Wednesday, 18 February 2015

What to look for in an au pair?

find the right au pair
Finding the right au pair for your family can be a tough but very important job. With thousands of au pairs looking for a placement, being able to make the right choice is hugely beneficial to your children and your family as a whole. In the following article, we will endeavour to outline some of the key points to look out for when choosing your au pair.
For instance, some families might focus on the au pair’s age thinking an older au pair will be more responsible than a younger one. What you want to be really looking for, though, is not only if your au pair is responsible, but also if she has a natural penchant with children. A younger au pair might have less experience, but might click with your kids better, may engage in playing games and have more understanding and patience with your children. An au pair’s personality is a key factor in the selection process, while age is not going to be a guarantee of success.
Here are our top 5 suggestions of things you should be looking for in your au pair during the selection process.
  1. Is the au pair good with children?
  2. Take a look at the au pair's profile. Has she much experience with children? Is she choosing a long-term career working with children or a caring career? Has she done any volunteer work with children? Has she worked in children's camps?
    Another thing to look out ofr is how interested she/he is in your children when you skype/interview her/him? Does she ask about your children? Is she interested when you speak about their hobbies? Having your children in the room when doing the interview is also a goo way to find out if this au pair is interested in your children. Does she/he make an effort to talk to your children? Does she say hello to them or just speak about her/himself?  Also, asking them how they would organize their time with the children and what activities they would plan for them is a good way to find out if your future au pair will be comfortable dealing with your kids. Please also see our agency's blog post Interview tips for host families.
  3. Does the au pair have experience with children?
  4. An au pair may claim to have years of childcare or babysitting experience. We always recommend to check au pairs’ references and to ring them directly. Do not accept a paper reference as you will not know who wrote this. It is very important to speak to the referee directly. 
  5. Is she a responsible and trustworthy person?
  6. If you’re leaving your children alone with your au pair, you want to make sure that she will behave responsibly. A way to detect if you can trust your au pair is, for example, by paying attention at her behaviour while the two of you are getting to know each other. Is she providing you all the information you asked her? Were the references she gave you as good as she claimed? Get a medical check for your au pair. Au pairs are obliged to be in good health to take care of children. It is not unreasonable for an au pair to provide a medical report stating that she/he is in good health.
  7. Does she fit your family's specific needs?
  8. It's very important to make as good a match as possible to ensure that the au pair stay is going to be a success. Make sure to tell the au pair everything about your family from the very beginning. If you live in the country, make sure that the au pair is happy with this, if you have animals make sure that your au pair is not allergic or does not dislike animals, if you have very young children make sure that your au pair is comfortable with this, if there is special needs in your family it is important that your au pair is aware of this and is comfortable with this. If by telling your au pair about specific information about your family, the au pair chooses not to come to your family, this is not a bad thing. The worst thing that can happen is to secure an au pair and for her to leave soon after she arrives. It's better to wait and find the best match for your family. It will be better for your children and your family in the long term rather than having au pairs coming and going all the time.
  9. Trust your gut
  10. If all your final candidates seem to be a good fit for the role and you can’t make a decision, just follow your instinct. Sometimes you just KNOW when an au pair is the right one for your family. Usually in the end a family will base their choice on the au pair that they 'get on with' the best over Skype. If you clicked with some candidate in particular and you feel there’s a strong and positive connection between the two of you, just trust your gut and pick the au pair that you feel your family will love and get on with the best.

Good luck with your search!

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