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Au Pair Screening & Psychometric Tests 101

Au Pair Psychometric Testing 101

Psychometric tests and au pair screening go hand in hand, and they should!  Many of the au pair agencies are not using good, sound and reliable psychometric tests to screen their au pairs.   Why?  

  • The Dept of State, that regulates all au pair agencies in the United States, does not require a specific KIND of psychometric test - they only require that the agencies use something to screen their au pairs.  Is that good enough for your family?
  • Because most parents don't know enough to ask about this and most parents are not knowledgeable in this area.  

Many host parents do not ask agencies about psychometric screening because they are blissfully ignorant of how important personality and risk screening is when recruiting au pairs.

"What kind of psychometric exams do agencies give their au pairs?" is the kind of questions most host parents do not ask, but should!  

According to USA TODAY* (2010):​

  • "Au pair testing is not standardized, but it should be."  Any agency can "take a fluffy personality test of the Internet that has nothing to do with childcare and give it to the candidates (au pairs) and still be meeting the regulations."

USA Today also points out that host parents will not be given the actual results, you will just be told your au pair "passed."

Is this good enough for your family?  It shouldn't be!  

Why are these screening tests so important when deciding on which au pair to match with?

Appropriate Au Pair Psychometric Testing/Screening SHOULD Assess:

  • How emotionally stable your au pair will be under stress
  • Any red flags such as drug or alcohol addictions, psychological disorders, etc. 
  • How safe your child will be in your au pair's care
  • Your au pair's level of maturity, measured by their judgment 

Dr. Flowers, a renowned psychologist and university professor, developed a test specifically for the use of Au Pair Screening.  It is a popular test, but it does cost the agencies money to use it.  Some agencies would rather use cheaper testing or not pay anything for testing at all.  

Dr. Flowers says his test, the Booraem-Flowers Au Pair Test  was specifically  designed to address the following:

"The mandate from our government, the Dept. of State, which is to protect the child and our test looks for characteristics that might make the child or children unsafe in the au pair's care."  

  • FACT:  Not every agency uses the Booraem-Flowers Au Pair Test and not all agencies use appropriate tests!  It is up to you to ensure your au pair agency is screening prospective au pairs with the appropriate psychometric tests!
  • In our interview with Dr. Flowers, he reveals which au pair agencies do use his highly respected, professionally designed test that meets the Department of State's screening criteria. 

TIPS to Know Regarding Au Pair Screening!

Arm yourself with the following questions for your agency:

  • Ask your au pair agency what kind of test they use.  Write it down and look for it online - if you cannot find it, be concerned.
  • Ask if the test is oriented towards childcare and is designed to be used with au pairs or nannies.  Your agency should not be using a vocational test that measures your au pair's like and dislikes.  Who cares if your au pair has a high aptitude for drawing!  You want to know will this au pair keep my child safe.  
  • Ask if the test measures for Risk Assessment - if the au pair is at risk for certain behaviors under stress.  For example, would your au pair engage in drinking, gambling or violent behavior?  You may think tests cannot assess these risks, but they can and they should when screening any childcare giver!  
  • Then ask, have they ever "failed" an au pair?  If not, it is a red flag and you should move on!  There is always a certain percentage of au pairs that will and should fail their screening methods - for obvious reasons.  We have heard of agencies who "help" their au pairs "study" for the tests if they fail. NO agency should be helping their au pairs pass a screening test that is designed to fail those candidates that indicate signs of poor judgment, bad behavior and inability to keep children safe while in their care. 

Read the Entire Interview with Dr. Flowers - Keep Your Children Safe by Making Good Childcare Choices

*Source: USA TODAY's Nannies & Au Pairs, Hiring In-Home Childcare by Ilona Bray, 2010

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