What do you look for in an Au Pair applicant’s video?

by cv harquail on August 1, 2012

Technology changes everything. Or not.

When au pair applicants started doing their own YouTube application videos, and when au pair agencies started to host au pair applicants’ videos as part of their portfolios, it looked like host families would get a great additional tool for evaluating whether or not an applicant fit what they were looking for.

After watching a bunch of au pair videos over the weekend, I’m starting to wonder whether the videos give us good information for our decisions.217562237_534be6cd56_b.jpg

Last weekend the weather was so stormy at our friends’ beach house that swimming was impossible. Instead, we immersed ourselves in viewing au pair videos. Another family (also visiting) is looking for their very first au pair, and since my hostess and I have had almost 20 au pairs between us, our friend asked us for our opinions on the applicants she and her DH were considering.

Each of the au pair’s videos was put together well– music, decent lighting, a script or outline she was following as she described herself, and clips & photo collages.

Few of the videos gave us any direct, deeper information than what we might have gotten from each one’s letter.

Instead we looked for context clues…. Low cut shirts and coy expressions? Party girl. Bedroom full of stuffed animals? Maybe not that mature. Video clip of her dancing and playing with little kids at church group? Sweeet.

But what I really wanted to see in the au pairs’ videos?

Clips of the applicant:

  • Sorting laundry into lights and darks
  • Backing a station wagon into a parallel parking space,
  • Sauteing a chicken breast,
  • Encouraging a child to put her coat and mittens on,
  • Discussing a problem with another adult.

A host mom can dream, can’t she?

We know that au pairs craft these videos deliberately, with some media saavy, to show themselves as they’d like to be seen. So we have to ask ourselves — What can we really infer from an au pair’s application video?

  • What conclusions are fair to draw from an application video?

  • What would you really like to see?

Image: Autoportrait Attribution Some rights reserved by *** Fanch The System !!! ***


Calif Mom August 1, 2012 at 12:27 pm

We noticed that in the last batch of au pair applications, many of the European au pairs now show themselves driving. Parallel parking would get them a gold star indeed! (As I watched these girls walking carefully out to their cars, getting in, buckling up and pulling out of their driveway, I kept thinking of that movie where Dustin Hoffman’s character is “a very good driver. Dad lets me drive in the driveway.”)

Humor aside, I did find the videos interesting and helpful. Not sufficient, as the skype interviews later showed, but very helpful in getting to a short list of final candidates worth skyping with. How the au pair handled the interactions in just setting up interview times also turned out to be a big clue to their maturity.

What I got out of the videos:
A feel for their ability to speak English. Sure they’re fairly scripted, but could I understand what they were saying? Sometimes the application letters are perfect but then you can barely understand them on the phone/skype.

A feel for their basic personality type, which allows you to rule out someone you’re not quite sure about without the time and stress of setting up and doing a skype interview. Super shy? Wanna-be diva? Down-to-earth? Artistic? You can pick up on this from the videos better than the applications and still photos.

A feel for their values and what they think host families are looking for. What did they think was important enough to their audience to spend 30 seconds of a 3 minute video showing me? OR, the complete absence of ability to put themselves in host parent’s shoes. I’m sure it’s lovely, but I don’t really want a tour of their hometown unless they are telling me that this is the river from which they rescued a drowning puppy. I LOVED the au pair candidate who shot part of her video in a classroom, and then moved to the athletic field. That tells me she’s at least smart enough to know that I care about how studious and active she might be, even if she isn’t actually a great student or star athlete. That tells me that homework and getting outside to run around might actually happen when she’s in charge.

I think the videos help you tell how genuine they are, how vacuous or geeky or disorganized or fastidious.

(And yes, we picked one who showed herself driving a kid to an after-school activity, and standing in the kitchen cooking with a child.)

Seattle Mom August 6, 2012 at 6:36 pm

I agree with this, absolutely. I’m currently looking for au pair #2, and after I screen for the non-negotiables (childcare experience, driving experience, etc) I take a look at the video if there is one, before emailing the potential au pair. And I think you can tell a lot from a video. I would add that if the video is extremely poor quality it shows that the au pair does not take the time to do a job well done, and is alright presenting a shoddy product. This may have something to say about her attitude towards her work in general.

My current au pair is wonderful and had a charming video- she had lots of clips of herself with kids, including a scene where she was chopping vegetables in the kitchen with a child, and a scene where she was kicking a soccer ball with a child. Obviously this was all staged, but it showed what she felt was important to show us, and that she has some creativity and intelligence.

DCMomof3 August 1, 2012 at 1:50 pm

I did not view videos this time around because I got so overwhelmed with them last time. How many times can I listen to a girl say “I just finished high school and I am from a small town in Germany.” One au pair candidate whom I did reject based on video alone took us into her kitchen to introduce us to the uniformed household helper who had raised her since birth, cooked all of her meals for her and cleaned the house. She gave the helper a big hug in the video. Not sure if she was trying to show me that she is nice to the help (uh, I don’t care since you are applying for a job to BE the help). Anyway, it struck me as kind of funny that someone who is applying for a job that involves (in my house anyway) taking care of kids, cooking, cleaning and doing laundry would waste part of her video introducing me to the woman who did all of this for her. In addition to screaming “princess,” “cannot take care of myself let alone someone else,” and “I expect daily maid service” the video also just showed an incredible level of cluelessness about the job and American culture which places such a premium on self-reliance.

Seattle Mom August 6, 2012 at 3:42 pm

Wow. That is pretty wow. Maybe someone who has lots of servants would want an au pair who grew up with servants? My cousin was a SAHM for like 20 years (3 kids, from birth through high school) and had a cook & maid (not live-in, but who came more than once per week) in addition to her au pair.. I guess she wanted someone who was comfortable with servants.

Gianna August 1, 2012 at 2:38 pm

What a great insight about the driving. When I am discouraged by the videos , I have to remind myself that shooting and editing videos is a learned skill and the pros take years to hone that skill. So many of these videos are silly or downright off putting that I think the agencies could do a real service by stepping up to the plate and taping their candidates. They could simply have the candidate sit in a comfortable chair and answer some well thought out questions. I enjoy watching many of these tapes and do form some opinions ( hate raunchy music in the background ) but I think it is unfair burden to place upon many very young people with no training in film making. I also cannot help but remember that the camera just ” likes ” some people and some wonderful people just don’t respond well to photography.That is why I think that if the agencies had a standard practice it would be a benefit to everyone.

DCMomof3 August 1, 2012 at 2:42 pm

Another one that I had to laugh at and then reject depicted a Swedish girl and her sister shopping. While a loud soundtrack played in the background, the two girls tried on hats and scarves, twirled in front of a mirror and made kissy faces at the camera. Not sure how a fun trip to the mall checking out your hot bod in front of the mirror matches up with coming up with new and varied ideas for a healthy breakfast every morning, juggling playdates and sports commitments for 3 kids, or fitting in 2 loads of the kids laundy and a trip to BJs before pick-up time.

Calif Mom August 1, 2012 at 3:23 pm

See? This is terrifically useful as a screening tool!

Dorsi August 1, 2012 at 2:54 pm

I laughed out loud at a video of a South American candidate loading up two kids in the car — open door, climb in, close door. No carseats, no seat belts. Looked crazy irresponsible. Likely, this young lady could learn how to belt in kids and do it consistently, but it was a stunning visual. The agency should have told her it looked awful.

dave paisley August 2, 2012 at 9:36 am

Sounds like the US up to the seventies (or flying on an airliner today anywhere). Not all countries have gone safety crazy (i.e. afraid to get sued) like the US.

Calif Mom August 2, 2012 at 9:44 am

Yes, life is risky. But believe me, car accidents suck, they really do happen, and can be life-changing events that one would prefer to avoid. I bet we all know people who died as a result of ejections from cars due to lack of seat belts that just don’t happen in the same numbers today. If you personally haven’t dealt with that, then you are blessed and lucky.

Acknowledging that we are ‘safety crazy’, I still think an au pair candidate–and the agency rep in her country that accepted this video submission– needs to “know their audience” a bit better than that. Not blaming the au pair at all, and I think we all agree that this au pair would probably follow the host family’s rules about carseats. (Though honestly, our South American au pairs have NOT been as stringent about safety rules as our European ones. They tend to be lax about how tightly straps are connected, etc. I laugh every time I see an airport cop on a Segway with straps flapping in the wind. That helmet does no good when it flies off.)

DCAuPair August 1, 2012 at 3:02 pm

Keep in mind that most agencies give au pairs guidelines of what the video should include. I just dug up my guidelines page about the video. It suggests you talk about your hobbies and interests, childcare experience, why you want to be an AP in the US, your country/culture/customs and your family. Reading some of the posts here, I can see that some girls really misinterpret these guidelines :) Perhaps HPs can suggest to their agencies what they would like to see in the videos to make it a better screening tool?

NoVA Twin Mom August 1, 2012 at 3:25 pm

But we don’t WANT to tell the agencies what we want to see – what people are saying is just finding out what the candidate thinks is important is a great screening tool!

Our first, wonderful, au pair told us she actually had two videos – the really great one she made and gave to the agency – and the one they let her upload because the first one was too big. The first one probably would have been more what she wanted to show us, while the second was what the agency would accept, so scripted to the guidelines you’re talking about.

Anyway, if we tell the agencies what we want to see, then all of the videos will end up being exactly that. The way it is now, we can see a candidate that lives somewhere that doesn’t require seatbelts and carseats vs the one that takes us shopping vs the one that realizes what we want to see.

DCAuPair August 1, 2012 at 3:43 pm

I understand what you are saying, and perhaps telling them exactly what you want IS a bad idea, but what I am thinking is that agencies are actually steering the APs in the wrong direction by giving those guidelines. They restrict the APs’ own creativity in a way. Perhaps if they did not give any guidelines, you could really see what the AP thinks is important to let host families know about her (as opposed to what the agency tells her is important). Meaning you can “judge” her by what SHE chooses to say, and not what the agency tells her to say. Of course this will probably never happen, but HPs should keep in mind that most APs get told what to put in there.

Calif Mom August 1, 2012 at 3:27 pm

Oh yes, we all know they are coached. After you listen to a few there is a pattern. So, knowing that the agency gives them a checklist for the video, if they don’t mention childcare at all, that is meaningful. And believe it or not, some don’t actually talk about kids or their experience except to say “I love children,” which isn’t all that useful. Though having ended up with au pairs myself who confessed they don’t really like kids, I should perhaps give that statement more weight. :)

German Au-Pair August 6, 2012 at 1:06 am

We are actually told that we MUST include the phrase “because I love children”.
I know that APIA only allows reeeally short videos so I ended up uploading my introduction and posting a link to the full youtube video so a hostfamily could see the whole video as *I* liked it to represent me if the first impression was good.

I found that the videos represent the girls in it really well. Maybe not everyone is good in front of the camera (I know I’m not) but you can get a lot about the effort someone puts into a thing like that from the way they design it. I’ve seen amazingly funny videos from girls who just showed themselves shopping and talked about their hometown and how much they love their friends and then added “I want to become an au pair because I like kids.”

It’s good that agencies don’t realy restrict things like that because they do not allow pictures of partying au pairs…I personally think they should because if you think a picture of you drinking with your girls is a good way to impress a host family, you’re probably not good for the job.

Should be working August 1, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Exactly! Don’t tell the agencies what we want! Otherwise that script will ruin our chances to see the AP’s own judgment!

Our best AP so far had a video with lots of footage of herself with her four younger siblings, roller skating and playing and helping with homework. All good. But why I loved her from the start was that she in the video tied her hair under her chin and said it was a traditional beard in her region, and then broke into laughter and said, “Just kidding!” Humor is a big criterion for us. Obviously it took a lot of questioning to be sure the other criteria were there, but lightheartedness (combined with responsibility) are big.

Taking a Computer Lunch August 1, 2012 at 8:32 pm

When I look at videos, I realize that APs have 3 minutes to put their lives in a nutshell. APs – don’t do a one-shot of yourself looking in the camera, reading from a script that checks all the points in the agencies list. Believe me, those videos are a dime a dozen and they’re boring!

I know that APs don’t have time, energy, to become expert video producers, but those who edit in photos of themselves engaged in activities, show themselves engaged in activities, or do something the least way different get noticed.

While none of the videos I’ve seen have moments like some of you have described, what has impressed me is variation on a theme, vitality, and the individualism that some of the APs have expressed. At the end of the day, the letter, the work experience (really the work experience), and the photographs help me decide to send what another HM has described as “the dare to match with me email.” The video, as long as it goes past the bland one-shot, not so much.

Runner Mom August 1, 2012 at 11:39 pm

I like the videos and often use them as my first impression…it’s a quick eliminator!

If it’s a boring video of them just looking into the camera and regurgatating their application, GONE.

If it’s a creative video that catches my attention, I’ll look further.

It gives me an idea of their English level and personality. What order they put their reasons for coming to the states. (one girl gave every other reason and then said…”oh and I love children!”…as almost an afterthought!).

It shows me how interested they are in the program. I contacted a Swede that looked great on paper, but didn’t have a video. She said that her agency recommended it but she just didn’t “want to do one”.

I think it’s invaluable.

karina August 2, 2012 at 8:37 am


I agree with all these moms, that are really concerned with day to day about their children and what can these au pairs can bring in a cultura way and in a health and carefull way to their home.
Most off these applications are driven and suggested by the agency so , maybe the best is to give some orientation to those who are taking care and are agents of these girls to do this project.And most of all be professional and direct knowinf that this is a job like any other else , but most stricted beause its a Mom that chooses.
I speak as a Mom of a daughter that is appling to a au pair program and is concerned of how nd who her daughter will find to take care.Moms are similars all over the worls , just want the best for their children and family.

Melk August 2, 2012 at 9:06 am

I’m a first time Au pair mom. I loved the videos. I found they gave me great insight into the au pairs personality. They also showed me that the girls who put together videos are confident enough with their english and motivated to come to the US. Really the most useful tool in screening was a skype interview. I liked the video because it shows personality. It gave me a sense of whether or not I want this girl living in my house or not.

Calif Mom August 2, 2012 at 9:06 am


You are so right — moms are similar all over the world. We want the best for our children. My own daughter has said she wants to do an au pair year when she is older, so I imagine how you feel!

It is also why we are careful to include in our letter and handbook for our au pairs that we take their safety, success, and happiness seriously. It is our responsibility to help our au pair have a great year. We do make sure she is safe and having fun.

My advice to you, as a mom of an au pair, is to try hard to not be too involved in the matching process. Our new au pair asked me to send more photos for her parents to see, after we matched, which I was happy to do. I could tell that it was important to her that her parents thought we were a good match for their daughter, but it was also important that their daughter was the one who made the decision.

Good luck to you and your daughter!

Tristatemom August 2, 2012 at 9:45 am

Just to reemphasize CA mom’s point. With our very first AP, I emailed more with the mother than the girl between matching and arrival – should have been a clue that this was a girl who was very spoiled and had her mother do everything for her. Cue rematch within 5 weeks.
AP’s parents should stay way in the background. If the AP cannot handle this she is not ready to take this job in another country.

Tristatemom August 2, 2012 at 9:42 am

I did look at some videos this time around. As already said, you get a feel for the personality and we like someone happy and energetic. There was one girl, who made a great video for viewing but I worried that she was a bit too silly/immature to have as my AP.
However, I place more weight on the skype interview, the references, the pictures and the family letter (in that order). If an AP has no video, I don’t hold it against her.

Posie August 2, 2012 at 10:26 am

I love the videos! I go video crazy!

Our video red flags:
Most of the speaking done off camera
Showing off her housekeeper and swimming pool
“playing” with kids by watching TV (several of these last time!)
Very made up

Things we like:
Lots of live action shots of her interacting with kids in a natural setting
Cooking and driving shots
Lots of enthusiasm and energy
A sense that at least some of what she’s saying is not scripted
Something interesting or funny that shows us her personality

DCMomof3 August 2, 2012 at 8:08 pm


Returning HM August 2, 2012 at 12:50 pm

I really like the videos as an initial screening tool, and when we went through matching also this year with CC (ultimately ended up staying with APIA), I was very frustrated by the lack of videos for most of their candidates (as an aside, though, I was also frustrated by APIA’s lack of the personality testing that CC offers …I feel like those two tools – personality screening and videos – are very helpful to me in making the initial selections of whom to contact).

With the videos, we look mainly for someone who smiles as she talks (this is really important to us) and for someone whose English is strong enough to communicate without an obvious script. We also look for sense of humor and for a certain energy and playfulness. As a family with two large and very present dogs (golden retrievers) as well as a rabbit, it’s also helpful for us to see household pets and how AP candidates interact with them. Finally, I agree with others above who said that the videos give a great window into how the AP candidates want to present themselves to families, so we pay attention to how they are dressed, what about their lives they show, and whether children – or even a discussion of children – appear anywhere in the videos.

The videos in no way replace the skype interviews, and we do multiple video calls (usually 3-4) before matching. But they do help me narrow the field considerably and help me waste less time than I used to on those initial skype calls with candidates who once I meet them I know right away that they aren’t going to be good matches for our family.

NY Hostmom August 2, 2012 at 3:06 pm

This was the first year that we watched videos as we selected our aupair. It was a nice way to assess English skills and interaction between the aupair and her family/friends. Sometimes skype is awkward with the time delay and a phone interview doesn’t transmit as much personality as does video.

What I personally would like is for an aupair to come right out and say that she kind of likes kids, but really is most interested in visiting the US, experiencing the culture, improving her English, and living with an American family. In exchange for a cultural experience she promises to keep the kids safe, happy and on time for activities, bond with them over time, and be a friendly and helpful member of the family.

IslandMom August 6, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Our current au pair said just that in her video! She said she viewed the program as primarily a cultural exchange, and that it would give her the chance to live in a first world country, as she comes from a second world country (her words, not mine!). She said she wanted to experience a different culture, family, and way of life while doing something that she loved, namely, taking care of children. She’s worked out wonderfully so far! After I saw her video, I realized our first au pair had taken basically the same approach, though she didn’t articulate it that way, and she worked out very well also.

Chris AP April 10, 2013 at 9:22 am

Hello HMs!
I’m applying to be an au pair and I’d like to hear from you about my video before I send it to the agency.
Is that good? Do I need to change anything? I’d really, really, really appreciate it!


Thanks! :)

Pris Alanis August 7, 2012 at 2:22 am

Sorry to be an intruder! But I’ve been reading a lot this blog.. I’m on my matching process to find a host family. I’m not here to make advertisements about me! But I really want an opinion made by the experts… THE HMs!! I recently upload my video but if you can help me giving me advices for it I’d really appreaciate it.

hm2 August 8, 2012 at 6:07 pm

I really really like your video! Good luck!

Pris Alanis August 9, 2012 at 8:10 pm

Thanks!! Good luck to you too :)

BoysMama August 17, 2012 at 6:36 pm

It’s fun and perfect. It won’t be long before you have an enthusiastic match. Good luck!

Seattle Mom August 8, 2012 at 2:52 pm

Cultural Care has an option for HFs to do videos for prospective APs- does anyone actually do that? I don’t bother because if I’m looking at an APs file then I would rather let them know more about me through skype, email, phone, etc. I don’t feel the need to make a generic video because APs aren’t searching for us, we are searching for them.

Should be working August 8, 2012 at 4:53 pm

As long as AP supply outweighs demand, I won’t be making a HF video. We’re already geographically attractive enough. My goal is to weed out the bad apples. So far it’s not hard to attract the good ones.

Seattle Mom August 8, 2012 at 2:56 pm

Hi Stella, I took a look at your video and my impression was that you seem extremely low-key, and like you’re not smiling comfortably/confidently. I look for a little more energy & enthusiasm from my au pairs. They don’t need to be outgoing, but they need to seem like they are really having fun- I want someone who appears to be enjoying life and will help my kids enjoy life. And someone who will be fun for us to have living in our house.

But this is just my opinion, your video might appeal to other HMs. I think it is good to be yourself, so that you don’t end up with a family who is looking for something different. I know that my needs & interests are different than other families.

Should be working August 8, 2012 at 4:56 pm

Here’s one I’ve been pondering. New AP settling in, so far very good. But table manners are a bit of a problem. And this has happened to us before. Not sure we could screen for this (a video of her eating with her family??) nor that it’s worth it to do so, it’s obviously not a priority but it is irritating and it is so great when the AP unconsciously models good manners for kids.

Thus far I simply reprimand my kids for whatever the AP is doing, which the kids certainly are also doing (elbows, mouth full while talking) and the AP temporarily gets it. I haven’t figured out a way to tactfully work on this problem. And it definitely is not worth my HM capital to offend the new AP at all over this point.

Any ideas?

Seattle Mom August 8, 2012 at 7:49 pm

Could you work it into your AP handbook, say something about how you value good table manners, such as no elbows on the table, no talking while eating, no grabbing, etc, and you wish for the AP to model this for the kids? It might not be enough but it could help.

It hasn’t been an issue for us yet- I don’t really enforce manners with my kids yet because they are so small (3.5 and 1.5), we just try to model good behavior. And our first AP has better manners than we do. It might be cultural, in which case my advice is to try a french au pair :).

Taking a Computer Lunch August 8, 2012 at 10:21 pm

If it bothers you, then have a chat when the kids are in bed. Explain to her how difficult it is for you to demand that the kids eat properly at the table when they see she is not. Tell her that you won’t call her bad manners in front of the children, you would appreciate if she would try to adapt American table manners in front of them.

We anticipate a slightly different issue going forward. We’re about to purchase a cell phone for a middle-school bound ‘tween. We are going to make it clear to the child that the cell phone is to be turned off at the dinner table whether we are at home or in a restaurant. While most of our APs have gotten it, we’re going to make it a rule for them, too, going forward. That way neither is singled out unfairly. The age spread is narrowing rapidly for us!

Busy Mom August 10, 2012 at 9:35 pm

Excellent point! This has not been an issue with any our our previous au pairs and my kids were late-starting texters (9th grade in our house) so aren’t as addicted as the early-starting kids I’ve seen. However, I’m going to add this one to our handbook. (Just as I’m going to lay down the law for my GS troop of rising 8th graders :-)

AP August 9, 2012 at 8:08 pm

I think you have to be carefull on how you say it to her because she might get offended, not because you’re rude or anything but maybe she wasn’t raised with good manners. Depends a lot on how you communicate and if you have the trust to tell her the things just the way they are. I think you should tell her the rules on the house and you can add on them the good manners, for respect and because she must be a role model for the kids. :)

Taking a Computer Lunch August 10, 2012 at 6:14 pm

I agree. There are huge cultural variations about what is acceptable at the table. Even when cultures are relatively close, for example between Europe and the United States, even something as simple as how to hold silverware differs greatly. We accept cultural variation at our table, we prefer that manners include, “Please pass…” or “Before I finish the xxxx, would anyone like some more?” These phrases take practice and, at times, language acquisition.

AP August 24, 2012 at 6:22 pm

I think is most of all about LENGUAGE ACQUISITION. Even when/If you have a really good English sometimes is difficult for us to traduce everything we are used or is common to say in our first lenguage. But I think is only matter of time and that you help her with that.

EU.AP August 13, 2012 at 12:59 pm

You could try telling her that you’ve noticed the kids’ table manners have really begun to slide lately — something that is quite important to you. If she could please be extra vigilant about this and try to correct their behavior when she is alone with them.

It would get your point across without criticizing her behavior, and if she’s asked to be extra aware of the kids’ manners, she will probably be equally aware of her own.

xoxo August 14, 2012 at 1:21 pm

What about videos with captions while the AP talks (in english)?

Brazil Au Pair August 22, 2012 at 7:50 pm

The video is very complicated for us Au Pairs! While we know what families want to see, we also want to show all our pontencial. So surely many make mistakes sometimes exaggerating on unnecessary things or forgetting to focus on others. But we feel so insecure that if we could change the video every week, surely would change. I for example couldn’t show my skills with children, since parents don’t agree to expose pictures of their children, and I didn’t want to force any situation with any other child. Cooking? Perhaps the time spent I could talk more interesting things, such as the values passed by my family.
I think the best thing to “know” the au pair is through Skype, as it becomes live, is more natural!

Mid-A Liz August 28, 2012 at 7:17 pm

This is very nitpicky, but do you know what I hate seeing in au pair candidates’ videos? When potential au pairs slide down slides with a child on their laps.

I know it’s supposed to show how playful and safety-conscious they are, but it’s actually a very unsafe thing to do. Many children show up in E.R.s each year with broken legs because their feet snag on the edge of slides (especially if they wear shoes that grip, like sneakers) and the weight of the parent or caregiver prevents the pair from stopping mid-way down.

It’s cruelly ironic because caregivers ride down slides with children on their laps in order to try to protect the kids. A better method would be to stand next to the slide or (if the child is too young to handle a tall slide on their own) to put them on the slide mid-way down, from a safe height.

I know that few people have heard about this and that future au pairs who slide with children in videos do so to demonstrate a willingness to take safety measures, so I don’t fault them as individuals. But still, it makes me wince each time I see it, which is probably not the impression they’re going for.

For more information on this, check out this New York Times piece:

Luiza November 2, 2012 at 11:43 am

Hello y’all!

I love this topic! I recently made my au pair video and would like some feedback on it before I post it in my application. Is my speaking clear? Any tips?

Thank you!


missingbeingan au pair November 3, 2012 at 11:16 pm

I made my video 2 years ago, the families told me that they got interested in me because of my English ( I am from south america, but I lived in Canada for a while, so I don’t really have an accent).

Also, my when actually arrived to USA to my host family’s home, I asked them what did they like about my video, and they told me that they love the fact that I was roller skating and also giving my dog a walk so they saw my interest in sport, outdoor activities and animals…(They are a very sportive family) …the match worked perfectly the 2 years I stayed with them and they are coming this chritsmas to my country :)

Emerald City HM February 25, 2013 at 2:49 pm

So now that we are interviewing for our next au pair I’m looking at videos again. I really like the videos it’s kind of an instant weed out thing for me. I’ve noticed some things so far. One, if you are going to show yourself driving, don’t run a stop sign in the video no matter how lax the laws mght actually be in your home country. Two, you probably shouldn’t show yourself feeding a toddler that is sitting on top of a kitchen table.

Overall I really like the videos more that show the au pair doing something rather than just looking into the camera or showing a slideshow of pictures that are already in their application gallery.

Dorsi February 25, 2013 at 7:04 pm

I feel like the agency probably needs to tell APs that piling a bunch of kids into the front seat of a car before driving away (with no belts/carseats) looks appalling, even if that is what is done in your country.

CA Host Mom February 25, 2013 at 7:55 pm

I completely agree. The best one I have seen was where a girl was videotaping HERSELF driving … taking her eyes off the road to talk to the camera while driving down the street (Yipes!!) … I couldn’t believe that the agency let her post the video and of course immediately moved on to the next profile.

I also agree with EC HM … it is a very fast way for me to weed out candidates and I am always more eager to look at profiles that have a video included. I don’t exclude the profiles without videos though.

I think I will post a host family video this next go around as our agency now offers that option.

Should be working February 25, 2013 at 9:07 pm

Shhh!! We don’t want the agencies to tell the APs not to film these things, otherwise how would we ever know about them?

CA Host Mom February 26, 2013 at 12:54 am

Good point! :)

Emerald City HM February 25, 2013 at 9:10 pm

That’s pretty cool! I love the idea of a host family video.

Returning HM February 25, 2013 at 11:42 pm

I usually pay a lot of attention to the videos and use them as a big screening tool to narrow the field. This year, though, when we were looking for the first time for a male AP, there were very few candidates who even had videos. It was so interesting and so different from what we had found with our search for a female AP through APIA. I’m not sure whether this was a CCAP thing or whether it was a male AP thing or what.

Anyway, we ended up selecting candidates to focus on simply based on their written applications and pictures and then chose two to interview over skype. Eventually we were able to narrow it down to the one we selected. Only after we had pretty much decided we were going to match, did he send us the video he had been working on (it never got posted). It was so interesting to me, because if I had seen the video in advance of “meeting” him over skype, I doubt I would have even interviewed him — it was such a boring video (he spoke for 15 seconds, without smiling, and then included a slideshow of pics I had already seen) and made him seem so dull, when in reality he is the opposite – personable, smiling, outgoing, etc. So now I’m wondering whether I should reassess my use of videos as screening tools? Food for thought anyway!

Momma Gadget February 26, 2013 at 10:46 am

Returning HM-
I found the same thing with the Male AP’s with our agency (Inter exchange). Only one had a video and it was so dull in a creepy kind of way …
The video, like everything else, is just one of many tools to help decide if an AP might be a good match. We take all dossier info with a grain of salt. We would never not consider a candidate because they didn’t have a video, at as with the video above, it can be a “turn off”
Many people ( including my self) are not comfortable in front of a camera. Making a video is an art form… a little mini biography. Those who do not have a talent,a clear “vision”, or skill for this medium are at a huge disadvantage… and probably better off not posting a video at all, rather than posting a video that is not representative of who they are.
For me personally- I prefer a more “candid” perspective.
even in the photo’s . I don’t like seeing “staged” pictures, and I think that by nature, videos are even more staged.
Nobody needs any Drama queens!
What I would really like to see in Video is the candidates being interviewed by the agency.

Like others said, Skype is the best tool.

Should be working February 26, 2013 at 12:46 pm

I happen to find the video much more useful than Skype. I agree that videomaking has very little in common with the skill set for childcare, but a well-made video (not just talking into the camera for 3 min) shows me that the AP cares about doing something well. And if she makes a friendly impression, then I know that too. With Skype I find that everyone is more nervous, I tend to be too nice to compensate for their nervousness, and I don’t feel like it’s a real conversation.

TexasHM February 26, 2013 at 5:31 pm

I screen off videos. I admit it. I am a visual person and have never interviewed a girl that didn’t have a video. (In fairness, with our agency the vast majority of the candidates have them anyway.) I am looking for body language cues, tone, personality, “scriptedness”, whether or not I think they are genuine, you name it. Our current fantastic APs video had 20 seconds of her introducing herself (unscripted) and then she played/sang Call Me Maybe with her 7 yr old younger sister. We were sold. They were cracking up, it was genuine. Put her through the paces but she’s just as awesome in person.

Taking a Computer Lunch February 26, 2013 at 9:35 pm

We provide a YouTube link to a video shot 4 years ago when The Camel (already in the double digits) walked for the first time. The video makes it clear 1) she has special needs, 2) she has spunk and personality, and 3) she is loved.

Pokermom February 26, 2013 at 5:56 pm

We made a video of the kids for our first AP candidates because our kids have special needs and they seem daunting on paper but in reality they are just like typical kids, just more active and need lots more structure and redirection at times. I have found that the stereotype of “autism” is a hard one to crack and the video really helped our prospective au pairs see a snapshot of what they are really like, what we are like and how verbal and “normal” (I hate that word) they are.

We did not include the video as part of our app. We had a link to it on youtube that was posted as private and we only gave it out to the APs we were already talking with and considering.

It worked so well we made one this year for our prospective au pairs again. The kids have fun with it and it’s a nice family project. Our current AP even talked in it!

I think it’s a great idea because the AP’s want to know you, just like you want to know them as best you can. I just wanted to make sure the APs weren’t using it as a tool to pick the house based on what we had to offer so we kept it interview style, at the table or in the family room and a little outside. They can see some of our house but not “here’s your room, here’s your bathroom, etc”

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