How To Recruit the Right People
The success of any business will always depend on the people who staff it and it’s no different with running an au pair agency.
Rather than asking your friends if they fancy going into business with you, or hiring someone because you know they are looking for a job, think carefully about the skills you will need amongst your staff.
In order to cover all aspects of running an au pair business, you will ideally need to employ people who have the following skills and attributes:
- Relevant Experience
- A friendly, approachable and professional attitude
- Excellent keyboard and administration skills
- Good business acumen
- Reliability and trustworthiness
- A second language or working knowledge of foreign languages >
Interviewing Potential StaffYour interview technique should be a formal one as you need to give the impression of someone who is the company Director and in control – even if you have never run a company before. If you fall at this first hurdle, it will be difficult to claw back professional respect - so treat the process seriously. Your workforce will tend to reflect the air you give off, so decide how it is you wish to appear.
If you haven’t officially interviewed anyone before, then take time out to think about it – because it’s easy to employ someone but much more difficult to get rid of them once they start. Make sure you know the rules and regulations of hiring and firing, as there are strict laws you will need to adhere to which, if not followed, could land you in hot water.
What To Look For In Your Potential EmployeeFirst of all, be realistic - the perfect person does not exist! Everyone is different with different strengths and weaknesses and it will be your job to determine what these are. Write down the things that you know you are good at and can handle, and then work out what key skills are the next most important to you and your business. Put yourself in the shoes of your clients and ask yourself what you’d most like to see in an agency. This will begin to help you focus and pin down the qualities that you are looking for.
Next, write a list of questions to ask and don’t be worried about taking these to the interview. Your candidate does not need to be able to see your notes, but it will help you to remember everything you wish to ask and also give the clear impression that you mean business!
Remember, that besides the skills that someone has, you are looking closely at how they come across. Are they friendly? Do they seem enthusiastic? Do they sound knowledgeable? Would you trust them? The au pair business is entirely oriented around people and they must come across as friendly and approachable – but also totally professional.
At the same time, you must think whether you feel you’d get along well with that person. It is likely that you will be working alongside them for much of the time and it is important that you think you could form a good working relationship. If in doubt, don’t be afraid of offering a trial period to someone you are unsure of.
Again, if you find it hard to choose between two or more candidates, don’t forget that you are the boss and that if the interviewees have different skill-sets, you could always offer three part-time positions. This often suits women with families and can build more flexibility into your work rota in order to cover holidays and sickness etc.
If you are in the position of being able to employ several full-time workers, then be sure to look for people with specific specialisms who can concentrate on certain parts of the business. This will help you be able to compartmentalise the business and keep across the work that each person is doing.
For instance, a young assistant with a language background would be a good choice for someone to directly liaise with au pairs, whereas someone with specialist knowledge of computers might handle the electronic data and website aspects.
Whomever you eventually choose, remember that you cannot do it all alone. There will be times when you are stressed and overworked – as in all jobs – but if you can rest secure in the knowledge that you have a good team to back you up, life seems much easier!