Saying No to an Au Pair Candidate: Ideas for Kind Email?

by cv harquail on January 21, 2016

MassHM wants your text.

choosing an au pair

Would anyone like to share their “no-go” email? I hate this part and need to have an easier way to get through it.

I don’t want to say “You’re not the right au pair for us” or even “No, thank you” in a way that hurts a candidate’s feelings.

I’ve found the email ideas from TexasHM and others to be so helpful.

What wording works well when you want to pass on a candidate, but keep them feeling positively about their chances at a good host family match (with someone else)?


Image by David Woo on Flickr


massmom January 20, 2016 at 12:05 pm

If it’s someone we truly were considering and had spoken with more than once, I send something like this:

“I just wanted to reach back out and let you know that we have matched with another au pair. It was a difficult decision, as we really loved your attitude and your sense of humor (or other qualities specific to them). Thank you for taking the time to speak with us, we really enjoyed getting to know you.

I have a feeling you will not have any problem finding a great host family. We wish you the best of luck with your au pair year, please let us know where you end up!”

If it was someone we had only spoken with once, I would dial it down a bit, and just say that we ended up matching with someone else, we enjoyed getting to know them a bit (always including one or two of their personal qualities that we liked), and that we wish them the best of luck with their au pair year.

It’s hard, especially when you’re saying no to someone you genuinely could have seen in your home, but you can’t get too emotional about it. As our current au pair told us, she was pretty devastated when a family she was considering went with someone else, but then she met us and knew that it had all worked out for the best. So if it’s not the right fit, everyone is better off moving along and finding the perfect one!

Seattle Mom January 21, 2016 at 6:34 pm

Would you send this email even if you hadn’t actually matched with another candidate yet? I feel like it’s easy to let someone down once you have chosen someone else, but when you rule someone out and you’re still looking it’s really hard!

Quirky January 22, 2016 at 10:00 am

I have sent a ding email even when we don’t have someone else lined up yet, and I have used the line that “we have decided to match with another candidate.” That is true — we just don’t know who that candidate is yet — but I think it’s much better to let someone go rather than keep her on the hook if you know you’re not going to match. I think it’s kinder to her not to drag it out, and maximizes her time to find another family.

Seattle Mom January 22, 2016 at 2:38 pm

Ok, that makes sense. I also do not leave people hanging once I know they are not the one, but I feel weird saying that I’ve decided to match with someone else because I don’t want to be caught in a lie. But I see what you’re saying, it’s not really a lie… I may add that to my repertoire depending on the situation.

PacNWHostMom January 22, 2016 at 12:37 am

I have a very similar email to this.
It’s been very well-received and I’ve even kept in
touch with a few of the girls we passed on.
A few have even reached out for advice.
Like many of you, I feel very vested in the well-being of many of these girls and it becomes hard to let them down.
If I haven’t matched yet and am passing it depends on the personality of the girl.
Sometimes we simply say we’ve determined she wouldn’t be the best fit for us and we wish her all the best and appreciate her time.
If we’re slight more into the process and the heartfelt let-down doesn’t fit sometimes I provide a few more specific details but I always try and keep it positive.
Even when I know it’s not the right fit it’s still a tough email for me to write. No one likes rejection. We were so torn on the decision of our last AuPair I cried sending the “we’re sorry we didn’t pick you” email.
Thankfully, it was well received despite her disappointment and we keep in touch!

WarmStateMomma January 20, 2016 at 1:09 pm

This is hard for me because I feel invested in the APs who make it to our final few. I tell her that I’ve looked at dozens of profiles and interviewed X people before narrowing it down to our final few. (This lets her know that I held her in high regard even though she wasn’t our match.)

I tell her what attracted me to her (so she can continue to put her best foot forward with other families) and offer to answer any questions for her as she interviews with other families. One has taken me up on this offer. I don’t tell her about what turned me off because I don’t want to “coach” her to land a match that she is not prepared to handle.

Rejection is disappointing but a few sincere words of kindness can’t hurt.

PacNWHostMom January 22, 2016 at 12:40 am

I agree and take a very similar approach!

Seattle Mom January 21, 2016 at 6:41 pm

I say something along the lines of,

“Dear AP,

Thanks for sharing a bit of your life with me over the last few days/weeks and answering my questions. I have enjoyed getting to know you, and I really appreciate the time you took to get to know me and my family. You are x, y, and z (positive attributes). Choosing the right au pair is such a difficult and important decision, and it’s an equally important decision for you to find the right host family. I believe that you will find a great family and be a good au pair, but I do not think that we are the best match for each other (if there’s an obvious reason that will not offend, I throw it in here). I hope that our discussions have helped you narrow down what you are looking for in a family, and will be of use to you as you continue to talk to other families.

Best wishes that you find a great match,

Seattle Mom

Taking a Computer Lunch January 21, 2016 at 10:41 pm

Traditionally (until this year that is), we have had our choice of candidates, and often preferred to interview 4-5 and then select one (who invariably turned us down, but which often led to the best choice for our family in so many ways). That meant we held up 3-5 APs who were waiting for our decision.Sometimes it came down to an AP who had had practical experience with special needs children, but who had also spent 6 weeks as a counselor in a summer camp, and who routinely did chores at home versus a younger AP who admitted that she only did chores when asked and wasn’t responsible for any laundry.

Once we had matched, I sent each candidate an email apologizing for making her wait for our decision, and then detailing her strengths and why I thought she would make a great au pair with any family with whom she matched (after all, if she made it as far as an interview with DH and me, then she had to be good – we’re that picky).

This year we spent 12 weeks searching, interviewed three women, one of whom would have been a good match, two of whom would not. We ended up, just as we were ready to give up and switch to nursing, matching with someone perfect for our family and whom met our criteria. She has made noises about extending, and I hope in several months time she still feels that way (and we, too), because now that I have older teenagers, matching is a true feat.

DCBurbTwinMomma January 22, 2016 at 4:50 am

There are some excellent examples here. When I’ve had a dozen or so e-mails and a few Skype interviews, I feel obligated to send this e-mail with helpful tips. If it was just a few passing conversations, the “almost potential but not really candidate” simply gets a two line e-mail saying we have matched or are pursuing a different direction.

My more detailed e-mails will say, we really were drawn to you for x, y or z positive traits or skills and we truly enjoyed our talks with you. However we have decided to go with a candidate with more experience driving in snow / teaching Spanish in a formal setting / living abroad as an independent adult (or fill in the blank truthful reason). That way the candidate isn’t left guessing if she did something wrong. I’ve kept in touch with one who fine tuned her application to be more marketable (who is now here) to highlight her advances in driving skill. Ironic that she’s now a non-driver in NYC. (I think that’s best considering she had mere months with a license and was an infrequent driver).

I always hope the women who got so far as to getting an interview match with amazing families. I think the “let-down” letter should be a helping hand to help her find that better match.

2 kids and a cat January 22, 2016 at 8:09 am

Even though our priority is finding a best match for our family, part of that is an au pair who will be happy with us, and where we live. If we noted something that was a pink flag (not quite red) that suggested we weren’t a good match for HER, I try to mention that – there’s a better family out there for her. Even though we’re with an agency that puts candidates on hold, I let them go right away so that if we match they feel they’ve made a choice, too – that it wasn’t their only option.

Anna January 22, 2016 at 10:31 am

It depends. If I interviewed au pair by Skype and email, and we just picked another candidate over her (but she was great too), I will email her and tell her that we ended up picking another candidate, and it was a really difficult choice. That she is an excellent candidate and I am sure she will find the right family for her very soon, and wishing her luck in the process.

If this is after an email exchange or two, sometimes the candidate drops off by herself; sometimes I email her that “thank you for speaking with us, we think you are a really great au pair candidate and we especially liked you for X Y and Z, but we are looking for someone with more A B or C at this time. Best of luck in your search for the right family for you, we are sure a person with your excellent qualifications will find it soon.” In this kind of email, when saying what you are looking for instead, make sure it is not something that the candidate can argue that she has, i.e. make it a hard fact that she cannot offer to change. For example, try to avoid saying something about personal qualities (i.e. we are looking for someone more outgoing), because it can be hurtful or it can be interpreted as an opening (she may answer “my personality will not affect my socialization in America”). Make it something like “we are looking for someone who has experience with A, or for someone who can play an instrument, or for someone who can cook well, etc.”

NZ HM January 24, 2016 at 5:28 pm

I find it particularly difficult to come up with the x, y and z qualities that someone has or should have more off… especially when sometimes it’s just based on gut feeling that we are turning them down. So thanks to all who have provided some details here!
I usually send something generic (been thinking about using the ‘matched with someone else approach’ but feel bad if looking online, and on somewhere like aupairworld they can see that I am still active…):
“Dear aupair,
After careful consideration of what you’ve got to offer and what we are looking for, we feel that we are not a suitable match for each other and won’t proceed with interviewing you.
This might be disappointing, but I am sure you will find a wonderful family who will be the perfect fit for you. I’m very sorry and thank you so much for your time and effort in answering our questions and communicating with us. Good luck in your search and all the best for the future,…”

We had a couple come back asking for specifics and I try to send a satisfactory answer without being personal.

S.African_Aupair January 31, 2016 at 12:37 pm

As an au pair I value when HF are honest and tell you they decided to go with someone else rather than to send a ding email. It’s also nice when they make it seem personal in saying that they liked x and z about you and they feel that you will be better matched with another family. I can only speak from an au pair’s point of view or rather my own when I say that matching is very draining. You become so invested in “meeting” HMs and getting to know them and their families that it becomes very dissapointing when they send you a simple one sentence we decided to go with someone else email and some HMs dont even send you an email, they just release your profile without a word.

Matching is alot like online dating, it’s awkward at first, you dont know what to say, how to best present yourself and all the good qualities that you can bring to the family. I was matched with four families before my final and we clicked almost instantly because i learnt something about myself, about representing myself well in skype chats and phone calls and emails from all the other failed matches.

I think if you can, try to make the matching/interviewing process a positive one. Im not saying sugarcoat things but end it on a note where the au pair does not have to feel unworthy or as though they are inadequate. Treat us with respect and in the same manner that you would like to be treated. That’s my two cents worth.

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