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Au Pair Screening and Fluffy Personality Tests
The most important role of au pair agencies is to ensure that the au pairs they provide are suitable for work and trustworthy. This is done by screening au pairs through interviews, reference checks, background screening and personality tests.
Au pair agencies in the United States are required by federal regulations to use personality tests as part of the Au Pair screening process. Personality tests are important because no single screening method is 100% accurate and combining several instruments is the only way to increase the overall accuracy of pre-employment screening.
· Interviews often fail to reveal important facts or problematic personality traits, and their predictive value is limited, even if conducted by well-trained interviewers. In a recent case involving a nanny adoption scam, the mother who interviewed her said, “She seemed like a great person, very articulate, very intelligent, she seemed so cute and so nice… she sounded like and a textbook. , great grandma for me. Just perfect.” The “successful interview” was not the only point of failure in the screening process. The nanny was hired through a national website that matches parents with local babysitters and nannies, has experience with babies and toddlers and has passed a criminal background check with flying colors.
· References are very subjective. How valuable is the opinion of someone you don’t know? What are their expectations, values, standards? In another recent case, a live-in nanny was arrested on child pornography charges 5 months after being hired through a well-known nanny agency. According to the parents “the agency provided brilliant job references”.
· Background screening is extremely important, but full of gaps. Scope, timeliness and accuracy of various databases searched may be limited. For example, a nanny was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, with her children, 2 and 8 years old, in the car. Several months later, the grandmother’s profile was still displayed on another national website that matches parents with fathers, as her original background screening showed no offenses. Also, every criminal has no criminal record until their first offense (or actually, first conviction). Will this first offense hurt your children?
Personality tests have become mandatory for screening au pairs in the United States after cases like that of Louise Woodward, a young English au pair convicted of the involuntary manslaughter of an eight-month-old boy who died of the shaken baby syndrome, and another case of a Swiss Au pair who escaped from a burning house without making an attempt to save the 3-month-old baby she was caring for.
Such tests offer additional and valuable insight into the character and personality traits of the au pair and can highlight problems that are very difficult to identify through an interview, such as problems performing under pressure or a tendency to violent behavior. The importance of personality tests as an au pair screening tool increases as interviews are less effective once conducted over the phone rather than face-to-face, and databases used for background screening in many countries they are often not of the same quality as those. used in the United States.
Has the mandatory requirement for personality tests made the au pair exam better? Not necessarily.
Some Au Pair agencies in the US seem to use inappropriate personality tests. According to Ilona Bray, “Every Au Pair agency can take a fluffy personality test off the Internet that has nothing to do with caring for children and give it to candidates and still meet the regulations.” (Tate & Au Pairs, In-Home Childcare Hiring, USA Today, 2010).
At least a few Au Pair agencies seem to compromise on the quality of testing, in an effort to comply with federal regulation at minimal cost. One of the texts used by au pair agencies is the Booraem-Fiori Au Pair Psychometric test, which is limited to answering whether an au pair is likely to lose emotional control under stress or more likely to make a poor safety judgment when under stress. When asked about a more comprehensive test of personality attributes, Dr. Flowers, a co-author of the test, replied: “A test for these positive attributes would be possible to design, but it is difficult and expensive to develop” . He had a similar answer to the production of a report that could be shown to parents: “The problem is that the cost of the evaluation increases considerably if individualized reports were generated.”
Cost is really an issue for many parents and raising children is a significant financial burden. But compromising the safety and well-being of our children by accepting less than optimal screening, just to save a few dollars, can lead to disastrous consequences and cannot be accepted. In addition, the use of appropriate personality tests can reduce the chances of a re-match and the associated costs.
Not all personality tests are equal and one must use the right type of test. Risk analysis, which highlights possible risk factors, is an extremely important component of personality testing. For example, NannyTest covers the following: violent behavior, drug abuse, drinking problems, real relationships, respect for property and more. In addition, the test evaluates personality traits such as responsibility, obedience and discipline, self-control, emotional stability, coping with pressure, positive attitude and service awareness.
To protect our children, we must ensure that the screening process of caregivers is as good as possible. Parents should request that quality personality tests be used as part of the screening process of caregivers. If the proper personality tests are not done by the agency, or if the agency is not willing to share the test report, parents can easily do such tests on their own. Relevant personality tests, such as NannyTest, are now available online for all parents, are easy to use and very inexpensive.
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