Choosing an Au Pair: Application Videos as Tools to Help Matching

by cv harquail on May 26, 2011

If a picture paints a thousand words, then what does an Au Pair’s application video do?

Au Pair videos seem like a great way to get a sense of an au pair’s personality and command of English. Even though someone could script and then rehearse perfect grammar and expression, you’d still get o hear his or her accent and know whether you could manage it. Plus, a video can help you get a sense of a potential au pair’s personality. Looks good.

Challenges of Au Pair Application Videos

When videos first arrived on the scene, I wondered if they’d do as much harm as good. All I needed to see was an au pair in her pink bedroom, surrounded by thousands of stuffed animals, using cheesy graphics and Brittney Spears as background music, to move on to the next application without a second thought. Yes, I was using my own aesthetic taste, not good matching criteria.

I wonder, though, if au pair videos now have a smaller role in the matching process, since Skype has created a chance for us to interact visually and audibly with an au pair in real time.

As Steff wrote in a comment earlier:

In the first interview I had with my current hostfamily they actually commented on my video and how they’ve liked what I did there. I had to admit I liked that, and you know? Host parents actually look a lot to that because, at least in my opinion, the video is a GREAT way to tell the actual personality of the girl– of course that’s not a “bullet-proof” screen tool, but I think it is still very great because your future hostfamily can “know” you a little bit better.

How well your spoken English is- if you are a happy person overall, if you smile a lot and are genuinely excited in being an AP or if you are just with the program as a way to get to the States and I really hope you know what I mean.

OB mom chimed in:

I really liked having a video to get a sense of a person and who they are. Not a highly produced thing, but something that shows what is important to them about working with children. What would you do with our children if you were our AP’s? If you can show that your communication skills are good that may help.

Families, have Au Pair application videos helped your selection process?

Or have they just added another layer of stuff to distract you from your deeper criteria?


AnnaAuPair May 26, 2011 at 7:17 am

I recently got to see both perspectives on the video-topic: One of my friends applied to become an AuPair and had to make one and my HF searched for a new AuPair, so I got to look at videos and try to find a suited AuPair for them.

A lot of AuPairs are really insecure about what is expected of them. IF they have a camera that’s good enough to make an OK video, they don’t know where to shoot and what to say. I don’t want to hear everything I already read in their application. I want to get a better look at them and how they are.
I like videos, where the AuPairs film themselves with kids, because it shows me how they are with them.
Videos, where the AuPair just sits in her room and tells me all the things that are already in her application – I have to say, that I don’t watch them. I watch about 20 seconds, to get an idea of her English and her, but not more. I don’t know if I’m the only one, but I don’t have time to watch 5 minutes of the same mostly monotone voice and the same background, for every AuPair I’m interested in.
From all the videos I watched, I hardly liked one and some even made me not consider the AuPair, because (just like CV said) I didn’t like the wallpaper or the quality of the video was so bad. I might have considered them if I just had their pictures and the application.

The friend of mine, who had to make a video, was really afraid to bore families with her video and it took forever to make it, because she isn’t really good with computer stuff.
The AuPair-Forum of my agency has a biiig big topic on the videos, which shows me how insecure most AuPairs are with the videos.

I, for myself, rather look at the pictures and then Skype, than look at the video.

Busy Mom May 26, 2011 at 8:13 am

I really appreciated the videos, primariy because they gave me a quick sense of the level of spoken English. Yes, the can be scripted and rehearsed, but I immediately dismissed videos where the English was clearly sub-par. However, I didn’t let the decor deter me. I also look for personality, but if an AP was otherwise perfect on paper, I’d give her a chance on skype even if her video was dull. However, if I was considering multiple candidate, I’d contact the one with a cheerful/upbeat/smiling video first.

That being said, I don’t start my screening with the video…everyone has their primary screening criteria, and ours is driving and a few other things. We watched videos only of those who made it to the short list.

Still, I think that APs should find a way to make a video if at all possible – even if it’s a hassle to borrow equipment. My rough estimate is that 50% of the APC profiles included a video. Most HF understand that video equipment isn’t as readily affordable/accessible outside the US, so won’t hold it against you that you don’t have a video…but you really want to present yourself in the best light and show a complete portfolio. Other HF’s may feel differently about this. I did not reject anyone simply because they had a video, but, in the interest of conserving my time, if I might use the video as a tie-breaker to decide which ones to start with because I would already have some understanding of their level of English.

Tips to au pairs:
– Don’t include a soundtrack – in some videos, I couldn’t hear the au pair speaking because the music was so loud
– Include clips of you interacting with a child and/or clips of you doing things you like to do
– Incude your family, even if they are just waving to the camera and saying hello (shows that they support you fully)
– Don’t create a slide show of pictures – that’s not a video and doesn’t highlight your English skills
– film it outside (then no one gets distracted by the wallpaper or couch color!)
– smile! (seriously, in some of them, the APs don’t smile!) (it’s easier to smile if you’re outside or with a kid!)

The best video we saw (actually for the au pair we matched with) was filmed in a park, included a girl she babysat for and that girl’s mom, and included her family. The second best was similar – park & kid, though did not include family. They were chatty and upbeat. The APs came across as very friendly.

Indi Au Pair to be May 26, 2011 at 8:26 am

I appreciate your take on this as a HF, I think it’s interesting that agencies, or at least mine, REALLY encourages you to make a video and they even state that most of the families don’t revise apps that don’t have a video and they even pick you based, in great part, for your video. I studied media so for me it’s easy and actually enjoyed doing it. I tried to include my family but they were too shy. When I was doing research for my video I saw a lot of girls who just sit in front of a camera for 2 minutes and then it’s a slide show with pictures, even when the agency encourages NOT to do so, but I can see why some girls only make those kinds of videos as maybe the only camera they have available is their built in webcam. I once saw a video of a girl doing yoga…and just that. I think the best videos are the ones that show a little bit of the AP talking and a little bit of the AP interacting with kids. I tried to include as many activities as posible in my video but it’s hard to stick with the 3 minute rule.

AnonAP May 26, 2011 at 8:50 am

I loved making the video as I felt it was a great opportunity to show my personality. So I talked and had my younger sibling sitting next to me and even saying some lines but also had some short segments of slideshows with pictures and even videos of me with the kids I take care of and my sibling and even some video segments of us doing something togethe. And put music behind the slideshows that represented me best.
My future host family chose me partly because of this video.

But I also have to say that I know not one but *three* cases where videos have been totally scripted (up to matching without having the English skills one showed in the video and probably faked the phone call!) or even copied (not just the music and videos but also the lines including grammatical mistakes!).

Nevertheless to *me* the video was a great way to show who I am and frankly, if I’d had to make the collage that some agencies required in the past, I would have been really sc…in deep trouble :D

Should be working May 26, 2011 at 8:57 am

The video is huge to me as an HM. It is one thing where I can get a specific impression of a candidate quickly, and really differentiate between candidates–all of whom have worked with children, all of whom love to travel, all of whom like to hang out with friends, and so forth. In this round of matching there were only 3 candidates whose videos I reviewed (CCAP has tons to look at, and HFs can review videos without having much other info) who I thought were REALLY worth requesting further info for. The videos made certain qualities stand out–humor being number one. Sense of humor is really high up on my list of personality criteria. Also just the fact of making the video shows me that the AP is thorough, motivated and follows recommendations. And how the candidate interacts with kids in the video is also really important. I saw one where a candidate just watched kids playing. Didn’t even finish the video–because that already shows what this AP would do with my kids.

Now clearly I may have missed numerous candidates with a sense of humor who did not make a video or did not show their humor in their video, but in terms of an efficient search, the video makes certain personality cuts for me quickly. If the candidate doesn’t make a good impression in the video, why look further at her materials? There are plenty of other candidates, so I simply move on.

HMinWI May 26, 2011 at 9:15 am

My middle daughter picked our current AP based on her video because AP said she could make french fries. Not kidding!

Of course, dh and I used the video as a part of the process, but we liked the rest of her application and our conversations with her. So, when dd picked her video over the others, that led to a match. Honestly, it’s going to be one of my favorite AP stories in years to come.

I think the videos are a great tool. I love the tips listed above…being outside, with kids or family…those would be great things to see.

A Host Mom May 26, 2011 at 12:52 pm

I have a similar story. While watching various au pair videos, my 6 year old son commented that he liked certain candidates more than the others when their videos included members of their families. He also likes looking at pictures of their families. However, we completely fell in love with the next au pair arriving (who arrives in July) because her name is the same as the main character in his favorite book.

Taking a Computer Lunch May 26, 2011 at 2:20 pm

My son (10), too, enjoys watching the videos and seeing the pictures. He has me read the APs’ letters.

Anon Mom Now May 26, 2011 at 9:26 am

I recall seeing one video that was way over-produced. It had an elaborate soundtrack that reminded me of the music from the “It’s a Small World” ride at Disney World. The applicant was “interviewing” the children at the day care where she worked. It creeped me out actually, and was an instant turn-off. I also found it odd that the applicant had no explanation for the nature of the video (for example, if she was studying video-editing in school or something, that would have made more sense).

Au Pair candidates should not overthink or put TOO much effort into producing the video. I think the video should be consistent with the other information in the application. If not, I dismiss the candidate.

Taking a Computer Lunch May 26, 2011 at 10:30 am

For me, the video is a clue but not the key to AP selection. Of course, I am different from most HF in that special needs experience of any sort is my first priority. But, yes, videos did affect how we perceived candidates. Those that included a snippet of them interacting with children were more favorably received than those that sat on their beds or couches and talked about themselves.

Ladies, one piece of advice – don’t spend the majority of your clip speaking about your dream to come to America. There are many many many ways to get here – but if you are going to be an AP you are going to spend a fair chunk of your time with children.

Quite frankly, it’s the letter I look at. If the candidate spends 2/3 of her letter talking about herself before she mentions her childcare experience, it’s fine, but I’ll give her a pass. While yes, I want to know what’s important to her – it’s important to me that children be among her priorities.

Hula Gal May 26, 2011 at 11:15 am

If the au pair did not have a video but she had a great application and there were no red flags in the photos I would interview her. But if she does have a video and it is good (doesn’t have to be amazing) and shows that she is motivated to be an au pair than that is a bonus and puts her above other candidates in my mind. Our current au pair had a video and while it was hokey it showed she was motivated and gave us some insight into her personality. It was a plus for her application overall.

Anon May 26, 2011 at 11:18 am

I once saw a video that turned me OFF a candidate…
The girl was studying singing professionally, and the whole video she was singing a song, like an opera singer. Made up like an opera singer, too, and singing with all the mannerisms (rolling the eyes, curling the mouth…)
Just confirmed to me the impression that it was all about her, very narcissistic.

KM May 26, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Will host families be asked to make videos so au pairs can review them before matching?

Anna May 26, 2011 at 2:42 pm

At the moment (and probably always, since agencies livelihood depends on the size and choices in their applicant pool), there are more wannabe au pairs than hostfamilies (many au pairs wait close to a year before finding a family, while families match in weeks, in general), so the families are doing the choosing. It is a rare au pair candidate (and in a rare agency) that has a simultaneous choice of families. Of course an au pair can always decline an offer, but it is not like au pairs are browsing through hundreds of profiles of families eager to welcome them. It is the other way around.

ap May 26, 2011 at 8:00 pm

It think it sound like a great idea, for the same reasons that motivates host families to look at au pair videos. Aps would get the chance to see if the family smiles, how excited they really are when talking about their kids, their jobs, their lives and the arriving of a new au pair, plus seeing the kids and their reactions…I’d have loved to see some videos during my matching process, and I think it’s something that maybe the agencies should think about.

Europair May 26, 2011 at 11:46 pm

As I did not use an agency, I used to find my host family, who then brought in an agency to deal with visa concerns. I just wanted to note that online, the process is more of a reciprocal thing; there are hundreds of families and many potential au pairs, all of whom have access to each other’s profiles. I’m not sure how many au pairs posted videos, but a few families I saw had them, which I found really nice. It showed a willingness to invest time in attracting the right candidate, which is important when you are considering living with someone for the next year. I do think that the skype session is much more important, but a video can be an extra star next to someone’s name.

Anna May 27, 2011 at 7:57 am

I have used GreatAuPair as well, and also found the balance skewed toward there being more potential au pairs wanting to come to US, than US families willing to bring an au pair through an agency. True, video is a plus.

PA AP mom May 27, 2011 at 8:31 am

We actually have several videos that potential candidates are asked to view once we move forward in the matching process.

IF we like an application and have a good email/Skype communication, then we send our videos. We have one that is a tour of our house and neighborhood, one of each of the boys, one of our current au pair and one with our extended family where everyone says what their favorite part of the au pair program is.

MommyMia May 27, 2011 at 12:09 pm

We have also done YouTube video tours of our home (secure “invitation only” link, narrated by the kids!) that we send once we’re in the matching process. We don’t want someone to select us based only the “Grand Hotel” appearance of our home – LOL! Most of our APs have appreciated seeing what their room will actually look like, rather than trying to imagine it from our verbal descriptions.

Returning HM May 27, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Rather than a video, I did a “walking tour” of our house and backyard on skype for the AP we eventually matched with. We live in a town that ranks very high on all national polls in terms of income, education, etc., and the AP knew this (she mentioned early on in our matching process that her uncle had told her that he had read about our town). Well we live in about the smallest house in our entire neighborhood, and I didn’t want her having any illusions about what it was like to live in __ town. So I walked her through everything – showed her exactly how many steps it would be between her room and the children’s rooms, how small the bathroom they will share is, and how small the entire house is. She could also see how much space two big dogs take up in our small house. On the other hand, she could also see that the house is very comfortable, that her room is the biggest in the house and very sunny, and how very neat we keep the entire house. She could also see our nice backyard, and I walked her through a googlemap of our neighborhood, so she could see how close we are to a large extension of trails and streams, so while we’re semi-urban, we’re also very close to nature. She told me she appreciated my honesty about the house and that I wasn’t trying to hide anything with her, and this way I know she has a correct sense of what we have and don’t have.

kat May 27, 2011 at 4:12 pm

i thought it depends on the agency, what the matching system is? cant aupairs browse the families too at least with some agencies?? i would be very put off if i was an ap looking for a post in the us. would certainly start looking on greataupair or similar.

Anna May 27, 2011 at 4:16 pm

There is no agency that I know of (of course I don’t know everything!) where au pairs can browse and contact families…

AuPairToBeFromGermany May 26, 2011 at 3:46 pm

I made a video and added my “bloopers” to it and my HostMom said that she really liked the video, especially the bloopers, because she saw that I am a very funny and happy person :) I still do some short clips for my HostMom and my HostFamily and they are always really happy about it, for example if I show them my family, or my dog or parts of my area :) I also did a short Happy-HostMothers-Day video which my host Mom really liked! :D
I only can recommand a video to everyone, it helps as much as pictures do :)
But still the video should be in a good quality and only show you on “helpfull” moment, because I doubt that a potential Family would be happy to see the Future AuPair at a Party or smoking..

Returning HM May 26, 2011 at 9:10 pm

We had been out of the au pair selection process for the two years we took a break from having APs, so we were surprised this time around to find that the AP profiles, at least at our new agency, all included videos. I loved it! Like some of the PPs have noted, I didn’t use the videos as the first-line screening tool — for that I use driving ability, willingness to work with a child with special needs (this to me shows an open-mindedness and a willingness to take on challenge, which will be good for both my NT child and my child with LDs), swimming proficiency, and familiarity around dogs. But once I had things narrowed down a bit, I definitely used the videos, and I found I could get so much from them.

We have had problems in the past with APs not being what (or who) they seemed in our phone chats. Twice in the past (before everyone had skype) we matched with APs who, upon arrival, had so totally misrepresented themselves that they did not last with us more than a couple of weeks. One was so obese and out of shape that she could not move quickly enough to keep our then-toddler safe in a parking lot or near the water – she just physically could not handle the demands of a job with small and active children – and the other had obviously had someone else speak to us on the phone, as she could not speak or understand even basic English. What appealed to us about the AP we matched with this time was how she smiled as she spoke in her video, how comfortable and extemporaneously she spoke English, how she showed her house and her room and her special things so that we could get a sense of where and how she lived, and also how she laughed a bit at how awkward it was to speak into a camera to unknown and unseen people across an ocean. She came across as both poised and self-deprecating, while at the same time able to talk about herself in a clear and comfortable manner. When we started skyping with her, her personality was the same on skype as it was in the video, so she had definitely done a good job of being as “natural” as possible in the video. I agree with some of the PPs who recommended that APs not “try too hard” in the videos to wow a family. This AP just showed the outside of her home and then walked the viewer through to her room, showed around her room and where she studied, showed a few photos of her family, and then talked about her childcare experiences and her hobbies. Some of the other APs whose videos we looked at showed their pets as well, and I liked that too – for us, it’s VERY important that a potential AP understand what it is like to live with multiple dogs, since we not only have a dog but also foster dogs as well.

Ultimately, I felt like I got a nice introduction to our prospective AP from her video, and, to be honest, after our experience with the very heavy and out-of-shape AP, it was important for us to see the whole person and to see the ease of her movements in a way that neither pictures not skype automatically show. In pictures, it is easy for an AP to show only her face and not her body or else to use very old pictures (the AP who was so out-of-shape told us later that the pictures had been taken 3-4 years before she submitted her au pair application), and in skype the webcam is trained on the face. In a video, though, one can get a sense of the whole person, and if one has young children who may need to be suddenly grabbed from running into the street, etc., the ease of movement of a prospective AP may well be an important factor.

To the PP who mentioned whether HFs should make videos, I will say that when my second child was non-verbal (he didn’t speak til he was 3.5 yrs old), I did send short video clips to prospective APs because I wanted them to see how he communicated through sign language and for them to get a sense of what kind of signs they would need to be willing to learn if they came to live with us.

Taking a Computer Lunch May 26, 2011 at 10:41 pm

We don’t send a HF video, but we do have a YouTube clip of The Camel made during the first week she walked independently at school. The video gives a sense of The Camel’s wicked sense of humor, her pleasure in life, and the love that surrounds her. I don’t know whether it makes it easier or harder for APs to consider working with her, but it makes her a real person (as opposed to a shopping list of things that can go wrong in a body). We send the link out in our initial email and it is clear to us that all candidates with whom we have a telephone interview have seen it.

StephinBoston May 27, 2011 at 8:30 am

I too enjoy the videos, I find that it does show an au pair’s personality. Current AP is reserved and quiet and her video showed us just that. Our next AP had a very nice video that showed us how much energy and passion she has for children. It’s not my first tool for selection but it does help decide whether or not I want to move forward and skype to get to know her more.

Noelle May 27, 2011 at 8:38 am

I have watched countless videos (seemed condemned to semi-annual rematches, but anyway…) – most of them are ridiculous. I agree that they’re really useful for gauging spoken english, but so few of them seem to take advantage of the opportunity to use it as a cover letter or lead-in to a skype interview. I wish, so much, that future au pairs would use the video as a way to introduce themselves personally, but also to describe their work experiences, why they are right for the program, maybe their childcare philosophy. Most of the ones I’ve seen involve three minutes of: My name is X and I want to tell you about my life so….here’s my cat, here’s the cat’s age and personality, here are my parents in the garden, this is my room, this is where I went to high school, here are my friends and i at the nightclub, etc, and then finally 10 seconds of “I want to be an au pair because I love to spend time with children and I am open minded.” And to date, i have yet to contact a candidate on the basis of the garden or the cat. As it were, it seems that every single German au pair that makes a video is “open minded” and wants to find an “open minded family”, I hear this mini speech so much in videos that it now means nothing. In the end, I’ve learned very little about the candidate, aside from the details on the cat.

Sorry….it just frustrates me that so few of them use the opportunity to tell me more about themselves as a prospective employee. And further, that the German APs all seem to be sharing the same bad advice or bad script – makes me wonder if my agency (APIA) is actually the culprit.

HRHM May 27, 2011 at 1:09 pm

OT but what does that mean? I see it all the time too? I grew up in the 70s where “open-minded” was code for sexually loose! And every time I see that, it makes me chuckle. What does this phrase mean to all the APs who are using it? Open minded to what? Non-traditional families? Being asked to break the rules and do work outside the hours/bounds? I don’t get it.

Any APs want to educate me?

ApEur May 27, 2011 at 5:48 pm

For me the term means being able to accept sexual minorities, discuss religion (or lack thereof) without it turning into a heated argument, not being racist, willing to learn about my home country and our customs and so on. Guess I just use it as a synonym for liberalism :) I could never work in a family where homosexuality or atheism is not accepted. I don’t care if the family believes in God but I would like to be able to keep being agnostic/atheist without being pressured into Christianity or any other religion. It’s a two way street :)

What it doesn’t mean to me: willingness to break the rules, letting me stay out all night long, smoking pot in the basement, walking around the house naked and inviting friends over for “swinging”. And other stuff like that.

DC/MD Mom May 28, 2011 at 10:48 pm

Funny. I too noticed this expression come up repeatedly with videos on APIA (mostly Germans but I didn’t make that connection at the time). It is not surprising to think that the agencies or AP websites “coach” the APs on the videos.

I took it to mean they were trying to show they were flexible, were open to new experiences, not judgmental. I think sometimes there are catchphrases one uses to capture a positive quality that may be difficult to pin down. For example, my last AP, Dutch, used “spontaneous” like this –she (who I would say certainly was spontaneous) would use it to describe other AP candidates and others in a way I would not — I would probably have used enthusiastic or flexible or taking initiative, etc. in those contexts.

German Au-Pair May 27, 2011 at 8:18 pm

Yep, the agencies pretty much script your video. Not totally but they give you a lot of clues.
Here’s the list of other word that a common online dictionary gives you for the word that Germans mean with “open-minded”:
And to make things clear, the word Germans mean with open-minded means embracing new cultures, new lifestyles, new rules and just be open to new experiences without judging.
It’s interested to me that this word seem to have a totally different meaning to Americans?!

Actually, after reading Noelle’s post, I’m kind of proud of my video because I spend exactly 20 seconds on my free time and hobbies -and only after presenting my childcare abilities- and not once used the phrase opend-minded or any other cliche.

Taking a Computer Lunch May 27, 2011 at 8:38 pm

I think open-minded means the same thing in the US. However, I have heard my German AP use it differently. She has said Americans are open-minded because some of us will talk with anyone. That’s not how I would use it. I would use curious for those who talk to strangers easily and open-minded to discuss those who don’t judge those who come from different backgrounds.

Believe me, there are plenty of Americans who are neither curious or open-minded. My guess is that they are also unlikely to employ APs.

German Au-Pair May 27, 2011 at 8:39 pm

Oh but I might add that while the agencies *do* provide so many hints on how to do a video that it’s hard to be creative, the open-minded-thing is something taught at school.
Open-minded as in “open towards new things” is a term we learn at High School and to us it seems absolutely normal.
Is it just HRHM or is the term open-minded really missused by us all the time?

ApEur May 27, 2011 at 9:01 pm

It might be that it just has a different meaning in Europe. When I talk to my friends from other European countries none of them would interpret it with being sexually open-minded… And I would’ve never thought it would give anyone the chuckles :D Well, once again I learned something new and now I know to say “I wish my family would be open-minded towards other religions, sexualities and races.” Or I could just say I wish they were liberal(?)

Taking a Computer Lunch May 28, 2011 at 6:37 am

While liberal is generally used to describe political attitudes, it may be applied to social situations as well. For example, in my house we permit APs to have sex with their boyfriends (and girlfriends) in their rooms and to have them sleep over. DH and I would be described as liberal or permissive. (While many of our APs MAY have had sex in their rooms, only ONE in 6 was open about it.) To use open-minded in this particular context, the sentence would be “They are open-minded about sexuality.” There are other types of open-mindedness, and it possible to be politically liberal without being socially liberal. (The converse is also true. It is possible to be politically conservative and socially liberal.)

However, as one other HP described, the use of open-minded may cause nape hairs to go up, so if you are going to describe someone as open-minded then it is best to qualify the statement. My HP are open-minded because they…. When I was staying in the youth hostel in New York I met someone who was open-minded, he …. Or many Americans I have met are open-minded, they….

azmom May 27, 2011 at 8:42 am

Yes and no here. We chose one because she had such a nice video, singing songs to kids with her guitar. It was a tactic to fool us, nothing else. BUt we’re slightly jaded now and we know better than to trust just a video on interaction

PhillyMom May 27, 2011 at 12:03 pm

We chose our next au pair partly because of her video. She did a combination of filmed clips and some pictures thrown in. It was very cleverly made. Instead of describing herself, she interviewed her friends to describer her personality. She interviewed her family about what they though about the au pair year. I was able to get a good impression that she is a very creative, fun and supported well-liked person. The video stood out among all the other boring ones I have seen of other au pairs. Of course she stood out for other reasons as well…..Hope the impression we get is not wrong. She’ll be arriving in about 1 month!

AliMom May 27, 2011 at 9:52 pm

Actually I also was bit perplexed with the use of “open minded”. Our newly matched Geman au pair wrote to us saying how happy she had found such an “open minded” family as that was what she had been looking for. To be honest it made me a bit nervous about what habits/opinions she had that I would need to be so open minded to accept. I guess it was just lost a bit in translation. For the record I am definitly on the liberal side but not towards drugs etc.

Anonym May 28, 2011 at 5:59 am

It usaually means non-judgemental.

Steff May 29, 2011 at 1:06 am

At least with the agency I am, we weren’t exactly ‘coached’ to do the video other than really, really encouraged to do it. If I’m not wrong, in my country there is even a contest for the ‘Best Video’ (I’m not sure under whose standards tho :D) and the winner actually gets a prize. The agency didn’t tell us what to say (other than answer the ‘Why do you wanna be an AP’ Question), but yes they did give us some ”tips” (smile!! :) ; good quality of the video ; sound enthusiastic ; show properly your face ; etc) and also they did tell us to make it ‘unique’ & creative and so forth…

I for one, stand on my opinion still. I firmly believe the videos are a GREAT way for host-families to get a better sense of who the AP is before making steps forward with her/him in the matching process– even a better tool than the photos in my opinion. I actually don’t like pictures, and I get all shy in photos, and I don’t like that. But then again, in the video I’m much more ‘myself’ than in whatever picture lol– I talked as I talk normally, I laughed when I messed up, and even when the video was only 3min short, I guess that whoever that watches can get a sense of who I really am, far more if they were only seeing my pictures.

When asked, I always tell other girls to do the video. Sometimes– at least in my country, we aren’t really as confident of our spoken English as girls from…say, Germany are. So I guess that’s a factor why some girls decline making the video, but to be honest, I wish they could just get past that and make the video. :: Maybe some times it won’t be as helpful and rather will take families out of your account (i.e. HFs will thing you’re- too sad, too happy, too little– she would not stand a chance with the children, too skinny, too obese, whatever…you know?) but I bet some times it is also a positive thing. “Hey, she really is a happy person….even when she can hardly smile for a picture” (my case! lol)

All in all, until proven otherwise, I guess I’m gonna keep telling girls to do the video even if it’s not something ‘extravagant’ and borderline professional :) I think talking a little bit about yourself — who you are, the *real* reasons why you wanna be an AP, your childcare experience will at least IMO, make an Ok video…showing yourself with the kiddos will maybe make it even better, I suppose. — I really hope however, that at least most times, the videos do more good than harm :D

Carlos May 29, 2011 at 3:41 am

I’m producing my video… I’m gonna upload it to youtube and share it with you all…

I’m hot… LOL.. JK!

an ap June 2, 2011 at 10:30 pm

let´s see it!

Carlos June 3, 2011 at 3:05 am

send me your request and I’ll gladly send it to you ;D

Andrea Acuna June 3, 2011 at 9:12 am

Carlos I will send you mine

Carlos June 2, 2011 at 8:12 pm

I have a better opinion about this. :D

I can honestly say because of what happened today that videos truly are a great way to reach the families.

I just got a call from a host mom interested in me and she said that she was impressed of how I spoke about my family and she felt identified because she has a very close family like me and she said that’s one of the things she’s looking for in an au pair.

So I can say the video has worked for me! and I guess for her, and for everybody.. you can see things about the au pair before making the decision of proceding to the actual interview.. because I read that you also do skype, but correct me if I’m wrong.. I was told that the video was like your presentation of yourself in 3 mins, not your interview with the au pair… I thought video was like the application in 3 mins and you can see if you like that au pair or if you just move to the next one of your list… am I right?

Andrea Acuna June 3, 2011 at 9:11 am

Hey….I did my video and now I’m wating for my perfect match!…wish me luck

Soon to be First time au pair August 29, 2011 at 5:03 pm

I just created my au pair video and uploaded it, but your discussion really is quite daunting. I would consider myself at least moderately charming and funny, but in my attempt at being professional and serious I seem to have removed all humor and.. well, even personality! That so many would discard an au pair simply for a poor video is unnerving.. (Not meaning to critizise, but only express my own concern.) It is a highly stressful situation, and one is walking a thin thread between cheesiness and professionalism. It seems host families have a huge pool from which to extract only the best and finest, and they seem to be able to be rather picky indeed. But, on another note, can a more honest, less nervous and more funny au pair letter make up for a overly-dressed up and un-charming video?

NonCoastMom August 30, 2011 at 6:22 am

We recently selected our first au pair. I think the conversation here is useful and you should take it into consideration but also keep it in perspective. I think with all of matching, different families are looking for different things and what you ultimately want is to match wth a family that “fits” with you. So it is important to be yourself no matter how much you want to be an AP.

I will tell you about our experience matching for what it is worth. We definitely looked at some applications we would not have otherwise seen simply because they had a video. HF just found it an easier and quicker way to get an initial impression than the application materials. So he looked specifically at candidates with videos. He probably looked at several videos and looked no further than that because he made an initial judgment based on the video. But these were candidates we may not have looked at anyway if we were only looking at application materials. We were a good balance. I focused more on the written materials than he did. I did still look at videos too, but only for those candidates I liked based on the written application. We removed from consideration only a few applicants based solely on the video. This is our first time hosting and we have a school-age child, so we wanted someone with very strong English skills. I remember one candidate whose application materials were good but we did not interview her based on her video. She struggled in her video with her English. In my opinion, someone who has trouble when they can rehearse and edit is gong to have serious trouble communicating in stressful situations. This is why we decided not to interview her.

When it came to our final three, one had a video and two did not. The one who had a video was initially our favorite. She had a very enthusiastic video that showcased her excellent English. She was also very enthusiastic in person. Things fell through with her during the interview process for other reasons. Looking back, I am relieved they did because she was maybe a bit too loud and outspoken to work for our family. The AP we chose did not have a video but presented very well on skype. In fact, I was skeptical after our initial telehone call but came to really like her during our second talk, which was on skype. The other AP we did not choose may have fared better if we could have skyped with her but she did not use skype. Ultimately, we had two good candidates and one we made a much better connection with. That was probably due at least in part to the fact that one we could see and one we could not.

As for the letter, I relied on them a lot.
Good luck matching!

Lucie aupair October 26, 2011 at 11:14 am

Hi everyone! :)
It’s an interesting topic you’re talking about.Actually I want to be an aupair in America and I am waiting for a family :)
I wanted to talk about the video thing.It isn’t as easy as someone may think.At the beggining I didn’t have any clue how to do it,but after some thinking time a had some nice ideas…I made a video on my laptop,because we don’t have an video camera,I couln’t make the video outside or with children around me …I just don’t have the chance.
The next probem was,that after my video was finished,I couldn’t upload it on the aupair website,because they only allow 15 MB andd I had 500!!!!!Mb…so I spend a whole week with cutting the video and I still don’t know how I did it :) But I had to cut some things away,and that made me sad.
So I just want you to know,that if hasn’t a very good quality or is just on the same place,that doesn’t (always) mean that the aupair is lazy!! :)
I think every aupair should get a chance,altough her video might not be exellent :)

Comments on this entry are closed.