Monday, July 12, 2010

Selecting a Nanny or Au Pair – What Are We Missing?

Nanny Personality Assessments Can Help Parents Choose a Better Nanny, Au Pair, or Babysitter

By Yossi Pinkas, TakeCare,

Selecting a caregiver for children is a difficult task for parents and the risk of making a wrong choice is frightening. Most articles on the topic of hiring a nanny 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 nanny 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 job candidate. Such checks may include identity verification, criminal records search, credit checks, past employment and education verification, driving abstracts 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 person’s 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.

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.

To find out more about nanny personality assessment tests visit TakeCare.

Tomorrow: The Benefits of Personality Assessment Tests
Wednesday: Challenges of Using Personality Assessment Tests

Have you ever taken a personality assessment test while interviewing for a nanny job?


Livingston NJ Nanny said...

I am a nanny in NJ for over 10 years never took a personality test for a job. Do agencies really ever administer them? None ever asked me to take one, nor did a parent. Sounds interesting, I wonder if agencies would use these?

Jobs For 14 Year Olds said...

Nice posting!
It's really helpful for me.
Thanks for sharing.

Tobago Nanny said...

I have never taken a personality test for any job. I think it would be a great idea for agencies to use these type of tests on parents and nannies. But if a parent were to ask me to take it I think I would be insulted just because I never heard of anyone taking them before. If nanny agencies are using them as a standard for all their nannies and parents then of course I would take it, but I would think a parent who asked me to take it is a weirdo.

Tobago Nanny said...

I have never taken a personality test for any job. I think it would be a great idea for agencies to use these type of tests on parents and nannies. But if a parent were to ask me to take it I think I would be insulted just because I never heard of anyone taking them before. If nanny agencies are using them as a standard for all their nannies and parents then of course I would take it, but I would think a parent who asked me to take it is a weirdo.

Sara B said...

Not exactly a personality test, but some odd questions that would definitely be on one!

Lisa said...

No, I would not take one of these tests. I would let employers know why, personally I think are a croc.

Many years ago when I was between jobs and interviewing a friend of mine who happens to have a PhD in clinical psychology had told me about an article he read that relates to these "assessments".
The topic of the article was on interviewing and who can do well in them, be the most charming, sound the most intelligent, seem the most thoughtful. It was the sociopath. Where as a legitimate genuine candidate may actually be more honest and not create this polished illusion, thus losing out the position to the one that will be the nightmare employee.

I have taken various assessments online that didn't have tie ins to job interviews. Like Myers - Briggs, Multiple Intelligence type, etc. And I have done them more than once. Depending on my mood of the day, time of day, how I feel about my job, if I have a job, etc. really affects my mood/thinking and how I answer any personality type question. Thus, my assessments for these tests have often produced varied results.

I think something like this fuels fears for parents and nannies alike instead of creating confidence.

Steph 6 said...

I think these tests are a GREAT IDEA!! These tests are already used in other occupations all the time!

I just think in this tough economy a lot of people are trying to tighten their belts so adding more expense to interviewing this might not be the right time to do it.

I wouldn't be offended at all if a parent asked me to take the test. I'd love to see the results and it would help make a better fit between me and the family!

Great idea I hope agencies start using them standardly for parents and job candidates!! Once it becomes a standard for agencies parents will be more likely to start using them too.

Maria Lopez Miami said...

I haven't taken personality tests for nanny jobs. If an agency asked me to I would. If parents asked me too I would think they are weird. It's because no one asked me to before. I can see how they might be helpful as long as the criminal check and interview are considered also.

Anonymous said...

Oh lame! My agency started with personality tests- the Meyers-Briggs. K.C.

Anonymous said...

It is illegal to use some tests unless you are a licensed psychologist. I don't think they are allowed to use the Meyers-Briggs! Does the agency have a licensed psychologist on staff?

IT is illegal for unlicensed psychs to administers intelligence tests and personality tests like the MMPI and CPI.

Hiring a person based on just test results is insufficient. No matter how good a test has been designed or how honest the person is in taking the test, there will always be a percentage of people whose tests results will not be reflective of their actual performance on the job.

This dilemma is referred to as false positive and false negative test results.

So it is important to use all information available including a second or third interview if you are still not sure before making the final hiring decision.

I do feel that families who are hiring any childcare worker for their children should use this kind of test, just not the ones they aren't trained to use like Meyers-Briggs.

Anonymous said...

Typos ladies:

It is Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment. I don't see how K.C.'s agency can be ethically be giving this test.

It is considered unethical to compel anyone to take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. It should always be taken voluntarily

The result must remain confidential between the individual and administrator.

Individuals should always be given detailed feedback from a trained administrator and an opportunity to undertake a Best Fit exercise to check against their Reported Type.

lovebeingananny said...

I think this type of test might be really helpful.

But in this economy not many parents will spend the extra money. I just feel like most parents today are finding ways to cut costs in finding a nanny in anyway they can. They are using the economy as an excuse or it's a real valid reason they must cut costs. I have friends asked to accept less money from their current jobs?? I see parents using online websites and parents that are flat out cheap. At a time when parents are trying to save money they won't spend extra on a test like this.

I'm not criticizing the test itself or its usefulness. And it's really not expensive. But I think a lot of parents want to reduce costs and those are the parents that won't spend the $ on this test.

Fiona Littleton said...

I support the idea of using personality assessments since parents have the right to learn as much about someone coming to care for their kids as possible. If parents are going to use a personality test they must do so with caution. It would be easy to rely too heavily on the test when they should be using it along with background checks and interviewing.

CareerNanny97 said...

I personally wouldnt mind taking this test but like someone else pointed out I would like an assessment for parents as well as to what kind of employers they are going to be. I think its a two way street. If an agency asked for I would use it but I don't work with agencies, but if I decided to I would but I would also want to know what kind of screening process an agency does for the parents and if they met my standards of screening potential parents then I would consider it.

Anonymous said...

Because of false positives and false negatives something like this is probably just as unreliable as a lie detector tests. Which are commonly not admissable in court.

A few months ago through Lora Brawley's All About Nanny Care site we were able to take this free assessment, so many of us long time nannies failedi t, IT WAS FLAWED, and the company emailed us back to say so.

I googled the nanny personality assessment, I have time on my hands while waiting for a job offer to come in. The only one really writing about it is this founder of the company that wrote this article. And on the company's website it is marketed toward negative and not positive toward nannies. He's generating fear. And there are good nanny sightings out there that could be used too.

Also if one googles they can actually find advice articles on how to cheat on these pre-employment assessments... so how reliable is a test if that really is the case.

Plus, if an agency gets a false positive on a candidate and rejects her for this there goes her reputation. Or possibly it could be grounds for a suit.

There is too much IFs regarding this.

Michelle said...

Parents do not want to hire a person who will develop an emotional bond with children only to find out later that person is not suited for the family.

I have heard nannies complain about credit checks and drug testing too, but some parents and some agencies find these as great ways to check the validity of a job candidates credentials.

Personality assessments are used in every occupation including fire fighters, police officers, nurses,AU PAIRS, why not nannies too? Yes, au pair agencies use these assessments already.

You can't fail or pass, so what's wrong with using it to help find the right person for the job?

Anonymous said...

I studied psych in college and we discussed testing a lot. No testing is perfect, no person is perfect, no job interview is perfect and there are limits to standardized testing. But that doesn't mean they shouldn't be used as a helpful tool.

Some people show well in interviews and work references will not reveal the total picture of a person. Some kinds of tests will reveal both strengths and weaknesses of a person's personality.

The best personality tests do not produce answers they produce a profile to use to see how someone is going to perform on the job.

For example, is the person dependable, use common sense, work well with children? These personality qualities are indicators useful to the nanny selection process.

Thee are no good or bad employees, just people in the wrong job. Testing helps to select those who are suited for the childcare industry by comparing the applicant to others who have been deemed successful in this industry.

Reyna H NY NY

Nanny Mame said...

I agree with much that has already been said regarding the use of personality tests. They can be a useful tool, but as the article states, they should not replace the interview or the background check when it comes to choosing someone to care for your child. As another commenter pointed out, personality test results can vary depending on a number of things. It is not uncommon for people taking a personality test for employment to give the answers they believe are "right", rather than answering truthfully. It is possible that personality tests can help Nanny Placement Agencies make better matches between families and nannies according to personality type. It will be interesting to see whether the administration of personality tests becomes a widespread practice in the industry.

Anonymous said...

I just don't think they are really necessary. Can't a nanny be honest and say they are an introvert or extravert? Don't really need a test to determine it.
Patti Houston TX

Anonymous said...

I've visited the website and downloaded the sample report. It seems to provide much more information than just whether one is introvert or extrovert and seems very useful.
And at $25, cost isn't an issue.

Anonymous said...

Yes but there are also all sorts of FREE personality, pre-employment, apptitude tests, etc. online too.

So how does one know which is better over the other.

Edina Stone said...

These type of assessments, like Take-Care.Me or the Myers-Brigg test, are useful because they can be helpful in identifying certain areas in a person's personality where there may be red flags as they relate to her/his ability to care for children.

For example, on psychometric tests, one factor that is assessed is a person's tendency to use drugs/alcohol under stress.

A parent should know that a potential nanny or au pair has a significant weakness in this area, for example, if the au pair is under considerable stress, would she turn to drugs or alcohol to "medicate" herself and her anxiety? If yes, how likely would she do this (red flag).

If a caregiver is under the influence of a drug or drink, their judgment may be impaired and the child that is under their care may suffer harm or neglect.

This is only one example of how useful tests like this can be.

However, psychometric tests are only one of a series of screening methods parents should use including a good, thorough interview; checking references; criminal background check, etc.

If nannies or au pairs are reluctant to undergo a psychometric test, then maybe caring for children is not the line of work for them. Parents have the right to know who is taking care of their children when they are away at work.

Today, almost everyone who interviews for a good job with a significant level of responsibility, has to undergo both drug and psychometric testing.

We see the use of these tests from civil service positions to government jobs to corportate career jobs and yes, to jobs working with children (rigid requirements are growing and will continue to do so, all in the effort to protect children - for example, all state employees working with children must undergo these tests).

We live in a different world today and we have access to so much technology, so why not use it?

Particularly if it is in service to our most precious possession - our children!

Edina Stone
Founder & CEO
Au Pair Consumer Resource Website

Anonymous said...

Wow Lisa, take a breath, relax, things will be ok.

Reyna Horowitz 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!