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How to Interview Transition APs

Are there rockstars in the transition pool? Yes, yes, 1000% yes!! It is no secret in our area I am a HUGE fan of transition au pairs! In fact, for the sake of brevity I will write a separate post on why – I decided to start with this post in case there is anyone out there spending this weekend (like I did two weeks ago) tirelessly reading profiles and interviewing to find their next family member!

Step 1 – Update your matching profile! I know, I know. You want to dive into the pool as quickly as possible because you are stressed and eager to move on and find your someone. I am telling you (and myself), take the 30 minutes or so and go through your entire profile updating photos, kid and schedule information, vacation policies etc – you will thank me later and it will save you misunderstandings and miscommunications plus make you as accurate and attractive as possible for your future match. Just do it!

Step 2 – Start screening profiles but take off ALL YOUR FILTERS! Ok maybe not all of them (only absolute dealbreakers – I mean it) but as many as humanly possible. I have had 3 rockstar transition APs and none of them would have been included in a regular search on my traditional filters. Here’s the other thing. Many transition APs have information in their profiles that are no longer accurate for example “proficient” english after 6 months with only English speaking friends might mean she is now fluent or weak swimmer or driver that has been doing that skill the last 3 months in the US might now be great! Take off the filters and ask lots of questions to see if they have the skills you need (now). I also don’t agree with trying to line up contract terms. If you knew someone was AWESOME but only had 6 months would you consider them to buy you time to interview for the next round? Of course you would/should! Our new AP had 3.5 months left and just submitted her extension paperwork for another 9 months so we now end up getting her for over a year anyway vs the 9 months total our departing AP had!

Step 3 – Read the transition documents and any writeups from previous families or LCCs. Consider almost everyone. Yes, you read that correctly. As a host mom I have seen tons of APs thrown under the bus by host families upset they won’t extend with them, upset that AP asked for a transition, all sorts of things so take everything you read in the transition document as rumor. Read but verify. The only exception I make to this rule is if they have documented major car accidents (because I primarily need a driver). You might have a particular dealbreaker for your family – only weed those out. Yes, I know there are plenty of seemingly undesirable transition documents but there is A LOT of he said/she said and most agencies try to give you as much context as possible but LCCs don’t live in the home (and in some cases have only ever seen that AP once or twice!) so consider context. Also keep in mind that something that was an issue for someone else may not matter to you and your family situation at all.

Step 4 – Interview with the same level of diligence you would with an out of country AP, just FASTER. The last thing you want is to rush into another match without having done your diligence only to find gaps. Write down a list of the skills you need and interview to those skills. Need a driver? Ask A LOT of driving questions. Don’t assume having a state license equals a good driver. Verify. Try not to overcorrect for the previous AP. If your outbound AP drank 25 Keurig cups of coffee a day don’t look for someone allergic to coffee, just ask if they drink coffee and update your handbook to 5 Keurigs a day. 🙂 Ask them what the best thing was about their previous host family/situation and the worst. Ask them what their perfect host family would look like, why they are in transition and how they are going to make sure they don’t end up in transition again. Watching how they handle themselves during transition and how they answer these will tell you a lot about them. I had one candidate remind me at the end of every interaction that she only had two weeks to match. Yes. I am an LCC and long time host mom. I told her I was well aware and I was responding to her within minutes every time (WhatsApp or texting – use it!) so she did not need to remind me. She continued to say it every time. That told me she could not follow instructions, was self centered and could not calm/control herself under duress. My normal 12 step interview process can take weeks/months with out of country. I have done it 3 times in transition in 48-72 hours successfully. Most of that time is lag time with out of country. In country with WhatsApp, texting, email and Facetime in similar timezones you can cover a lot of ground VERY quickly and you should if you want to get someone great. Remember they only have two weeks… 🙂

Step 5 – If you think you have a strong candidate, call everyone you can. Previous host family, LCC, APs best friend’s host family you name it. You want as many data points as possible but again – GET CONTEXT. I know way too many host families that call the previous host family, get one bad word and drop the candidate. Does the previous host family sound bitter? Are they a new HF? If so, did they have a nanny before? Are their expectations realistic? Have they had 8 successful APs before and this is the only transition? If the LCC knows the previous APs did they have similar complaints about the family? You are an investigator. Take everything as rumor and trust your gut.

Step 6 – Take care of yourself. Try to eat, sleep, breathe and keep your mojo up. Remember why you decided to host in the first place and if you can, reach out to your former awesome au pairs for an ego boost! The overwhelming support we got from our former APs this round reminded us that we only need ONE and that she was out there looking for us just like we were looking for her!

Step 7 – Figure out logistics. You probably don’t really want to overlap, make sure you have time to prepare to properly and warmly welcome the new AP and that you have time to process from the change. Take the high road, get them swapped out and move on!

Any particular great interview questions for transition APs anyone would like to share? Anyone else found rockstars in transition or have any great transition experiences they would like to share or additional advice to those going through this trying to find someone new?

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