Am I choosing the right Au Pair? Tips from your au pair childcare consultant

The phone rings.. It is a prospect host mom, I have been helping to find the right au pair fit for her family.  She asks me: Marta, how do I know if I am choosing the right au pair?  I give her the following tips:

  1. Take the time to carefully check the au pair’s application, and how her/his life style fits in with your family style:  Read the letter to the host family very carefully. The letter can be very revealing even before you speak to the au pair. This letter gives you a sense of her/his ability to express herself/himself in English and what kind of personality she/he has. What are her /his reasons for leaving  home? Does she/he come from an intact family who are close? Does she/he have siblings?
    Tip: Does the letter express a positive personality that may indicate she/he has good self-esteem and a secure sense of self-identity? Also read carefully about the au pair’s interests and health status.
  2. Read the au pair’s “Disk Personality Profile”:  This is a great tool offered by our agency, Cultural Care Au Pair, which allows host families to have an overview of the au pair’s personality traits. It is a report that indicates the au pair’s strengths and possible areas for self-development.
  3. Conduct several phone/skype/whatsapp calls with prospect au pairs: It is essential to conduct a phone/skype/whatsapp interview with the prospect au pair, and even ask to meet her/his parents.   Calling is critical to the success of your year with an au pair.  Prepare a “sheetshit” with questions to interview the au pair.  Don’t ask very specific questions during the first interview.  The best questions for the first interview are the open-ended questions asking the au pair about her family life, her social life, her love for pets, etc..   You may ask more specific questions on the second interview.  Questions that represent real situations that are likely to occur. Her /his responses will give you a window into her /his personality, cultural differences and her/his ability to think quickly on her/his feet. Does she /he sound mature, responsible and flexible? If you like the answers and like the au pair, call her/him multiple times before you make a decision. Each time you call, you will find out more about her/his qualifications and personality.
  4. Be honest about your family life and childcare expectations: Is an au pair really right for your family? Before you decide to set up the interview with prospect au pairs, make a list of the top ten priorities for your family and your children.  Be very honest to the au pair about your childcare expectations and your family life.  Talk to the au pair about ho w much you value your privacy as a family, how much you want to have your own space, and how much you plan to include her in your family life.  There is an au pair for every family.  The ones who really want to be part of your family, others who are OK just taking care of your children.  Disclose to the au pair if you have a child who can be hostile towards the au pair, either a younger child with real anxiety towards strangers or an older child who is not willing to accept a “big sister” in the position of authority or even friendship.  Or if you have a child with mild or severe special needs.
  5. Discuss driving skills, and experience: One of the most common reason for “transition” is the au pair’s driving skills.  When interviewing the au pair, make sure to ask as many questions as you can about the au pair’s ability to drive, and her experience.  For instance, you may ask about the number of years the au pair’s has had her/his driver’s license.  How many times per day or week she/he drives,  and how far.   Has the au pair ever gotten a speed ticket.  Has she/he ever gotten into a car accident?  Does he/she drive her own car or her family car? Does he/she have experience driving in rainy or snowy conditions?  It is very important to gather as much information about the pair’s driving skills, so you can feel comfortable letting her/him drive your children around.

These are some of the most important tips to have in mind when choosing an au pair candidate. I would love to hear your tips.   Comment below, or visit my social media to share:

Remember that I am here to help you with your childcare needs!

Marta Pena
Over 10 yrs helping local families
Cultural Care Au Pair
Call or Text: 617-312-6880
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Sunday, 30 December 2018 9:00 AM

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