The placement managers at Cultural Care Au Pair have years of experience helping host families navigate the matching and interview process. I talked with them about how parents can make the interview process most successful—here are some of their best tips for interviewing au pair candidates.
1. Making an appointment for the first call can be helpful—but don’t be afraid to just call and get started
Some parents prefer to set up an appointment to chat with an au pair but there’s nothing wrong with simply calling to schedule an interview. We even created a guide to interview questions so you can prepare!
2. Limit the first conversation to 1/2 hour
Speaking in a different language to a potential family can be emotionally taxing for au pairs. After about ½ hour, their energy and capacity for verbal exchange may drop considerably. But if time seems to be flying by and personalities just seem to click, let the conversation take its natural course!
3. Save any nitty gritty details for your second conversation; and let them know what you want to cover during that call
If you’ve got some tough questions for an au pair, save them for the second call. Same goes for sharing detailed information about schedule, rules, etc. The first phone call is better reserved for introducing your family and community and asking some of the simpler questions on your list. It may even be helpful to provide candidates with a list of topics and questions you plan to cover in any subsequent conversations—that is up to you.
4. Consider using Skype
Most of our families use Skype video conferencing to interview au pairs when possible. Families can learn about a candidate just by watching her body language and facial expressions, and au pairs have an easier time understanding the conversation when they can see the person talking.
5. Ask kids and/or au pair to join in on the 2nd or 3rd call
If you plan on involving your children and/or your au pair in the interview process, ask them to join in on the second or third call. Introducing an au pair to too many family members in the beginning can be overwhelming. That being said, don’t hesitate to allow your children and current au pair to weigh in on potential candidates. Oftentimes their opinions will help solidify a “yes” or “no” very quickly.
6. Be positive
No matter what kind of day you’ve had, make sure you’ve got a smile on your face and keep the conversation positive.
7. Speak slowly and avoid slang
Americans have a habit of doing everything quickly—so make sure to slow down your conversation and avoid using words au pairs don’t learn in their English studies back home.
8. Give au pairs the chance to interview you!
Let potential candidates know they will have a chance to interview you. Not only will they appreciate the opportunity to get their questions answered, but you can gain a lot of insight about a candidate based on what she wants to know. If her first three questions are: “Will I have weekends off? What will my curfew be? and How often can I use the car?” you might be tipped off that this isn’t the mellow, homebody candidate you were hoping for.
9. Make sure to have 2-3 conversations with your final match
It will probably take at least 2-3 conversations to determine whether a candidate is the right fit for you.
10. Go with your gut
In addition to all of the information you consider from an au pair’s profile and during phone and Skype interviews, in the end, making a decision often involves listening to your gut feelings. If an au pair looks perfect “on paper” but the match doesn’t feel right, trust your instincts. On the other hand, if there is nothing that stands out in particular about an applicant’s profile but she has the basic qualifications you are looking for and you get a great feeling about her, don’t be afraid to extend her an offer to join your family!
Host families: what are your interviewing best practices? Do you have any non-traditional ways of approaching the interview process? Click here for a comprehensive guide on interviewing an au pair or nanny!