Interviewing a tutor: 23 key questions for parents to ask

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Finding a tutor who is knowledgeable, works well with your child and addresses your specific tutoring needs is a crucial part of creating a great learning experience for your child. Before inviting the private tutor to your home, you will likely have an initial phone interview to see if this person is a good match. If all goes well, invite them to your home for an in-person interview.

Before you start your search, know how much a tutor costs. Find out what other tutors in your area charge. If you live near Seattle, see what other Seattle Tutors are charging. By having this information ahead of time, you know what your tutor should expect for payment.

Here are a few questions that can help you screen a potential tutor when hiring:

Interview questions to ask 

During the initial phone screening:

In general, you want to listen for someone who is enthusiastic and committed to working with your child, not someone just looking to make extra money.

  1. What kind of academic training do you have in the subject you are tutoring
  2. Tell me about any tutoring experience you have? How many students have you worked with, what ages and for how many years?
  3. What kind of improvement have you seen in past clients?
  4. Why do you want to be a tutor?
  5. Do you have experience working with different learning styles?
  6. My child needs help with (name the specific subject, such as reading on the third grade level). What would you do to help him?
  7. What kinds of materials will you bring with you?
  8. Are you insured?
  9. Are you willing to undergo a background test?
  10. Do you belong to any professional educational organizations?
  11. What is your availability?
  12. Do you have your own transportation?
  13. How long a commitment can you make? (A student may be graduating or taking a semester off.)

Next, set up an in-person interview and ask them to bring a resume with references that you may contact.

During the in-person interview:

  1. Did you have any trouble finding our home? Did transportation go smoothly?
  2. Would you mind trying a short exercise with my child now? Then bring the child into the room and have him show his textbooks and other materials. Watch how they interact with each other. You probably don't want to leave the room for this first meeting, so just keep in mind that it's not going to represent a real tutoring session. You're all just getting to know each other a little.
  3. Based on what you’ve seen, do you think you will be able to work effectively with my child?
  4. What approach do you take when a student “isn’t getting it”?
  5. How do you think you can help? What specifically will you do?
  6. How do you measure progress or address obstacles?
  7. Are you willing to speak with my child's teacher?
  8. What environment do you prefer for tutoring? For example, can you work with my child at the kitchen table or would you prefer a home office or private study?
  9. Do you have any questions for me?
  10. Should we set up a trial period to make sure it's going well and that we've made a good match on all sides?

Steps to take after the interview

  • Before hiring the tutor, check their references.
  • Consider hiring the tutor for two or three sessions on a trial basis to see how it works for everyone.
  • Discuss and agree on a fee.
  • Find out if the tutor expects payment after each session or at the end of each month and what form of payment is expected?
  • Establish cancellation policies. Decide what will happen if your child or your tutor is sick or if other conflicts arise. Will there be a makeup session and any fee for the missed session?

Of course, if you feel uneasy about the interview or any red flags come up, don’t hire the tutor. As difficult as it may be to start the process over again, it’s important for you and your child to feel comfortable with the right tutor.

Tips and stories from parents and caregivers who’ve been there.

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