Interviewing Au Pair Candidates: Every Question You’ve Ever Recommended We Ask

by cv harquail on March 23, 2010

Host Mom Melinda sent us all a wonderful present.

Melinda went through many, many posts on AuPairMom where we’ve recommended interview questions — AND she put them all together!

This will be a huge, long list. It includes some questions you’ll see on agency sites, plus several questions *exclusive* to all of us here. Thank you to all of the commenters– host parents, au pairs, LCCs, former au pairs, and nannies — who continue to share so generously.blue skies ahead cathynichols.jpg

Keep in mind that this list isn’t completely complete — we get wiser every day as we share tips with each other. So, without further ado:

Au Pair Interview questions and Application Evaluation

Competency – learned by reviewing application

Character – learned by asking key questions

Chemistry – learned through skype/webcam sessions

Competency

Review childcare experience -

Daycare?

Siblings?

Babysitting?

Nanny? Full Time? Part-time?

References –

Teacher?

Employer?

Family Friend?

Friend?

Employment Experience -

Has a job?
Has held a paying job before?

Education -

College?

Just high school?

Special training (camp counselor, soccer coach)?

Photographs –

Pictures of family?

Pictures of babies?

No pictures of friends?

Pictures of him/her swigging from a beer bottle?

Family –

What do the parents do for a living?

Does the mother work?

Are they educators or professionals (medical, lawyer etc)?

How many siblings are there?

Are the siblings younger or older? Much younger or older?

History of divorce, family trauma?

Essay –

Does the essay talk a lot about travel and social activities or does it focus on family and caring for children?

Diet –

Does the applicant have dietary restrictions?

Any foods she will not prepare?

Religion?

Character

What values did you parents teach you as being most important in life?

What three adjectives would your friends use to describe you?

Do you have a boyfriend? How does he feel about your decision to become an AP? How do you think you’ll handle being away from him for a year?

What kind of roads do you typically drive on?

Do you have experience driving in heavy traffic?

Do you own your own car?

Do you drive often, how often?

How long have you driven?

Are you OK driving long distances to travel?

What kind of cars have you driven?

What is the furthest distance you have ever driven?

What kind of bad weather have you driven in?  (snow? heavy rain?)

Have you ever used a GPS?

When you need to figure out how to drive to somewhere, how do you get directions?

Have you ever gotten lost while driving? If so, what did you do?

Have you ever been on a road trip with a friend?

What is your best driving habit?

What is your worst driving habit?

How is driving at nighttime different from driving during the daytime?

Are you close with your siblings?

How did you hear about the program and who suggested that you become an aupair ?”

Do you have relatives in the US?

Is religion important to you?

Are you a morning person? Are you able to start your day early?

Do you have a housekeeper? Do you have duties at home? Please explain what your duties are

Have you had a job before? Tell us about your job & what you did. What where the challenges? What did you like? How long did you work there? Why did you quit?

How do you handle conflict with your parents?

How do you like to keep your room at home?

If the baby is crying & hurt, the 3 & 4 year old are fighting & the doorbell rings – how would you handle that situation?

What would you do if you were driving & the boys are fighting or takes off a seat belt?

What is your biggest strength/weakness?

What is your biggest concern or fear about becoming an au pair?

Why do you want to come to the USA and what are your plans when you go back to your home country?

Do you have a maid at home?

The child you are looking after is just learning to walk. She is walking on a concrete sidewalk and falls forward and hits her head. Her head is cut and bleeding heavily. She is crying hysterically and is very upset because she is in pain and is scared. How do you handle this?

Have you ever clipped a baby’s fingernails or toenails?

What are your expectations for the home that you will live in as an au pair? Will you be uncomfortable if the home is not perfectly clean at all times?

Have you had any prior lengthy illnesses?

What age children do you prefer to take care of?

How much sleep do you need to feel rested?

How do you plan to spend your time when you’re not working?

Do you know anyone in the US?

What is your best and worst memory of your family life?

What kind of role do you want to have with the children? A playmate? A teacher? A parent? How would you go about these roles?

Do you want to be like a roommate or do you want to be like a member of the host family? A roommate socializes outside of the home most nights and weekend with friends. A member of the family eats dinner at home each night and spends time at home on the weekends and watches movies with the host family in the evening.

How do you make friends?

Do you enjoy playing with dogs and are you comfortable with them?

How do you envision your day taking care of our daughter?

What do you think is most exciting thing about coming to the US as an au pair?


Image: Blue Skies Ahead by Cathy Nichols on Etsy

{ 50 comments }

PA au pair mom March 23, 2010 at 8:26 pm

Thanks for compiling the list. I am in the process of selecting au pair candidates to interview for next year. It will be very helpful.

Italian Au Pair March 23, 2010 at 9:17 pm

I like the list. Its not only important for hostparents to ask this questions.

Its also important for the soon-to-be-au-pairs to think about everything on this list to REALLY understand what beeing an Au Pair means.

Anonymous March 23, 2010 at 9:22 pm

Also ask : what aupair websites do you like/ suscibe to ? Then, check out the website and see if it is a responsible site or one that encourages aupairs to concentrate on the type of car she will have , etc.

Taking a computer lunch March 23, 2010 at 10:16 pm

Here are some of mine:

How do you handle stress? Can you give us an example of a stressful situation you experienced and how you handled it? (Rather than giving them a scenario, I want to hear them describe an event in their lives to assess both English skills and maturity in handling the event.)

Do you like to schedule your day or be spontaneous?

Describe a typical day for you at home.

And from my “Are you an adventurous person series,” (because it turns out I’m incompatible with women who aren’t):

What is your favorite way to spend Friday or Saturday night?

Do you wait for friends to call you, or do you often organize activities for the group? (In my opinion an organizer is more likely to land on her feet.)

Have you tried different types of cooking that are not from your country, perhaps in a restaurant? What are your favorite foreign foods to eat? (After having an au pair cry that there was nothing to eat until we took her to a supermarket from her country. She still prefers not to eat with us.)

Do you like to cook? What are your favorite foods to make?

Have you ever traveled without your parents or family? Where did you go?

PA au pair mom March 23, 2010 at 10:51 pm

great suggestions, especially the ones about foods and cooking.

Anonymous March 24, 2010 at 7:21 am

COMPUTER LUNCH LADY
Can you share your your adventure series questions with us ?
A defining moment of my life was when someone asked me
if I was adventurous.

Taking a computer lunch March 24, 2010 at 1:24 pm

That’s pretty much it. I’ll look again tonight when I get home. It’s one I’m developing in reaction to my current AP, who was completely freaked out by the transition. I don’t think it occurred to her that America would be so different from her country. I have not been able to get a good read on her motivation for coming here. She hasn’t been very curious and we find ourselves offering information when she doesn’t ask questions.

'sota gal March 24, 2010 at 5:08 pm

Sounds like ours…for 2 weeks she walked around exclaiming that it was all so different from home – “even the light switches”! Heard it hundreds of times…. My gut feeling now is that she came here to be “closer” to her american BF, he’s in DC she’s in ATX. Wish I would have known about him in the interview!

It is so frustrating to feel lied to; after hosting several AP’s successfully I really felt like I had asked the right questions, only to find out the truth upon her arrival. During our interviews she claimed she didn’t have a BF at home or here, learned her trip to the US last year was to visit BF. We discussed her travels at length as I used to live where she visited. She’s now claiming she didn’t feel it was important to mention him because she didn’t know what their relationship was. She also talked about how outgoing and fun loving she is. On her second day with our family she is telling me how painfully shy she is. It was as though she was coached on what a HF wanted to hear, or how to answer questions. Even with open ended questions and HOURS of conversation I was lied to on almost every front.

Calif Mom March 25, 2010 at 8:04 pm

They ARE coached–probably by many well-meaning people, including family and friends–but I’ve come to the perspective that some also are incredibly optimistic about au pairing, and naive about the world.

Maybe if you consider her responses were given to you from the perspective of naivete, immaturity and rose-colored glasses, it won’t feel so much like lying as that Wow, this girl doesn’t really know herself at all, and the people in her life didn’t do much to prepare her for this.

I do hope it gets better for you, ‘sota gal!

I have been using “behavioral interviewing” where the questions you ask are geared toward “Tell me about a specific example of when you….[fill in the blank]“. This is more likely to help you dig into how she is wired (if you agree that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior).

Taking a computer lunch March 24, 2010 at 9:07 pm

I’m confirming that that was all the questions I had in that section. I do recall my first LCC saying that one should look for an AP who has participated in a sport, played an instrument or who had done something that required building skill over a long period of time. It showed that she could perservere. I must say that my first 4 APs had those qualities – 3 had played on sports teams and two found local competitions. One played an instrument well enough to land a spot in her village band, which required both regular practices and performances. I pooh-poohed her remark at the time, but upon reflection, it does make sense. (And it reflects back on that sense of managing time as well.)

Courtney Bosch March 23, 2010 at 10:48 pm

Great questions! Nice to see them all in one place. ;)

Deb Schwarz March 24, 2010 at 11:40 am

Glad you liked my “three C’s”……thanks for compiling the list!

Calif Mom March 25, 2010 at 7:53 pm

I used them a week ago, too, Deb! :-)

Karin Six March 24, 2010 at 11:43 am

Love this! The more you know, the better! (I will put this information in my blog too.)

OB Mom March 24, 2010 at 4:45 pm

How about help with school work/HW:
Have you ever had to help children with their homework? How to you go about helping them? What ages of children have you helped?

Another important issue would be Time Management … not sure what a good question would be …

Taking a computer lunch March 24, 2010 at 8:09 pm

In my opinion, an au pair has to be extremely fluent to truly help with homework. My son is in a bilingual program, and I wouldn’t mind getting a Spanish-speaking AP, as I think it would give his skills a boost that I can’t give him (I can read his work, but I can’t really correct it). I don’t ask APs to more than to see that it is done.

In my experience, most of my APs have had to juggle multiple things. Many of them have worked, gone to school full or part-time, done a praticum, assisted family members.

How about, for those still in school: What is your average grades (and then ask them to explain the scale). If your AP is a good student, then chances are she’s figured out how to prioritize.

Or, ask a question about juggling the needs of work, school, home and friends, so that they have to tell it in the form of a story. You should be able to assess what’s the most important thing in their life from it.

Not Julia or Julie March 25, 2010 at 5:50 pm

I like your ideas for those who haven’t juggled multiple things as yet in their lives. For your son’s Spanish homework, be cautious, however in selecting a native speaker. Many Mexican and some Central Americans are not really skilled in grammar, so may not be useful for assisting with homeowrk. In general, South American or Spanish APs will probably be more correct, although any would be great for conversing and increasing his fluency.

Calif Mom March 25, 2010 at 8:06 pm

We’re thinking of going with a native speaker this time, because of the troubles with enforcing homework. It’s not that I necessarily need the AP to help out with concepts, but she needs to be able to say “What do you mean you don’t have any homework today? Let’s look at your binder…” and find the assignment buried in the treasure trove of a backpack.

Italian Au Pair March 25, 2010 at 3:48 pm

Maybe that sounds like a stupid question:
“What kind of things has the agency in your country told you about beeing an au pair.”

Its crazy with what kind of expectations some of the girls have been sent to the USA.

OB Mom March 25, 2010 at 4:46 pm

Excellent point! We never think about it from your perspective as to what you have been told being an AP will be like.

aria March 25, 2010 at 5:17 pm

“What kind of role do you want to have with the children? A playmate? A teacher? A parent? How would you go about these roles?”

^^ This one is my favorite!! Such a good point, because expectations can really be different. I wish I had thought about this before I became an au pair for my 1st HF, and I also wish they had asked me! After several weeks of plain rudeness from their daughter, I complained, and they told me THEY were the parents and they would worry about discipline… so I should just stick to playing with her like a friend from school, and stop trying to discipline her!

Calif Mom March 25, 2010 at 8:08 pm

OOh, Aria, YUCK-O! That would not fly in my house. Very good question for the au pairs to ask! That question would definitely help you identify authoritarian host parents who see the au pair role as something like the playground lunch lady at school–there to enforce basic safety rules, but has no real authority except to call the principal.

Jeana March 26, 2010 at 7:48 am

What do you need from a host family?

How do you plan to spend time when you’re not working?

How does your family feel about you becoming an aupair? (I want to hear that there has been discussion, what the family’s fears might be, whether the aupair values their opinion, etc. If she cares about the counsel of her parents, she’ll care about my counsel, most likely.)

Wanted to mention that we used Skype, regular phone calls, and e-mail to get many questions answered.

KittyGirl March 31, 2010 at 1:34 pm

It is true. All of my aupairs have eventually made comments about what they have been told ‘to do’ to get picked. Some are so silly – “Smile with your teeth – Americans love smiles w/ teeth (which is not popular in Europe)” .

helgalabelga April 7, 2010 at 9:22 am

Thank you for this list!
Our first, terrific AP is leaving at the end of the month and here are 3 elements in her “résumé” that I will certainly look for again in new candidates (except that we are looking for a Dutch-speaking AP that is willing to come to Switzerland and hence the pickings are very slim to begin with; most girls seem to want to go to the US):
1. Experience as a (boy) scout counseler — knows how to handle kids in all kinds of situations, used to dealing with life’s big and small crises, plenty of inspiration and energy to play with kids. Above all: shows she does not shy away from taking on responsibility, long-term
2. Previous professional experience in the military — is 100% reliable, always there when we count on her, disciplined about looking after her stuff (never lost her wallet or keys or purse or … like most of her AP friends), and doesn’t whine (she seems to have a very high tolerance towards events and situations that would drive others up the trees)
3. Many years as a competition gymnast — shows that she can stick with something challenging long-term*, plus she is in great shape and full of energy to play with our son and go for long walks with our son. *Someone in this thread mentioned learning an instrument; this is similar, with for me the difference that at the moment I care more about the resulting physical fitness than musical ability.

Anonymous April 7, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Great things to look for in a candidate, but come on: a Dutch speaking au pair with military/scout/gymnast experience who wants to go to Switzerland? What are the chances? :P

West Coast Mom April 29, 2010 at 2:35 pm

This seems like as good a place as any for this question, so here goes:

I’m interviewing APs (will be our second) and I would really like to confirm that they are comfortable with the less glamorous (and even a tiny bit gross) side of things, but I feel uncharacteristically shy about bringing these things up. I’m talking stuff like, helping my 5 year old in the bathroom . He’s potty trained of course, but as any mother of boys can tell you, boys need … shall we say, more help cleaning up than girls? (which is a nice way of saying i still help him wipe his bum – pls dont judge me).

How do you ladies handle?

Should be working April 29, 2010 at 2:44 pm

Uh, I still wipe my little guy’s too. I just make sure to say, “Have you had experience with this age group, and you know it means you have to help him wipe after pooping, for instance?” Wiping once-twice a day is anyway less of a chore than full-blown diaper changing several times a day.

BTW my girl wanted my help until age 6, my 4.5-yr-old boy is already trying to do it himself, with mixed results.

TX Mom April 29, 2010 at 3:35 pm

DEFINATELY ask in the interveiw! We had an AP with MANY wonderful skills but we were at loggerheads on this one topic quickly after she arrived. She refused to help a 2 year old boy go potty. She insisted that in her country all boys that age were fully potty trained (even wiping) and our son was “lazy.”

PA AP mom June 7, 2010 at 7:13 pm

For me, I wouldn’t feel comfortable taking on a male au pair because my husband works out of town during the week. We live in a very small town and I can already hear how the gossip would fly if I was home alone (and the kids) with a 20-something young man while hubby was working in Toronto.

DC Mom of 3 June 14, 2010 at 4:18 pm

I’m not sure if anybody is still looking at this particular thread, but if so, I wonder about the questions on au pairs living away from home before. Both of my previous au pairs had never been ANYWHERE. Never away from their parents even for a few days. They were both amazing au pairs – very family oriented, very concientous and careful about things in the house and very much focused on making me happy – all good qualities that worked out well for me! Now, I am matching for next year and looking at a candidate who has done quite a bit of travel for internships/work/study, etc. Since I’ve never had someone with travel experience before, I wonder if this is a positive or a negative? I certainly don’t want to be just another notch in the travel belt, but it might be nice to have someone who is a little more self-sufficient from the outset this time. Any thoughts??

iMom January 11, 2011 at 11:55 am

I thought this was important – that they had some time away from home. But both of our outstanding au pairs have never lived anywhere but with their parents and did very little traveling. Both were exceptionally self-sufficient and adjusted easily to being in a new home in a new country.

Should be working December 20, 2010 at 6:58 am

As I get into my first real, normal matching situation ever (not transition, not shorter-term, etc.) I’m refining my very long list of questions for interviewing and loving this site’s recommendations. I thought I’d post a new category here.

Cosmopolitanism
a. Are there any people in your town who are not from your country?
b. Are there any people in your town with dark skin?
c. Are there any people in your town who are not the same religion as you are? Do your parents have friends who are of other religions or skin colors?
d. How many gay or lesbian people do you know?
e. Do you know any gay or lesbian people who have kids?
f. How often do you visit a big city? Which one? Alone or with parents? How long have you spent there? What did you like and not like about it?

These issues are not as important as childcare-related ones, but I’m hoping they might help us figure out ‘fit’. And as always the actual answer is not as important as the WAY the AP candidate answers, and how she reacts to the questions at all.

Should be working December 20, 2010 at 6:58 am

Oops, this comment did not land where I meant it to, i.e. at the end of the string.

Taking a Computer Lunch December 20, 2010 at 8:18 am

I’ve had plenty of APs from European villages and small cities without a lot of diversity who did absolutely fine in my community where diversity is the rule. I do convey information about that diversity to them prior to their arrival. Interestingly, the one AP who brought it up herself, in matching, was from a city in Brazil with the same diversity.

After AP #5 who was in culture shock the day she arrived and remained that way until she left our family (she actually retreated into a community of people from her country who were not APs in more ways than one), we retrenched and redid our questions. We created our own “rebound” effect and turned off more than one candidate. And all our questions about food did not help – our current AP (#6) is far less adventurous as an eater than our ten-year-old (something that had never even been an issue until AP #5).

The bottom line – the telephone interview is a good weeding tool, but it’s not your only weeding tool, in assessing which potential candidate(s) are best for you. And, in my experience, it’s the actual confrontation with difference that challenges every opinion an AP has ever held about “others” that shapes who she will be.

hOstCDmom December 20, 2010 at 9:07 am

FYI, in case some folks aren’t aware, at least one agency (CCAP) asks AP’s questions along this line.

The questions are regarding which kinds of people/families the AP will NOT match with –
i.e. single dad, gay couple,
HF of a race different from the APs,
HF of a religion different from the APs,
HF of a particular race,
HF of a particular religion etc…

The q’s and answers are part of the application that the HFs do NOT see — I’m not sure why since this seems to be pretty important information. (there were also q’s about boyfriend/girlfriend and area of the country the AP wanted to be placed in) However, when we were CCAP (we no longer are) I would always ask the placement manager to see this part of the application and be informed of the answers to these questions. Personally, we are about as outwardly traditional/stereotypcial/”common” type of family in the USA (HM and HD, married to each other, caucasion, christian religion, children) BUT it matters a lot to us that APs can embrace our open, diverse and liberal world view (and not undermine or contradict it to our children by word, action or implication), as well as our friends of other races, religions and sexual orientation. Thus, the answers to these questions are very important to us. We would not want an AP that picked us primarily because we were white and/or christian etc.

Should be working December 20, 2010 at 9:48 am

I’m using CCAP, and did last year, and I definitely want to see those pages of the application! I find that some of the modifications CCAP recently made to the online applicant files are not as advantageous as one might think. HFs used to see pdfs of all the hand-filled-out forms, including by the doctor, the applicant, and the references. Now instead all that info seems to have been input into a webpage system. It makes them easier to read (handwriting no longer an issue) but I feel like I’m losing some ‘soft’ info by not seeing the actual pages written as they actually were done by the filler-outer, whether that be the applicant, the recommender, the doctor or whatever.

And I will add that they no longer include height and weight in the doctor’s reports, and I want to know that. I don’t want someone who has a weight problem, i.e. no one very overweight or even slightly underweight, and I want to see what a doctor records the weight as. The medical report we now see seems to have answers only from the candidate, not from the doctor, and only regarding medical history (have you had measles?). It’s not clear to me that the APs even have to have medical exams.

The new video system is much more telling (I’m hoping) than the collages we saw before, but the candidates’ videos are so similar in WHAT they say, it’s more for me a matter of trying to guess at their general character on the basis of how they appear in the video. But this was always a problem, the canned answers that sound all alike.

. December 20, 2010 at 6:29 pm

@SBW …. Oh, I know I probably shouldn’t post any comments here since, well…it’s kind of a HPs topic, but since not that long ago I responded to all this questions before being even matched for the first time (You know, to get myself ready to all the possible questions HPs may do to me) I thought I’d come and check the new post anyhow, and well…Yours totally caught my attention. The video part especially. I was actually doing mine last week and what you said is exactly what I didn’t want to do. Sometimes when I looked at those videos it seemed as though they all have got some sort of script they’d memorized, and I kind of didn’t want that, but then when my video was done I wasn’t sure at all if that’s what HFs would want or not. Besides talking about why I wanted to be an AP and showing pics, I included things about the things I liked, like art, and for example a little part where I showed how I was trying to improve my English currently (before getting there) that in my case was through american TV shows and I even included a small clip, and now seeing the video, I’m not sure at all if hostparents rather a regular video with AUpairs saying the same, or a video like mine that shows things that aren’t all that relevant to the childcare, you know…? (I still did include my kiddies too though! ;)

I know this post is not that relevant either to this topic particularly, but I just really wanted to say that anyway hee hee ;) I guess I’m still kinda troubled as to be sure if my video is good, or one of those ‘scare HFs’ videos, so anyhow…
Thanks to you all for the questions posted here. They really help us all (or at least me) to be more prepare to the interviews, but most important to actually think the ACTUAL reasons why I want to go to the States, and how hard the job’s gonna be, you know? Thanks again! ;)

Ah, another thing, as in my case, cc never made me go to the doctor or anything. They did ask us about our diseases history and stuff, but never really made us have a proper exam by a doctor. I honestly hadn’t thought about that until I read this post….

Should be working December 21, 2010 at 4:54 am

I think a video that really expresses YOU is the best thing for finding a HF that will want to match with you and makes a good fit. Showing yourself doing things, including hobbies and learning English, is a great idea for your video. I don’t know about anyone else, but those canned lines about loving children and wanting to be part of the family make me glaze over. I have even watched prospective AP videos with the sound turned down, because the WAY the person talks and how they smile (or not) or interact with others in the video is more significant to me than the canned lines.

As I wrote in that other post, the problem I have is that I don’t know if (in that first round of selecting a few candidates among many) I’m then screening more for video-making abilities and acting abilities than for real potential. A bad video-maker with poor onscreen skills might be a great AP; but I have to screen for something for that first round, so I start with impression onscreen.

HR people must know more about this, but I have read that job interviewers (granted APing is different) in effect make up their minds in the first 2 minutes. Impressions count. Also, I have taken deeply to heart someone’s advice here (related to driving, but still)–I think it was TaCL–that one should hire for attitude and train for skill. This has been an invaluable bit of wisdom in my search. Would love to hear from people who differ on that point, however!

Should be working December 20, 2010 at 7:34 am

For the record:

Smoking
a. Do your parents smoke?
b. Do your friends smoke?
c. Have you ever smoked at a party or at a bar?

AP candidates sometimes lie about smoking. No idea how to screen for this, but it makes no sense to flat-out ask if the AP smokes (which is easy to lie about and she knows the answer should be ‘no’) and instead consider the ‘epidemiology’ of smoking around the AP candidate.

hOstCDmom December 20, 2010 at 9:11 am

Along this line, we try to ask “When did you stop beating your wife” kinds of questions. I agree that direct questions on some points are useless.

We try to ask questions that make certain assumptions about things we care to know about, in a way that the AP answers the ostensible question, but it is actually responding to the underlying assumption that you want to confirm.

*Do you smoke regularly, or only when you are out in pubs having a drink? (=do you ever smoke?)
*Do you think your boyfriend will miss you and want to visit? (=do you have a boyfriend)
*Do you prefer wine or beer (=do you drink)
*When you had your car accident, how did you handle it in your home country (=have you ever had a car accident?)
*When you go clubbing do you prefer to go with a large group or only with your best friend (=do you go clubbing)

etc..

I have found that this approach actually does help with the smoking question. i.e. I agree with Should Be Working that cultural norms differ and in some cultures somone who only smokes in a pub will likely say that are a non-smoker, as well as the agencies really stress to the girls that they have to “be” (=”say they are”) non-smokers or they will not be selected by American families.

Calif Mom December 20, 2010 at 11:34 am

I love these suggestions from December 2010! hOstCDmom, we fall in the same demographic bucket and try to be very clear that homophobes need not apply. But on paper, we are good Christians–we even have two angelic-looking choir girls (don’t believe the hype!)–and I could see where if one has a skewed view of American religious life, you’d think we were members of the Crystal Cathedral.

When I’m hiring for my staff, I follow the theory that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior and try to interview for that. But how do you reconcile that concept with the whole problem of someone never having lived away from a controlling mom before? It is absolutely true that our au pair was not a big drinker when she lived with her mom. It is also absolutely true that she likes to drink. But my frustrations are not just about drinking — it’s like we’re her roommates and it’s her freshman year of college–except she’s 22! The junk food, the “freshman 15″ of weight gain due to inability to put boundaries on herself, the chronic underestimating of how long it takes to get things done and so ALWAYS being late. It all comes back to immaturity.

Or do you just throw out candidates who seem to have a controlling mom but who have never lived away from home? That would make a tiny pool of candidates, indeed, especially from places like Brazil, where it’s the norm for young people to keep living with their parents, even during and after university. And for mom to be in firm charge of the household. If we had put that cap on candidates–you must have lived away from Mom–we would not have accepted our two best au pairs.

Should be working December 20, 2010 at 11:52 am

With our first AP I thought it was great that she had lived away from home already and was ‘old’ by AP standards. Turned out she was running away from her mom anyway, who called and harangued her at our house and begged her to ‘come home’. And the AP was depressed, dull-witted, and more focused on her own life than on our family and kids, which latter part could be seen as appropriate for a 25-yr-old adult. Our 2nd AP was young and hadn’t lived away from home (except for her first HF, which hadn’t worked out for many reasons). She turned out to be a pitch-in, step-up-to-the-plate AP in ways the first never did. So now I’ve thrown out the criteria of living away from home. I’m going to focus much more carefully on the nuances of HOW candidates answer questions and ferret things out more if I can. (2nd AP wrote on the app that her father was a strict disciplinarian at home. I remember wondering about that. Months into her year with us she confessed to me that he beat kids and mom.) Personality cues are going to be more important. I fantasize that this ‘method’ will work.

My new and constantly improving pile of interview questions now include a LOT about the AP’s parents and her relationship to them, including how they handled discipline, arguments and division of labor. I figure that a past with a happy family (or at least normal-happyish) might be a predictor of a future with us.

HRHM December 20, 2010 at 2:40 pm

Ditto for me with the “have you lived away from home”. AP2 was a slob and it turns out Mom did everything for her, so AP3 was chosen specifically for being older and having lived away from home . Turns out she has Mommy-issues and there is a LOT of transference in her behavior with me. Every suggestion is shot down, any criticism is an attack, any request for help is over-stepping my bounds. Not so with DH, thank god – esp since I’m deployed right now. In fact, had I not been deployed since August, she definitely wouldn’t have made it the year in our house. So now, I’m back to looking at younger APs because I’d rather have to harp on someone to put their dishes in the dishwasher than feel like my AP hates me (at least AP2 loved her Mom and it was reflected in the way she treated and still treats me).

Taking a Computer Lunch December 20, 2010 at 3:06 pm

I threw out living away from home a long time ago. We’ve had APs coming straight from high school and those who had attended university. One AP had lived in a dorm from middle school onward, and while she was self-sufficient, good at cooking and cleaning, she was distant, as if our home were another dorm.

One question, that helps to determine familial relationships, is “Who cleans your room?” If a maid or mom does it, you better believe that she’s not used to pitching in (it doesn’t mean she won’t rise to the occasion – because I have had APs who have). One question I’d like to ask next time, is to ask, “Have you cooked a meal in the last seven days?” Because saying that one likes to cook and cooking are two different things. (I need not ask a cleaning question – up to know all of my APs have preferred a cleaner house than I.)

HRHM December 20, 2010 at 2:48 pm

We also address this by sending our HFHB prior to matching. It essentially states that we chose AP based on her assertion that she doesn’t smoke. So, if we find that she is lying it will be grounds for an immediate rematch. It goes on to specify (in case there’s any doubt) no smoking in the car, outside, in front of the kids, in the house, in her room or (in bold) even in her free time.

We’ve been lucky so far, but current AP3 asked about 1 month in why we felt we had the right to dictate whether she smoked in her free time (she asks a lot of questions about hohw we can violate all her rights, but that’s another post!) I explained that it stinks and I don’t want to smell it. I also explained that there are plenty of medical journal articles that show that even the smoke on surfaces (skin, clothes, etc) can induce asthma attacks. Hmmm…haven’t smelled it on her, but maybe she was thinking of starting? :)

williams July 16, 2011 at 4:38 am

Au Pair/Nanny,househelper are required for a friendly family in Leicester, for my daughter whose age is 3 years old.

DUTIES AS FOLLOWS;
Preparing, breakfast, making packed lunches, walking child to school
-Prepare evening meals and drive Helen after school club activities
- Washing , iron clothes and keep the home in order
- Core working hours 35-40 hours per week good rates of pay £13.00 p/h gross
- It s not essential that the candidate can drive, but they can able to provide references, outline their level of experience and speak English.
BENEFITS AS FOLLOWS;
-Use of Transportation with Valid driver\routes license
- Free private apartment with full electronics sets
-24hours internet connection with personal laptop for you to communicate with your love ones.
-Free feeding and tax-free
-free Flight ticket for your arrival to our home.
REQUIREMENTS AS FOLLOWS;
-Previous experience with children required. References required.
-full Updated resume/CV
Salary depending on candidate’s experience & qualifications.

For more information, please Email/chat us.
yahoo id:lisadominic94
gmail id:lisadominic94
skype id:lisadominic94

anonamomma July 17, 2011 at 12:07 pm

To ANY potential AP’s out there – DO NOT ANSWER THE ABOVE POST or contact the poster.

It may be dangerous – why is this person advertising like this and not through an agency or appropriate website?

PLEASE BE CAREFUL – there are horrible people in the world who think nothing of tricking young girls to come to countries in Europe with promises of au pairing/ nannying or cleaning and when the girls arrive they are forced into prostitution or worse. Human trafficing is a very real danger.

CV – I hope my comments are okay with you – if not please feel free to remove this post

cv July 17, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Thanks !! I really appreciate you stepping in to make sure no one is taken advantage of on the site. Normally I’d taken his comment down but with your warning attached I think it’s actually a good learning tool. Cv

Should be working January 17, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Glad I checked this thread again as I begin interviewing candidates for summer arrival. I forgot a lot of the important, open-ended questions. Here’s one I’ve added: What is your biggest fear for your au pair year?

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