Choosing an Au Pair
An Au pair is a young person aged between 18 -28, who live with a host Family abroad, for a period of 2 months and up to 2 Year, in order to improve on the English language and to experience new cultures. Families should note that Au Pairs are not normally trained child minders. It is at the families own discretion and risk if they leave the Children in the sole care of an Au Pair
Duties of an Au Pair usually include, helping to take care of children, dressing, helping with breakfast, lunches, evening meals, swimming, walking or driving to play school or nursery, babysitting etc. They may also assist with light household duties, dusting, ironing vacuuming, and simple cooking.
When choosing your Au Pair, if possible arrange to meet face-to-face. However as many are living abroad, interviews may take place over the phone. If you can, avail of the Skype facility on your computer which allows you and the prospective au pair to see each other with the use of a web camera.
In chatting with candidates
Of course the opportunity to cover issues in any real depth will depend on the language abilities of the candidate but you do need to be confident that their command of the language is sufficient to communicate with you and your children. Other questions you may wish to cover off include:
- describe your family situation, child-rearing priorities, methods of discipline, and your children's routines.
- ask open-ended questions that will allow the au pair to talk freely. An example would be, "You care for three children now; tell me about them." Don't be worried about silence after you ask such a question. It shows that she is thinking. (If she hasn’t cared for children in a fulltime capacity before, ask about here babysitting experience.
- How she describes the children she has cared for and her relationships with them can tell you a lot about her feelings toward children, her ability to empathize and bond, and the type of children with which she feels most confident. If she elaborates on particular incidents with children, you will gain insights into how she reacts and responds to different kinds of situations and problems. Ask her to describe specifically a problem she has had with a child. What she says will convey a lot about what she considers a problem, how she accepts responsibility, how she reacts under stress, her judgmental skills, and her compassion.
- Ask her to tell you something about her family and friends. Does she describe them lovingly, humorously? Does she have long-term relationships? What does she enjoy doing? How does she react to and cope with problems?
- Ask her to describe activities and pursuits she enjoys. Is she an indoor or outdoors type? Has she pursued a challenging activity or sport? Is she cheerful? Is she open to new situations? This is your opportunity to assess the au pairs characteristics and qualities against the needs of your children.
- Ask her to describe herself. Is she a morning person (very important if she will care for your children early in the day)? Is she easygoing and flexible (a must if your children are very small)?
Before concluding the interview, always ask for personal and work references. Take the time to call these references and speak with them, at length, about the Au Pair.
- Have you ever lived away from your home before? If so where?
- Talk to me about your personality? Are you a shy or cheerful person?
- How do you think you can cope living with a foreign family?
- Will you miss your family and friends?
- Have you ever been an Au Pair before?
- Why do you want to be an Au Pair?
- How well can you speak our language?
- Have you plans to go to a language school?
- Do you live in a large city or a rural town?
- What Degree or Diploma did you receive College/University?
- Were you a good student?
- What are your hobbies & interests?
- Have you got a full driving licence? When did you receive it?
- Do you have a criminal record?
- Do you have any friends in this country at the moment?
- Have you plans on spending your week-ends ? Will it be with your friends?
- Will you request time off to attend religious services?
- Are you flexible? If we are late from work, do you mind?
- Do you have any brothers or sisters?
- Tell me about your childcare experience?
- Do you have any first-aid training?
- Can you cook?
- Do you have any dietary restrictions or problems?
- Do you have any allergies?
- How is your health?
- What kind of activities would you do with the kids?
- Can you help the children with homework?
- How many children can you take care off?
- Have you had any experience with small babies?
- Our children have friends to the house regularly to play. Do you mind supervising these children on these days?
- How would you approach any problems or issues during your stay?
- What are your plans after your Au pair experience?