With all the tutors out there nowadays, and with the wide range in their hourly rates, it’s enough to make anyone’s head spin on the search for “the best” when it comes to interviewing a potential tutor.
And how can you even tell if they are the “right one” at all? What makes a “good” tutor?
Be sure to include these questions to ask your tutor at the next interview, to see whether they might be a good fit with your family and your kiddo.
1. How many students do they tutor?
Having many students likely means they are successful and probably a very good candidate. However, if you are a family that has constant schedule changes and needs a high level of flexibility, you might not get it from a tutor who is fully booked so this may be something to keep in mind when interviewing a potential tutor. On the other hand, a tutor will a full schedule might be overworked or nearing burnout if they don’t have a structure to maintain such a workload.
A tutor with fewer clients might simply be new to the business or maintaining low numbers in order to keep her flexibility.
2. How long have they been tutoring?
This is one of the most important questions to ask your tutor. The more years they have under their belt, probably means that they will be more flexible and creative in their teaching techniques since they have likely had students with many different learning needs.
More years teaching means more opportunities to come up with useful metaphors and examples to better explain difficult concepts.
3. How long have they been tutoring the specific subject you need help with?
Although many years of teaching experience will make them more experienced and flexible in teaching styles, keep in mind that nothing can bridge the gap between a long career proofreading essays and tutoring geometry.
4. What did they study/are they a student?
Another great one in the list of questions to ask your tutor. Ideally, this will be something related to the subject your student needs help in but it doesn’t have to be. The younger your child is, the less important the tutor’s college major is since your child’s academics haven’t become too specialized yet.
Children with special learning or behavioral needs, or specialized curriculum like Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) classes will likely require a tutor with a unique skill set, such as behavioral training or experience with that unique curriculum. When interviewing a potential tutor, choosing to hire one with a lower hourly rate might end up being more costly in terms of frustration and time wasted!
And similarly, college students needing help in their specialized field might need Albert Einstein himself!
Keep in mind that a tutor with more advanced education will likely be charging more per hour.
5. What age range do they normally tutor?
It goes without saying that 5-year-olds learn very differently than high schoolers.
You wouldn’t want a private tutor who has always taught teenagers suddenly teaching your toddler. On the other hand, someone who has only tutored little ones might have a hard time shifting gears to teach someone closer to their own age.
And let’s not even go into adult learning theory! If you’re looking for lessons for yourself and your kiddo, you might be better off with two separate instructors!
6. What do they do for fun?
Although most parents don’t place too much focus on this question, ideally the tutor will enjoy some of the same activities as your kiddo so they can have some basis to bond on. Sharing interests and bonding with the tutor will ensure that your kiddo enjoys the lessons more and sees the tutor as someone they can relate to and look up to.
7. What is their tutoring philosophy?
When it comes to questions to ask your tutor, this will be an important one to see if their teaching strategies are a good fit for your child’s learning needs. Do they start off difficult to gauge your child’s learning? Or do they start off easy to build confidence and skills from the ground up?
Are they more into immersive teaching, or are they nurturing and supportive?
If they have a background in learning theories they might say something like “errorless learning”.
8. What 3 words would you choose to describe yourself?
Depending on your kid’s personality, you might prefer a calmer, patient tutor, or an energetic and fast-paced one. Every child’s needs are different, and your goals for your child will surely change across time as well, be sure to find a tutor that fits those goals!
Do you want to interview calm in-home tutors to make your shy child feel comfortable? Or do you want an outgoing tutor instead, to help bring him out of his shell?
Do you want a firm tutor for your energetic teenager or an active one for your kiddo to bond with?
9. Do they have any references?
If they haven’t been doing it very long, they might not have anyone they can ask for a reference. However, someone wishing to make tutoring a more permanent job will surely be building up their list of testimonials.
10. How do they accept payments?
Hopefully, you aren’t trying to pay them with a jar of coins, but flexibility is key in this arena and worthy of being one of my top 10 questions to ask your tutor!
Do they offer different sized packages? Or discounts for referrals? Do they only accept cash, or do they have other means of accepting payment?
This might not seem so important today, but on the day when you’re running late, low on caffeine and still have to stop to get the kids a snack, chances are you’ll be grateful for other payment methods! Anything would be better than squeezing in a stop at a nearby ATM for cash.
Interviewing a potential tutor to find the right fit for your kiddo can feel like an impossible task! Hopefully, this list of questions was helpful in your journey to finding an educator for your kiddo. If you’re interested in working with me, you can book some time for an interview here, and feel free to ask me any and all of these questions!
Do you have any other questions to ask your tutor before hiring them?