My Host Mom Fantasy: An inexpensive, convenient, accurate personality test for Au Pair candidates

by cv harquail on May 20, 2010

I know, my fantasies are not quite as exciting as perhaps they should be. < sigh >

If there were a reasonably accurate, easy to administer, online test that you could give an au pair candidate, a test that that would tell you a little bit more about her or his personality, would you be interested?

201005202107.jpgI would be interested. In fact I’ve often fantasized about having a cheap, easy, and reliable personality test. As a management professor, I’ve used many different personality tests in executive education & MBA classes to help potential young leaders figure out their skills and preferences and personality, but I’ve never seen something simple and affordable for au pairs, until now.

Doesn’t that sound like a sales pitch? It isn’t, but do read on…

Recently, I learned about a site, Take-Care.me, where employers will be able to give their au pair candidates a cheap and easy personality test. Before I go on to recommend this test, let me tell you what I learned about it first.

Overview of Test

TakeCare is offering a free trial of their online personality test. The test will take about 20 minutes, and will cost about $25. The test will report back to the potential employer whether or not the candidate has any “risk factors” (like tendency to steal, lie, gamble or use drugs). It will also report back on how the candidates scores on seven important personality dimensions.

Personality Dimensions include:

  1. Responsibility
  2. Obedience and discipline
  3. Self-control
  4. Emotional stability
  5. Service awareness
  6. Coping with stress
  7. Positive attitude

201005202113.jpgYou can see that knowing more about a candidate profile along the seven characteristics could be really useful to you as a host parent.

Testing the Personality Test

I thought I’d put all those PhD courses in research design to work for you, so I checked out the test myself. I signed up for the free trial (that’s available until May 22) and started clicking.

The test was relatively easy to understand, although there were some questions that were awkwardly worded. The test was heavy on questions about bribery, gambling, stealing, and following directions. I don’t think I’ve thought so much about whether or not I use drugs or drink alcohol in years. But the test is manageable and it really did only take 20 minutes.

So far, so good.

The Results

Now for the report back about me & my personality.

I was glad to see that there were no high risks indicated for me. But I was distressed to see that my “overall personality traits suitability” of the job of Nanny/Au Pair was actually awful!

Apparently, according to their test, I lack emotional stability and a positive attitude.

People, if you know me in person, you know I am a total rock. I am the wasp who does not show emotion. I am calm, level, steady. I am nothing if not (at least in interaction with others) emotionally stable.

And, I totally have a positive attitude! I don’t think I am less content than other people, or more likely to be grumpy! But that’s what the test scores said about me!

So, based on the perceived inaccuracy of these results of my own test, I am not quite ready to recommend this test to you.

However, I did e-mail the fellow in charge of the site, Yossi, and had a nice conversation with him about my concerns about the test results and their accuracy.

201005202107.jpgHe told me that anyone using the test on themselves will get a remarkably lower personality score than “reality”, because the test takes into account a candidate’s desire to show him or herself in the best light possible. Yossi explained that when an actual candidate takes the test, the results are more accurate.

(One should note, no psychological assessment tool is 100% accurate. Psychological assessments should also be used as part of your decision process; no personality test should make or break your decision.)

Should you use a personality test like this?

Short answer? Probably yes. With caution.

Right now, this test in in ‘beta’, so there will be adjustments and improvements before it is released for sale.

It would be easy to misuse a test like this, and have it substitute for your own judgment after a very thorough interviewing process. However, in combination with:

  • Your own very thorough interviewing process,
  • Your own clear understanding of what your family needs, and
  • Your own clear understanding of the range of possible personality types that would fit with your family,

this tool looks like it could be useful.

So, here’s my recommendation for you:

Between now and May 22, dash over to the TakeCare site. (If it’s after May 22nd, send them an email and see if they’ll extend the offer for you.) Check out the test and the explanations on the site.

You can take the test yourself, or (and this is what I would recommend) ask your current au pair to take the test, as a way for you to assess whether it might be useful in your next au pair selection process. After s/he takes the test and you get back the results, you can have a conversation with her/him about how accurately the test reflected her/his personality.

In the meantime, I’ll learn more about the test and its accuracy. The folks at TakeCare are continuing to improve the test, and I’ll try it out again when they are ready to sell it. At that point, I’ll write a conclusive review with recommendations of how best to use this test and others like it.

I wish that we could just read through a candidate’s letter & application, and know in an instant whether he or she will fit well with out families and do a good job. Alas, nothing works better than careful review and thoughtful interviewing… but an inexpensive, convenient and accurate personality test would be a great tool to add…

A host mom can dream, can’t she?

If you try the test, let me know what you think.

Images: Cappuccino Dreams  from curiousyellow, Dreaming child from e³°°°

{ 50 comments }

Pia Aupair May 20, 2010 at 10:16 pm

I think that would be helpful for many hostparents after taking the crappy agency test myself. but you guys need to remember that many aupairs are not fluent in english and my interviewer in germany had to translate some questions of the crappy agency test for me.
so with no one to ask i think many aupair candidates are gonna have a false result.

just to keep in mind :)

Franzi May 21, 2010 at 8:59 am

the site is currently not available (Friday 2p.m. GMT) but they state that they will extend the free offer past the 24th. let’s hope so!! i’m curious to take the test

cv harquail May 21, 2010 at 9:57 am

Thanks Franzi!

Yossi Pinkas May 24, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Thank you for your interest.
Site is up and running and tests are free until May 31st.

AUPAIR Momma May 21, 2010 at 10:42 am

I asked BOTH Of my last aupairs (after we decided to rematch bc of personality) to take the 72 question briggs myer. Both aupairs I really liked (in calls and paper) and I couldn’t decide. They both had such different strengths. Well – what happend one pair REFUSED. She said “if you are not sure BY NOW (after 2 -1hr conversations via phone and skype) you are NOT the family for me. I am still willing to match but will NOT take this test”. The other one said “ya ok” but then never finished it. When I asked why -she said My english is good but I do not understand the questions exactly. Briggs Myers is the industry standard personality test and I was surprised about the resistance. Well we chose the girl willing to try. It was a big red flag that someone would refuse to take a test so innocuous. The girl seemed so great. 26, perfect engish,resp, great ref,law degree from her home country, eager to please, I guess not THAT eager. So I went with the other girl. Things worked out great. Though in result neither girl took that test.

Just looked at this site quickly. No I would not use this test. Briggs Myers is a industry std and I have had trouble getting aupairs to take that. I definitely would not rely on an uncertified test especially one not in other languages. A positive result may not be positive and a negative could lose myself out on a great aupair. Also testing for ‘reliability’ ? I only wanted to test for Briggs M because there are DEFINITELY personality types that I always have trouble with. ANd as someone will be living w/ us for a year I think its best to try to match with someone who has a compatible outlook on things or at least help me with it.

I will be surprised if this test ‘takes off’

cv harquail May 21, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Hi ApMomma-
The Meyers-Briggs test is very widely used, and almost as widely misused. It’s a personality ‘preference’ indicator, that assesses how people “prefer” to interact with the world. It does not test “how” they will. It can still be used to suggest compatibility, but even then it’s not predictive, unless you really can’t stand introverts or extroverts, or people who see the tree vs. the forest. As far as assessing reliability, emotional stability, and self-control, the M-B would tell you nothing of value.
That said, the questions of (1) what does it mean if she will/won’t take an assessment, and (2) how reliable is a test in a ‘foreign language’ are generalizable to any test. It will be interesting to see what CC’s experience is with personality tests…. cv

AUPAIR Momma May 21, 2010 at 1:03 pm

I completely agree with you. I use it in ‘conjunction’ with the application. My main interest is to get an idea of what a test would say vs what is said on app. For ex. if Briggs Myers comes up Extrovert Feeling type – which implies that they are very outgoing I would look at certain answers closer to see what they mean since those who are very extroverted COULD mean partier. Or if the application says I’m a quiet girl who just likes to study english and take care of kids I would be a little more interested as extroverts like to be around people to gain energy. Also like I said I know for certain that I am a factual intuitive extrovert. I have had specific issues (not w/ aupairs but everyone) who is the personality type FEELING / JUDGING. I do LOVE some people w/ this type but it has always taken a while to get us past the I FELT That you were thinking X. Most times I was not thinking X at all! They were thinknig based on a past experience and judging me to be X. It is a big warning for me and new au pair relationship. I know to work extra carefully w/ this type a person bc this is how our personalities mix or I try not to match w/ this type of person bc not worth it to me. I need someone who is not too sensitive and is open to ideas. Overly judging people tend to hate me as I am not like lots of ppl (my personality type is in the 3% range) so someone who judges based on ‘experience’ or ‘personal thought’ is gonna get it wrong w/ me most times.

AUPAIR Momma May 21, 2010 at 1:13 pm

Or if the test said introvert I would be wanting to know how they would try to get my 3 loud boys to love her. I might be worried she might be overwelmved by our loud crazy house.

PacificNW_mom May 21, 2010 at 7:47 pm

Did you know that many teachers ‘score’ as “introvert” on the MBTI? The introvert/extrovert types speak to where a person derives their energy, not whether or not they can/will actively watch, play or teach kids. I think this kind of misunderstanding about various “type” or “personality” tests is exactly the reason why they should not be used by a host parent to evaluate au pairs.

Kitty May 22, 2010 at 3:51 pm

There is nothing wrong with scoring as introvert. I said I would just make sure that I would probe to make sure she would feel comfortable w/ my 3 loud boys. And yes .. I do know that an introvert derives energy from being alone. I have no idea how many teacher s are introverts? Also does it matter? An aupair is NOT A teacher. For us an aupair is someone who I would want to spend time PLAYING w/ my boys and I want them to enjoy it!! Not lose energy. My husband is introvert and he’s great w/ the boys. Briggs Myers should not be used as a YES / NO but a tool to understand how someone responds in different situations. Also – BM is different than this test anyways. But I was just saying. And honestly ever since I started going w/ my ‘gut instinct’ I’ve done much better with matching babysitters, nannies, etc. Then again I score high on INTUitive so maybe thats the best thing for me to know.. I can sense things intuitively and make a decision :)

franzi May 22, 2010 at 4:54 am

i would suggest the meyer briggs test to the AP at the end of her year or when she needs to take important decisions about her future. it has helped (and confirmed) my interests and strengths, but i took it in grad school along with several other career/leadership tests because that was the topic of the class.

my result would have been a lot different had i taken the test BEFORE i had started my ap year, let alone before i finished school (i had applied and matched before i graduated high school). M-B is not a prediction of behavior but a help to find your career path in life.

as with any personality test, if the taker doesn’t understand the deeper sense behind it, it’s not worth taking the test. if your possible-ap takes the takecare-site test but doesn’t get why you request it, the result will never be accurate.

AUPAIR Momma May 21, 2010 at 10:43 am

to be clear I asked both of my last 2 perspective aupairs (not my last 2 aupairs)

Deb Schwarz May 21, 2010 at 11:59 am

Hi CV – I’ve been wanted this for YEARS! (being a psych major in college) – and Cultural Care just announced that they are adding one to their screening process – and host families will be able to see the results as part of the au pair’s profile. I haven’t seen the test yet – but looking forward to another data point for “finding the right fit…”.

Deb Schwarz

As a mom to four children (including triplets), market researcher, realtor, and host mom to 16 au pairs, Deb has a passion for helping families navigate the au pair process and find the right fit for their family.

Read my articles about finding the right au pair for your family.
http://www.marinmommies.com/tips-au-pair-trenches-our-fifteenth-au-pair

cv harquail May 21, 2010 at 12:20 pm

Hi Deb-
I’d be intrigued to see CCs instrument and also how they recommend that it be used to guide Host Families’ decision processes. It’s really easy to create a crappy test, and even easier to misuse a test, so there are all sorts of caveats involved.

Should be working January 5, 2011 at 11:08 am

Just an update on this older post: don’t know when it went into effect, but indeed CCAP has a personality test, seems like a well respected test used for hiring in companies.

When you consider a candidate, the agency gives you the test results as part of the applicatio, but the prose-language profiles produced for the 2 candidates I’ve seen were a little vague. I didn’t really see what good it did me to have the profile. Then, in order to try to educate myself about how to interpret the results/profiles, I found the test online and took it myself ($29). And it described me amazingly accurately, and based on the much longer profile/result I received I now understand better how to interpret the results for the AP candidates (one candidate I’ve communicated with seems to also perfectly match her personality profile as generated by the test).

Now all I need is some education on what kind of profile really fits best for us. What I THINK we want in a personality might not be what we really need in a personality. And as someone else here once wrote, the qualities that I as HM like (punctuality, organization, maturity) are not entirely compatibly with what the kids enjoy (spontaneity, silliness, adventurousness).

MommyMia January 5, 2011 at 1:47 pm

GoAuPair and ProAuPair both use the Hartman Personality tests which give you a primary and secondary “color” classification. We found this very useful while evaluating and interviewing candidates, and they also suggest that you take the test online yourself, as seeing your own colors will assist you in determining those with whom you’ll best “fit.”

OB Mom January 5, 2011 at 4:03 pm

I remember that the Nanny Agency we used for finding our Nanny when DS1 was a newborn used a personality test. I distinctly remember that the woman that ran the agency said that for a good Nanny you want someone that is kind, loving, patient, and has low ambition. I remember being shocked when the low level of ambition came out as a criteria, but then she commented that if ambition was high they might get bored with childcare and want to move on to something else.

Perhaps the ambition scale is part of what makes having an AP somewhat challenging. If they didn’t have some interest in adventure and seeing the world, they wouldn’t even consider the AP path. But I guess we just don’t want those “next CEO’s” as our AP’s.

I guess the key lesson was that you really don’t want someone that is just like us as the best “fit”, but rather someone that would be compatible and perhaps even compliment our own weaknesses.

Calif Mom January 5, 2011 at 4:01 pm

Which test is it? I’m curious! MBTI is a lot more than $29.

And I totally agree with your last paragraph! How on earth would you apply this, even if you had someone perfectly labeled in a box? I would want a lot of info about the options before picking which box would work for our family. And the box the kids would love to have is different from the box I would pick.

Just last night my hub and I were laughing about how our AP responds to a strong father figure but blows off her mom — and here she is doing the same thing in our family, even though I’m nothing like her mom. (You’re right, he was laughing more than I was! :-) ) Those dynamics would not be knowable just through a personality test. Yet again, it comes down to sussing out possible electric third rails during conversations. Ideally finding them *before* matching.

Should be working January 5, 2011 at 4:37 pm

It’s the DISC test. It is based on the strength or weakness in a personality of 4 different qualities of dominance, influence, steadiness and conscientiousness (I read somewhere that the last two used to be called submission and compliance, but they changed the names to make it less negative; ‘influence’ might also in my guess have been ‘intimacy’ because it is about connectedness to others.) If you use CCAP I recommend taking the test and getting a full report, or reading the full report of someone you know well, or at least studying up on the test using online sources, because then you really get a sense for how to read between the lines of the rather truncated prose report that you get from CCAP for its candidates. That report essentially emphasizes the positive qualities of whatever type the AP candidate turns out to be, and does not say very much about the negative aspects (which the larger report I got for myself does). It also only gives the broad, prose description of the AP candidate’s personality, not the more detailed graphic representation of data that I got from my own test.

Indeed the report I got when I paid for my test included a lot of explanation of each quality, info that might be useful for HR or hiring (but not necessarily au pair hiring), a general explanation of the 15 graph-plotted ‘patterns’ that can result from the test, and mine EXACTLY matched one of the 15 patterns. So the DISC result would seem to be a great tool, but I’m not sure how to use it. Which of the other 14 types would I want? I can guess, based on reading the explanations of each type, that some might not be good and some better.

For any psychologists out there: Advice on this? I am figuring that the ‘agent’ type is good (high on influence/intimacy, low on dominance), but then again, my concern in the skyping with this candidate is that she is a little too hesitant and not enough of a take-charge type.

The good news is that the DISC results for me match me, and for the candidate absolutely also match my impressions of her, so I would be very inclined to trust the results for other candidates as well, and probably this will become a pretty big ‘reality check’ tool for me as I go through candidates. But again, I’m still not sure which type is best for us, so while the test gives me a lot of info it does not give me the judgment of what works best for us!

Maria Ines May 21, 2010 at 1:23 pm

Hi. My name is María Inés Gómez, I’m 23 years old and I’m from Caracas, Venezuela. I have a degree in communications and I’m a Bayer young enviromental envoy (2009). I have more than 5000 hours of experience in child care, especially in children under two years. I invite you to visit my blog http://www.marinesgm.blogspot.com/ created to promote me as an Au Pair in USA with Cultural Care (marinesgm@gmail.com)

Amelie ex-aupair May 21, 2010 at 7:00 pm

Honestly, I would find it weird if a HF asked me to take a test like this. I wouldn’t refuse to take the test, but maybe I wouldn’t match with the family. I don’t know, I wouldn’t have a good impression of the family, I’d probably think that if a HM is so neurotic to ask me to take such a test, this is not the kind of family I wanna spend a whole year living with.

Once, when I was looking for a HF, a host mom I was taking to asked me to call her Mrs. Lastname, cause her employers shouldn’t call her by her first name (shouldn’t the au pair be an equal member of the family?). That was a big red flag for me and I moved on. Ok, maybe this is crazy of me, but I’d probably move on from a family that asked me to take such a test.

(I know it’s maybe unfair, and I understand that taking someone into your house to take care of your kids is not easy, and you wanna make sure that you did everything you could to assure that you’ve got the right person. I’m just saying that this is the kind of message you might be sending by asking an prospective au pair to take the test).

franzi May 22, 2010 at 4:48 am

the mrs. lastname is a huge red flag! i wouldn’t have matched with them either

Kat May 22, 2010 at 11:53 am

Yeah, I matched with a ‘Mrs. x’, as she wanted to be called. Didn’t take me long to see that it should have been a HUGE red flag!!! I was just too impressed by some other stuff she told me, I didn’t even notice she signed her e-mails that way. Worst choice ever.

Host Mommy Dearest May 22, 2010 at 12:30 pm

hahaha Mrs X is my mother-in-law. In fact she still signs her emails that way. It’s a huge red flag to me too but you can’t let it impact your “match” with your husband, I guess. :)

Amelie ex-aupair May 22, 2010 at 12:48 pm

lol

StephinBoston May 24, 2010 at 9:23 am

ROFL!

Amelie ex-aupair May 21, 2010 at 7:01 pm

(I just wanted to give an au pair’s perspective…)

2yearAP May 21, 2010 at 7:22 pm

I definatly don`t agree with this kind of test I think ridiculous.
I am soo luck to have the best host family in the world

Amelie ex-aupair May 21, 2010 at 8:02 pm

BTW, back in 2008, before I was an au pair, I took an internship for a few months at the office of an au pair agency in my home town.

Although the au pair application included a personality test, we not even revised it, it just went to the au pair’s folder, and was not even sent to the main office in the US.

Sometimes, we knew an applicant wasn’t “au pair material”, but I don’t know of anyone who had their application refused by the agency…

former extension au pair in CA May 22, 2010 at 1:36 am

when signing up with my agency, i had to take sort of a personality test, but it was mostly “for myself to see what kind of person i am” and i am 99% sure they didnt show it to my hostfamily. i think the agencies should have something like you are writing about here CV, because if the FAMILIES have to ask, that might scare the au pairs.. i dont know.. i wouldnt mind taking one if my hostfamily asked me to, but i would perhaps get a less great impression of them for asking. just my opinion

Aupair Mama May 22, 2010 at 4:00 pm

Just curious-if you wanted to see what kind of person you are — wouldnt a perspective host family feel the same?

Also I am really surprised aupairs are not MORE SELECTIVE. Au pairs have CHOICE too. Why would an aupair just match with any family? I think an aupair should be be JUST AS CHOOSY. I’m surprised they would not want a personality test on the family. When I was interviewing 2nd year and in country aupairs – they are really astute with questions about large numbers of things. Host parents really want the best match and i do agree the TEST is probably NOT the way but I think its very important to understand what personality the perspective family and aupair are because compatibility is important.

Taking a computer lunch May 22, 2010 at 4:21 pm

Not all HP are all that selective either. We are not extending with our current AP, and when a mother telephoned me, her first question was, “Tell me about your au pair.” And I thought, “That’s it?” (Her AP “introduced” her to my AP, knowing that she was going back home and mine was interested in extending.)

While I don’t want to live for another year with my current AP, I do want her to be able to extend with the right family. I don’t think she’s a bad person, just aloof, not particularly curious, and not particularly motivated to work on all the skills which need improving. It turns out that I eat passive people for lunch – I’d rather have a discussion with an au pair. And I want someone motivated enough that she doesn’t need to be told what to do. The women then got around to asking substantive questions, but she was more concerned that an AP not be a partier than anything else. And I could affirm – she’s not a partier. (Me, I’d rather have an AP hanging out with several of her friends on a Saturday night, waiting for HD and I to get back from date night so she could go out.)

former extension au pair in CA May 22, 2010 at 10:00 pm

yeah, of course they would want to see that, that’s why i dont understand why the agencies make those tests for us only and do not show them to the family.

when it comes to au pairs being selective, i think home country has something to do with it. i dont want this to sound bad but it is probably going to; but of all the au pairs i have ever met, i noticed that girls that come from “less fortunate” countries tend to seem less selective; f.ex all my russian (and old soviet) friends said their current family was their first match (while they were still in their home countries) and most of them rematched several times while in the YS. on the other hand, all my swedish friends for example would tell me that their current hostfamilies were like the 8th or sometimes even 14th family they had spoken to while in their home countries. in my experience, au pairs from sweden, norway etc are more selective and picky and wont say yes to the first family they talk to just because.

futureAUPAIR May 23, 2010 at 6:49 am

Yeah, but don’t forget that there is always more aupairs than families. In my agency they even told us that our first mach will be the best and we need to be flexible…

FormerSwissAupair May 23, 2010 at 5:15 pm

The AP’s I met in Europe were very selective. Myself included. Just depends what is important to the AP. I wanted more of an employer/employee relationship, rather than a family one, and so I picked the family that were wanting that as well. Other factors included which country they lived in, number of kids, hours worked, pay, etc.

KM May 22, 2010 at 7:15 pm

Just reading these posts, it validates why agencies probably do not share the results with host families. There are a lot of opinions, pros and cons, points of view. 1) lay people, like we parents, may not interpret the results correctly which could lead to unrealistic expectations. 2) wonder how many really good au pair applicants would be passed over because English comprehension led to inaccurate exam answers/responses? 3) how would we know who actually took an online test? 4) how would we know an exam was properly administered? 5) how would our family sort out personalty from cultural differences and norms? 6) do agencies disqualify au pairs from the program based on results of their psychometric exams?

Safe to say, people do not come with guarantees.

Do any agencies require that host families take personality or psychometric exams? If so, do they share the results with au pairs?

Taking a computer lunch May 22, 2010 at 7:37 pm

My first LCC said something that has pretty much held true – find out if the candidate has played a musical instrument or has played a sport for several years. If she’s willing to stick something out and achieve success, then she’s likely to be a good AP.

It’s been interesting for me, as a Mom, because both my kids are tenacious in their own ways. The Camel, after 6 years of adapted swimming (and 2 years of parent-assisted classes) now floats on her back independently. She achieved this shortly after she walked independently for the first time — at 10 years of age. My son is a green belt in karate and recently won a trophy in a competition. After years of being ambivalent about soccer, he’s becoming and aggressive and fearless defensive player. He surprised me today (as his baseball coach) when he made a throw from 3rd to first and nearly succeeded making it on time to beat the runner.

Maybe there is something to persistence that leads to success elsewhere. I’ve just started asking the question “What was the most exciting activitiy you’ve every done in your life?” in AP interviews. Perhaps I should also ask, “Tell me about the moment in which you are most proud in your life.”

aria May 23, 2010 at 7:13 am

I just took the test and got “employing this applicant might be risky!” And I also apparently MIGHT have violent tendencies…? I hate conflict! I’m not violent!

Overall, the test told me that I was very irresponsible but that I had a positive attitude. That’s actually slightly true, but the rest… yikes!

Nicola aupair May 23, 2010 at 7:40 am

I just finished taking the test…

For me, it was a really unnerving experience! Whenever I clicked something such as “I have never stolen, gambled or been drunk” the test came up with responses like “you really expect us to believe that?” Well, I have never stolen, gambled or been drunk! I don’t like the taste of alcohol! And the timer bar at the top was so unnerving that several times I pressed the wrong answer, then panicked at the next answer. Did I mention I’ve always hated exams?

In the end, it showed me to have a very poor personality with violent tendencies… it was completely wrong. Honestly, if I was as screwed up as they said I was, I would probably be shaking under my bed back home if a guest was in the house. Plus I can’t even remember the last time I tried to hurt somebody.

I beg all you host families, do not make your prospective au pair take this test. It’s completely innaccurate. I tried to answer the questions as honestly as I could because I’m an honest type of person even about my negative qualities at work. If my host family asked me to take this test, I’m positive that I would have gotten the same results. So even in conjunction with whatever, it’s useless. But this is simply my own opinion.

aria May 23, 2010 at 8:29 am

LOL it did the same to me! There was a question about honesty, and I answered (at least I thought I was answering) that I didn’t lie, and a pop up window suddenly showed up saying something like, “Come on, *everybody* lies about something… remembering, even lying to be polite is considered lying!” I guess I’m a liar then! A violent one at that!

Ex Au Pair May 23, 2010 at 9:07 am

I just took the test and I totally agree with you Nicola. I was so nervous because of the timer that I pushed the wrong button several times and had to go back. Some of the questions are hard and with such a short time it can be hard to answer correctly, especially if you english is not very good.

Most of the questions I got focused on stealing and what you would to in a situation where you or people around you were stealing. I understand that the attitude towards stealing is an important question, but I don’t understand how you can asses someones personality just based on questions like that.

Nicola aupair May 23, 2010 at 9:25 am

Haha thanks aria and ExA-P… I feel alot better now that I know I wasn’t the only one panicking at the strange bits of the test =P

Amelie ex-aupair May 23, 2010 at 9:35 am

Yes! There are lots of questions abou gambling and stealing. Why not questions about hobbies, interests, etc?

And yes, that times is really annoying.

former_aupair May 23, 2010 at 8:35 am

I am a former au pair and just took the test. It didn’t indicate any “high risks”, but says that there are three areas that need clarification. In most personality traits, it gave me an average score (three times 3, and three times 4), in “responsibility” a high score. In general, I think my scores are a little lower than how I would evaluate myself, but I must admit that the areas where I got the lowest scores really are the areas that I sometimes have problems with (e.g. that I sometimes get frustrated too easily).
BUT I think that the test is not really useful to evaluate a prospective au pair. People who really have violent tendencies, are dishonest etc will probably know how to hide it in such a test, while others who are absolutely suitable to be a good au pair might get low scores for some strange reason. There were some questions where I wondered what they are supposed to show about my character: If I say that I think that many people lie in order to get ahead, does that automatically mean that I do it, too? Or does it show that I don’t? Also, there were some questions that I think are too hard to understand for people who don’t speak English as their first language. I have learned English for 12 years, spent a year in the US and am now studying English at college, but still there were some questions where I wasn’t sure if I understood them right, and with such a short time to answer you can’t even look it up in a dictionary.

I agree with Nicola: Don’t use this test to evaluate your au pair candidates, it can’t be accurate! I’m sure that the questions that you ask and the conversations that you have with the candidates will tell you more about their suitability that this test!

Amelie ex-aupair May 23, 2010 at 9:04 am

I just took the test, and it didn’t indicate any “high risk” for me. Overall, I think the results were accurate. But I don’t know. Seems to me that a good conversation with an au pair candidate would bring better results. Also, I still think I’d feel unconfortable enough not too match with a family that asked me to take such a test. (a lot of questions would sound to me like “wow, why are they even asking me that????”)

Plus, many of the questions are not really easy to be undestood by someone with a not so good English, which I think would certainly compromise the accuracy of the results.

Az. May 23, 2010 at 12:02 pm

That test is quite honestly terrible. I’m a native English speaker with a high level of reading comprehension, and I found it diffficult to take in the questions in time. If I was to take the test in French, for example – my French being about the same standard as an au pair’s English would be – there’s no way I’d have enough time to mentally translate the questions, consider them and then answer. And the questions should be simplified more if it’s being marketed towards au pairs – how would a non-native English speaker understand metaphors like “grease one’s palm” without having spent time in the country?

I also completely disagree with the results. I came out as a high-risk applicant, scoring a lot of 1s on the scale. It says I have difficulty coping with heavy workloads – to give an example, in my final year of school last year, I juggled 8 extra-curricular commitments, two instruments and still recieved straight A grades. It says I have trouble obeying the rules – I was never in trouble at school or with the law and rarely in trouble at home (as my mother is now discovering with my younger sister, I was a model teenager!) I have difficulty believing that my social skills aren’t high and that I’m emotionally unstable, other than having experienced a period of depression a couple of years back (and being totally recovered now)…. I could go on, but I won’t. If I came out with such a low score, then why did my last host family tell me I was the best au pair they ever had and offer to double my pay to stop me leaving?!

To back up what Nicola said, DON’T make your au pairs take this test!

franzi May 23, 2010 at 3:23 pm

just took the test, no areas that need clarifications, overall assessment is ok though not 100% accurate.

what i would be worried about is the english needed to understand some of the questions. i do not think that with just my school english i would have understood it all that well (or felt comfortable with my answers).

overall, i do not think that this test is accurate to determine the suitability of a future au pair because
a) too many questions can be misunderstood with a lower level of english
b) even if the ap says she does not steal or lie or have been arrested – how will you prove this? you do need to trust the answers she would give and at that, i would prefer to ask personally via phone and not via a test that i cannot really observe/don’t see the detailed answers
c) the test is very negative and as such might mirror the negative feeling onto the family (drug use, alcohol, stealing – what kind of people are these if they think i am doing this?!?!)

i think my route would be to take some of the questions you feel important to ask and ask during the matching process – flat out and in person! the immediate reaction will tell you more than this test, imho.

potential AP in match process June 10, 2010 at 3:01 am

Hi DHM&DHD! My name is Karelin & im a potencial au pair in the match process with 7120hours of childcare experience, I trully love kids so Im looking for a lovely family which would love to spend an incredible experience with me, Im with Au Pair In America & I did a page about me & my environment & my skills specially for you, dont hesitate in call me or ask me anything. Good day! http://karelinyourbestaupair.blogspot.com/

NoVA Host Mom June 11, 2010 at 12:08 pm

I actually don’t mind not having a personality test available so much as I wish there was a psychological one. Since I can’t do the interview in person (but we do now have Skype, so that might change depending on the AP candidate), I feel a strong disadvantage (my job is all face-to-face so you get pretty good at assessing lies vs truths). I would like to hope a psychological might let us know how much of a snow-job the application and phone interviews are.

Case in point: first AP, when asked what kind of host family she was looking for, replied she wanted to be part of a family, with family dinners (we don’t do badly on those, actually) and family time hanging out, etc. Upon arrival, that took a rapid departure and we became the pathway to “other things”, where she was in the home strictly for work hours and departed or locked herself in her room immediately upon end of her shift. When told she could not do whatever she wanted (to the detriment of the family), she acted like a petulant child. Very much the princess.

But, the reality is that we are at the mercy of the AP offices overseas, and just hope that they are diligent in their tasks and we can fish out the others with the long-distance interviews. *sigh*

Yossi Pinkas June 15, 2010 at 8:27 am

My name is Yossi Pinkas and I am CEO and founder of TakeCare.

Before responding to your comments, I would like to thank you all for taking the effort to comment and especially those who have actually taken the test.

All of those who have taken the tests and complained about the low scores are correct. As often happens in the software world, due to a glitch while moving from the quality assurance stage to a general availability stage, the test you have done (according to the dates you have posted your comments) were flawed and quite a few questions on different topics were not asked, resulting in scores for those topics to be extremely low. The problem has since been identified and corrected, all of those who have used the service to test real applicants rather than for self-test purposes have been notified by e-mail, and I sincerely apologize for this glitch.

It is important to note that those tests are not designed for self-testing, and doing and using them for self-tests results in erroneous scores, typically lower than they should be.

Languages are indeed an issue and those tests are designed for applicants who are fluent in English. They may be less suitable for Au Pairs at this stage and more relevant for nannies and other local caregivers, but we intend to add additional test languages shortly.

The tests are not a typical personality assessment but a combination of personality traits assessment and risk assessment, with a strong focus on the later. Why is one asked for example about gambling in such a test? Not because gambling’s reflection on the personal traits, but because it has proven that gamblers or those who have family members who are gamblers, have a higher risk of being involved in criminal activity to cover debts.

Why are the tests timed? They have to be in order to prevent the applicants from having enough time to come up with the answer they think is the best rather than an intuitive answer that better reflects their traits.

None of the commercially available test providers are inventing the wheel and the tests are based on widely accepted test methodologies (the Meyer Briggs test is just one of many). Nevertheless, none of the psychological tests are 100% accurate and all tests should be considered and used as a decision-supporting tool rather than a decision-making one.

I have founded TakeCare with an intention to provide what I consider an important and useful service for parents, allowing them for the first time to use professional tools such as those used for many years by most of the large corporate and organizations, in order to better protect their kids. I have no doubt that most child caregivers truly love working with kids and are doing a fine job. Nevertheless, I think that caregivers should take the parent’s point of view when requested to take the test and not be offended by such a request. I am sure everyone can understand the parent’s desire to make the most informed hiring decision. If companies use such tests to select their employees, why shouldn’t parents use them to select the most important employee of all?

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