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Interviewing an au pair tomorrow - need advice for questions

38 replies

goreousgirl · 06/02/2005 23:35

Can anyone give me any advice on helpful websites or previous experience of employing an au pair. She's Spanish, 26, over here to study english for 1 year, and currently staying with aunt and uncle nearby (I assume this is a benefit, as I hear au pairs get lonely). Found her ad on the school noticeboard. Any tips/words of warning as a first time employer please?

OP posts:

goreousgirl · 07/02/2005 10:13


OP posts:

RTKangaMummy · 07/02/2005 10:19

will she be going to classes?

How old are your children?

Has she had any experience with your ages before?

I presume she won't be sole charge but you could ask what she would plan to do with them for an hour while you were feeding the baby or bathing the baby how would she occupy the older ones?

If she is taking to school what does she know about green croos code?

How long has she been here?

What are you expecting her to do?


goreousgirl · 07/02/2005 10:25

Brilliant RTKM - thanks. I have a 5yr old and a 9mth old.

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minicommandant · 07/02/2005 10:25

Also how does she expect to make friends? What will she do in her leisure time? From that you might get a sense of how much initiative she has and whether she is likely to be in or out when not working!! Good Luck!

Oh yes, what household chores does she like/not like: if she is hopeless at and hates ironing, no point starting out including it in list of chores as will only cause agro later!


sansouci · 07/02/2005 10:27

Give her a few examples of difficult situations with children & ask her what she would do in each.


Ameriscot2005 · 07/02/2005 10:28

The interview process can be really tough because of the language barrier.

Some ideas:

Why do you want to be an au pair?
Why are you interested in my family?
What kind of activities do you like to do with children?
What do you plan to do in your free time?
Do you have any special food requirements?
What have you done since leaving high school?
Describe the specifics of your job (eg amount of childcare and cleaning required) and ask her if she is OK with this. Ditto if you want one of her workdays to be on the weekend.

Have a look over some of the older au pair threads on this site for what and what not to do with your new au pair. The key thing is clear communication as to what you expect the au pair to do and the standards required. Be patient at first. If there's something you don't like - say it - don't let it fester. If you are not happy with your au pair after 3 or 4 weeks, let her go. Work out her work hours to give her decent blocks of free time, and stick to this unless you agree changes a few days in advance.

Good luck!


goreousgirl · 07/02/2005 10:29

She only arrived yesterday, and doesn't speak any English! We're hoping to learn a bit of Spanish. Crossing road bit is clever - wouldn't have thought of that. Thinking of paying around £60 + babysitting and maybe language school costs. Would want her to work 7am-9am then 2.45pm-7pm x 4 days - does that sound reasonable?

OP posts:

RTKangaMummy · 07/02/2005 10:30

so you could ask how she will entertain 5 yr old while you are busy with baby

and also how will she entertain 9 month old while you are playing or reading with 5 year old.

Also how does she interact with the children during interview does she try to talk to them or does she ignore them.

Is she dressed appriopiatley ie if she is very made up and perfectly dressed she may not like getting dirty washing your kitchen floor


goreousgirl · 07/02/2005 10:31

You lot are great - I love Mumsnet! Thanks - this is extremely helpful.

OP posts:

sansouci · 07/02/2005 10:33

Big language barrier there! How will you communicate?


RTKangaMummy · 07/02/2005 10:34

wow no english that will be fun


Ameriscot2005 · 07/02/2005 10:35

Hours are reasonable - 25 hours per week is the standard. 2 nights of babysitting per week is included in the weekly pocket money. £60 is on the low side of acceptable, but appropriate if your au pair speaks no English (you "pay" for this in extra stress).

Her language classes should be free - if she speaks no English now there is no point in her forking out on expensive Cambridge courses. It's not your responsibility to pay for language classes, but some families make a contribution (in this case, it would be towards any books or transportation). Personally, I'd prefer to pay her just in her pocket money and not have any little perks, unless they are genuinely a lot cheaper to you.


goreousgirl · 07/02/2005 10:37

Have no idea - bit nervous about it - BUT her folks live within 1 mile radius (Uncle,aunt,cousin) they have all seemed willing and friendly on the phone - so I'm hoping if things did get out of hand - they'd help out - if not, I won't feel TOO guilty if it doesn't work out, as I know she has somewhere to go - am I being simplistic/stupid.....?

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RTKangaMummy · 07/02/2005 10:38

I know this is a side issue but what language do they learn in spain as a secound lang if not english?

french or portugese?


goreousgirl · 07/02/2005 10:40

Not sure - her cousin said that she is in Marketing in Spain, and needs to learn English to move on in her field. Done lots of babysitting - and understands a little English. Just wants to learn and v happy to throw her hand in for free accomodation and pocket money (they said £40 per week)!

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skeptic · 07/02/2005 10:42

This may be a completely non-PC thing to say, but it is based on very good advice that I received from a seasoned au pair employer:

If she has got to the grand old age of 26 and she doesn't speak any English at all, then it may reveal something about her overall intelligence or education level. It is worrying and she may not have as much initiative and common sense as you might be hoping for.

Just something for you to watch out for.

/donning flame-proof clothes now


goreousgirl · 07/02/2005 10:43

Very wise - and skeptic is your name....(smile)

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skeptic · 07/02/2005 10:43

Good point about French and Portuguese, Kanga. Arrogantly thought only of English as being the language to learn . I suppose Basque would be up there too.


sansouci · 07/02/2005 10:45

Agree with skeptic... no flame throwing from me!


Ameriscot2005 · 07/02/2005 10:49

It's good that her relatives are on hand to help out with translation - but they won't be there every time.

It's a good idea for you to put as much in writing as possible and she can go through this with her dictionary to figure it out. A ring-binder as a sort of au pair manual could work well (with nice things, such as local maps and bus timetables, as well as job instructions).

I would not pay her £40 even if they have suggested this - your instinct to pay her £60 is spot-on. As soon as she meets other au pairs at language school, they'll all start to compare how much they get.


sansouci · 07/02/2005 10:52

True enough about 2nd language in Spain but not much help to you if you don't speak French or Portuguese, eh?


Uwila · 07/02/2005 11:30

I may be too late, but here are some questions I posted a while ago (although some are geared towards a nanny more than an au pair). But you may find something useful in here.

Feel free to CAT me if you wish to know more. My first au pair was a bad experience. So I'd more than glad to help someone else avoid the problems I had.

I can not stress enough the importance of THOROUGH interview questions and following up on the references.

I would also recommend a book called "The Good NAnny Guide", which you can find at Waterstones.


Uwila · 07/02/2005 11:31

Sorry, forgot the link



crunchie · 07/02/2005 11:36

I bet when you speak to her you will find out she does speak and understand far more English than you think. At 26 and in a marketing job she probably speaks as much English as I do German (I did it for a year or two at school but not O level) which means I can understand a bit, read the odd signpost (or work it out) and say a few phrases. With family nearby you have a huge advantage too as she won't be so lonely. Good luck and fingers crossed.


RTKangaMummy · 07/02/2005 17:35

I asked DH to ask the Language teachers at his school

He asked the Head of Spanish what is the 2nd Language that children learn in Spain

He was told English

So anyway how did the interview go

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