Extension Candidates: How to interview, what to look for

by cv harquail on April 20, 2009

Extension candidates are a tough bunch. These au pairs already know the score… they know what it takes to be an au pair, they have already improved their English a bit, they know how hard it can be to take care of children, and they know the wide range of material situations that host families offer.

And, because many families would like an au pair who already knows how to negotiate the main parts of American family life, if you are looking for an extension au pair you will be competing with other host families. This time, unlike when you were competing with other host families for a prospective au pair who had mostly dreams and no experience, now you’re trying to attract an au pair who really knows what to look for and may even be savvy enough to have you compete against other host families…

200904200845.jpg Assuming that there are extension candidates available, and some of them (on paper) meet your needs,

  • How do you interview an extension Au Pair?
  • What would you concentrate on when looking at extension candidate?
  • What questions specific for an extension AP would you ask?

Franzi starts us off:

  • An extension au pair should certainly be asked about her year,
  • her experience with the kids, their demands, the family,
  • her travels,
  • why she wants to extend,
  • why she would want to move to your town,
  • why she doesn’t start an education back home (valid question for western APs at least),
  • what she plans to do after her second year.
  • 200904200844.jpg I would ask those questions in several ways to find out if you’d end up with a “marry anyone to stay” AP or with someone who really enjoys APing and is extending because it will help her in life (eg education back home, language skills).
  • Pay attention to the way she talks about her current host family. It will clue you in on how she will be talking about you.
  • How does she handle conflicts with the host parents? How is her level of communication?
  • Does she have a blog?
  • What about family and friends coming for a visit?
  • How do they feel about her staying for another year? How does she handle homesickness?

I would be careful to signals that she has no attachment to home and sees the AP year as an opportunity to “run away”… But that goes for regular APs as well, not only those in extension.

Sunnyvah chimes in:

I would also ask her what she “learned” from her first year? What does she want to do different? Even when you had a great family and a good relationship- there are always things you would do different (same for HP, isn’t it?) I know my first experience definitely helped me to choose my second family.

From APM

  • Look out for girls who say they want to extend only in California, Florida or NYC. Even though it is perfectly reasonable to want to change your location and see more of the US, this kind of preference may also indicate that a candidate is more interested in what she can do in her off duty time. You won’t be able to tell from her extension application, so ask lots of questions to get at her real reasons for these preferences.
  • Look for ‘code’ in the evaluation of her by her current family….Faint praise is a red flag.
  • Absolutely call her LCC and her current host family. This is the easiest reference to check! So, don’t be embarrassed, just call!

What else should our Host Parent ask? What else should she consider?

Other posts to check out:
In rematch again ? Why didn’t you call me?
Extending with your current au pair: A Bad Idea?


Anonymous April 20, 2009 at 6:37 pm

Our first AP is an ext and it has worked out pretty well so far. We needed someone whose English and driving skills were very good so this really proved to be a good choice for us. I also liked the ability to speak with a previous employeer and LCC. Our family is not a TV family like her other family was so I had to explain my expectations with this after the first two months, but once I did it has been smooth sailing so far.

Momof2Girls April 21, 2009 at 4:59 am

Ditto all the above, and definitely ask to see both types of apps. Sometimes a new AP will stand out, and could even be a better choice than a “burned-out” extension AP with no ambition who isn’t eager to return to her home country for whatever reason. We had an interesting experience a few months ago where our former AP wanted to extend, said she’d like to stay with us, but we were ready for someone new for various reasons. I carefully worded my referral, was honest but not enthusiastically praising for any particular area, as she was just “average.” I hoped that the prospective families would call me to discuss her, but the new family who selected her didn’t; only the two counselors spoke. Our current AP was most eager to speak with the former one, yet we were hesitant because we didn’t trust that she would be truthful and might sway the new one negatively because our older daughter really disliked her (again too many reasons to go into here). Luckily, she seems to have said good things about us, but we fear she also may have told her many things to try to get away with or take shortcuts with, although we had already started compiling our handbook, writing down many rules that we wanted to be sure were understood from the beginning. I think it’s best to tell new candidates that if they’re in your final 2 or 3 that they may contact your current AP (may not apply in your case, however, Maya!) and if possible, “coach” her to be honest, but not get into specific rules or ways of doing things; tell them that the Host Parents will explain and go over all that with them. General overview of the daily routine, how much driving, what there is to do on time off, etc. are all good topics to go into.

CalifMom April 21, 2009 at 5:00 am

My advice would vary depending on whether you are a new host family or not. I think it might be hard for a new-to-hosting family to be matched with an experienced AP. A lot of first-time host family learning can be softened when your AP is also new to APing, if that makes sense!

Anonymous April 21, 2009 at 5:56 pm

We are a new host famliy and our au pair is an extension AP. We previoulsy had a live-in nanny so that may have helped. I appreciated having someone who could “hit the ground running” and our AP did. Also getting a driver’s license was so easy. She just had to switch from one state to another.

Jillian April 22, 2009 at 2:34 am

I would ask her about her previous host family. What was a typical day like with them? What did she most enjoy doing with their children? What tasks did she dislike doing for the host family? Hopefully you can get a sense of how she works and be able to make sure they’ll match your needs and expectations well. I found this article about interviewing au pairs, worth checking out: http://www.goarticles.com/cgi-bin/showa.cgi?C=1544855

Momofboys April 24, 2009 at 3:33 am

I was wondering if people call the host Mom first to get a feel for the au pair before going down the path of interviewing her if you like what you see from the application?

Mom23 September 15, 2009 at 4:24 pm

We had two rematched au pairs and one extension au pair and they were all great. We were excited about our next rematched au pair. She was very engaging on the telephone and seemed to be great. She was horrible. Once she joined us she complained about everything and couldn’t even do many basic things. After three months she quit and moved on to another family. We had made the horrible mistake of not talking to the previous host family (the family left the au pair program). We will never make that mistake again.

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