7 Valuable Interview Questions You Aren’t Asking when Hiring Tutors


Great test prep companies are comprised of three essential pieces: excellent tutors, engaging test prep curriculum, and an organizational structure that attracts and serves clients effectively. To optimize student growth, these elements must be in sync.

One of the most important steps in ensuring this harmonious balance is making sure you have the best staff for the job. Some due diligence during the hiring process can go a long way toward assembling a team of effective and successful tutors.

Interviews are a great opportunity to get to know and understand a candidate before making a formal commitment. It should go without saying that an interview for a tutoring position should involve conversations about qualifications and instructional style, but there is plenty of other useful information to seek out.

Here are seven questions to ask potential tutors during an interview to help ensure you are hiring the right candidates:

What was your high school academic experience like?

The response to this question has the potential to reveal a lot about an applicant. People who report great success, soaring test scores, and a transcript loaded with advanced courses may come to the table with a load of knowledge, but also may have difficulty relating to struggling students in need of tutoring help.

Conversely, candidates who report having to work hard and seek help throughout their educational careers likely possess valuable personal experiences to draw from when helping students face challenges.

Get to know who a candidate was as a student to have a better idea of how he or she will be as a tutor for your clientele.

What do you see as the advantage to working here as opposed to working as a private tutor?

This question is the start of an important conversation. Tutoring is a fairly simple entrepreneurship opportunity for an educator. There are low barriers to entry and, depending upon the local tutoring market, decent chances to turn a profit.

By contrast, working for a tutoring company means tutors can focus on delivering high-quality instruction rather than the scheduling, bookkeeping, marketing, and curriculum creation that comes with venturing out alone. As such, the discussion surrounding this topic provides a great opportunity to pitch the benefits that come with being a part of your test prep team.

Be leery of hiring tutors with established private tutoring businesses. You run the risk that they won’t be fully invested as employees of your company. There is the potential that they could use your test prep curriculum with their private clients or, worse, that they could wind up outright poaching your clients. The last thing you want is to compete with your own employees for business!

When is the next SAT or ACT test date?

On the surface, this may seem like a “Gotcha!” question (and to be fair...it probably is). That being said, this is a quick way to see how in tune a candidate is with the test prep world they are applying to be a part of. If a potential new hire has these dates at the ready, you may be one step closer to hiring your next tutor!

Note: a “fail” here doesn’t have to be a deal breaker. If a candidate doesn’t have this information, do they at least know how to get directly to the source and find it quickly? Also, you can learn a lot about a person by how they handle a situation in which they don't already know the answer to the question. You don't want to employ tutors who "fake it till they make it." Instead, look for tutors who can calmly and professionally explain that they'll be happy to look that information up for you and commit it to memory in advance the next meeting. 

For the record, here the upcoming SAT and ACT test dates:

SAT Test Dates ACT Test Dates

What work experience do you have outside of the educational sphere?

Part of running a successful business is making the most of your limited resources. Just because a job seeker is coming through your door looking for a tutoring job does not mean that there aren’t other capacities where they could help your business grow and thrive.

Keep an open mind and don’t hesitate to dig deeper into the résumé. You may find more than you or the candidate had anticipated!

What is your ideal tutoring load?

Whether it’s test prep or academic tutoring, clients come and go with the seasons. As a result, tutors’ workloads wind up increasing and decreasing as well. It is important to have an idea about the number of hours a potential hire is looking to take on in order to know how they will fit within the context of your tutoring staff workload over the long term.

In the short term, if a candidate isn’t available for the days or number of hours you currently need, it may make sense to keep looking for someone who is. On the other hand, if you can’t provide a tutor with enough work, they may wind up looking elsewhere for other opportunities. If a candidate claims to be flexible, this question should help zero in on what their true expectations might be.

Are you proficient in SAT or ACT tutoring?

You should 100% ask this question of anyone you plan to have deliver test prep instruction.  Even better, have your potential test prep tutors sit for a full-length SAT or ACT test. Sound like an ordeal?  It really isn't. 

The Clear Choice Test Prep system enables you to create free tutor accounts.  Each free tutor account comes with a free practice student account, which enables the tutor to log in and take any number of free full-length practice SAT and ACT tests.  Not 100% convinced your tutor has what it takes?  You can always pose a challenge. Have the tutor log in as the practice student and complete the lessons their practice test score report indicated they needed to work on.  Then show up to a quick session and explain the concepts to you or your head tutor. 

Download a Sample SAT Score Report

If you're happy with the results, then your new tutor is ready to take the Clear Choice Test Prep Tutor Certification Course -- another FREE service from Clear Choice Test Prep, designed to get your tutors up to speed as quickly as possible.    

Are you comfortable leading a group course?

Group test prep courses are a fantastic way to scale your business. But if you've got the wrong tutor at the head of the classroom, the experience can be dull for students, or worse ineffective at generating score improvements. That's why it's important to vet your tutors before you throw them in front of a group SAT course or group ACT course. 

Some all-star tutors prefer to work one-on-one. Others shine when they get in front of a group of students. Ultimately, you're better off hiring a charismatic group tutor than you are trying to train one up from scratch. Consider having your new tutor audition by demonstrating how he or she would deliver a lesson to the group. 

Also, make sure you arm your tutors with the best tools available for group tutoring. The Clear Choice Test Prep system enables tutors to perform detailed analysis at both the individual and group level. It also streamlines the process of preparing for sessions, grading lessons and quizzes, sends automatic email progress reports, and saves you time and money in a number of other ways. For more information, click below to check out the software.

Check Out the Software!

Take advantage of the interview process to cultivate the best possible tutoring staff for your company and your clients. Rather than stick to the same old script, push candidates to reveal more about their intentions, their experiences, and their potential.

What are some of your favorite interview questions to ask tutors? Share them with our readers in the comments below and on social media!

Matt McCorkle