Through years of interview experience we suggest the following guidelines
It is best to first draw up a list of your family’s requirements so that you can approach an interview with these priorities in mind. Aim to find someone who offers the right skills for your family and with whom you feel comfortable. When interviewing, choose questions that will help you learn more about the candidate. Phrase them in a way that requires more than a yes or no response.
- Why do you feel you would be suitable for this job?
- Tell me about your previous childcare experience.
- What was your last job and your reason for leaving?
- What are the needs of a baby / child of (the age of your child)?
- How do would you spend the day with a baby / child of this age?
- How would you handle difficult or mischievous behaviour?
- How do you discipline young children?
Qualities to look for:
- Punctuality – Was the candidate on time for the interview?
- Professional appearance – Was she appropriately groomed and dressed?
- Orderliness – Did she seem organised? Was she well-prepared for the interview?
- Sincerity – Did she respond to my questions in a genuine way?
- A positive attitude – Willingness to communicate and learn
We advise each family draw up their own duty list specific to their individual needs. Take into consideration the children’s ages, dietary needs and educational requirements. A well thought out duty list takes time. Write down all the tasks you need the au pair or nanny to take care of, in order of priority. When offering a job to a chosen candidate, revise this list one item at a time with the nanny / au pair. Both parties should sign off each page if in agreement. It is also necessary for both parties to keep a copy of this duty list for their perusal and to refer to from time to time, as well as a copy of the final contract.
It is always a good idea to have a trial day or two with your preferred person. If the energy feels good, make a job offer with a three month trial period so that both parties can see if this job suits them and the children involved. Schedule time once every month or two for you and the employee to discuss the job, rather than wait for problems to arise. This keeps things fresh and prevents small issues from escalating into larger problems.
It is imperative for both parties to formalise a domestic working arrangement with a written employment contract. This clarifies what each party can expect from the arrangement, as well as what they are expected to contribute.