We are very often asked what a family should ask when interviewing an Au Pair.
We always recommend interviewing an au pair who you are interested in twice. The first interview is really to see if you like her or him, if you click, if you could see her being a helpful part of your family. Questions can be fairly general with a view to encouraging her to talk about herself in order to get an impression of her personality. You can ask her about her childcare experience, about her plans for the future, about what she likes to do in her free time, about the members of her family etc. Also do ask about anything specific you feel you need to know more about, after reading her profile.
But above all, it is important to go with the flow. The flow of conversation, the general feeling is usually more important at this stage than any single question, which could be asked separately at another time. However, sometimes if there is something one is not sure about with the candidate, then it very useful to see them answer; how quickly they respond, if they look away, demonstrates to what degree they mean what they are saying.
After the 1st interview we establish if you and the au pair both liked one another. You might, at this point have a particular question you need to know the answer to before proceeding to a 2nd interview, or maybe you need us to communicate some information to the au pair and make sure she is ok with it and is happy to proceed to a 2nd interview.
At the 2nd interview you talk more specifically, about the hours, your expectations, how she might handle possible situations, does she plan to attend a language course, does her boyfriend really support her decision to live abroad for some time, is she happy to meet new friends and take herself out etc.
It is also very important to remember that interviewing an au pair is completely different to interviewing employees like nannies. First and foremost she will be part of your family for some time, so a personality match is probably the most important criteria, 2nd priority is competence and 3rd experience. So it is quite informal and much more like a chat.
With au pairs you are provided with far more information about them, than when you look to employ a nanny, so it does not leave quite so many standard questions unanswered.
Do remember that the au pairs can often be terribly nervous whilst interviewing. By the 2nd interview they calmed down a lot. Of course, it can also be nerve-wracking for the families – after all there is a lot at stake! Most au pair do not ask many or even any questions of the family, particularly in the first interview and some of our families have been quite surprised by this. Don’t forget that they have seen your fairly comprehensive profile too and we will have told them whatever they need to know about your family already.
Also bear in mind that we have interviewed all the candidates we put forward to you and have already asked them about everything which could impact on their ability to be a great au pair for you. This gives you comfort to almost exclusively concentrate on whether their character is right for you.
Should 2 interviews not be enough for you to make up your mind, we will happily arrange a 3rd. Or you may wish to speak to some of the au pair’s referees also yourself, this can help you considerably. We will support you in whatever you need to do to find out if this is the right candidate for you – or not!