Choosing an Au Pair from Her Video: An example for your feedback

by cv harquail on January 14, 2017

A prospective Au Pair from South America emailed last week– she has applied to be an Au Pair with Cultural Care, but hasn’t found a family.   She’s wondering — is there anything about her video that might be turning families off? Is there anything she could do to improve her video?

I don’t want to set up an expectation that I’ll post candidates’ videos on Au Pair Mom — but — I think that, this once, it might be interesting for us to talk about what’s in this video, and what we might also be looking for.

What do we really want to see in an au pair candidate’s application video? 

This candidate’s video is quite nice. It looks like someone with good camera and editing skills helped her with it. (Note all the shots where someone else is capturing her actions– and how well framed everything is.) I don’t believe that videos need to be this polished in order to be effective.

A few things I really liked where the scenes where she is playing with her dog (meaningful to me, since we have a dog that we want any au pair to love), and where she is coaching the cheerleading team.

My one concern I won’t mention yet– let’s see if anyone else picks up the same one. ( In any case it wouldn’t be a dealbreaker.)

watch here: 

I haven’t put the candidates name or country here, to help keep the conversation a little more ‘just between us’ on the blog.

Here’s a snip from her email:   I started the  process over 8 months ago and I don´t have a family yet. I’m really worried  because I was hoping to travel to a Host Family in March.  I think my profile is really good and I have the experience.  Please watch my video and say to me if there is something wrong. Thanks!

What do you all think?  What would you suggest?


Aupair Lauren January 14, 2017 at 4:39 pm

While I’m not a host parent I thought I’d just add my two cents of what I feel could be possibly putting families off.

I noticed that during the video this future AP is mainly doing a voice over and to me it sounds as if she’s reading from a piece of paper. This could be a slight concern to families about how good her English is? She also has a heavy accent which again could be a concern about how well she will understand, comprehend and verbally contribute to a family that perhaps is looking for a more fluent English speaker? I do feel for her because I know a big draw card of being an AP for non native English speakers is to improve their English and be able to practice the language!

I’m also not so sure about the scene at the shopping mall with her mom and a friend and perhaps that could be replaced with a piece speaking directly to camera and telling a little bit more about yourself etc.

What I did like about the video was her interaction with the kids :)

Should be working January 14, 2017 at 7:27 pm

It’s a nice video, better than many I have seen. She seems cheerful and warm. There was no mention or depiction of cooking or housekeeping experience, but that’s ok with me because just because they show it doesn’t mean they can do it. For us she might seem a little too young, but I imagine some people with younger kids wouldn’t mind at all.

Long time host mom January 14, 2017 at 9:22 pm

I laughed when the music included the word “bullshit” at a loud volume, but that would not be a deal breaker for me. The video seemed fine. She comes across as a sweet girl.

She didn’t say whether she was not getting interviews at all, so I don’t think her video is the problem. Most of the time, I have been unable to get the video link to work when APs have had them. I think her English seems good enough in the narration, but perhaps she has a difficult time in the interviews. Having gone through this process 10 times, I’ve found that good English skills are really important. Equally important is the understanding that a good AP takes the job seriously. APs who focus on the perks and vacation time in the interview are not going to be selected.

gabs January 15, 2017 at 12:50 am

Well, I’m an Au Pair, I’m not a HF and I have to say that my host family (and most of the host families that contacted me) choose me because of my video, so I believe this is really important. Families that contacted me said they were really impressed and I believe a good video causes a good impression.

I filmed a first video, posted and I think it wasn’t good enough, I made some mistakes like talking a lot about what I like to do -except from talking about my childcare experience- and overreacting; it wasn’t me at all.

Then, I filmed another video and it seems like host families loved it. There was a HF that looked at my video and contacted without even looking at my whole profile.

As a recommendation (taking my video as en example) is showing the best part of you. In my second video I didn’t overreact, I was sitting on a sofa, talking slow and smiling. Of course, at the beginning of my video I did something really really original that any Au Pair maybe did before, and I say “welcome” with a huge smile on my face.

In my case, I didn’t read a paper or something like that. I was speaking like if I were having a real conversation.

I didn’t show videos playing with children because I don’t have that, but I included a video of my little student singing a song (I didn’t record myself when he did that) and they still liked my video.

CO Host Mom January 15, 2017 at 2:05 am

So I have just watched about 80 videos in the search for our next AP. As a mother of two younger boys, I would not reach out to this AP. I think she seems more geared toward caring for girls. She did play with the one younger boy but it didn’t get the same level of attention as her interaction with girls. If the candidate only wants to care for girls, then the video does the trick. Also, it was a bit off-putting that her relationship with her mom took up so much time in the video.

I agree with the other comments, I like to see the AP do more direct to camera discussion. This AP’s English is not as strong as some that I have seen.

I just don’t think it was that memorable. If you are crazy HP like me and watch a zillion videos, you reach out to the ones that stand out.

I am grateful that she didn’t do the “this is one word that friends/family would use to describe me.” While I can see the initial allure, after a while, you see some combination of the same 10 words, over and over again and it really isn’t that helpful.

In general, I use the videos to:
1) gauge English skills
2) show me you actually like kids
3) I like to see what you think is important to show me, helps me understand your priorities
4) looks for personality cues to evaluate potential fit

I wish this AP luck in finding a family!

txapmom January 15, 2017 at 10:28 am

could be the tattoo. this wouldn’t be a deal breaker for me, but may be for others. Also, since she was reading, I would say her English is just ok.

Too many kids January 15, 2017 at 12:48 pm

I enjoyed this video and this AP seems sweet and friendly but I probably would have passed. I am fine with her English as I think all of the APs that I have hosted (4) had thick accents in their videos but by the end of their AP year, they improved greatly. I am a little apprehensive to provide pointers because I do really want to see what the potential AP feels is important. I will say that I want to see how they interact with children. This video shows her caring for children but it feels a bit staged. I re-watched my current APs video who extended another year with us and it made me tear up. I remember feeling the same emotion when I watched her video (over and over) a year ago. The children in her video were hugging and kissing her and following her around. This was at home and at the children’s camp she worked at during the summer. She folded her interests and family relationship into the video without me even realizing it. While watching the video I was able to envision what her relationship with my kids would be like and it turned out to be spot on. Sometimes I think my kids love her more than me. :) Overall, I’m looking for someone to love and care for my kids. I’m not naïve though, I know APs are looking to explore America and make new friendships not necessarily watch my kids. But if you genuinely love children and you can convey that, I know that I will be happy and the AP will be happy. Good Luck AP, you seem like a lovely person.

Amy-AP January 15, 2017 at 5:38 pm

My advice would be to completely re-do your video and be natural, don’t be so concerned about showing families certain things that you miss giving them some idea of who you are as a person. My video didn’t have any kids in it (the parents weren’t comfortable with their kids being in a video that will be watched by random people on the internet) – my video was just me talking and doing a few of my hobbies (and honestly, some kids are camera shy and the interaction just ends up looking awkward and forced). Even without showing any kids I had 9 families want to interview me. Be yourself, be energetic, smile, laugh and look like you’re having a good time. Don’t over-think it.

Something clever January 15, 2017 at 9:25 pm

I didn’t see any real issue with her video. She came across as well grounded and sweet. Perhaps the loud vulgarity in the song about midway through turns people off, though I laughed and assumed she doesn’t speak English well enough to recognize the meaning.

That said, I only find videos useful for looking more deeply at the profile and deciding if I want to interview the person. Much of the time, the video link hasn’t worked. One girl had a nice video but scheduling an interview was challenging enough that I assumed she didn’t take the job seriously, so I never even talked to her. I hire based on the interview – interpersonal chemistry (which is very important to me), the kind of questions she asks (does she recognize that this is a job, not a vacation), language skills, maturity and flexibility. I’ve had only moderate success in choosing Au pairs – three rock stars, two rematches, one I should have rematched ASAP, and three that have been okay.

Something clever January 15, 2017 at 9:26 pm

Can you tell me why my comments must be moderated? I posted something yesterday where I quoted a vulgarity from the video, and now every single post I’ve made goes to moderation.

cv harquail January 18, 2017 at 6:03 pm

everyone’s first comment is moderated, and also if the comments filter detects a PG-13 word.
See the comments policy for an explanation.
Any pended comment waits until I have a free moment away from my work to check the queue. It’s nothing personal; but then again you might cut us some slack here.

DMMom January 16, 2017 at 11:19 am

As a host parent, hosting Au Pairs from Colombia I like her video. Her English seems strong enough for us and she showed us her family, her dog and things that she likes to do. It would be nice to have her directly speaking to the camera about why she wants to be an Au Pair and what she hopes to do with the experience. However, based on the video I would not hesitate to interview her IF her profile showed her to be a regular driver for an extended amount of time. For our family driving experience (frequency and history) is the biggest factor on choosing an AuPair by 2x or 3x, not the video.

If you have been on the site for 8 months, change things up. Focus on your passions and things you love and then connect with a host families on those things. I think it is better to attract a narrower audience on a deeper level than a broad audience without making a real connection.

karen arrieta January 16, 2017 at 4:09 pm

Thanks everyone for your comments, they are very constructive and give me an idea of ??what families think, and of course I will make some changes according to your recommendations. :)

Frankfurt AP Boy January 17, 2017 at 10:30 am

The link doesnt work for me. It links to:

Then hangs on loading.

WorkingTWINmom January 17, 2017 at 11:20 am
HMof2 January 17, 2017 at 2:11 pm

The link didn’t work for me either but I was able to find it directly on youtube.

cv harquail January 18, 2017 at 6:05 pm

sigh. thanks for offering an alternative, below.

WorkingTWINmom January 17, 2017 at 11:20 am

I’m only going to comment because I did come across this video when choosing my au pair. I was specifically looking for a young lady from Columbia or Mexico. I did not interview this young lady, though her video did come across as really well made.

1. It took along time for her to get to the kids, which is the main reason I am bringing a person into my home. I want to know that they really want to be there. I also have three really young children (2 year old twins and a six month old at the time), which I did not see anything about in the video. She showcased her dog more than her relationship or care of children, that would be great if she was coming to care for my dog and not my kids.
2. I would be really worried about home sickness, she spent so much time about her friendship of her mom and sister and how close they are that I would be nervous that she would not be able to be away from home.
3. Her hobbies seemed to occupy the majority of the video. I am not sure she would be able to adopt to caring for children day in and day out (its a hard job) and that she may not enjoy it. Yes, she will have a lot of fun but there has to be a good realization that this is not always easy and will be taxing, and exhausting, especially when improving her English.Learning a new language and changing your life style for one or two years is a big deal and I want to know the person I am bringing into my home will truly embrace it.

Maybe I should have given her a chance. I gave a lot of attention to the videos and eliminated for a variety of reasons. I found my perfect match in the first girl I interviewed and we are talking about extending right now. I did like her video but I glossed over it for those reasons and could not see her as a match after watching it (her English was great for Columbia and she seemed like a really nice person).

Callie January 17, 2017 at 1:22 pm

Ummmmm…the word ‘shit’ is very obvious in the song that is playing in the background music. But almost worse to me, is the long portion about shopping and traveling while the song repeats “this is gonna be a good life, this is gonna be a good life…”. Although I want my au pair to have a “good life” and have fun while here, the language of the song shows a lack of judgement, and the words while talking about shopping and travel (first thing) tell me her real reason to be an au pair is to travel shop and have a good time. Also, I’m the mother of a boy and girl, even without the party girl feel of the video, this au pair is clearly not an au pair for boys, which takes away most HFs. The video focuses mostly on her sister, who is fifteen, and then her shopping, traveling sewing, and painting hobbies. So, if I had a kid under 15 years old, I would likely not consider her, as she clearly wants older kids. (If I had a kid over 15 years old and was getting an AP for them, see above about judgement, I don’t think she’s mature enough).

Now, I’m with CC, so I checked the profile, which only proves that I would never consider her for my boy, she is all about cheer-leading and braiding hair. How can a family with even 1 boy choose an AP that wouldn’t be able to interact with the boys well. Also, her profile focus is less about wanting to be an au pair for the kids and more about travel and shopping. Along with the video, there is a picture in her profile saying “Just be wild” (and although it’s a poster with a message about getting outside, that is not what people will see at first glance before moving onto the next AP candidate), a HF will look at that statement after seeing the video and it will only confirm the party girl feel that this AP has.

Taking a Computer Lunch January 17, 2017 at 11:34 pm

While I agree with you that the candidate’s song choice was not ideal, my guess is that she likes the tenor – “good life” of the song, without realizing that the foul language in it is not appropriate for a job application to work with young children. While I think she was trying to convey that she is a member of a family, perhaps a trip of the mall is not the best setting in which to convey that. I’d advise to have her show that she actually cooks with her grandma, not just tell us.

However, when it comes to the cheerleading, I recall the advice of my first LCC – pick an AP who has mastered a skill – a sport, an instrument – something that shows she can persevere and work hard to achieve her goals. I think she shows that she can teach and keep children safe and happy.

What gets me every time is the reasons candidates state they want to become an AP. Is there a checklist of reasons out there? Really – think about it – especially if you’re from a working class or lower middle class background for whom paying the AP fees and the visa application is a real sacrifice. Why have you and your family committed to setting aside money for a year (or more) for you to work in America? What are you bringing to the table that will make a family with young children pick you out of the hundreds of videos they are going to watch? If you take the same trite information that has been suggested to you and give nothing of yourself, then you aren’t going to get a second look or a call. Remember there are far more AP candidates than HF in the United States! You have 20-30 seconds to give an honest answer that comes from your heart!

My advice, re-do the video. Think about who you are. Sure, you want to go to the U.S. and improve your English because you know you are going to have much better job prospects when you return – but HFs don’t really care about all that – they want to know you are loving, conscientious, and will keep their young children safe for a year. Oh- and give less time to your lovely 15-year-old sister. 99% of the families who seek APs for 15-year-olds do so because the child has special needs. Make your seconds count. If you cannot show children, then ask for permission to film the settings in which you worked.

I’m one of the people who skips the video – it’s my husband’s job to watch and assess. Because I have a teenager with special needs, I want to see real experience with special needs for more than two weeks. I want to see commitment through education, long-term service in a school or residential facility, and a sense of attachment. I want to see letters of recommendation that talk about concrete participation. For me, the paper counts, for my husband, the AP has 90 seconds to make a great first impression!

Should be working January 18, 2017 at 3:52 pm

Actually there ARE some non-special-needs families of teens or tweens out there who are thrilled to see videos that do not feature only small children, or even any, or at least have some time spent on teen/tween siblings in addition to the small-child experience. But yeah, most HFs have smaller kids.

Our best AP was second-oldest in a family with 6 kids, and she had no outside experience with children (but with special needs adults, which for me was even more convincing regarding her patience and dedication). Those seconds shown with her tween siblings playing were very convincing (even knowing they were staged).

Eliande January 17, 2017 at 3:11 pm

Like many of the previous commenters, I use the video to get a sense of an au pair’s personality and interests. This video was generally well-shot and unexceptional … which is the problem. It’s a little too scripted and I don’t feel like I really know her that well at the end of the video. What little I do know of her interests (shopping, cheerleading, reading romance novels) don’t align with my own interests or the interests of anyone in my family. I’ve only had two au pairs so my own experience is limited, but I have come to the conclusion that an au pair’s personality (are they outgoing? do they prefer lots of quiet time? how do they handle stress? what are their priorities in life?) is even more important than their interests and hobbies and, as such, the video is generally of limited usefulness to me.

HappyHM January 21, 2017 at 6:10 pm

Hi Karen, Thanks for being brave enough not only to be an au pair on a foreign county but also (especially) for asking for help and feedback from the AP mom community. I will try to be honest and kind, as others have, while also offering some potential feedback.

I agree almost word for word with working twinmom above. Your video is very pretty (I like the song and didn’t notice the swearing lol), and to me your English is completely fine (at least worth an interview). But I would skip you because I would think you would be unhappy as an AP who has to change diapers, clean messes, get dirty outside! Etc.

I would assume that your interests are mostly shopping and “girly” things, and while I have two girls, my oldest really likes bugs and rocks and dirt as well as Princess dresses and makeup. Many families in America like traditional “girly girls” but many try to expand their girls’ role models and options, so perhaps your are alienating both families with boys and families with girls who want a female role model who had interests other than shopping, cheerleading, romance novels, and sewing.

I might sound mean, and I’m sorry. There is nothing wrong with any of these things and if these are your complete favorite things, please keep them in the video. Just maybe focus more on kids (early on) and what will make you special as an au pair (show your great cooking or organizing or laundry folding, etc.) if you do have other interests and talents, you might want to include them so that people don’t judge you and automatically skip you.

Many host families are concerned that they will get an AP who will decide that taking care of kids 45 hours a week is too hard and then quit, and to be honest, I would think that watching your video.

Obviously I don’t know you at all, but I thought my honest opinion would help.

Good luck!!!

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