No one wants to be rejected — not au pairs and not host parents. But reject each other we must, since we know that even a perfectly lovely candidate (in this case, either a host parent or a potential au pair) may just not feel like the right fit.
But how can we let the candidate know that we don’t feel a match, without hurting their feelings?
It’s easiest to explain that you’re declining by pointing to a concrete, unchangeable feature of the mismatch — e.g., “I’d prefer older children”, or “I don’t think I’d be comfortable in a situation where I’ll need to drive often on the highway” or “Our family likes to eat meat so we think a vegetarian might be difficult to accommodate in our tiny kitchen.”
Honor your intuition
If you don’t have a concrete explanation and it’s more about a gut feel, you should honor your intuition. Folks have often said on this blog that they didn’t feel comfortable with a match but pushed on because they were in a hurry or they didn’t have a concrete reason to decline the match. Don’t do this.
It’s perfectly okay to say “it doesn’t feel like a match to us”.
If it doesn’t feel like a match to you, and you’re sure you’re not being too picky, say so and move on.
Be prompt with your response. It doesn’t make it any easier to wait to share the mis-match news. Don’t leave a candidate hanging without an answer. Let them move quickly to the next possible match.
Reply using the same medium you promised to use. It’s fine to use email for your reply — unless you already promised to follow up with a skype or hangout. If you said you’d call – call! It won’t kill you.
Be kind. Phrase it in a way that doesn’t necessarily assign responsibility (e.g., never say “You seem creepy”). I personally don’t think you need to start with “It’s not you, it’s us.” If it’s not a match it’s not a match.
Make sure that you absolutely don’t suggest that someone is at fault. We are each who we are– none of us is “wrong”. It’s just that there isn’t a match.
There’s a glove for every hand, a lid for every pot, and an au pair- host family match that’s right for you.
It you talk with a candidate and you don’t feel a match, say so. Nicely, promptly, and without blame.
Release each other to move to the next candidate so that you can ultimately find a match that works.