Interviewing a possible au pair candidate is a fun and exciting time in the process of finding the right au pair for your family.
A few important things to take note of before you begin:
- Make sure that you have used a reputable agency to source some good, reliable candidates. Avoid sourcing candidates using just the internet or a job-recruitment website. Security comes first.
- It is always better to interview more than one candidate, so that you can compare each candidate to at least one other candidate.
- If possible, arrange to meet the candidate at your home. This will give her an opportunity to experience the environment she will most likely be spending a lot of her time in. It will also create a more relaxed atmosphere that is likely less noisy than a coffee shop, improving the quality of your conversation.
- Allow about 30-60 minutes to meet with your candidate. If you are meeting candidates one-after-the-other, allow at least 15 minutes inbetween candidates so that they do not overlap, which could cause some awkwardness.
- If you are convinced you have found the right one, don’t delay in notifying your agency. Often times au pairs will meet with several families when they are searching for a position, and she may be snatched up by some other family quickly if she is good!
And now, some good advice from knowledgeable parents…
“Really think about ‘fit’ with your family rather than just childcare experience of the au pair. Personality is 50% of making the experience work so know what attributes are really important. It is like interviewing a family member not an employee.” –Amy Holtz
“More important than anything else is to understand for yourself what you want out of the relationship. With that clear be equally as clear with any candidates. Au pairs come in all shapes and sizes, so make sure you find one that matches your family personality and your parenting style.” –Christine Brown
In other words, the best advice is to not place emphasis on 1-2 magical questions to ask au pair candidates, but rather on taking the time to hold the mirror up and truly know your family. Interviewing and choosing your au pair starts with understanding and clearly defining your family’s personality, style and needs, and by doing so, you will set yourself up for success in determining what type of person will make for a good fit!
Before you start asking questions, take some time to tell the candidate about yourself and your family (e.g. ages, genders and grades of your children, line of work parents are in, etc.).
Here are some interview questions we recommend asking:
- Tell me about yourself.
- Tell me about your family. Do you have any siblings? What line of work are your parents in?
- Tell me about your previous positions involving children.
- Why do you want to work with children?
- What were some challenges that you faced in your previous jobs?
- Which values are most important to you as a person?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- What are your hobbies and interests?
- What kinds of activities would you do with the children if you had any spare time?
- What are your views on discipline? How would you manage the children’s behaviour?
- Are you an organised person? What steps will you take to make sure you stay on top of things?
- Can you cook or prepare food for children, or are you willing to learn how?
- What kind of role do you want to have with the children? A playmate? A teacher? A parent?
- (if you have pets) Are you comfortable around animals?
- How flexible is your time?
(Ask some questions about working hours. Like whether the candidate is available to work during the hours that you require someone. Is she willing to work on weekends if needed? Can she babysit your kids if you need her to do so in the evening on some odd occasions? Can she stay over if you are traveling or accompany your family on a vacation trip?)
- How’s your driving? What car do you drive?
Lastly, ask the candidate whether they have any questions about your family.