Choosing a Nanny, Au Pair or Babysitter - What Are We Missing?

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Nanny personality and risk assessments can help parents learn more and choose better

Selecting a caregiver for our children is a difficult task and the risks in making a wrong choice are intimidating. Most articles on this topic advise parents to interview the nannies, check their references and perform a background screening. While each of those screening tools is important, they all have their limitations and do not necessarily provide sufficient information to make the best possible choice.

The purpose of an interview is to obtain enough knowledge about the candidate to determine whether he or she is suitable for the job. Yet, interviews often fail to reveal important facts or problematic personality traits, and their predictive value is limited, even when conducted by several properly trained interviewers.

Reference checks are an important component of the screening process, since past performance is usually a good indicator of future performance. Nevertheless, such references are highly subjective and in some cases past employers may even prefer, for various reasons, to omit certain details which may harm the candidate in his search for a new position.

Background screening is often used to verify facts about the candidate. Such checks may include identity verification, criminal records search, credit checks, past employment and education verification, driving records and more. It is important to bear in mind that accuracy of the various databases searched may be limited for various reasons. More than that, having, for example, a clean criminal record means a person has never been convicted of such activity but does not necessarily indicate that a person has never been involved in criminal activity or has a tendency to do so.

Performing nanny personality assessments can significantly improve the selection process and minimize the risk of a wrong choice. Personality assessments are psychological tests that analyze a personís character and personal traits. The optimal personality assessment for nannies, au pairs and babysitters should combine both testing for relevant personal traits and risk assessment, with a strong focus on the later. Relevant personal traits may include responsibility, obedience and discipline, self control, emotional stability, coping with pressure, positive attitude and service awareness. Risk assessment should cover issues such as violent behavior, drug abuse, drinking problems, truthful reporting, respect to property and more.

Many businesses (including some 80% of the US Fortune 500 companies and 75% of the UK Times 100 companies) enhance their recruitment process by using pre-employment psychometric tests. Several nanny, au pair and babysitter agencies currently perform personality assessments of various types as part of their screening process, though such assessments typically focus on personal traits rather than on risk assessment.

Nowadays, nanny personality assessments are becoming available online to all parents. Making such tests easily accessible, as well as designing them to be easy to use and understand by non-professionals, allows more and more parents to incorporate personality assessments into their own nanny selection process.

Nanny personality assessments do not replace interviews, reference checking or background screening. Making personality assessments an integral part of any nanny, au pair or babysitter selection process, in addition to the existing selection tools, will allow parents to make the best and most informed hiring decision, ensuring their kids are in good hands.

Written by Yossi Pinkas, TakeCare,

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