How Do You & Your Partner Coordinate When You’re Interviewing An Au Pair?

by cv harquail on September 21, 2016

Host Parents who have partners have lots of choices about when — and even whether — to involve both parents in the Au Pair Interviewing process.    9363030203_e47ef515c0_m

I’d love to know, among our readers, what the most common patterns are of getting each other involved.

How Do Host Parent Partners Coordinate During Au Pair Interviewing?

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Obviously, if you have a spouse or a parenting partner, you’re going to want to involve them in the au pair interviewing and matching process.

This can happen at many different steps in the process and at different levels of depth. Some parents prefer to have one parent be the “lead sled dog”, do most of the sorting & scheduling, and inviting the partner in to the second (or even later) conversation with the candidate.  Others prefer act jointly the whole time. Still others prefer to take turns or let whoever has a free moment take the next step.

Whatever process you choose, I recommend that at the very least you and your partner:   

(1) work together to identify the qualifications and qualities you are looking for,

(2) you discuss together your parenting and hosting philosophy,

(3) have a joint conversation with the candidate, and

(4) make the final decision together.

I recommend this for two reasons.

First, the au pair is going to live in the house with both of you, and care for the children of both of you. If one parent is not comfortable with the au pair, it will be hard for anyone to feel at ease in the home or in conversation about childcare.

Second, I believe that hosting an au pair should help make you a better parent — and that also mean being a better parenting partner. 

The conversations we have about choosing an au pair, as well as the conversations we have about how we want an au pair and our children to interact, are conversations that help us get to know ourselves and each other better as parents. Making the au pair selection a shared process is a way to get to know your parenting partner’s hopes and priorities regarding childcare and the family’s norms.  You really don’t want to go this alone.

Another reason for talking with the candidate together is that it will give the candidate a sense of how you two interact with each other and an idea of who cares about what.  S/he’s accepting a position not with one of you, but with both of you.  That’s true even if only one parent expects to regularly direct, coach and interact with the au pair.

What’s your philosophy about involving a parenting partner?

What’s worked best for you?


Sydney mum September 21, 2016 at 6:50 pm

We try to work to our strengths. HD is really good with admin & analysis so he’s really fast at sorting all the candidates & getting the initial emails out (we use a website so there are up to 500 candidates to sort & we send over 100 introduction emails to preferred candidates).

I am better at updating our profile & letting our family ‘personality’ shine through. We take turns at responding to emails, just whoever gets to them first, although as the emailing gets further along, it’s usually me who gets into the detail of getting to know each other.

We both do Skype interviews.

American Host Mom in Europe September 22, 2016 at 3:45 am

As with most domestic tasks, I have nearly 100% responsibility. I discuss candidates with HD, and he provides input, but it mostly is my decision. He interacts significantly less with APs, as he often travels for business, and I work from home. It works for us.

DCBurbTwinMomma September 22, 2016 at 5:41 am

We both independently scan for applicants and then compare notes. He actually initially found our current au pair. When we Skype interview, we take turns asking questions. This gives us an idea of the candidates level of comfort interacting with my husband and sets the tone for a year or two in the house. I do not want the AP to only talk to me–that’s exhausting.

2 kids and a cat September 22, 2016 at 6:12 am

Since our division of labor is that the AP covers my work schedule and I cover DHs, the AP mostly reports to me for work things. I screen the applications for our criteria and do the first few emails, looking for someone i’ll have a good work rapport with. When I am ready Skype I bring in DH and we start thinking about family dynamic.

TexasHM September 22, 2016 at 7:58 am

Being super Type A I drive the bus. When I think we have a potential match I meet DH for lunch and bring along her printed full profile, the printed email chain with pages of her answers and our conversations and he reads and we discuss. If he also thinks potential winner then I setup a Skype for just AP and him to talk. If that goes well then we are ready to match.

He was a lot more involved the first time we interviewed as we were both figuring out everything Cv noted above (what traits we were looking for, skills needed, what to include in handbook, etc). I have more flexibility to look at profiles during the day and let’s face it I’m more high strung than he is so he lets me flurry and then gets brought in as a closer near the finish line. He provides emotional support during the process as is it very draining/frustrating and reminds me not to settle and that we only need one AP and that she’s out there and will be worth the time/effort. I talk to him about how it’s going, who I’m talking to in general and anything noteworthy as I go along and if he’s home when I’m skypeing he pops in to say hello so it’s not a lack of interest and I’m sure he would read profiles if I let him. ;)

WestMom September 22, 2016 at 9:05 am

This perfectly describes us as well.

Old China Hand September 22, 2016 at 5:42 pm

Us too. I talk with the ap several times before Dh even sees the package. I talk with him along the way, but he won’t read the details. Between gender norms, commute times, work schedules, and language, I do most of the ap interacting.

They are generally uncomfortable with Dh at first but get over it. Overall they don’t have much depth to their relationship with him – mostly it’s friendly ribbing and stupid nicknames.

Nbhostmom September 23, 2016 at 8:43 am

I handle the entire process. I acknowledge I’m a control freak and am the one who “manages” the aupair 99% of the time. My husband is very laid back and would probably default to the first person he thought would probably be okay. Husband also travels for work a lot so it’s me, AP and kids at home. It’s just better for everyone if I manage the process :)

My husband’s first interaction with AP is at the airport picking them up. I keep him in the loop during the interview process, he’s in the know as to what is going one but cannot be described as an active participant. I take a lot of input from my kids during the interview, I’ve found they’ve always provided a lot of valuable feedback. My kids often can’t articulate why they don’t like someone, but I trust their instinct.

SA_Au Pair September 23, 2016 at 12:34 pm

From an au pair’s perspective I prefer it when I communicate with both parents at some point in the talking/Interviewing process. My first match was with a same sex family, they both emailed me at various times (signed their names at the bottom to let me know who it was) and although I Skyped with 1 parent more than the other the first skype session was with both of them. It’s important for me to be familiar with everyone who will be living in the home with me (the parents, the kids and occasionally families have shown me their dogs and cats). I want to see your kids (and have some kind of interaction with them), if you have a pet it would be nice to see it too and I also want to have some kind of conversation with whoever you’re raising your children with (via Skype and if they’re really busy a simple email). I’m flying thousands of kms to join a family I’ve never met from a different culture, I want to know who the kids are and I also want to know who the parents are – both of them. Aside from your children I also want to make sure that the parents are the kind of people I’d have a good relationship with (I want to avoid interacting with one of the parents for the first time in person and realising that I don’t like them). In SA we use a term that’s loosely translated to mean “our blood doesn’t mix” and this describes a situation where you meet someone and you just don’t like them. Obviously au pairs are different, this is how I approach things when families are interviewing me.

Quirky October 3, 2016 at 11:39 am

I’m much better at reading quickly and thoroughly, sorting candidates, and doing all the initial email rounds, so I pick the candidates we Skype with and then do at least the first Skype. DH comes in after that as he is going to be interacting with the APs probably as much as I am once they’re here, so he does his own round of Skype-ing as well. We have a small house for our noisy family of 5, so it’s important to both of us that our APs get along with and bond with both of us.

But I’m much better at the intensive screening and I’m also better at communicating via Skype up front (DH has the annoying habit of using super-long and complicated words and phrases that no non-native English speaker who’s anything less than perfectly fluent could possibly be expected to know) so I pull the laboring oar on that front.

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