The au pair interview is an important part of the matching process. It is your opportunity to get to know an applicant, ask questions about qualities or skills that are important to you and choose the best au pair candidate for your family.
Making the first call
When you speak to a candidate for the first time, remember that she is probably nervous and excited. Speak slowly and tell the au pair who you are. Be specific when describing your family’s circumstances. It is better to communicate honestly with each other so that you both have realistic expectations.
While speaking to your prospective au pair, keep these tips in mind:
- If time allows, make an initial phone call as an introduction and schedule a later time to conduct the actual interview.
- Don’t forget to be mindful of the time difference.
- Speak slowly and clearly. Choose your words carefully. Remember, the au pair might not be used to speaking English on the phone.
- Ask all the questions you need to make an informed decision.
- Ask open-ended questions to assess English speaking-ability. Avoid questions that can be answered with “yes” or “no.”
- Remember that the au pair does not know everything about your family. Give the au pair a brief description of your family and the community in which you live.
- Allow the au pair an opportunity to ask questions.
- Schedule a follow-up conversation to speak again if you are interested in moving forward with the match.
The following are sample questions to guide you during your telephone interview.
General questions about the au pair’s character and personal interests:
- Have you ever been to the United States before?
- Why do you want to be an au pair in the United States?
- Will this be your first time away from home?
- What will you do if you feel homesick?
- What do you think will be the most difficult part about spending a year in the US as an au pair?
- What do you like to do in your free time?
- Do you have any plans for when you finish your year and return home?
Questions about the au pair’s general childcare experience:
- What were the ages of the children for whom you cared?
- What were the specific responsibilities? What was the most difficult part of that job? What did you like most about that job?
- What do you like most about taking care of children?
- Children do not always listen to their parents or their au pair. What will you do if my child just won¹t listen to you?
- How long have you been driving? How often? Where do you drive? Would you be comfortable driving the children to and from school every day?
- What do you think children most need from an au pair?
Questions relating to the care of an infant (3 months – 2 yrs):
- Infants sleep a lot, sometimes for several hours during the day. As a result, this job can sometimes be boring. Do you think this will be a problem? What will you do to remain active and challenged by your responsibilities?
- What activities might you be able to do with a baby?
- Babies can cry a lot for no apparent reason. What would you do if the baby just won’t stop crying in his/her crib after ten minutes?
- What would you do if the doorbell or telephone rang while you were giving the baby a bath?
Questions relating to the care of a toddler (1-3 years):
- What do you think is the best way to handle a toddler who loves to explore into everything?
- What activities or games might you plan on a rainy day?
- We do not allow the children to watch more than one hour of television each day. How do you feel about this? How will you keep the children active and occupied?
Questions relating to pre-school and school aged children (4 yrs and above):
- On a day when school is closed (i.e. bad weather related), what kinds of activities might you plan with the children?
- Would you be willing and able to help with the children’s homework? Are you interested in helping the children learn phrases in your language?
- How would you react if the child says, “But Mommy and Daddy let me watch TV after dinner,” even though we told you under no circumstances could the children watch television after dinner?
The au pair interview is the best way to really get to know a candidate and to determine if she is the right fit for your family. Cultural Care recommends that you speak with an au pair candidate at least twice, and more if you feel it is necessary to make your decision.
Experienced host families, do you have any interview advice for families new to the au pair program?