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5 Tips for Hiring Exceptional Tutors

professional tutoring Apr 01, 2022

Recruiting and then retaining exceptional talent is critical to organizational success.  Commercial tutoring companies know this and tend to support a steady funnel of candidates year-round.  To support that endeavor, they typically have designated human resource professionals sometimes the departmental level.  Needless to say, these folks focus 24/7 on finding new talent. 

In contrast, small businesses (like ours) have minimal infrastructure.  So, human resource functions  happen as needed by one or two folks who manage one or more other parts of the business in addition to hiring.

That having been said, in test prep and tutoring  the tutor is the product so, although  taking time to prioritize hiring may be difficult,   It is arguably the single most important thing to get right! 

Here are some tips we've learned which should help you add intentionality to your hiring process: 

1.  Have a baseline standard when initially assessing candidates and stick to it. This may involves test scores, degrees earned, and desired experience. If the minimum standards are not met, immediately generate a "regrets email."

* Pro tip:  Don't get caught up in the idea of making the person into a tutor with some help. 

2.  If a candidate meets the basic requirements dig more deeply into her/his experience.  There are key differences between the types of past tutoring experience. 

For example, a tutor who tutored a family member is generally not as well-positioned for immediate assignments as, let's say,  a tutor who trained with and worked for a local, regional, or national firm.

*Pro tip:  ask open-ended questions about specific tutoring assignments.  

*Pro tip:   review the candidate's  didactic vs. socratic experience. 

  • Socratic experience = homework help. This is where the tutor goes over lessons taught at the school school. They use the student's books and notes from school and generally don't have to prepare a lesson plan in advance of the tutoring session.
  • In contrast, didactic specialists have material prepared before a session, plus a sequence for what will be covered during the session, and a homework assignment in mind for after the session.

3.  Be as realistic as possible when discussing the role. Discuss the number of hours; days and times required; the commute; the parking; and the expense reimbursement policy.

The goal is to create a mutually beneficial relationship built on trust and transparency. 

* Pro tip:  great tutors appreciate authentic relationships, transparency, and empathy. 

4.  Don't skimp on the expectations you set for professionalism. This is critical since the tutor is the brand and the product all rolled into one.

 * Pro tip: during the recruitment process, take note of response time between emails, meeting punctuality, comportment over the phone, and appearance during the interview.

5.  Cultural fit. This is a little more  difficult to decipher but it is perhaps the most important quality of a successful hire.  Interview questions designed to gauge empathy, self-awareness, and authenticity work well. Consider these:

  • "What would you say is your biggest weakness?" This is designed less to surface a weakness and more to help determine how forthcoming, self-aware, and honest the candidate is.
  • "What led you to this particular job post?" Again, this is less about why they think your company is superior to the others and more about what the candidate says and how it is said. Look for a genuine answer.
  • "What are the top three things that have led to your success as a tutor?" Listen for the "I-I-I" syndrome and contrast that with what a team player may say. One can learn a good deal from hearing a candidate recount his or her success.

To recap:

  • Make the time to create a standard process and use it over-and-over. 
  • Endeavor to contextualize each candidate's specific experience.
  • Be transparent about things that would be important to the candidate such as training, compensation, number of hours, and any perks associated with joining your team.



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