The best way to get to know your au pair is to have as much contact with her/him as possible before he/she arrives. We suggest that you call them preferably by Skype. This way you will be able to reading their body language as well as just talking to them. Make sure to ask all the questions that are relevant to your family. Tell your future au pair about your family and what is expected of them. Remember it is better to find out now, that you and the au pair have different expectations than to find out after the au pair arrives in your home. A good way to begin the phone call is to talk about yourself, about your family, how many children you have, their ages, interests, hobbies etc. Your family routine, yours and your children daily schedule, and any other information that can help your au pair figure out what it would be like to live with you.
The following are a few suggested questions that you can ask your au pair. The au pair's answers should help you to get to know this au pair. Not only should you listen to the au pair's answers but also her attitude and demeanour. Does she have a positive outlook, is she enthusiastic, is she shy, is she interested in learning new things? Remember as well as asking the following questions, you may want to ask some questions that are specific to your family, remember that every family is different, so don't forget to ask any questions that are relevant to your family also.
1. Have you ever travelled abroad or lived away from home before?
This is an important question especially if you’re planning to have a long term Au Pair (6-12 months). If your candidate has never been away from his/her family, they may need a bit more support at the beginning of the au pair placement so be aware of this. Are they enthusiastic about the idea of travelling to Ireland? Do they sound like they are ready for this experience?
2. Why do you want to be an au pair?
Sometimes families take for granted that their au pair will be motivated for the right reasons and understand what being an au pair means. I good way to find out is to ask them why they want to be an au pair. It's important that an au pair is prepared to live as part of a family, help to take care of the children in the family and understands that they must respect the rules way of life of their host family. It is also important that they are prepared to move to a different country that has a different culture and language and that they will embrace all that this means.
3. What do you know about Ireland and why did you choose to come to Ireland?
This is another good question to ensure that your future au pair has consciously chosen to live in your country and thinks he/she will have a good time. Has he/she done any research about Ireland.? What do they know about Ireland? Do they have friends living in Ireland? Do they have a positive attitude towards Ireland and ll things Irish? The more prepared and enthusiastic they are about Ireland the better!
4. What childcare experience do you have?
I mention this question but very often the amount of childcare experience that an au pair has is not the best indicator of how good she will be with your children. Sometimes a girl who has only some babysitting experience will be as good or better than an older au pair who has worked in a childcare setting. A really big indicator is how interested your au pair is in your children. How enthusiastic is she/he when they talk about their childcare experience. Do they sound like they enjoyed their time with children? Does she ask about your childrens' hobbies, their ages, what activities they like? If your au pair is younger or has not had much experience with children she may need more guidance at the beginning, than an au pair who has had a lot of experience with children but with the right support she/he may turn out to be a brilliant au pair!
5. How would your friends describe you and what are your favourite hobbies/interests?
These questions are essential to understand your au pair’s personality. If he/she has a lot of experience with kids but you feel that the two of you might not get on well, then this might not be the right au pair for your family. For example, you might want an outgoing person that interacts a lot with you and your family because you want to be able to communicate extensively with your au pair. An au pair's hobbies can also give you an insight into your au pair personality. An au pair who likes reading, might be more introverted while someone who is a member of a drama group is probably more outgoing. Also an au pair's hobbies can be a great way to find some common ground. An au pair who loves the outdoors and is very involved in outdoor pursuits might suit a family who also enjoys outdoor pursuits or who lives in a rural location which has access to these outdoor activities. Or say, for example, if you have enrolled your children in swimming lessons and you find out that an au pair loves practicing sport. Well, then he/she might be more inspiring to your children and this common interest could help them get on well more easily.
The questions listed above are just a guideline that you can follow while talking to your potential au pairs. There are a lot more questions that you can make according to your needs and situation (e.g. Are you comfortable with pets?, Are you from a rural area or a city?, Can you cook?, etc.).
If you want more support or tips on how to conduct your phone interview, feel free to e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.