We would like to start by reassuring all the future Au Pairs… The Skype interview is NOT like a school interrogation and it doesn’t matter if you don’t use the correct verbs or the sentence is not properly constructed! A couple of times we didn’t understand what the family told us, but be sure to understand the general meaning of everything. They know that English is not your first language.
Useful question for the first and/or second Skype interview with the host family:
• What will my main duties be as your aupair?
(If they don’t say anything about this, is the first question you have to ask to make sure you understand what you are going to do, if you are able to do it and if you can fit their family)
• Could you describe the personality of the kids?
(Knowing what the habits of the kids are, if they are shy or extroverted can help you a lot)
• What kind of activities do you do on weekends?
(In case your expectation is parting or going out all weekends, it ‘s better to ask how it does works, so you can’t be disappointed. Mapu hoped that they were doing a lot of trips or excursions. The truth is that they are a normal family that works all week, so on week-ends they do some housekeeping and spend time together).
• Would you like that your au pair is part of your time off and activities too?
(This is very important. Maybe your expectation is that they say to you: “We will do all the extra activities together and you can come all the time with us” but perhaps they want to do their activities alone and have some privacy with their children)
• How does your family celebrate holidays, parties or birthdays?
(This is not an important question, but it’s useful knowing if they take trips, gather with their relatives or don’t have any kind of party/celebration)
• Can you describe me my tipical day on vacations?
(On vacation your schedule can change a little. It is useful to know, if you go on vacation with them, what your duties are going to be. Just because is vacation for them, doesn’t mean it is vacation for you!)
• Why do you want to have an au pair?
(There are thousands of reasons why a family needs an au pair. You don’t have to judge them, but it’is better knowing it)
• What rules does the au pair need to follow?
(We didn’t ask this question even if we wanted to. Maybe we’ll ask it in the next days or when we’ll arrive in the family, just to understand what their habits are and adapt ourselves without having/creating problems)
• What type of food do you eat?
(Resign yourself. They are americans and they have different usances. Susa clearly wrote in her application the importance of healthy food for her, in fact, her family eats healthy. Mapu didn’t write anything so their meals are the typical american ones. it is up to you to decide how much it is fundamental, in particular if you follow a special diet).
• Do you usually eat or have dinner together?
(It looks like a stupid question, but it is not because maybe you have to cook. Susa’s family eats together because the host parents come back home early and her host mom likes cooking. Mapu’s family doesn’t eat together because her parents come back home at 08 pm or 09pm and the kids eat earlier. So she will be cooking almost everyday).
• Do you work from home or not?
(Lots of Americans work from home. Not all the au pairs like having the host parents around all day, maybe because they feel always controlled, under pressure, ecc. So this could be an important question).
• Do you have pets?
If the answer is yes, ask if you have to take care of them.
• Are you religious?
(This question is not essential, but if they are very religious, maybe they want you to go to Church with them on Sundays. On the other hand, maybe they are not religious, but you are and you would like to go to church).
• Are the kids going to day care, preschool or school? How far is school from your house?
(This is important to understand the schedule and if is your responsability to drive the children to school.)
• Do the kids do any activities after school?
(If they do something you are going to spend less time with them and you should ask if you have to drive them or pick them up. If your kids are going to stay home after school you have to plan some activities).
• What do the kids like to do?
(It is an important question to understand if you have feeling with the kids or not. Maybe if you have something in common you’ll feel more comfortable).
• Do the children have any health problem?
(Honestly we didn’t ask this, but is always better to ask if nothing is written on their profile. For example in Susa’s host parent’s profile it was written that the kids are healthy and rarely get sick).
• Could I go to parks, zoos or museums with the children?
• Do they like to play games outside?
• Do they watch a lot or tv? Do they play with videogames?
(Sometimes parents rather have their kids spending time doing activities than watching television)
• What time do your children wake up?
• Do you want me to talk with your children in English or in my language?
(Maybe a family pick you to teach your language to the kids).
• What kind of housework do I have to do? Do I have to do some grocery, for example?
(Light housework are part of your schedule. Normally they are cleaning the kids room, laundry, ironing, cleaning the kitchen after cooking. In Mapu’s case her host mom asked her if she could do the grocery at times. Susa’s family told her that she was only required to clean up the kids things, not even do the laundry even tho their current au pair does it. It is your choice to help the family when needed).
• Do you have a fixed schedule for your au pair’s work?
(This is also important. Mapu’s family has every day a different schedule. So if you like the routine, better “say no” to this kind of family).
• How many hours does the au pair have to work circa? At what time does my work begin? And finish? How about my week-end?
(Mapu didn’t ask this, but she made a count on what they told her and she will probably work about 45hours per week. In any case don’t be too strict. Susa’s family told her that she is going to work 30/35 hours per week, rarely a night or a week-end, the others will be all free).
• Will I have to drive them? When, to where, how often?
(If you don’t feel safe driving with children… don’t do it tell it to your family).
• How is the weather like?
(It is true, you can see it on the web, but is better to ask in order to pack a smart luggage).
• Can I use the car in my free time?
(This is a focal point. If you are in an isolated city maybe you need a car, on the other hand, if you live in a big city, there probably is public transportation. Susa will have a personal car. Mapu will have one car for the kids in the morning and another car for the week-end. In any case, once you arrive in the family ask how they want to manage the gas. If they pay for it or if you have pay for it is an important point)
• Can I travel on weekend to anywhere if I have free time?
• Will I have access to the internet? Is there any restriction with it?
• Do you smoke?
(If you don’t like smoking or you are a smoker ask about this. If the family smokes maybe you don’t like it, on the other hand the family might not that you smoke in front of the children).
• Can I speak with your au pair?
(If they have an au pair you can ask if you can talk to her. Susa’s family told her immediately that they wanted her to meet their current au pair. Mapu’s family gave her the contact after the match. In any case having the possibility to talk with their au pair can reassure you because it means they have nothing to hide).
• In my free-time can I join this association?
(We are volunteers in the Red Cross and we would like spend a little bit of our free time in social activity, not only to keep ourselves busy, but to discover new realities and meet new people. Susa asked if she could do it and they said that there are no problems).
• Can you describe me your typical day?
• What do the kids eat at breakfast?
(For Mapu it was essential, in fact she found out that she has to learn how to make waffle or bagles).
• Do you have lunch with S.?
(Mapu’s mom works at home and she wanted to know is they eat together)
• How far is …..?
(The biggest city near you. In biggest cities you can find everything, and knowing how far it is can give you an idea about your espectation for nights/we)
• Are you comfortable with the family?
• Do they treat you as a member of their family?
• Did they help you to open your bank account or to get the Social Security number?
• Can the kids shower by themselves or do they need help to do it?
• How was your Christmas time? Did you spend it with the family?
• Was there any problem to have your vacation time?
• Where did you find the courses for the credits?
(Susa’s au pair told her everything about the courses, how they are organized and how they work. Is useful knowing that 500$ aren’t enough, so we can decide if we want to invest more or less money).
• How many free weekends do you have per month?
Mapu’s family told her about it during Skype. Theatrically you have one free we evey month, but the truth is that she has to work every Saturday. In case she’ll organize a trip she can probably have Friday and Monday off.
• Are there spiders, snakes, fish?
(Every part of the world has its own animals and maybe not everybody feels safe with different animals. In any case, if you are afraid of something in particular, is good to ask. Mapu asked what kind of fishes there were in the lake. Susa asked if there were spiders and how big they are).
• Did you invite some friends over?
Maybe you like organize a dinner with your friends or invite your best friend over one night. Susa’s family told her that they like having parties and even hosted their current au pair’s parents.
• What did you bring as a gift?
(Is a good practice bringing gifts for the family. We can ask what she brought and if the family liked it or not to have an idea).
Your Au Pairs
Susa & Mapu