The Low-down on your Au Pair Interview

27/02/2015 - Nicola Pearce

People that apply for the Au Pair USA programme have to come in for a face to face interview, but I like to think of it as more of a meeting than an interview. It’s a chance for me to find out a bit more about you and for you to find out more about the process and how you get from here (wanting to be an au pair in the USA) to there (being an au pair in the USA).

The interview is just with me, in a quiet room in our busy Gap 360 office. There’s a friendly atmosphere and lots of laughing in the background, it’s a nice place to have an interview. Now, I’m a lot of things, but I am definitely not scary and there are no tricks and there’s no hidden agenda to the interview. I ask everyone the same questions which are pretty straightforward and are designed to get you to think about the role of an au pair. The questions are definitely not meant to trip you up or catch you out – that would be pointless. I want to get to know more about you, not confuse you! There aren’t really any wrong answers, and if you get stuck or tongue tied, I’ll help you. I am quite nosy by nature, so I love to hear about your life, your hobbies, your family and your plans for the future.  I’ve interviewed a triplet and a person with six siblings this week! If you’re feeling nervous, just remember that you have all the answers in your head, you don’t need to do loads of research, you don’t have to do a presentation to a panel or anything buttock-clenchingly stressful like that. You don’t even have to dress up particularly – as long as you look fairly smart, there’s no need for power dressing, I’m looking for people that like looking after children, not the next Apprentice! I promise you, you won’t feel like you’re in the last but one episode where Sir Alan’s mates get to rip everyone’s CVs apart. I just want to know about how you plan to keep children happy, entertained, fed and safe, not how much money you’ve made running your own business ventures.

I have to meet all of our potential au pairs face to face. It’s a rule set by the US State Department, we are not allowed to interview you via Skype or anything, but I think it’s better for everyone that that’s the case.  I’ve met lots of people who have travelled all the way from Yorkshire, Liverpool and beyond, not to mention those who have made the journey from Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The other day I interviewed an au pair that had come all the way from the Isle of Barra. That’s in the OUTER HEBRIDES! If you have made it across land and sea all the way to our little office in Tunbridge Wells, smiling and clutching all the documents I’ve asked you to bring, then quite frankly, you have done the hard part. The interview is going to be a breeze!

The point of an interview is two way – I need to know a bit more about you, but it’s also important that you use the time to listen well, ask questions and find out more. I’ll give you the low down on the whole process and I’ll also give you loads of tips on the things you can do to have the best chance of matching quickly with a host family.

But in case you are still feeling jittery at the thought of the interview, look at it this way: when you go for an interview for a job, you are normally in direct competition with a handful of other people. The interviewers are looking for one person, and need a reason to pick one over another. I’m not, I’m looking for as many good au pairs as I can find, and I know that there is more than one definition of a good au pair. Everyone’s different, everyone’s had different experiences. Some people can’t stop talking, some people take a few questions to warm up. Some au pairs have loads of questions, others have none at the time then email me later with loads. That’s all fine. There are some au pairs who really stand out, there are lots that are very confident and raring to go. I’ve interviewed au pairs who are very shy and feel uncomfortable at the start, but as we’ve talked I’ve been able to see that they have what it takes and that the year is going to be exactly what they need to grow in confidence. Everyone’s different and that’s fab because every family is looking for a different au pair. That’s what’s so great about the Au Pair USA programme, it’s about all sorts of people making connections from all sorts of starting points.

The au pair role is all about exchange, and when you break that down it means, amongst other things, learning, sharing and changing. I’m not looking for perfection, I’m looking for potential. If I can tell by what you say and what you’ve done that you love looking after children and you are going to do your best to give a year in America everything you’ve got, then you are going to be a great asset to the programme and I’m glad to have you on board!

So there really is no need to feel anything other than excited about your interview. I am really looking forward to meeting you – so get in touch, get booked on and let’s get you started on your way to being an au pair in the USA!