about the same time frame as an out of country au pair would have been.

Host Mom in the City February 4, 2014 at 10:35 am

I had no idea you could see the extension au pairs on their site! Thanks for the tip.

NoVA Twin Mom February 4, 2014 at 11:47 am

Glad to help! Strangely, it only works if I’m NOT logged in. Once I’m logged in I can’t find it.

Taking a Computer Lunch February 4, 2014 at 8:15 pm

Ask your LCC to help. You can also use your LCC to contact the candidate’s LCC to see if there might have been negative issues on the candidate’s part which would have led the original HF to reject extension.

HM in SoCal February 4, 2014 at 2:39 pm

Thanks for the good luck. I heard today that there is no girls in rematch that would meet our criteria, infant qualified, driver, looking to extend anywhere for 6 to 9 months. So we will keep our fingers crossed and update the handbook as needed

TexasHM February 5, 2014 at 9:14 am

I have to be honest, we looked at rematch APs from APIA and it was horrible. I talked to/reviewed over a dozen, it was a joke. Called interexchange, they immediately sent me two profiles – a French nurse whose family was asked to leave the program and a Russian teacher who plays piano/guitar and had rave reviews from host family except their 2 yr old was learning to talk and they thought her accent was a problem. I interviewed both and about cried when I had to choose between them. We matched in 3 days, nurse is here and FANTASTIC. We thought our current AP wouldn’t be topped, this gal is making a run at it.
That Russian teacher is still available, already has a license and studies English nonstop when the host family mentioned their concern (inc all her free time). She’s also 26. They sent me a third candidate on the day we matched and I glanced at the profile (much more detailed than APIA) and I would have interviewed her too!
I have since talked to APs and HFs in the area and the clear consensus is that it’s no secret interexchange has much stricter screening processes for both APs and HFs. APs tell me many apply at interexchange and then quit and go to the big two agencies because it’s much easier. I was also told interexchange seems to have a much lower rematch rate and that they are much more liberal about sending APs home and asking families to leave the program – all things that make sense when you consider it’s a nonprofit.
I know an ex APIA LCC that left because she was asked to cover up host family red flags during home interviews, give HFs extra chances and encouraged to rematch and recommend APs despite her recommendation to send them home. Of course she felt she couldn’t tell me all this and more until we left so now I’m getting the big picture and it’s ugly!

Momma Gadget February 5, 2014 at 11:05 am

TexasHM-I’m so glad to hear you are happy with Interexchange.
We have had mostly good luck with them. When our 2nd AP won an award from them we got to meet many of the people staff from the NY office, and the founder. They were all really decent ( and fun!)people. They have always been quick to respond with any issues, and very fair in all resolutions with us.
I hope you have the same experience.

Should be working February 5, 2014 at 12:37 pm

Please say more about how Interexchange’s profiles are more detailed than the big agencies, and screening more rigorous. My reasons for staying with CCAP: DiSC profile tests and the fact that they let you speak with previous HFs when interviewing rematch candidates. Does Interexchange have these?

Host Mom in the City February 5, 2014 at 12:46 pm

I’m also interested in hearing more about Interexchange and their screening process. We have been very happy with APIA and have good friends that happily went through their rematch process (yes, APIA gives you the former HF contact info when you are rematching). But I do still feel like the majority of their candidates have no business being au pairs. Would love more information on Interexchange.

Something I’ve become interested in lately too is how au pairs choose an agency. I’ve spoken with a bunch of au pairs on this and every single one of them says APIA has the best reputation among au pairs – cheaper than CC and they say they take much better care of their au pairs. But who knows. No one has ever mentioned anything about Interexchange, but maybe it’s just that the two big ones are very popular in my area? Why would someone choose Interexchange over another agency with an easier application process?

Seattle Mom February 10, 2014 at 5:24 pm

MommaGadget I am SO Happy to hear that.. one of my best friends from college works in NYC for InterExchange (though not the AP program) and he is such a nice guy. he’s been with them for many years. A long time ago he told me to consider their AP program but I ended up with CCAP… I will look at them again next time we re-up (which isn’t for a while).

Seattle Mom February 10, 2014 at 5:39 pm

I’m glad to know that I’m not alone- last year when we were in rematch (which we decided must be done on day #3 after AP #2’s arrival) I poured through the AP’s application, photos, video, and emails for any sign that I might have missed. The only thing I could come up with was that she wasn’t always quick to respond to my emails… sometimes took days or even a week, and she never accepted my facebook friend request. But I could not have guessed how poor a match she would be for my family. In retrospect I think she was on the autism spectrum… but probably undiagnosed. She is highly functioning & capable & not stupid, but zero personal skills. didn’t really like children, though she grew up in a home daycare setting run by her mom.

Anyway APs #1 and #3 were wonderful people and we had no way of knowing ahead of time- it felt like dumb luck.

Now we are on AP #4 and she is mediocre… nice and friendly and personable (phew), so far has been fairly responsible, I give her a B- on the way she interacts with the kids and my older daughter doesn’t really like her but I think she’ll be ok as her main complaint is that she “doesn’t like her voice” (my daughter is 5 FWIW). She is not very pro-active and needs to be told basically everything so far, but it has only been a few weeks so we’ll see. The worst thing she has done so far was not change the sheets on my daughter’s bed after she peed on it during a nap. And she had to have known because she changed my daughter’s pee-soaked clothes (and didn’t wash them). This is after we described in detail what to do in the event of a potty accident & how to do laundry. She also used like 30 paper towels when my older daughter peed on the floor.. but that doesn’t happen often so we can let it go. The laundry thing though…. we’ll have to see. The thing is that I like her personally and want her to succeed, so I’m willing to invest some energy into training her. But if I get the feeling that she’s not treating my children respectfully I will do a 180.

I am realizing that a lot of this is luck, and so far we haven’t had the PERFECT AP- I’m not sure that this person exists for my family.

Momma Gadget February 3, 2014 at 6:09 pm

I wish I could say that each of the 6 APs we’ve had, have taught us to perfect our matching process… uh not so much. It has really been like hitting a moving target with an astigmatism. Our needs have changed so drastically since we first started hosted APs. Just when we think we know exactly what works for us some new development in our pre/teen “blossoms”.

There are certainly practical criteria/skills that we can screen for: non-smoking, experienced driver( a must with the crazy drivers/weather/traffic patterns in NJ), age (we prefer older APs 23-27), Sex ( we prefer male APs), size ( as silly as it sounds, we cannot have a ‘petite’ AP with our athletic +6′ bruiser) and cooking ability. These are all requirements for an adequate AP for us.

We still struggle to screen for those qualities that make a great AP:mature,responsible, trustworthy, proactive,hard working, involved, communicative, sense of humor, creative, flexible, appreciative, empathetic,curious, adventurous and fun loving.

We have been lucky that we have not had any APs who were liars, or psychopaths as some of the AP horror stories we have heard. The 2 rematches we had were just really bad personality matches. Looking back I still didn’t see any clues to the self centered, entitlement issues of our first AP, or the rigidity of our 2nd rematch a few years later, that ended up being deal breakers.

I guess overall our score card is not so terrible- 2 rematches, 2 good APs we worked with, 2 awesome APs that clicked with us the minute they walked in the door, 1 extension, and 3 who would have liked to extend if we/they could.

I believe as others have said, knowing what your family needs, and due diligence when reviewing dossiers are a huge part of a successful match, But I still believe that luck or dare I say “fate” still is an important player.

I do think in many cases as Texas HM suggests, transition APs just “get it”. Having experienced a bad situation, most are so glad they have another chance at having a good AP year, and are much more appreciative of a HF that cares that they have a positive experience. It is the same for HFs who have come out of a bad match. They appreciate an AP who really cares about their children and makes a concerted effort. But I still always hope to find an AP who could possibly stay for 2 years.

TexasHM February 5, 2014 at 12:11 pm

Momma gadget – I had no idea what we were missing! While our LCCs at APIA were great people, we had nothing but issues with corporate. Billing was always wrong, slow responses, LCCs discouraged from being transparent and our LCCs had to get all direction from a regional director who was a nightmare (I’ve since heard several families complain about the same person). I reached out to a VP (had to get her info from previous employee because they are impossible to find) about our issues, they pushed back to the same nightmare woman. In contrast, the entire staff directory and all contact details are listed on interexchanges website!
We are being strongly encouraged to sue APIA right now based on the regional director slandering our family and breaking our match with the extension AP due to come in a few weeks but honestly I am so relieved and glad to be done with them it’s unreal! Now if I could just get my kids picture out of their 2014 brochure!!!

TexasHM February 5, 2014 at 2:28 pm

So I’m answering the above questions here. I have about 10-12 first round email questions when interviewing and interexchange had at least half of them in their agency interview notes. They asked great open ended questions “if your host kids are in school what do you think your day would be like” and then again for not in school, several scenario questions that gave me much better insight into what they are thinking, they ask more detailed questions about what the APs want and are comfortable with upfront (# of kids, ages, needs, etc) and actually post the background checks and psych tests on the site – again transparency.
I can’t speak for how they market to the APs but I will definitely ask our new AP tonight. My guess would be better host family screening, better support, there’s a place on the site where you can actually see what the AP sees which I loved and sure enough – front and center our LCs full contact info for any candidate vs APIA candidates where I offered our LCs info and they usually passed or asked me why they would talk to them!
We got to a point (issues w corporate aside) where I told my husband I couldn’t believe out of over 50 I interviewed with APIA we didn’t love a single one! I felt like we were going to settle and he told me to call interexchange back (we were impressed by them when we first joined the program but went APIA because they had more families here). I didn’t ask to speak to the previous host family largely because I spoke with her LC (another city) for almost two hours and she clearly and candidly shared with me why that family was asked to leave the program and gave me concrete examples of the personality traits I already suspected the candidate had. APIA may let you speak with previous host families but they hate it and discourage it – I do know that first hand and had a previous LC tell me they are told to talk you out of it.
Our current outgoing ap is Brazilian and she said they don’t have interexchange in her city (São Paulo) but she’d heard great things from other APs so I’m sure you are correct their scope varies by geo.

Host Mom in the City February 5, 2014 at 3:56 pm

Thanks for this response, TexasHM. Sounds like you’ve had quite a challenge. It is so interesting to me what a drastically different experience you have had as compared to what we’ve experienced with APIA. We adore our LCC and regional director, have never had billing issues, and my friend that rematched was offered the previous host parents’ contact info without having to ask and was encouraged to contact them before matching.

I agree with you that their candidates leave something to be desired (I felt that way with CC too), which is why we only go with the extraordinaire program. That program is becoming more and more expensive, though, and I don’t know that we’ll be able to justify it next year. I think we’ll check out Interexchange too when we look to match again this summer.

TexasHM February 5, 2014 at 7:12 pm

I asked our new LC with Interexchange and she said that they will allow you to speak with the previous HF if they think they can be fair. The LCs seem to be VERY in tune with their APs here and she said that if they thought it would not be a constructive conversation they would discourage it and encourage the family to contact that candidates LC directly. We did this and I have to say, that LC asked me just as many questions as I asked her, she made it clear that our AP was fantastic and the last thing she (LC) wanted was another rematch for her (our AP) and she was dead right on her description and assessment so far.
I found the Interexchange candidates (and we only looked at rematch candidates this round) were better than ANY I had seen in the last 5 weeks with APIA extraordinaire or not and while money is not everything, we are saving a significant amount this round and their extension (year 2) savings bring an even wider gap with the other big agencies so we couldn’t be happier right now. I can’t wait to see what their out of country profiles look like for a traditional match if this is what I found in the rematch pool.
I do want to point out we did have great LCCs at APIA, but we had a hideous regional director that other families and previous LCCs had complained about, billing problems, and the time it took to find candidates we would even think about interviewing was overwhelming.
We called Interexchange last Tuesday afternoon, within an hour had two incredible rematch profiles in front of us, the whole agency rallied to help us complete our application asap and by Friday we were matched. Monday she was here and day after that they had our invoice and it was correct, payment plan and all. Exceptional in every way. Their transitions person asked what we were looking for, sent us exact matches to what we said and followed up to ask about the fit of the candidates. Regional director was involved entire time as was several others from corporate and our LC expedited the home interview and managed the rest. Top notch all around.

Anna February 5, 2014 at 11:14 pm

I was last with Interexchange in 2010. Agree, their prices were the best, and customer service was top notch – but the candidates not so much. We had one great au pair from them, and four we rematched with. When we rematched, several times there were NO infant qualified transition candidates.
When we rematched we were not allowed to speak to previous host families. If we would try to ask the au pair for the contact of her previous host family, we feared she would report us as breaking their rules.
Both nightmare au pairs we had (the ones you hear horror stories about – who lie, hate kids, hit them, leave babies alone…) were Interexchange au pairs. One of them was passed on to another family despite our LCC recommendation to send her home. But again, this was when their matching system was not online and I only saw applications selected and emailed to me by a matching coordinator. Last time I dipped my toes in their matching pool was right before they transitioned to an online matching system, in 2012, and compared to Cultural Care and Go Au Pair where I was looking at the same time, their candidates sucked – at least the ones that were forwarded to me. But their matching coordinators did admit that at that time of the year they had slim pickings in my desired age category (over 21)

Momma Gadget February 6, 2014 at 12:13 am

Anna- I have used Interexchange both before and after their matching process went on line. I found it to be a world of difference when I could review all the candidates on line myself.
Before,we almost felt like they were purposely sending us bad matches so that the later ones looked better. I am not sure if it is that our matching cycle changed from Pre Christmas to early spring, or their ‘new’ online matching process, or a combination of both, but we felt there were so many more qualified candidates to choose from.

I can’t say that working with Interexchange has been completely glitch free. But any agency can be great when there are no issues. How a company handles the challenges is the true measure of how good they are. I know others ( I think it was Ruth too) have had bad experiences, but IE has always been fair, and attentive when ever we have had a problem. Plus we love our LC.

Should be working February 6, 2014 at 1:06 am

Anna, you had au pairs hit kids and leave them alone?

HM in SoCal February 6, 2014 at 2:39 pm

TexasHM, if you were with APIA in rematch, how did it work going to Interexchange? Did you get a refund from APIA? I am in rematch and there isn’t even 1 au pair that meets our requirements infant qualified, driver that can rematch up to 9/10 months visa but I have already paid for the year with APIA.

Host Mom in the City February 6, 2014 at 5:05 pm

APIA will give you a refund, particularly if they literally don’t have any candidates that match your basic requirements. Refund calculation schedule at the following link, and is dependent on actual # of days the au pair was in your home.

Anna February 5, 2014 at 11:16 pm

There is Interexchange representation in Sao Paulo, it is Yahtzee (sp?) Travel, and they do a great job. Our very first au pair was from Interexchange and from Sao Paulo.

TexasHM February 6, 2014 at 5:00 pm

HM in SoCal, I feel horrible for you. So, we had several billing issues with APIA to the point where we went on a payment plan because we didn’t trust them enough to pay upfront so right now they only owe us probably $300 and that regional director is happy to get that paid to not have to deal with me anymore so we had no issue getting a refund. :) In your scenario I understand its a beating. I would have to think that if you are in rematch and they cannot provide an acceptable candidate that you would be entitled to a refund but you are right, it may be painful although if your regional person is good like someone mentioned above then it might be a quick refund and non-issue. Or a good motivator for them to find you a candidate! :)
Honestly if you can afford the float, I would find the best candidate (agency aside) and do what you need to do for your family. We reached out to CCAP and AuPairCare at the same time as Interexchange but they were much slower to respond and like I said, within an hour Interexchange had two awesome profiles to me and we matched in 3 days so the other agencies didn’t have a chance. We got a great switching discount and Interexchange honored the payment arrangement we had at APIA so we were good. Sidenote – they didn’t even invoice me until 2 days after she arrived which shows you where their priorities are. We said “Help! We need a great candidate ASAP!” They sent them, followed up, expedited our app, got her here and then billed us. We have had matches and arrivals held up by APIA billing before which is insane to me.

Taking a Computer Lunch February 7, 2014 at 8:33 am

I have had the completely opposite experience with APIA. I have found their billing easy to handle and the staff flexible. AP #3 left early because of a family crisis, and although we did not immediately look for her successor (because we gutted our house for The Camel several months after she left), they gave us full credit for her time.

They do not have a great number of rematch infant qualified and special needs willing au pairs at any given time, so we have put up with some mediocre matches (neither harmed or neglected our kids and one was a great AP but an abysmal driver to the point that we had to take time off to schlep the kids around in the winter). However, I use my lack of rematch to leverage full reimbursement for driving lessons and discounts for the next match.

Because I limit the candidates I’m willing to review to special needs willing women with actual special needs experience, I know it’s going to take me longer to match, but in general I’ve been pleased.

TexasHM February 7, 2014 at 1:52 pm

Update on this – I found out actually APIA didn’t owe us money because guess what? We had been billed incorrectly! :) At this point it is so clustered they just closed/final settled the account. From what I can tell since they didn’t charge us last month like they were supposed to it ends up being pretty close to a wash so we are moving on but Host Mom in the City is right, I looked at the terms again and if they don’t have a candidate for you then you definitely get refunded and there is a matrix that shows how much in their terms so check that out. Good luck!!

TexasHM February 6, 2014 at 12:17 am

They did mention a huge shift when they went to their passport system (online) and they mentioned they increased testing/screening. I was told today that they are about to launch another level of testing/screening so I am curious to see if it’s going to be something like the DiSC profile.

Our current rematch AP said she came in Nov with about 3 dozen APs to orientation and only one has gone home and it was because it was a bro-pair that couldn’t find another family once he went into transition. Our APIA APs said they had orientations of over 100, there were several girls that didn’t speak a lick of English (our first AP included) and they told us of dozens going home in the first month.

Maybe we just had good luck this round or maybe interexchange has figured out that it’s about quality vs quantity and quantity helps no one. (cv’s emphasis) I’m hoping it’s the latter but only time will tell!

Anna February 6, 2014 at 5:48 pm

SHould be working,

yes, I had one pathological lier au pair who hit my kids and left them alone.

Momma Gadget February 6, 2014 at 6:11 pm

OMG! May I ask…where did you bury her body?

Seriously- that is AWFUL! No family should go through that!

Should be working February 6, 2014 at 6:31 pm

How horrible–and newsworthy even! Please tell me that this was a case where the agency sent her/him right home.

TexasHM February 6, 2014 at 9:19 pm

Hideous and if you haven’t already hidden the body I will help! Unreal! Worst nightmare.

Anna February 6, 2014 at 10:48 pm

Yes, the agency (Interexchange) sent her home, but only after I wrote them a letter detailing all the incidents. We rematched for pathological lying, but that alone was not enough to send her home – we discovered the rest after she left, and wrote to the agency insisting that she be sent home. After that, she was.

To be fair, her application was excellent, the interviews were excellent too, and I only discovered lies that started unraveling the whole thing after a fellow host mom tipped me off to one of them… I didn’t suspect a thing, she was so good at it…. I probably would but it would take me longer and god forbid something would happen to my kids…

TexasHM February 14, 2014 at 5:40 pm

So update on our transition from APIA to Interexchange – this transition has gotten better and better. I thought being in rematch would be our most stressful transition, instead it was our easiest and we couldn’t be more thrilled! A big difference I noticed in the agencies was the materials that Interexchange sends to the families and APs. I realize this doesn’t make as big a difference for us experienced host families but for brand new host families I would HIGHLY recommend looking at Interexchange. They have this fab “Host Family Handbook” guide that is basically this blog’s topics in a handbook form and they provide a “Home Orientation Guide” that helps you maneuver the first couple weeks with a new AP (first time or otherwise) that was AWESOME. I would have killed to have had resources like this when we first joined the program. I talked to another host family thats been with Interexchange for a long time and they echoed that the online Passport system made a huge difference and that they noticed the candidates seemed to get better every year now – complete opposite of what I was seeing at APIA. I could write an entire post on this topic but needless to say even though my kids picture is the first thing you see in the 2014 APIA brochure, we never referred another family to them in almost 4 years and I have already referred 3 families to Interexchange in the last week that have reported back enthusiastic praise for the agency customer service and quality of candidates so I am hoping its not just luck!

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