Want to find a fabulous Au Pair Host Family? Reply to our emails promptly

by cv harquail on February 16, 2015

Dear  Au Pair Candidates,

Do you know how frustrating it is when you don’t reply promptly to Host Families’ emails?

We read your letters, watch your videos, and pour over your applications to get a sense of whether you might fit well with our families.

emailing au pair applicants.jpgWe’re nervous about getting in touch, but we write the emails and hit the <SEND> button, with high hopes for a positive response.

And then we wait.

And send another email.

And wait.

And send another email.

And start to wonder— did the emails go missing? Did you lose your phone? Or are you just not that into our family?

Here’s what I’m advising Host Families to do:

Send 3 emails and wait a total of one week*, and if you hear nothing, move on.

    • Email #1 is the basic intro.
    • Email #2 is a repeat of the intro, as we wonder ‘Hey did you get our first email’?
    • Email #3 has a subject line: ‘Please reply, or we will conclude you’re not interested‘.

Au Pair Candidates, please don’t make us send that last email.

Reply to Host Parent Emails as soon as possible.

Don’t worry about telling us you’re not interested. Don’t worry about telling us that you’re in the middle of a conversation with another family.

Just– please– reply.

On behalf of Host Families Everywhere,

~ AuPairMom


Image: No Mail Today by IvyDawned on Flickr

* the one-week time limit is for families using Au Pair Agencies that allow for a candidate to be in a host family’s pool until the family takes a pass on that candidate. Obviously, if you are with an Agency that has a 2 or 3 day time limit per candidate, you wouldn’t have this luxury of time.


happyhostmom February 16, 2015 at 2:04 pm

AMEN!! I wish the agencies would do a better job telling the candidates this rule.

5kids=aupair February 17, 2015 at 10:50 am

Amen, indeed! I put a line at the bottom of my initial e-mail telling them we expect an immediate response.

German Au-Pair February 16, 2015 at 2:27 pm

Of course that goes both ways. I can’t be the only one who actually had a skype conversation scheduled and then they just disappeared. No email, no nothing. Which is extra frustrating when you consider that due to time difference (and trying to accomodate the HP’s schedule) we sometimes sit there at 1 or 2 am waiting for that skype call.
Plus, if you can’t make it to a skype call for whatever reason, let them know as soon as you can. When you sit there at 1am you wonder when it is okay to just leave. How long do you wait? 20 minutes? Half an hour? And if it’s the first call you also want to look good. So you’re not sitting there in your PJs with your hair all messy and without make up (if you’re that kind of girl); you sit there ready to make a good first impression like you would at a normal interview. Plus you are super excited, you think about all the things that can go wrong, what you’re gonna say, what they’re gonna ask, how they’ll like you, will your English suck and so on and so on. Being stood up for a skype date CAN happen of course, but I would plead with HFs to only have that happen in case of a really unforseeable event. Don’t plan it unless you are reasonably sure you can actually make it.
That skype date is a much bigger deal to the APs than it is to most HP.

ProPair February 16, 2015 at 4:34 pm

I second this. When a family stood me up for a Skype call, I was a little annoyed and also (call me paranoid) quite suspicious. If someone drops off the planet when I ask to verify their existence, things start to seem scammy (but I suppose it’s a different story when going through agencies).

cv harquail February 16, 2015 at 8:12 pm

You are so right! Host Families should model the expectations of a prompt reply. Even if you have to say “We don’t know yet”, the host parents should stay in touch.

alsoanon February 16, 2015 at 9:31 pm

I agree this is atrociously bad manners in either direction. FWIW, in the US, we have the informal “15 minute rule” which generally means that if someone is 15 minutes late for an appointment, you can stop waiting for them. But, regardless, its still totally rude.

German Au-Pair February 17, 2015 at 2:14 pm

Yes, we have that to (my only experience with this is a teacher not showing up for class). But the thing is that when you sit there you really really want to have this talk and you really really don’t want to come off as impatient or unflexible so you wait longer that would be required by common courtesy.

exaupair February 17, 2015 at 8:35 pm

Not sacrificing your whole day to wait for a skype interview with the potential host family is not lack of flexibility.
Manners work both ways, either party should reply as soon as possible, even if it’s a brief ‘ thank you for your time but we’re not best suited’.

Seattle Mom February 17, 2015 at 3:11 pm

I agree, and I really hope this isn’t common!

I admit that I missed a skype interview once because I messed up the time difference- I was an hour late and she was gone. At the time I was interviewing au pairs from Europe and different parts of Asia and I was so confused about time zones.. argh. But when I realized my mistake I emailed immediately and apologized profusely- and set up a later interview.

The girl I stood up is now my au pair :).

Dorsi February 17, 2015 at 3:24 pm

Oh! I am terrible with time zones. My life has been made much better by frequently asking Siri: “What time is it in Bangkok?”

WarmStateMomma February 17, 2015 at 5:50 pm

That sounds awful, German AP. On the other hand, it’s a really quick way to find out how much respect the other side has for you. If a family/AP stands the other side up without a sincere apology and reasonable explanation, I’d have a lot of doubts about how they would treat you during the AP year.

Stella February 16, 2015 at 2:58 pm

This should have been a red flag with our au pair – she was late for all our Skype calls (or had to reschedule at the last minute) and would sometimes take a while to respond to emails (more than 24 hours). Now, she was in a special situation – in rematch but staying with the LCC – she was no longer working at all so had all the free time in the world to spend communicating with prospective host families. Yet she would still be late for calls with us because she was late getting back from NYC to her LCC’s house in NJ…

Gretchen February 16, 2015 at 3:49 pm

Wait? You send multiple emails? We send one email. If they don’t respond within the week, we move on! Never even occurred to me to send more!

Taking a Computer Lunch February 16, 2015 at 3:58 pm

I’m with you there! I send one email, and if I receive no response, I let the AP candidate go after a few days (APIA lets you state that you are declining the candidate because you failed to hear from her). In the past 14 1/2 years I can’t tell you how many parents have responded to their daughters’ emails because their children had them monitoring their account while they took a short trip – or were working at a summer camp in another country for a week. If you want the job then you find a way to make yourself available (or state why you’re not accessible).

I always figure that 80% of the candidates who fail to respond aren’t interested, but also aren’t aware that I’m holding up the release of their application to other families who will be a better match. The other 20%, I assume, aren’t checking their SPAM folder. (Because that has happened, too!)

Lígia February 17, 2015 at 2:07 pm

There are also some candidates that are interested but want to think about what they’re going to answer very carefully, have someone review their English, etc.

Seattle Mom February 17, 2015 at 3:17 pm

In that case they should write something quick just to respond, and then a longer response later. “Thank you for your email and your interest in me. I would love to take the time to respond to you in more detail, but right now I am very busy with work/school. I will write back in the next two days. Thank you for understanding!”

In fact, my intro email always says “please respond to this email right away with a quick note to let me know you have received it- if you need more time to write more that is fine just let me know. If I don’t hear from you within a day or two I will assume you are not interested. Also, if you know you are not interested in me please let me know immediately so I can release your application and look for a candidate that is a better fit for my family.”

Or something to that effect…

Host Mom X February 20, 2015 at 3:53 pm

I like to also send a second email, though, saying that I am letting them go because I didn’t get a response and need to interview other candidates. If it’s a candidate who’s application I really liked, I want to give her a chance to respond with her excuse if she had one.

I’ve also done the “rejected girlfriend” no-no! i.e. sending a follow-up email saying, “would you mind telling us what it was about our family or job description that made you not want to respond?” (We do a “dare to match with us” email with a ton of stuff attached to it, but we’re always trying to gauge how effective this technique is with some real-time feedback!) Some candidates have actually responded to that with excuses – usually that they have already matched with another family. But one did explain in detail what it was about our handbook materials that scared her off! Which convinced us to stick with our approach….

TexasHM February 20, 2015 at 5:15 pm

Thats funny HM X I have done that too (when they decline abruptly I ask if they wouldn’t mind sharing why they thought it wasn’t a good match so I can make sure I am properly portraying our family and the opportunity) and I have gotten some really interesting responses! Ex: I want to live in California where it is hot (San Fran specifically) because I hate cool weather – remember we are in Texas, one wanted to live in Texas only but explicitly stated she wanted an atheist host family, another wanted to live near a big city (when asked how big she said “like 250,000 or more) – yeah we are in a city of 7M but good try, we get lots like that (assuming Texas is backwoods). I have been asked if my husband and I ride horses to work everyday and if we carry guns! UMMM no. I tell them I drive a Prius. ;) Did have one say I was “too organized and clear about your expectations” – I found that funny too. She wanted a “more laid back” situation so I released her profile and she matched with another family within 36 hours – no joke. And this was exclusive matching and we were the first family she spoke with so she literally matched that fast. Like HM X said, it has convinced us to stick with our approach as its a great screening process!

alsoanon February 16, 2015 at 9:32 pm

Us too. I only want to talk to candidates who are actively pursuing a placement.

Dorsi February 17, 2015 at 2:16 am

Yup. We email once. I am not going to persuade anyone to be my Au Pair.

Julie February 17, 2015 at 11:04 am

I agree that 3 is a lot, but if you like someone and they don’t respond to an email, have your agency get in contact or just call. Many au pairs don’t see emails due to junk filters. Best to pick up the phone!

AlwaysHopeful HM February 17, 2015 at 12:38 pm

Oh! Julie’s email reminded me that I did call one AP who didn’t respond right away– our current one! In that case, we were in rematch, and desperate to move quickly. He was an overseas au pair and i had to match in just a couple days or wait an additional two weeks for his arrival– time I didn’t have. I called him after 24 hours and arranged a skype. In that situation I was comfortable following up because 1) it had only been 24 hours, 2) he had no reason to know how crunched our timing was, and 3)we were desperate! I also emailed an au pair who stood me up for a Skype call. I sent a message while I waited in case there was a connection problem. When he wrote back a WEEK later to reschedule I told him no thanks.

Returning HM February 18, 2015 at 11:56 am

I thought I posted this yesterday but never saw it come up. I know for sure that some of my introductory emails have ended up in the spam folder of prospective APs, so if I don’t hear back within a day, I send the same note from another email address (I have two – my university email and my yahoo). Two years ago, when I first contacted the guy who became our first male AP, I didn’t hear back for days. His application was so good that I didn’t want to drop him so tried again a few days later from my yahoo address, and sure enough, this time I heard back. I am SO glad I was persistent, because he was one of the best APs ever!

We are going through matching now, and a couple of weeks ago I emailed another great candidate and also didn’t hear back in a few days. I re-sent from my univ address, and at the same time, I asked CC to reach out to him for me. I am SO glad I did, because he got the second email, wrote a profuse apology for not having checked his spam folder more reliably, and now is our leading candidate. So sometimes, there really is a “computer glitch” that can make your introductory emails not go through.

I will agree that with the male candidates, they get told not to get their hopes up, so they aren’t “primed” to check email and spam folders reliably. With all of our three matches, we were the first family to contact them (two I contacted the day their applications went online), so they didn’t undestand yet about being in “matching mode.” This is probably the case with other males as well, since there are far fewer families looking for them.

Taking a Computer Lunch February 18, 2015 at 2:36 pm

In my experience, after I’ve matched, and the incoming AP and I exchange multiple emails, at some point it becomes too many for our systems, and ends up in someone’s spam folder. I’ve learned, when new points are being raised, to change the header, cut back to the most relevant text, and reply.

This, of course, doesn’t work for the initial email.

QuirkyMom February 17, 2015 at 2:37 pm

I concur. One and done. No response (within 2 days accounting for time differences and schedules) it’s time to move on. There are lots of good fish in the sea.

Seattle Mom February 17, 2015 at 3:21 pm

I usually send only one. Although with my current agency (Interexchange) for some reason it seemed like NO ONE responded to emails unless I sent them through the agency message system- very strange. So I would send an initial email to the au pair’s email address, and then follow up through the agency message system. Very annoying because the response would come to my account at the agency, and I had to write back from the website.. one of my pet peeves about my new agency.

But I almost always only send one message. I have learned that no matter how good an applicant seems on paper, they are only good if they actually are responsive to emails.

TexasHM February 17, 2015 at 6:44 pm

Interesting SeattleMom I noticed this as well. When I mentioned earlier that I send one direct and then 24 hours later send another and go into the agency system I was talking about IE because that’s what I had to do there too! I never made the connection but your post made me realize that I didn’t do that at APIA or CCAP. I wonder why that is… Sidenote too IE reads all the emails you send through Passport. Not saying you have anything to hide but I referred a couple families that got called and asked about their emails (one is a frequent poster on here) and were very turned off because they weren’t breaking any rules or trying to do anything wrong. :( I didn’t have this issue personally because I had always emailed direct so that was news to me until they brought it to my attention but I felt horrible for them after they forwarded me the emails so just something to be aware of.
And totally agreed – some applicants seem great on paper but then are slow to respond or cancel Skype at the last minute, etc so being responsive/effective in your email handling/communication is a critical trait for us and something we use as a screening factor too!

Host Mom X February 20, 2015 at 3:59 pm

Are the IE candidates maybe warned by the agency to ONLY respond to messages that come through the agency portal as a means of giving them assurance that the agency is weeding out creepos for them?

TexasHM February 20, 2015 at 5:19 pm

I asked our AP the same thing but she said no and I did have candidates respond to me directly, there just seemed to be a higher overall no response rate. Although, it might be similar to male APs because my IE AP told me that she was in the system for matching for over 2 months and only had 3 families reserve her profile and only one Skyped with her in that time! An ER nurse! So maybe like the male APs they tire of checking email every day and not getting bites at IE so their response times start to lag/interest level wanes – total hypothesis…

Veronique February 16, 2015 at 6:07 pm

We receive between 80-100 applications every year, and we generally open our add for 2-3 weeks, maximum – we choose our au-pair though a website. I send the best matching candidates (generally around 20) a word document with a lot of information on our family, pictures, and a 25 questions questionnaire for the AP to tell us more about herself.

If the questionnaire is not turned back, filled, within 48h, the au pair is eliminated: to me, a motivated, reliable candidate responds promptly… (the APMOM that gave me this trick waits no more than 24h…)
We also call references, AP parents and have a Skype interview in the following week. I found out that AP actually appreciate that the process is quick: no one like hanging in there, waiting for a response, while other families are also interesting.

So far, this method served us well!

Seattle Mom February 17, 2015 at 3:22 pm

So do you find an au pair through your ad first, and then sign up with an agency later? Or perhaps you are not in the US… I have heard of people doing this, and I might try next time in addition to signing up with an agency or two.

TexasHM February 17, 2015 at 11:20 pm

I tried this and was INUNDATED with a ton of unqualified candidates (despite being explicit on our profile that smoking and not driving were deal breakers we got lots of both) and lots of candidates that didn’t know anything about agencies/the US program rules, lots of desperate emails and not one candidate that made it to round 3 (first Skype) with us despite having over 80 reach out. Had a couple try to get us to bring them over on a tourist visa to work illegally and a few that were with agencies but mediocre candidates and didn’t want to switch agencies anyway. I too would like to know if you’re in the U.S. or not because I don’t see how HPs in the US could get this to work. It was very time consuming and exhausting for nothing!

WarmStateMomma February 18, 2015 at 1:24 am

Yes, it was a huge waste of time for us as well. The APs on those sites would apply for every opening, without reading anything about the host family. So if our headline said we wanted someone who spoke Chinese and could drive a car – we would get messages *in* Romanian or Spanish. One of the rare Chinese applicants was a student in our city who wanted to work illegally, here and there when her college schedule allowed.

Seattle Mom February 18, 2015 at 8:35 pm

OK after reading about your experience this does not sound like a good strategy!

TexasHM February 16, 2015 at 6:57 pm

Apparently I am super impatient! :) I send one email that tells them we have their profile on review (so if for any reason they are not interested please let us know and we will release them back into the pool asap) with a list of questions.

If I haven’t heard from them in 24 hours I resend the email as stated above (did you receive this?) AND I log into the agency system and copy and paste the same message and send through there just in case my direct email is going to spam.

I give them about another 12-24 hours and then cut them loose. I say 12-24 because I keep the time difference in mind (if its 11pm their time when I send the second email then I give them 24 hours to have a full day to see it but if its say 8am their time then I give them more like 14 hours so again, full day opportunity to see it and respond).

I often get random emails from AP candidates days or WEEKS later saying they were tied up for whatever reason but as APs said above, we take this process seriously and respect our time and the APs time and emotional investment and honestly if this is a priority for them they will find a way. I have had candidates ride bikes to internet cafes miles away while on vacation to check their email daily for potential families or agency emails, our current match emailed me – no joke – from a dial up connection on a mountain campground that she hiked 25 minutes to each day to check!

Part of our screening process (as implied by the title of this post) is looking at how the AP candidate responds and handles the process. Mountainside camping AP emailed back within a couple hours that she was very interested in talking to us but couldn’t view our whole profile from dialup (understandable) and asked if she could respond to my first round questions 4 days later when they returned home from their family holiday camping trip. Of course! I didn’t have to work to figure things out, she made it clear she was interested and proposed a follow up date (and sure enough, emailed her answers as promised on that date). This same candidate a week later had a 5 day trip with friends but guess what – she told us about it upfront when she responded to our first round of questions. (PS – Next thursday I am leaving on a trip for 5 days camping without access, I just wanted to let you know right away in case we are still talking then or if that impacts your timing/decision.)

Long and short – we are very patient and flexible for candidates that are respectful, good communicators and that follow through. We have had a few AP candidates ping us back a day or two after I cut them loose but honestly the process slugged along (because they weren’t timely responders or following through) and none has ever made it more than a round or two with us.

Our first AP didn’t have internet at home and responded to us within hours the first round, explained that and then responded every day and made every Skype call early even though she had to do it in cafes and the service was often bad. She was a great caregiver.

Second AP emailed me before I could even send my first round template of questions! She was an awesome AP!
Third AP was in rematch and again, emailed me before I could send her my template. Awesome AP!
Fourth AP as said responded within a couple hours. I have to think it’s not a coincidence!

ProPair February 16, 2015 at 8:30 pm

While I can’t speak for how things work with agencies, I think that the candidates who don’t reply to online messages are probably putting you on the back burner in case their “first choice” doesn’t decide to match. I don’t think it’s really fair to not say anything to a family that’s enthusiastic about matching; therefore, I’m all in favour of moving on. Do you really want to end up with someone who’s not that into you? ;)

TexasHM February 16, 2015 at 10:52 pm

I agree and that was an issue for us at APIA with their free for all matching system. We got very far in the process with several candidates only to have them suddenly pick another family (that generally offered them perks to match with them instead or lived in an AP top pick city), it was maddening. At IE and CCAP it’s exclusive matching so if I have their profile no one else can see it and I have found the AP interest/attentiveness and responses have been much better. If they have doubts they say so! Which is much better than being strung along. I also feel like they are more openminded and serious because they aren’t shopping and can focus, plus they know if they turn us down we are gone. I saw several APs crack under the stress of being pursued by multiple families and not being able to sort it all out and make a decision. I think it’s better for both sides but that’s just IMHO. Completely agreed too that HPs need to show the same respect to APs in making appointments and communicating. We also give insight into our matching process (it’s thorough) so they know about how long it takes and what it entails and can decide to opt out at any stage in the process.

Multitasking Host Mom February 16, 2015 at 11:33 pm

Ugh! Potential APs who do not reply to my emails drive me batty during the matching process. I also worry did my email not go through? Is there a problem on the APs end that they can’t get my email? Am I missing out on a great AP due to a technical issue. Etc. I am currently with an agency that gives a time limit on how long you can hold on to a profile. This of course adds extra pressure if I do not get any contact quickly from the AP. If I don’t hear from an AP within about 24 hours after my initial email, I do send the same email again just to make sure. If I don’t hear back again that day, I have to let their profile go or more accurately my time limit to hold on to the profile is up and I need to move on to other applications.
Homestly, I do not mind a quick comment back from an AP stating that they do not think my family is the right fit for their AP year. I respect that completely. And that is so much better than just complete silence.
I did have an interesting discussion with my husband last go around about this lack of replying to emails thing. He works for a company that has employees worldwide. His co workers in one of the Asian countries do not have personal emails and use other ways to communicate online. (Of course they have them through their employer.) Also, I have noticed that the volunteer groups I belong to now communicate through a group Facebook page almost exclusively…where as just a couple years ago there would have been a group email list. And, I was always taught when leading a committee that you have to send out information in a way that the member will receive it. ( I am often dealing with people from different generations so this is an issue.) So this all leads me to just put the thought out there…are we host parents communicating in a way that is easier for for us (email) but not the preferred method of communication for APs?

Stella February 16, 2015 at 11:37 pm

I see what you’re saying but that is the way we are given by the agency and this is, in a way, a job interview for them. So, if they know the only way we have to contact them is email, then they should be checking that very regularly.

AlwaysHopeful HM February 17, 2015 at 12:17 am

I tend to agree with Stella. None of the APs or other young people I know use email generally, but if they are waiting to be contacted for a job interview, and the expected mode of communication is email, there really is no excuse for not using it.

Maybe the agencies should start connecting HFs and APs through WhatsApp! Response time would probably be much better all around.

used2bap February 17, 2015 at 6:04 am

Really? I wonder if this is a cultural thing. Where I come from (Finland) I would say AP aged people still use e-mail on a daily basis for school, work, etc. I send out roughly a hundred e-mails per day and tend to think of it as the most efficient way of communication in non-urgent matters ie. when I don’t need a response within the next 30min.

That being said, instant messaging between APs and HFs could be fun! Do any agencies offer anything like that on their websites? A chat window maybe? :) Or KIK (I think that works without exchanging phone numbers, unlike WhatsApp. I wouldn’t want just any prospective candidate/HF to have my personal number that early in matching.)

Taking a Computer Lunch February 17, 2015 at 1:24 pm

With APIA, once I express interest in a candidate, I generally have access to her full address, mobile, land line (if it exists), email, and Skype (if it exists), HF from the U.S. have access to all the information that the candidate puts into her application.

My bottom line – I’m not going to chase an AP down. There are more AP candidates than there are HF, so if a young woman (or man) wants to work as an AP then they have to be willing to communicate via all the means of communication they list in their application! I’ve seen a lot of “perfect” candidates who either didn’t want to match with my family or failed to communicate – so be it. They obviously weren’t a good match after all!!

Schmetterfink February 18, 2015 at 4:52 am

Jup, German here. I get all my emails sent directly to my phone so even if I don’t actively check them I will see I received one (if I have data/wireless turned on so pretty much any time unless I am at the movies or on vacation outside the country). My cousins are younger than I and also get all their email sent to their phones.

WarmStateMomma February 17, 2015 at 8:46 am

I’m involved in a program in my city with high-school kids. Communicating with them is the hardest part because they rarely use email. They all have email accounts, but most of them don’t check it. By now, some of those kids are AP age….

TexasHM February 17, 2015 at 10:22 am

I see what you are saying MHM but I agree with Stella. We use email because the agencies set the standard for all agency communication to be via email so if the AP candidate can’t alter their habits for the short term to accommodate (ie check email regularly for a month or two during matching) then I figure they either aren’t that motivated (= we aren’t interested in them) or they are inflexible (= we aren’t interested in them). :) As was said earlier, even if they have a trip or will be out of contact the motivated ones will find a way to get it covered whether that is having a relative monitor their inbox, biking miles to an internet cafe every day, hiking up a mountain for dial up or (I have yet to see this but I think it would be genius – not sure if you can do this on personal email accounts) set up an auto-reply saying they will be without access until X date and will respond promptly when they return. I would keep a candidate on view that did that and wait for their response.

Old China Hand February 17, 2015 at 7:50 pm

I have started having my research students use iMessage or texts to communicate with me because when I am home with the kids I don’t always see emails come in and they are always with their phones. They like being able to get in touch with me quickly if there are issues with the lab. This was more of a problem when I was on maternity leave but even now that I am back at work I don’t always check email in the evening. My students are college students, so ap aged.

AlwaysHopeful HM February 17, 2015 at 12:12 am

The whole communication process in searching for an AP is a pain in the rear. The only thing more frustrating than the email hurry up and wait game is scheduling skype calls. As German AP mentioned, they’re often at crazy times in order to meet everyone’s availability. Ive done more 5 a.m. calls than I care to remember! I try to take into consideration time zone differences, time needed to translate / fully understand my email, time to review our family’s profile, classes, considering and structuring responses to my questions, work or other life getting in the way, and technical difficulties. I also take into account (esp. with male au pairs) that they may have been waiting a while with no “bites” and so may have become unaccustomed to regularly checking for email. With that said, I don’t send a second email if I don’t hear back after the first. I wait a couple days, then move on. If the AP contacts me and has a reasonable explanation, I’ll add them back to my queue, but I just can’t get hung up on what ifs. If a computer glitch is the reason we didn’t connect, so be it. There’s another au pair out there that may be just right for our family. My current LCC is very active, and would likely reach out to a candidate that i dropped for lack of contact, but I wouldn’t wait around for that. Life is too short, and the process is too stressful without running down unresponsive candidates!

AP in the US February 17, 2015 at 1:10 am

As German Au-Pair says, I was also frustrated in my matching process when families acted interested and all of a sudden stopped answering. They told me they would get back to me but I never heard from them again, even though I sent them an email again to ask wether or not they had already matched. I have even been sitting there for a couple of times for 1-2 hours waiting for a family to call me on Skype. It really is both ways. :) and for me as an Au pair it adds an extra level of frustration since I’m not able to contact families, all you can do is wait for another one to contact you. The agencies should stress the importance of responding to both hf’s and ap’s. At least two times I felt the need to contact the APiA office to ask them to contact a family for me.

Evelina February 17, 2015 at 9:24 am

I am a previous aupair and I feel that if an aupair is really looking for HF he/she would keep track of their inbox.
No matter what the time difference is, when you’re waiting for the perfect match you do check your emails frequently – always hoping to find that special family and answering them asap.
During my matching process I checked my emails aaaaall the time and really tried to answer them promptly. I hope every future aupair knows how important communication is and tries their very best to get back to their matches, whether they are interested or not.

Dorsi February 17, 2015 at 1:30 pm

Anyone who is not using email on a daily basis (and I accept that they exist) can change their smart phone settings. (And I can’t imagine anyone who is post-email doesn’t have a smart phone). The phone can alert them when a new email comes in — Just like a text! So, I have no sympathy for the “I don’t check my email frequently” excuse. When I applied to grad school, roughly a million years ago, I typed my applications. The technology didn’t exist to print onto a form easily and the most professional way to complete them was on a typewriter. Even though I had to borrow someone’s office to do that. You do what the employer expects if you want the job.

Should be working February 17, 2015 at 2:37 pm

When a very promising candidate didn’t respond to my email, I texted him to request that he check his email. That worked quickly. He wrote in email he had internet problems and hadn’t been able to read his mail in 2 days. This feels like a lie but I didn’t want to abandon the exchange on that basis alone. Still it makes me wonder.

German Au-Pair February 17, 2015 at 3:03 pm

Not necessarily. During my matching process I had to go to several week-long seminars for the program I was enrolled in. Sometimes we had internet access (and I checked my mails all the time) but sometimes we didn’t. That was at a time at which I didn’t not have a cellphone plan that allowed internet access but once -no joke- we actually stayed at a place that didn’t even have regular cell phone reception. I’m not kidding, we were cut off from civilization for 5 days. We sometimes could get a regular text through but only if we were lucky.
I do think APC allows APs to actually write a little note in their application for cases like that, don’t they?

Dorsi February 17, 2015 at 3:18 pm

German AP — that is an extraordinary circumstance — there are very few places left in the world where there is no cell service and no wifi (I am routinely in places without cell service, but never in places without wifi). And extraordinary circumstances means that a candidate either forgoes matching during that time period or learns how to use auto-reply.

UKAu Pair February 17, 2015 at 4:25 pm

With respect, that seems like an extraordinarily American-centric angle to take.

I live in England, and both mobile reception and 3G are terrible in my county (very rural). Many parts of the country are still so rural or so hilly that they suffer from terrible reception, because in the UK most things are focused around London and if you don’t live within the M25 you’re basically stumped (army bases are particularly terrible for this). I agree that wifi is usually available, but again that does depend on you being at home/ somewhere where you can access wifi. In many places you have to pay, or it is simply non-existent. If I’m at home, in university buildings or (occasionally) in coffee shops then I can get wifi on my phone. When I was au pairing in Italy I lived for three months with neither wifi nor mobile reception. It’s very dependent on circumstance.

I don’t agree with the premise- potential au pairs should absolutely be monitoring their emails at least once every 24 hours- but what is an extraordinary circumstance in some countries is not necessarily so in many others.

Stella February 17, 2015 at 4:38 pm

But what would you do if you were applying for local jobs – do they not email potential candidates? And don’t you think it would reflect badly on you if you didn’t respond in a timely manner? I think its a fair point that different countries have different levels of access to such services, but the onus is still on the job applicant to make sure that while they are applying for a job, they are checking their email daily.

Dorsi February 17, 2015 at 4:58 pm

It’s not American-centric. Rural Greece gets better cell phone reception that rural America. You can post to facebook from the top of Mount Olympus. There is no equivalently remote site in the US with cell/data service. Looking at coverage maps, there are very few areas of England with cell phone service; there are still large swaths of the American West without cellphone/data service.

A teeny-tiny portion of Au Pairs do not respond quickly to initial emails because they are unable to access internet services. The rest don’t because they don’t like the family, they aren’t organized, they are not frequently checking email, or some other problem. For the teeny-tiny percentage that live with no access to wifi, internet or cell networks, they may need to make some changes while they are applying to be an Au Pair.

AlwaysHopeful HM February 17, 2015 at 6:30 pm

I understand reception issues, but again, email is the method the agency has selected. If the au pair has difficulty with that medium, she or he will need to communicate that up front (I have seen AP applications indicate the best way to contact) or choose a family that has the patience and good nature to sit out a lack of communication. I do have some sympathy for male au pairs because they often have to wait a while for a match and may lose some of their incentive to check email daily. However, being hired as an au pair is not an entitlement, and certainly being hired by my family is not, so if an au pair cannot meet my requirements, whether by design, by lack of organization, or by circumstance, he or she is probably not the right au pair for us.

Seattle Mom February 18, 2015 at 8:46 pm

What do you suggest using to communicate with prospective au pairs in that circumstance, who do not have good reception or wifi where they live?

TexasHM February 17, 2015 at 6:54 pm

In regards to the American centric angle on the expectation here is the deal – they are applying for a job with an American host family and the agency sets the standard for email so it’s not a matter of preference or an American ideal, it’s the program period. Yes cell service and wifi coverage vary everywhere but what doesn’t vary is that they are applying for this program so they are expected to follow the process for the job which in this case means emailing back prospective host families in a timely manner. I have sent probably HUNDREDS of emails over the years of hosting that NEVER get a response (after sending 3 emails mind you) and have had probably 1-2 dozen get back to me way later saying they have now matched and aren’t interested or some such. I have had an AP that had to use an internet cafe because she didnt have a smartphone or wifi and she managed to respond daily in a timely manner so it can be done. The one time I was stood up for a Skype interview there was literally a citywide power outage in South America (yes I googled it and it was true) and she still managed to call me on her own dime to let me know she couldnt get access anywhere and reschedule. Serious APs find a way to work it out.

hOstCDmom February 17, 2015 at 2:46 pm

I actually text all candidates stating that “we are a HF with X agency, saw their profile, are interested in connecting, we emailed them, look forward to hearing from them later today when they have had a chance to review our email”

Then, if there is no response to my email, there really isn’t any excuse and I can confidently conclude that this candidate/personality type isn’t for me! :)

WarmStateMomma February 17, 2015 at 5:42 pm

A lot of the Chinese AP candidates have been waiting for months for even one interview, so it would make sense to me if they don’t check their email very often. Most of the Chinese candidates have responded to me within 36 hours, which I think is impressive considering their (generally) poor English skills and the time it probably takes them to read/respond to my email. The agencies should make sure they all know how to auto-forward their email or send an auto-reply, but it is an easy way to weed out candidates who don’t have the foresight to do that on their own.

For some reason, every AP’s initial response to my interest is to suggest a Skype interview. I pretty much only Skype to meet the agency requirements because it’s such a huge hassle for everyone and has so little benefit to me (poor internet connection + poor English = painfully awkward). We’ve only skyped with 5 candidates to date – and matched with 3 of them.

Old China Hand February 17, 2015 at 7:56 pm

I have given up on using preferred email address for the Chinese girls if their secondary is their qq account. Email never has caught on much in china and qq is the instant messanger and facebook and email all wrapped up into one. So I just email their qq account. If they don’t reply in a day, I send the email to their primary email as well. Rarely do people not get back to me with qq emails. They often don’t with the gmail or yahoo or hotmail accounts they give me. Even professors I work with in China are terrible at emails, so I figure if it goes to their actual primary communication portal, that’s better. It’s a shame that the agency must coach them not to put qq as their primary.

WarmStateMomma February 18, 2015 at 1:18 am

Good to know!

steffani February 24, 2015 at 3:38 pm

Not just the host family also the au pair suffers waiting for an answer and a sincere process because we are competent and we make an effort everyday practicing the language, driving and learning more about childcare, we have a lot to risk, if you don’t like the au pair you switch the page or send her back home, just like that, we are somebody else’s child and you should respect our pride and be sincere if you don’t like something speak don’t save our application and keep us waiting for days and later just vanish.

NextAuPair March 6, 2015 at 6:35 pm

I have to tell you something: If an Au Pair doesn’t respond in 24 hours or less, definetly she doesn’t like you, not in my case because even I don’t like the family profile I prefer to respond quickly and if it’s possible give them a chance to have an interview, but ladies let me tell you that me and the others au pairs that i’m knowing the only thing that we do in all day is to check the mail with all the enthusiastic well only who is really excited with the idea to be in the program and all that stuff. We don’t have head for others things and we’re dedicating all our mind to the program, so I don’t think that exists the idea that she doesn’t have time to read her email or to respond a short answer: “No thanks”. And if there is an Au Pair with that education you have to feel blessed beacuse if the Au Pair doesn’t have the resposibility to say: No thanks… FEEL BLESSED because she doesn’t be your next Au Pair I’m sorry for my bad english :)

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