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How Do you choose an Au Pair?

(16 Posts)
Metrobaby Thu 02-Jul-09 11:13:44

I'm currently looking for an AP on APW and I've had lots of responses and conducted a few telephone interviews. However, I'm not sure what factors I should use to decide the AP to go for.

For example, one sounded a bit monotone on the phone and another giggled incessently throughout the interview which put me off a bit - although I do realise it might have been nerves.

Some AP's say they are interested via the automatic messages on APW, and then I never hear from them again. I wonder what I should expect. Should I be chasing them? If I ask for a telephone interview and they don't respond I take this negatively and don't persue it any further. Should I favour the AP's which keep in regular email contact and ask lots of questions??

Any advice gratefully appreciated

catepilarr Thu 02-Jul-09 16:22:10

if an aupair does not pay for membership on apw/gap etc, which most of them dont, the only thing they can do is to send you that automatic message/add yo on their hotlist. and then hope you as a family paid the membershipand have access to their contact details.

Metrobaby Thu 02-Jul-09 16:23:51

I do have paid membership on APW. Caterpilar, does this mean the AP then has access to my email??

Metrobaby Thu 02-Jul-09 16:34:13

Just to add- I assumed that as I paid for my APW membership, that when I send a "YES interested" message that it would contain my email address for the au pair and hence she could then get in touch. Is this not the case?

Millarkie Thu 02-Jul-09 16:57:04

Yes, they should get your email if you contact them - however I always send them a 'cut and paste' email if I send a 'Yes' message.
The 'drop out' rate is tremendous - the last time I recruited I began with 80 'interested' au pairs, and emailed about 10, 'chatted' to about 5, took up references on 2, offered to 1 I don't bother chasing them if they drop contact, just assume they've been talking to several families and they've chosen one of the others.
I try to find ones with previous childcare experience (above babysitting), good English (can ring 999 if required), and drivers so once I've selected them I only have a few to talk to, and to some extent you are then left with persuading them that your family is a great place to be!

Metrobaby Fri 03-Jul-09 14:20:33

Thanks Millarkie - that is helpful to know as I seem to have a high drop out rate too and I was wondering what the reason is.

AtheneNoctua Fri 03-Jul-09 16:01:05

I would start with a standard set of questions that go to all of them, then you don't have to keep track of which questions you asked to which au pairs. My questions are quite long, and if they don't put some effort into filling it out then I figure they aren't really interested.

I recently hired a new nanny. I was talking to a girl I really liked who was more of a nanny/au pair. She was lovely. But, in the 11th hour chatter from the school gate made it's way back to me that my old nanny wanted to retutn to England, and since we alrready know and love and miss her, I offered her the job and she accepted. I believe this other girl is still looking. What kind of hours / job description / etc. are you looking for? I could pass her details to you (after I check with her) if you are interested.

DadInsteadofMum Fri 03-Jul-09 18:28:06

Similar statistics to Millarkies.

If they express an interest they get the standard email with a mini-questionnaire, a large number self deselect when they realise that I expect them to know what a child looks like, I never chase these, if they can't be bothered to reply what are they going to be like with the kids.

My final question is "what would you like to ask us", this can provide a lot of clues, are they askign about the kids and the household or the pay and the night life?

I look for some evidence of childcare, working on kids holiday camps I have found to be a really good identifier - and if a French person says they are an animator they are nto a cartoonist but are experienced in working in kids out of school provision.

On the telephone interviews the kids get involved - is their English good enough to hold a conversation with children (as the job involves quite a lot of that) and do they show an interest in the kids?

And finally, and most importantly, gut instinct, if you get the twinge that jsut says something doesn't feel right here, don't waste time trying to work out what or make it right, just move on to the next one. Using APW is a numbers game and you will see a lot of profiles before you find the right one.

Metrobaby Fri 03-Jul-09 22:09:39

Thanks for your helpful responses DioM and AtheneNoctua. I am beginning to think I am not as prepared or as stringent with my questions blush

AtheneNoctua - I will CAT you and let you know my details.

DioM - interestingly enough - whenever I ask the question what would you like to ask us, the pay is always at the top of the list!

UniversalAuPairs Tue 07-Jul-09 08:18:15

Please see, where there are interview and reference check sheets that are free to download and to use.

I hope this helps.


ConstantlyCooking Tue 07-Jul-09 17:09:47

I have just recruited first au pair via APW and did the following:
1. anyone who expressed an interest in us/i thought looked interesting got a standard email about us and what we needed and included info about pay and asking for questions.

Quite a few dropped out because I stressed driving was essential and because we were not offering the highest salary.

2. They then received a longer email with much more info about what we would want including an "average day" plus answers to their questions and more info about the DCs.

More dropped out at this stage

By now we were down to a more manageable number so the emails became more personal.
Then I narrowed it down to the (i thought) best two and interviewed them on the phone and took up references. Then offered the job.
The whole process took 3-4 weeks including breaks for DCs' birthdays etc.

I did not chase anyone who did not reply.
Fingers crossed that the au pair we chose works out. She sounds very nice! I also set up an excel spreadsheet to keep track of responses and key skills.
Good luck.

frAKKINPannikin Tue 07-Jul-09 19:12:01

From an au pair POV salary is a way to narrow down families - those offering stupidly low sums will get binned. There is NO point wasting time and effort talking to families and liking them if the basic conditions aren't okay.

Of course some prospectives have rather inflated opinions of themselves but after they've had similar figures quoted at them a few times they generally revise the estimate.

PixiNanny Tue 07-Jul-09 19:58:42

I would avoid a family if they didn't give me an idea of salary relatively early on (within the first few emails, though knowing upfront is nice!), if that helps you any. This is because I wouldn't want it to become more personal and 'getting to know you' until I knew what wage I would be getting for how many hours. So basically backing up what frakkinpannikin said

DadInsteadofMum Wed 08-Jul-09 01:33:56

I expect them to ask it early on and happy to discuss it, my point was I just have a low opinion of any applicant where it is their first question.

frAKKINPannikin Wed 08-Jul-09 08:26:59

Maybe you're giving them enough info on everything else?

As a nanny I ask ages of children, hours, location, salary, start date. If you're giving them info on everything else then salary is the only big thing which is unanswered. What would you prefer their first question to be?

PixiNanny Wed 08-Jul-09 11:42:22

Sorry Dadinsteadofmum, I only skimmed the whole thread and missed your post, just put down my expectations of the salary thing blush

When I was looking for a job for just me I included it in the first email to them if they didn't state it, however I also made sure that I asked a lot of questions about the family too, because I'd not accept a job that had a great wage but a nasty family, whereas I'd be happy to lower my salary expectations for a lovely family.

Currently looking for work to start in Jan, when I start properly looking (September time) I'll ask about their expectations for a couple (as I'm looking for work with the OH), salary, food allowance or whether they would prefer we eat with them (either is fine!), what the children are like, their ages, their hobbies, the family's routine, working hours, role information, location, what there is to do around their home socially and academically (I'd be more likely to ask about colleges than the nightlife though grin) Better to cover all of the bases earlier on

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