Skype meeting/email exchange questions:
So once you’ve established contact with a potential host family, it’s for the questions!
I strongly recommend The Au Pair Handbook’s Tumblr to clarify any doubts you come up with. She has several posts about the sort of questions you should ask your potential host family, under her Skype tag.
Some of the topics you should cover are:
- How many children are there? What’s their age? How’s their temperament, do they get along? In case there’s over two children the mom will probably be home more, or there will be a grandma around, etc. Keep this in mind when you ask the parent schedules and yours. If they require you to be with over two children on your own for extended periods of time, then I personally wouldn’t agree to the job.
- Payment (is it at least the minimum for the country? This you can check on Aupair-world)
- How will your schedule be like? Remember there are different rules for different countries, for example in Germany you work a maximum of 30 hours per week -you can check the requirements of the country of your choosing on aupair-world.
- Do both of the parents work, how many hours a day will you be expected to take care of the children? Do they go to daycare/kindergarten/school? Do you have to take them there and pick them up? Is there a reasonable amount of free hours for you to go to language school?
- Will they contribute to language school payment? They don’t have to, but once you’re serious with this family, you should ask anyway. I repeat, only when you’ve already Skyped a few times. It could be a bit intimidating if you come up with this question right away.
- Will you dispose of a reasonable amount of time to travel? Some families need you on weekends, some others don’t mind you being away during these periods. Are you expected to work during holidays? Also, ask how holidays are usually like. Whether they travel or stay, do they like to spend them with the family, etc.
- Is there any public transport nearby? Will you have a bike at your disposition? How far are you from the center of the town/city? How far away is the nearest big city? This is important because you don’t want to be stuck in a little town in the middle of nowhere (unless you actually want to haha, but it’s good to have more options).
- Ask about other Au Pairs in the area and see if they’ve had Au Pairs before! If so, it is very important that you ask to talk to them. It happened to me that I had been talking to a family for over a week, many hours a day, and we got along perfectly! They sounded amazing, offered a lot of benefits and I had agreed to go to them. Then I got to talk to their current Au Pair and it turned out they weren’t that good of a fit for me. They were nice and supportive parents but had communication issues between them (which is of course not a good sign), often had loud arguments, they were lazy with the cleaning, etc. When you talk to their current Au Pair you should ask about the night life of the town/city, of there’s any attractions nearby, how does she like the town/city, the temperament of the kids, the way the parents behave (are they very professional, or caring or lazy, or always doing something, do they like going out a lot, etc). Ask how the Au Pair spends her free time!
- You should also ask about their expectations. Some parents expect you to be more flexible with your schedule, jump in in case of emergencies, etc. Some others expect you to cook (so ask about your duties), and others look for au pairs who are really into sports since their kids love sports and are constantly running around. Some families even ask if you are able to play any instruments, if you enjoy doing crafts, etc. Remember this is all about their kid.
- Which brings me to asking about the children’s preferences. In case you have to cook, ask about their favourite meals (if would be nice if you practised them at home!). Ask about their favourite activities, at what time do they go to bed, what do they like to do in their free time and so on.
- When you’re already serious with the family, ask about your room! Do you have a bathroom of your own? Do you have wifi, will they lend you a laptop or do you have to bring your own?
- And something that’s very important! Ask to Skype at least once with the WHOLE family. In the story I mentioned above, I would always talk with the dad, and even the videocalls would be with him only. I insisted and insisted until the mom and the kid came as well, but I could tell there was something off, they didn’t have the chemistry my other potential host family had. They seemed annoyed by each other. So this is why it is really important! It is a great sign if the current Au Pair is around while you’re Skyping. You can have a glimpse into their relationship and the whole environment in the house!
Some of these are questions listed on The Au Pair Handbook's blog, and some of these are from the list I made when I had to choose between two very nice families.
I hope it helps you in your search and if you have any doubts don’t hesitate to contact me! I’d be glad to be of any assistance. xx