Tuesday, July 13, 2010

More on Taking Personality Assessments for Nanny Candidates

Benefits of Nanny Personality and Risk Assessments

Wow, this blog and our Be the Best Nanny Newsletter Facebook page were alive with comments yesterday. Today, Yossi Pinkas explains more benefits of using personality assessments to help hire a nanny. Tomorrow, he will address some of the challenges of using personality tests when interviewing in-home child care providers.

Another Way to Help Find the Right Nanny and Find the Right Nanny Job

By Yossi Pinkas, TakeCare, http://www.take-care.me/

Nanny personality and risk assessments are psychological tests that help parents assess potential childcare providers. The tests provide a better insight into the caregiver’s personality and traits, as well as an assessment of possible risk factors, and allow parents to select the best possible nanny.

Similar tests are used by corporate and government organizations worldwide (including some 80% of the U.S. Fortune 500 companies and 75% of the U.K. Times 100 companies) as well as by some nanny, babysitter, and au pair agencies, and childcare organizations. As a matter of fact, such tests are mandated by the U.S. government for all au pair agencies.

Why are such tests needed? Aren’t interviews and checking references sufficient to select a nanny? Most recruitment specialists agree that the validity of interviews is quite low, even when conducted by trained professionals. Most parents are not trained interviewers and are usually lacking the necessary experience to properly formulate interview questions, read between the lines of what the applicant says, interpret non-verbal signs and body language, and so on.

A nanny personality and risk assessment test can be considered as a very detailed and structured interview that overcomes some of the parents’ face-to-face interview limitations. The test includes several hundred questions, covering all relevant issues, including questions which parents may feel uncomfortable to ask in a face-to-face interview.

Personal traits covered may include responsibility, obedience and discipline, self control, emotional stability, coping with pressure, positive attitude, and service awareness.

Risk assessment issues should include violent behavior, drug abuse, drinking problems, truthful reporting, respect to property, and more.

In a similar manner to an ordinary interview, online interactive tests of this sort allow different questions to be asked according to prior responses, as well as provide real-time feedback to the applicant triggered by specific answers that are considered problematic.

Yet, the main benefit of the nanny personality and risk assessment test is in the accuracy of the information provided. A properly constructed and administered test includes various mechanisms which are aimed at identifying misleading and inaccurate responses; the large number of questions (some repeating themselves in different versions), the way those questions are structured (which may sometimes seem peculiar), the time constraints and some additional mechanisms (which won’t be detailed in this article for obvious reasons).

To find out more about nanny personality assessment tests visit TakeCare.
Tomorrow: The Challenges of Using Nanny Personality and Risk Assessments

What are your thoughts on taking personality assessments when interviewing for a nanny position?


Steph 6 said...

My gut reaction is def good idea.

When discussing the challenges of personality tests I hope the owner of the tests explains confidentiality. Everything I am reading online about personality tests talks about ethics of keeping the results private. So if a nanny agency has parents and nannies take the tests how does it then benefit the nanny to not know the parents results or help the parents if they can't know the nanny's results?

The points about being ethical seem difficult.

Reyna H said...

Steph A. the websites say that the parents or agency would ask for your permission to take the test and then share the results. You have to give permission. If you don't give permission than it would be unethical to share the results.

Anonymous said...

Risk assessment issues should include violent behavior, drug abuse, drinking problems, truthful reporting, respect to property, and more. --- ANY PERSON, who has had any experience with an alcoholic, drug addict, or problem with a vice knows this person is mostly going to know how to hide their problem to their family, their friends, the law, and chances are if they can do that they can lie to their co-workers and employers. They know how to work systems and beat them.

Au Pair agencies may have these assessments in place, but as a nanny who has seen and met many au pairs in my time, I do know they drink, smoke, etc. and can be dealing with hangovers and lack of sleep when caring for children the next day. I even had an au pair say to me the other week why would a family hire a high price nanny when they can hire a Mexican for next to nothing. This demonstrates how some do view childcare in this county. But apparently she must have known how to answer things on her personality assessment quiz.

A nanny’s professional aptitude is not found in a personality assessment. It is found in her portfolio and actions.

A professional nanny/manny will have:

CPR/First Aid Certification (And possibly water safety)

May be a member of nanny related organizations or associations like the INA, NANC, or APN. She may also be a member of NAEYC.

A desire to continue education in documentable means through participation in training. Many places who are teaching childcare workers know that they need verifiable proof and will offer certificates on workshops, courses, classes, etc.

A nanny may have an associate’s, bachelor’s or even Masters degree in some profession related to children be it education, psychology, parks and recreation, etc.

Involvement in nanny conferences or NAEYC conferences.

Participation at nanny and childcare discussion boards.

A nanny should be networking in the community where she lives and/or works having additional references that can support/substantiate she works with children. This can children’s librarians, recreation instructors, camp counselors, play directors, nosy (but well-meaning) neighbors, parents of other children they know.

A nanny might volunteer with programs that serve children and families and have references from this.

A professional nanny can help parents navigate the interview and hiring process by directing them to websites like Kathy Webb’s Nanny Network Library or Lora Brawley’s All About Nanny Care.

A professional nanny is going to know she is going to be background checked and being willing to provide her Social Security Number, Driver’s License, and allow a criminal background check to be done.

A professional nanny is going to be willing to get a physical and/or have a TB test done.

A professional nanny may have photos, program, tickets stubs, and other receipts of day trips taken with charges.

A professional nanny is going to accept the idea that her employers Nanny Cam and really not care because there won’t be any evidence of evil. They will see it as proof of how good they are.

If one googles the phrase preparing personality assessment test, passing personality assessment test, etc. one can find many links on how provide the “right answer” to get a high or great score. Anyone can click a button that sounds like the good choice, the best choice, the wise choice. Whether they believe in that choice or not. These assessment can’t replace the face to face interview where people can observe volume, pitch, eye contact, body language, etc.

Fiona Littleton said...

I think taking a personality assessment is much more valuable than many of previous commenters options.

How would a parent even know if I participated at nanny and childcare discussion board? They are for members only. No parent will read printed out emails from you?

You actually bring receipts of stuff you have done to an interview?

Parents were never impressed when I mentioned organizations or associations like the INA, NANC, or APN? No parent ever asked me that. When I included it on my resume they ignored it or at least never asked me about it. They never were impressed by my involvement in nanny conferences or NAEYC conferences.

You will get a job faster by making simple easy to read resume and simply answer questions asked of you on interview. Take the personality test will get you further than bringing receipts of activities you have done to an interview.

Michelle said...

Fiona, you make a good point in that a parent once said to me "too much information!" Then she described how a man at her job didn't get the job because he had done too much. I brought my scrap book and portfolio and she wasn't interested.

I wouldn't say don't have a scrapbook or portfolio ready, just only show it if the parent wants to see it.

Some nannies don't ever make resumes, but I still always bring a resume.

The parent is in control of the interview and you do what they want. If they want you to take a personality assessment you don't have to take it, but you won't get the job if another nanny is willing to take it.

I guess my thinking also is from a parent or agency perspective: if you don't take the test what are you trying to hide?

Glenda said...

It is interesting that some people are so concerned about how they will appear on the personality assessment and that it might be inaccurate, yet people appear their best on an interview and applications and resumes.

I think it's just another tool to find out more about you.

All that being said, I don't think they are necessary especially since parents are already doing criminal checks and reference checks on nannies.

Anonymous said...

I don't think we should worry about personality tests being inaccurate. Nannies post fake references! It's true! Parents call the nanny applicant's best friend or parent pretending to be a work reference. (I know none of us do it but many do). Personality tests can't be any worse than many lying nannies. What about the parents don't pay their nannies legally? There is a lot of deceipt going on in the industry. Yet, despite thinking there is nothing wrong with these personality tests I sure wouldn't want to take one.
-- Nanny Annie

Anonymous said...

Fiona Littleton,do honestly think parents don't google nanny names to see what might come up?

The reason I call you out by name is because I just googled yours to make a point.

Our comments here come up.

Human Resources offices all over the country do this all the time. People do it on themselves, why wouldn't they do it on the nannies they hire.

Fiona Littleton said...

Writing on discussion boards is a way to LOSE a nanny job, not get one, is all I am saying.

I don't agree that "Participation at nanny and childcare discussion boards" is a good way to get a job. Rather, it might be a way to lose one.

Obviously google your own name and see what is out there. We shouldn't write anything we'd be ashamed for our current or future employer to read online.

If a parent or agency asks me to take the test I would rather take the test than tell them "Well, I think you can learn enough about me by looking at what I posted on discussion boards, or that I have these receipts showing how much fun we had...

I am not embarrassed about what I write online, but I am not including that I blog on my resume or tell my future employers that I write comments on blogs as a way to get a nanny job is all I am saying. It would be more beneficial to take the personailty test (so not to see defensive or hiding something) than write on disucssion boards.

Of course, whatever works for you. We can always not take the test if we feel uncomfortable. But the parent or agency might move on to another person willing to take the assessment is what I meant to say.

Anonymous said...

Anything that we put out on the internet can work against or for us. I don't doubt for one second that if let's say Stephanie were to interview for a job, this blog wouldn't be of interest to a family. Probably impress many.

If a family comes across a nanny's name and sees that they are handling themselves diplomatically in unguarded moments that can reveal as much about their personality as a staged assessment test it speaks volumes.

The receipts I write about are all a part of the big layout in a hard copy portfolio, because anyone can "claim" to these things and pick up a pamphlet somewhere but when you have the membership card, receipt whatever it does send a message of authenticity. (Perhaps it makes more neurotic than other nannies, but at least I've crossed all the t's and dotted all the i's. Some parents like that, and deep down my experience has been those are the ones I want to be working for.

Granted you may not believe in them, but I HAVE GOTTEN JOBS because of my portfolio and my resume. I have not gone into a legitimate brick and mortar agency in a long time without the expectation of producing a resume, an essay, etc. either.

I do google my name all the time, in fact I get weekly google alerts to track it all too. This way I can do full disclosure as well. That is what parents want to see.

I will take an assessment test anytime and any place, if I think it is legitimate. But I am going to check into the background of who is conducting it, their credentials, and ethics since my reputation could be on the line.

I have invested to much time, expense, and energy into my career to blithely get a bandwagon about some nanny assessment test without completely fact checking information printed on it's owner's website. AND, any cautious nanny would do the same because if the company can not present proof to claims they make on it, what proof do we have that they care about our reputations.

Fiona Littleton said...

I do see some nannies have websites and that may very well indeed help in their interview process. All the "big profile" names you have mentioned previously.

But, you may lose a job if an agency or parent asks you to take a personality test and you decline. It is your right not to take it if you don't want to.

Anonymous said...

Here is an example of what the questions were like: Were you abused as a child? Has anyone ever hit you? If no one would ever know, would you drive beyond the speed limit? Have you ever had an alcoholic beverage and then driven a car? If no one would ever know would you take an item that didn't belong to you? Have you ever lied about your weight or age? If you answered honestly it might show a result of the individual being somewhat dishonest, have a perpensity to break the law, possibly a potential child abuser....etc. Scary.

AuPairDebbie said...

Fiona said: "But, you may lose a job if an agency or parent asks you to take a personality test and you decline. It is your right not to take it if you don't want to."

Perhaps the parents will lose the number of applicants because nannies won't want the job where parents ask them to take a personality test. It can work both ways.

Anonymous said...

An advise to nannies taking such tests:
If you believe you have the right personality to be a good nanny, be yourself and don't try to figure out and provide the "expected" answers. Doing so will probably have a negative result.

There are no right and wrong answers and the scores of the different traits do not have an absolute value but are compared to a norm.

Having scores outside those norms, whether they are significantly lower or significantly higher, raises a red flag.

Just be yourself and answer honestly.

Anonymous said...

Since when does answering honestly to any question make one a dumb nanny?

How many women do you know who are completely honest about their weight??? OMG look how many red flags would go up in this industry.

Heather Madison WI said...

I think taking a personality test is less intimidating or invasive than a credit check. I would not allow a credit check since I do not see how I handle my bills and finances has anything to do with childcare. I don't handle their bills so I don't see the point.

Give me a personality test, no problem. Credit check, no way!

Reyna H said...

Want to hire the best nanny? Here's what to do:
Interview nanny job candidates asking questions important to you as a parent and specifically for your children. Use a reputable nanny placement agency with much experience. Check references calling them yourself not just letting the agency make the calls. Pay for background checks. Offer a great salary and benefits package. Don't micromanage or criticize the nanny!

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't want to take one but probably would if offered since good jobs are hard to find now.

andrew.lead said...

Personality test for employee and job candidate evaluation based on Jung, Myers Briggs model.Personality evaluation reports include textual and graphical information about working behaviour, most favorable activities, ways of making decisions, solving problems, communication with colleagues. Personality evaluation results will help to unlock elusive personal qualities, raise job satisfaction and understanding motivations.