Au Pair questions to ask on Interview with the host family
One of the most important steeps to choose your host family in the matching process is the interview you have to do with your host family, usually by skype. The host family will have questions to make to you but also you must make questions to the host family before you accept them, before the match.
For sure you have received much information from them. If you have used an au pair agency you have at least: complete host family application form; with all details about your work and duties expected from you and children, pocket money, free days, distance to language schools/centre city, etc., a dear au pair letter; talking about their life and host family expectative regarding their au pair, pictures of the house and host family members and a weekly au pair planning with working hours and free days & time.
I always say that you must have a “virtual visit” to your host family during the interview, so let see the Au Pair questions to ask on the interview to have a better idea about your future life with your prospective host family.
- At what time I have to wake up? At what time children wake up?
- Must I take them to school? I have to drive them to school?
- If you have to drive: What about the distance from your home to the school? Is a busy road?
Once children are at school.
This is your weekly free time to attend Spanish/language classes, meet other au pairs, go shopping, go to the gym, study, etc.
Regarding au pair duties at home:
- Do I have to come home to help to tidy/clean?
- In what areas I have to tidy/clean?: Common areas, children’s bathroom, common bathrooms?
- Do I have to iron children’s clothes? Do I have to iron all family’s clothes?*
- Do you have a housekeeper who comes weekly to help you with heavy duties?
Regarding Spanish/language schools:
- Distance to the language school.
- Frequency of buses/train/tube
Do children have lunch at school?
In Spain usually host children attend school from 9 till 5pm so they have lunch at school.
- If yes: there is any at home for lunch? (Usually in Spain host parents have lunch at work as well).
- May I take a sandwich in case I don’t want to come back at home to have lunch? (usually au pairs prefer don’t come back at home to have lunch alone so they take a sandwich with them, maybe not all days but those who attend classes or meet other au pairs)
Is time to go to pick up children from school and come back home.
In Spain children have the “merienda”, the evening snack just they arrive home from school, what is around 5:30pm. Usually is bread and Nocilla (Nutella), fruit, or small piece of bread with “embutido” (cold meet) and a glass of milk with ColaCao (cocoa). Usually is the au pair who has to prepare it. Ask about it.
Then, is time, depending children ages, to study, to go to the park, to go to extra school activities, to play with them at home.
- Ask about your au pair duties with children in the evening.
Many Spanish host families ask to their au pair help children with homework, in English, so you must ask them about children’s level of English and would be good if you ask to them to have a little chat with children so you can also evaluate their level of English (if they are teenagers) if not ask about what they like to play, because Spanish host parents expect you play with children teaching them English (or your native language)
After had study/had gone to the park/extra school activities is time to have a shower and dinner so ask about the help expected from you:
- Do you have to help with baths and prepare children clothes for next day?
- Do you have to help to prepare the dinner? (Usually Spanish host families have dinner all together).
Dinner time is around 8:30/9:30pm (depending children ages) and then children use to have a time to read or watch TV. Then they go to the bed.
- Do I have to help to tidy the kitchen? (what is normally expected)
- Do I have to read with children before go to bed?
- Ask about children behaviour and characters.
- Ask also about their free time during the weekends: what they do and if they want you join with them their free time/activities.
- Ask about babysitting during weekend.
- Ask about English at home. Nearly 100% of Spanish host families ask to their au pair talk in English to children but they know that they must talk with au pairs in Spanish. Depending the region (Basque Country, Cataluña, Valencia) they may speak another language at home so ask about the language they speak at home.
- Ask about children’s relation with previous au pairs. If they keep the contact with them.
- Ask your prospective host family previous au pairs contact details and contact to them to ask about their au pair experience with the host family.
If you are going to come to Spain during summer period, in Spain from mid June until mid September
- 70 % of host families: both parents work so your au pair duties are in the morning.
- At what time do I have to wake up?
- At what time children wake up?
- Do I have to prepare the breakfast?
- Do I have to tidy children’s room?
- Then, is time to make summer homework/play with children in English? What do they do?
- What they usually do after that? Do they go to the swimming pool, beach, park?
- At what time must we go/stay home to have lunch?
- Do I have to prepare lunch? (Usually host parents leave the lunch ready and the au pair only have to warm up in the microwave)
- At what time you arrive from work?
- Do I have all my afternoon free? Can I do whatever I want meet other au pairs, go to the beach?
- Another 30% of host families request an au pair during their holidays.
- Because they want extra pair of hands at the same time their children practise English with someone, so you will travel with them, take note that inthese periods there is not family routine and is a daily coexistence, 100%, so it’s important you know and share with them common hobbies: sports, beach, mountain, familiar time, children, etc.
Isn’t necessary you make all this questions in the Skype interview, you can also write and email to the host family after the interview asking about some of the questions you didn’t ask.
The most important is: before you decide for a host family you have a clear idea about your daily life and host family expectatives regarding their au pair.
I always say that you must have a “virtual visit” to your host family during the interview to have a better idea about your future life with your prospective host family.