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Telephone Interview - Au-pair

20 replies

MrsS99 · 02/04/2005 12:10

Can anyone help me with what to say?? Am interviewing an Au-Pair over the phone tomorrow. Have had au-pairs before but they have always been in the country already so have interviewed face to face before.

Is it good idea to call a couple of times and just keep it fairly brief on the first occasion. Anyone out there an "old hand" at this. Would really appreciate some advice

OP posts:

Tanzie · 04/04/2005 21:16

Am I too late? I took up telephone references first before speaking to potential au pair on the phone, which weeded out one who sounded really promising. I just chatted about the sort of things we would expect her to do, free time, holidays etc. We had agreed salary (mine is more of a mother's help/au pair plus) already through e-mail, so it was just to get a feel for each other and have a chat. Uwila has a very comprehensive list of questions - you might like to ask her for these. Good luck!


MrsS99 · 04/04/2005 21:25

Tanzie, thanks for your message. You are not too late, now speaking to her tomorrow (tues) at 4pm.
This girl is in Germany and has come thru an agency so am rather trusting them to have sorted references properly although will double check if we decide to go with her. Good point tho.
I am going to see if I can get Uwila's list now.

OP posts:

uwila · 05/04/2005 09:51

Check your mail.
I also sent you a sample contract. My stuff is all geared toward a nanny who has sole charge od toddler/baby. So, you will need to alter some of the questions a bit for an au pair.

The only thing I can think of that is not on there that I would ask in a verbal conversation is give her some kind of crisis scenario and ask her how she would deal with it. For example, if childA fell off a kitchen stodd and you walked into the kitchen to find him/her on the floor unconcious and not breathing, what would you do? You can of course be abit less dramatic. But, I would throw a couple of problems at her and see how quick she thinks on her feet, so to speak.

I would also question why she wants to be an au pair and what her expectations are. Some young girls come over thinking it's all fun and games living in England, and then they find out there is real work involved.

Good luck!!


uwila · 05/04/2005 09:52

stodd = stool


Ameriscot2005 · 05/04/2005 10:01

First of all, I would ask them why they want to be an au pair, and perhaps what it is about my family that attracted them to the job. I would ask what they plan to do after their time as an au pair.

Then, I would tell them what the job is and see if they are in agreement. Emphasize the amount of housework they would have to do.

Then, I would ask what they like to do with the children - craft, cooking, playing outside, boardgames etc.

Then I would ask them what they will do during their time off - it's good if they have an interest that will occupy them.

Then I would ask them if they had any specific requirements - food, allergies, religious observence etc.

Personally, I look for an au pair that is going places. The time as an au pair is purely a gap year to take time off formal studies, to improve English and to get an idea of British culture. What I don't want is someone who is drifting through life. Basically, I want someone that is bright and full of initiative but is willing to get stuck in with anything.


MrsS99 · 05/04/2005 12:05

Thanks so much for that - some good stuff there. I laughed at the crisis scenario Uwila - not sure what I would do :} only joking!!

If you guys are still out there - what do you consider a fair rate. I read on one of the threads someone thought £65 pw (25 hours) was on the low side but my agency has said that was fair. Whats your opinion?

This is such a great site so much help out there.
Regards All.

OP posts:

uwila · 05/04/2005 12:48

In view of room and board that you are paying I would say that's fair. I'd actually probably be inclined to lower it a tad. And then when she shows up if she's good and you are really happy, bump it back up after a month or two.


Ameriscot2005 · 05/04/2005 13:08

Anything above £60 is fair. You can get away with £55. I think it's good to start off in your mind at £55, then add on for various "attributes", such as good English, Western European, driving license etc.

Paying too low, even if it is in the acceptable range, could cause you grief once your au pair gets to know other au pairs. It seems that the first thing to discuss is how much they are paid.


uwila · 06/04/2005 16:58

So, how did it go?


MrsS99 · 06/04/2005 18:37

Uwila, how sweet of you to ask.

Astoundingly well. I am still reeling from shock!! Her English was absolutely perfect I didn't have to repeat myself once, I think she understood everything I asked. Certainly her answers seemed to reflect that. I was on the phone for an hour and fifteen minutes and it flew by. Asked loads and load of questions (thanks all) and then I emailed her with the same ones again that were important to me, i.e. will you do the ironing, get in the pool with the kids, etc, not get upset about the housework etc!!) but worded very slightly differently. She responded to them all in the affirmative so I now have it in writing if there's a problem later. So great idea on the email front Uwila - I would not have thought of that. The agency rang an hour later to say they had heard from Germany that AP had felt it had gone really well and would be very interested in joining us.

I sent her a copy of our house rules, and AP duties and some spiel about us (my house rules have been assembled over the years from bitter experience and whenever there is a problem I put it in the house rules so hopefully there will never be the same issue again - seems to work well. She replied today saying yeah that all looked fine and she was happy with it. So have asked her to come.

It definitely paid being organised and having some great questions and I also took Ameriscot's advice and "downed" the money I bit - I'll top it up when I see how things are going. So that's it. Only time will tell!!

OP posts:

uwila · 07/04/2005 14:35

Ah, glad it went well. I hope the references were good too.


lisalisa · 07/04/2005 14:50

Message withdrawn


uwila · 07/04/2005 15:32

Here are a couple(though I don't have them written anywhere)
1- No one sleeps over without my permission
2- No smoking in the house or anywhere whilst on duty (no smoking on my property even when not on duty)


MrsS99 · 07/04/2005 18:52

House Rules - see below - I will probably get lynched for these but they work for us. I also list things on my House Rules like where they can iron (i.e. not on the carpet in their bedroom - our aupair's room now sports a huge burn thanks to a previous occupant), whether or not they can use the phone and when i.e. I dont want to act as her receptionist after a hard day at work and end up running up and down the stairs to her room every five minutes. I also list hygiene things like please change the bed every week and dust your room etc otherwise some will never do it and if its not written down it's difficult to raise - However of course all that stuff is a personal thing so I have not included it here. Oh and also dont wash jumpers ona hot wash or put them in the dryer and dont put your jeans in with my white towels etc (sound familiar anyone).
So here goes:


    Smoking is forbidden anywhere in the house or garden either by you or any of your friends who may visit. These are strict house rules and there are no variations.

    2 If you are staying out overnight please let us know beforehand. This is so we do not worry about you and also so we can set the alarm.

  2. If you are unsure about anything at all, the children?s routine, what cleaning materials to use, how to use the machines etc.please, please ask. We would much rather explain something to you a few times than have expensive disasters happen!

  3. If you want to have a friend (girlfriends only) to stay overnight, please ask our permission first. Please ensure you wash the bedlinen and iron it afterwards and put it back on the bed.

  4. We would ask that you seek our permission before you invite your friends into our house and we would expect to be introduced to them on their first visit. Never go out and leave friends alone in our house. (yes, it has been done).

  5. SECURITY: - Please make sure that you always set the alarm EVERY time you go out. If you are the last person in at night please make sure that you set the night alarm before you go upstairs to bed.

  6. When you are alone in the house or alone with the children, please always deadlock the front door.

  7. IMPORTANT - Please do not allow anyone into the house when I am not at home for whatever reason. Ask callers to call again. There are no exceptions to this rule. This is a strict house rule and it must be observed.

  8. Never allow the children to go off with anyone unless it has been pre-arranged with me. If in any doubt, ALWAYS telephone me first to check.

  9. Never ever leave the children alone in the house or allow them to play outside in the street without you being there.

    11 MANNERS ? Please make sure that the children say please and thank you for things they ask you for. They normally will do this automatically. Remember also to say please and thank you to them. If they are rude to you, tell them so and say you are unhappy with them, (then tell us). Please discuss this with us if you have any problems.

  10. Smacking is forbidden.


    It is very important that you are on time each morning and for School collection. There is very little time between breakfast and leaving for school. You must please be punctual.

    Hope it helps
OP posts:

highlight · 10/04/2005 17:47

Thanks for the list of house rules I found them really useful. We are paying the price at the moment for being to easy with aupair so will definately be producing a list of house rules for the next one! Will be interested to hear of any more house rules that other people have


lisalisa · 11/04/2005 09:53

Message withdrawn


uwila · 11/04/2005 15:32

Are these house rules actually a part of the contract, or do you just inform au pair of the rules after she arrives?


mrss99 · 11/04/2005 19:40

Yes, I view the house rules as being part of the contract and always send them to any AP we are inviting PRIOR to offering them a stay. However, you have set me wondering Uwila because I never actually ask them to sign anything, I just make absolutely sure that they have seen the rules and tasks before they come and then I go through them on again on their arrival, AND after that if needs be.Do you think signing is a bit too formal for AP?

OP posts:

uwila · 11/04/2005 20:03

It's perhaps a bit formal. I think it depens on how business like the employee is. Some are some aren't. But you could also cover it by putting something in the contract the states typical resons for disciplinary action/dimissal, one of which could read "failure to comply with verbal or written instruction" Then you could stick this in a welcome pack. Might even mention in the contract that she will be recieving a welcome pack upon arrival??? But, I think if you have a copy of the welcome pack yourself, it would be enough to cover you.


uwila · 11/04/2005 20:04

In fact, I think I might take my own advice and do this when my new nanny arrives in August.

I haven't done a welcome pack before, but have seen other threads suggesting it recently and I think it's a good idea.

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