When I'm interviewing a tutor for my kids, what are the key characteristics I should be looking for? Any really good questions I should ask?


University Tutor, World's largest global marketplace for independent tutors.

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The information you’ve received so far is great. When it comes to experience, it can also be helpful to ensure that the potential tutor is comfortable around students your child’s age, as well as familiar with age-appropriate teaching methods and your school’s techniques. For example, is he or she versed in the Common Core (if applicable)?

How often will the tutor provide you with updates, and how involved does he or she expect you to be? Does this match your own expectations? Flexibility with students is key, but so too is a great relationship with the parent.

Colleen Clemens, College Professor, Writer, Editor, Tutor & Parent

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Some things you should ask:

Where do you prefer to meet (and make sure you are comfortable with that answer)?

Ask for references.

What is your rate? Do you offer a different rate based on location?

How often do you suggest we meet?

Will you give my child homework?

How do you prefer to communicate with me when I have a question?

What is your availability?

What subject areas do you feel comfortable working with my child?

I hope this helps!

Anonymous, Helpful tutor/teacher

One key characteristics you would want in a tutor is their ability to allow their students to figure out answers on their own. Anyone with knowledge of the subject can give your kids the answers to their homework problems, but a good tutor should be able to direct your kid to figuring out the answer on his or her own. A good interview question for a potential tutor could be to ask them what they would do if a student was stuck on a problem. Listen to their step-by-step process and gauge for yourself whether you like the tutor's teaching methods.

I think another key characteristic would be patience. Students are not always going to understand a new topic right away and many tutors and teachers may have trouble understanding this, especially then they already know the subject so well. A good tutor or teacher should be able to explain problems effectively, whether by having more than one kind of approach, or being able to effectively use metaphors and comparison. I hope this helps and I wish you the best of luck in finding a good tutor!

Anonymous, Colten

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HenryGilmore, Read

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He or she should be down to earth, calm, intelligent, professional and kind. When I was a student my parents hired mad tutor who as shouting at me when I had to write my essay and when I used to make many mistakes in it. That stressed me a lot..

Maryann Aita, Writer and Expert Tutor

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There are quite a few great answers here, but I’d like to add a few key things to look for to speed up the process and make finding a tutor as smooth as possible.

You want a tutor who is confident, experienced, flexible, and, above all, works well with your student. As a client, you should consider how your child works and what your goals are for tutoring.

A few things to look out for before you interview someone:

  • Did the tutor respond to your inquiry promptly? An unresponsive tutor may be too busy to take on a new student.
  • Are they willing to speak with you on the phone or meet in person before booking you? Tutors should always want to introduce themselves before working with you and your child.
  • Can they give you a list of skills and/or subjects they tutor? Tutors should know what they are and are not able to tutor. They should be confident when speaking with you.

A few questions to ask:

  • I’d say that your potential tutor should be asking you questions as well as answering yours. I've worked as a tutor for eight years and, when taking on new clients, I make a point to ask them what they are looking for, if there is anything about the way their child works they'd like me to know, and what their goals are. A potential tutor should care what their client wants and make an effort to find out.
  • Would they be willing to set up a one-time session as a trial? Ultimately, the tutor and student relationship is most important in knowing whether or not to hire a tutor. I always set up a one-time session to meet the student and then speak with the parents afterward to give them my thoughts.
  • What is their experience tutoring? They should be able to give you some background.
  • Ask their rate and availability. You don’t want to be surprised when it comes time to pay them or find out they can’t work with your schedule.

Usually, a short phone call will give you enough idea whether or not this person is right for your student. From there, set up one session and see if it feels right. It's a big commitment to hire a tutor so it should be right for everyone involved.

Matthew Clemens, Physics and Math Teacher, Parent, and Tutor

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I would also suggest you have the tutor meet your child to see how she likes the tutor. Watch to see how the tutor interacts with your child. You want someone who can engage well with both you and your child. Ask for references. Ask if the tutor has a website with information from other clients. Availability is also something you will want find out about.

Stacey Ebert, Educator, Writer, Event Planner, Traveler

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The above responses are quite helpful. Keep in mind that you know your child/student best. Aside from the general: rate, time, methodology, sessions, goals, plans that you might look for in a tutor, keep in mind their mannerisms, philosophy and demeanor as well. Can they listen to your needs and that of your child and tailor the sessions to those needs? Do they have a set structure that cannot deviate or if your child asks more questions, is quiet, needs extra time, has learning difficulties or wants to be the best in the class - can they make the program fit what's needed? Patience, concern, active listening, structure and flexibility are all marks of a good tutor. Hope this helps.

Robyn Scott, Educational Consultant, TutorNerds LLC

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I agree that patience is a big factor when it comes to a good tutor. A student may already be frustrated with the subject matter before the tutor even walks in the door. Additionally, I would ask how much experience they have with a particular topic. Experience is always a good thing. Also, it's important to remember that the ability to learn a subject and the ability to teach it are two different things. Someone may have received stellar grades in a particular subject but not know how to explain it to someone else. A great educator will be able to listen to the student and determine, over time, when s/he is no longer understanding the material. I generally recommend a trial session where the student can work with the tutor one-on-one and see if the teaching and learning style is a good fit. Most tutors are happy to do this as it benefits both them and the student.

I hope this helps!

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