The Top of Mind Newsletter by New Modern Mom is your guide to a fulfilling life, packed with wisdom on motherhood, travel, career, style and self care. Get the latest resources, news and musings right to your inbox.


Must-Ask Questions When Interviewing Au Pairs




Written by:

Barbara Mighdoll

So you’ve decided to find an au pair for your childcare needs. Amazing! As a family that’s hosted four au pairs, we can’t rave enough about the program. We love the flexibility, the cultural exchange, and of course how much this caretaker can help with work-life balance.

But finding the perfect au pair for your family can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you're new to the process. With so many candidates to consider, each with their own personality and skills, it's hard to know who will be the best fit. The interview process can help you identify the right qualities that best fit your family's needs. Ultimately, you're looking for someone who not only fits into your lifestyle and your but also brings something special to enrich your family dynamic.

In the past three years, having hosted four au pairs, we've learned A LOT. Each time, we’ve gotten better and better at running a tight interview schedule, asking the right questions to get to the deep answers we need, and to motivate the au pair to want to choose our family. The key isn't just about asking questions – it's about asking the right questions, and equally as important asking yourselves the right questions to fully align on the profile of the person that will fit best with your expectations and family vibe. Whether you’re new to this or looking to tweak your approach, I'm here to share insights and interview questions for an au pair.

Must-Ask Questions When Interviewing Au Pairs

How to interview potential au pairs

Here's a breakdown of our three-step interview process:

  1. Quick intro call (15 minutes): This initial phone or Zoom video call interview is designed to give us a sense of the applicant's English proficiency, communication style, and personality. Keeping it short and sweet at 15 minutes helps us avoid wasting time while still gathering essential details.
  2. Detailed core interview: For the next stage, we schedule a longer interview where we delve deep into questions that provide us with substantial insights. Rather than settling for vague responses, we aim for specific examples that give us a better understanding of the au pair candidate.
  3. Final alignment meeting: Once we've identified our top choice, we arrange a final interview to ensure that both parties are on the same page, regarding expectations and responsibilities. This is also an opportunity for the potential au pair to ask any lingering questions they may have.
Must-Ask Questions When Interviewing Au Pairs

When to schedule your au pair interview

For the best selection, and least competition your best bet is to interview au pairs 3 to 6 months prior to your start date. If you are in urgent need, you’ll want to consider an in-country au pair which will consist of au pairs currently in rematch with their current families or second-year au pairs who are looking for a new family.

So if you are planning to have an au pair as your childcare option when returning from maternity leave, it's in your best interest to find an au pair in your third trimester (just add it to that checklist).

Quick intro call 

This is our 15-minute first interview phone call. It's our chance for us to share more about our whole family, work-life balance, and our kids. We'll also ask questions to gauge English skills, communication style, driving ability and personality.

About us

Here are some of the topics we'll cover about us:

  1. Where we live
  2. Where/what we do for work
  3. Our kids
  4. We have a large Bernese Mountain dog, named Bear. Do you like dogs?
  5. How we spend our evenings and weekends
  6. History hosting au pairs
  7. Shared living arrangements

Communication and initial alignment

During the second phase of the interview, we'll ask the au pair a series of questions. These questions will range from personal topics to motivations behind pursuing the role of an au pair. Here are a few examples of the au pair questions we may ask:

  1. Why do you want to be childcare provider?
  2. What is your native language? 
  3. What were the ages of the children you cared for? What were your responsibilities?
  4. What do you like to do in your free time? Describe a typical weekend.
  5. Driving experience? How many times a week do you drive? Describe the streets.
  6. What do you look for in host families? What would your ideal host family be like? (This is the point where we share what we are looking for in an au pair, and the type of relationship we want.)
  7. Do you have friends who have been au pairs before?
Must-Ask Questions When Interviewing Au Pairs

Detailed core interview

If our initial call went well, we'll arrange a more detailed interview lasting 45-60 minutes. This is our chance to explore the expectations and responsibilities associated with being an au pair in our family. It's crucial for both parties to align before making any commitments. Here are some of the topics we may discuss during this interview:

  1. Daily routine and what a typical day looks like
  2. Weekday and weekend schedule
  3. Work hours
  4. Past childcare experiences
  5. Flexibility and adaptability: How do you handle unexpected changes or challenges? Can you give an example?
  6. Cultural exchange
  7. Detailed list of expectations and responsibilities

General child care experience

During this part of the interview, we will ask questions to get a better understanding of previous experiences with childcare. We want to know about the ages of the children they've cared for and what their responsibilities were. This will help us determine if they have the necessary skills and experience to meet our family's needs. Some questions include:

  1. What were the ages of the children you cared for? What were your responsibilities?
  2. If already an au pair, we'll ask about children, schedule, and responsibilities, and any challenges.
  3. Have you watched 2 children under age 3 together at the same time? What was challenging about that?
  4. What activities would you plan to do with our children?
  5. If our toddler was not listening to you, how would you handle it?
  6. How do you handle conflicts or disagreements with children?
  7. Have you ever dealt with a difficult situation while caring for children? How did you handle it?

Personality, maturity, character, interests

As a family, we want to make sure that our au pair is not only responsible and experienced in childcare, but also has a compatible personality and interests with our family. This will help ensure a positive living and working environment for both the au pair and our family. This is the profile we have honed in on the years that fits our lifestyle:

✅ Spanish Speaking

✅ IQ (required if your baby is under 2)

✅ Active, energetic and interested in taking care of two young children

✅ Strong driver

✅ Independent, positive and optimistic

✅ Excited to explore San Francisco

✅ Clean and exceptionally organized

✅ Would like to join us for dinner several weeknights, and for holidays, but also wants to be independent, exploring the city and meeting friends

Some au pair interview questions we may ask include:

  1. Will this be your first time living far away from home? Have you ever lived on your own?
  2. What do you think will be the most difficult part about spending a year in the US as an au pair? What will you do if you feel homesick?
  3. What is your family life like? Your culture? What are some of your favorite family traditions?
  4. Do you have any plans for when you finish being an au pair and return home?
  5. Do you have friends who have been au pairs before?
  6. What do you plan to do in your free time while here?
  7. Do you have a partner?
  8. What are your interests or hobbies?
  9. Do you like to read or watch movies? What genres?
  10. What are your dietary preferences? 

Compatibility and alignment on expectations

We want to make sure that our expectations and the au pair's expectations align for a successful experience. Some topics we will discuss include:

  1. If you disagreed with something we did, how would you handle it?
  2. Discuss schedule and specific childcare needs (i.e. bottle prep, laundry, making lunch)
  3. Are you okay with our schedule? Okay with the expected responsibilities?
  4. How neat are you on a scale of 1 to 10?
  5. If all goes well the first year, would you be open to staying with us for 2 years?

We'll reserve the final few minutes of the interview for addressing any questions or concerns the au pair may have.

Final alignment meeting

Once we have selected an au pair we want to match with, we will schedule a final 30-minute meeting to go over any last minute details and finalize our expectations.

Share intent to match

This is definitely a “sell” type of meeting, making it clear that we want to match with her, and gauging interest or commitment from her on matching with us.

Confirm expectations

This will also be a time for us to discuss payment terms, expectations for a smooth transition, and how we can both learn from each other during our time together. We believe that open communication and understanding are key to a successful au pair experience.

Questions & next steps

Potential topics for discussion could include:

  1. Ask any outstanding questions from above or new ones that have arisen. 
  2. Align on next steps: review start date, schedule, expectations, house rules.

We are massive fans of the au pair program, but without the proper vetting process, you'll end up disappointed or worse, in rematch. The au pair interview is the most important step of the process, and you should approach it with scrutiny, just like you would making a hire on your own team at work.

Aside from preparing the right questions, it's important you are taking meticulous notes, creating a core template document with your repeatable questions for each interview, copying a new version for each au pair you speak with, and using this document to guide you through a consistent process. Again, just how you would approach an interview at your own job.



This post may contain affiliate links including the Amazon Associates Program. When you make purchases through links in this post, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.  I only endorse products I believe in.