Techniques when interviewing au pair candidates
When your family has found good au pair candidates who match your family’s criteria, it is time to schedule interviews. Live interviews are crucial to get to know the candidates and find the best au pair for your family.
Booking the interviews
After having e-mailed the candidates we suggest you to conduct a first interview on the phone or preferable using an Internet based videophone service (e.g. Skype). Book the interview on a time when the candidate is at home (after school hours) and when she/he has the opportunity to talk or see more than one of your family members. Surely your children will be curious on the candidates.
Schedule interviews with at least a couple of candidates so that you can compare the candidates and are not depending on one single candidate that might choose another family.
Prepare the interview
Gather your family to commonly agree on your expectations on the au pair and the house rules. Do not forget to also discuss what she/he can expect from your family. If you have a bit older children, this is great opportunity to get an insight in their thoughts, expectations and preferences.
Outline the areas you wish to talk about with each candidate. A good approach is to outline the areas you want to cover in a dialogue rather than writing down a long list of questions. After you have covered an area in the interview, just cross it out and write some comments down. Areas to discuss can be child care experience, life style, personality, hobbies, etc. This makes the interview more relaxed and you avoid giving a stiff impression.
Print out the candidates’ applications to once again familiarize yourself with the candidates before the meeting. Go through the applications in order to see if you have any specific questions on their profile or previous work experience.
Prepare answers. In a good interview, you have a dialogue with the au pair and the au pair feel free to ask you questions about your family life and the au pair job. Think about questions the au pair might ask you and how you can respond to those. Typical questions the au pairs might ask; if there are any other au pairs in the area, if you pay for language school classes, more details about the child care and house hold duties and if the au pair can join different family activities such as weekend trips.
Conduct the interview
Set a positive tone. Tell the au pair candidate that you are glad to meet her/him and use the time to introduce your family. Ask the au pair if she/he ever has visited your home country and briefly tell the au pair about the place where you live.
Share your expectations on your future au pair and explain your house rules. Make sure the au pair agree on these areas. If not the candidate might be better suited in another family.
Get to know the candidate. Try to ask a mix of questions to gain insights into the candidate’s behavior, opinions, experience and backgrounds. Ask both open-ended questions as well as those that require detailed responses. Your goal for the interview is to get a good sense of the candidate’s personality, her/his strengths, weaknesses, likes, and dislikes and ultimately if she/he will fit into your family.
Ask a few situational based questions. Ask the au pair about how she/he would act in certain situations. By doing this you will find out how the au pair is reasoning in different settings, her/his standpoints in moral issues and maybe also cultural differences. Examples of questions can be how she/he would act if your child misbehave, how to best help with homework, how to act in an emergency situation. You know your children best and will find relevant questions to ask.
Don’t forget that you are being interviewed as well. Reserve at least half of the time for the au pair to ask questions about your family. Many au pairs will ask you to talk to their own parents, it is important you do so, so her/his whole family feels safe and happy with you as a host family.
After the interview
Take notes during the interview and write down your total impression of each candidate. Gather the family and make a top list of candidates. Then cross your fingers it is a mutual liking!
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