Tutors: Recruitment and Selection

Quality Standard

Tutor Recruitment and Selection: The program has a clear recruitment and selection process that results in tutors with the skills and mindsets necessary to be successful in that program.

Critical Questions

  • What are the critical qualities for tutors in this program?
  • How will the program recruit and select tutors to ensure a diverse cohort?
  • How will the program recruit and select tutors to ensure they have the necessary skills?

Implementation Checklist

  • Delineate clear responsibilities for tutors based on your program design and OST organization’s context.
  • Articulate the knowledge, skills, and mindsets necessary for tutors to be effective and successful in their role.
  • Distinguish between what you will select for and what you will train for and have a clear rationale for your choice.
  • Establish clear eligibility criteria based on your program design.
  • Design an application process to evaluate eligibility criteria and ensure a diverse set of tutors.
  • Establish an intentional recruitment strategy for recruiting a diverse set of tutors with the necessary skills.
  • Consider working with your local higher education institution (HEI) to source tutors for your program

Implementation Tools

Key Insights

Proactively develop a recruitment strategy. It will save you time and serve as a roadmap for recruiting tutors.

  • Your plan should cover how you will recruit potential tutor candidates and who is best positioned on your team to reach out to them.
  • Determine multiple application deadlines and set benchmarks for how many applications you’d like to receive at each deadline. Timing benchmarks around when new students enroll will help you leverage new candidate pools, increasing the number of tutors you are able to recruit.

Clearly define the essential tutor qualities that you are seeking, regardless of how selective your program’s recruitment is. These essential qualities depend on:

  • The community served: Community-specific competencies (like bilingualism, history, context, values, and familiarity with learning differences) are crucial to a program’s success serving its chosen community.
  • The value proposition: Depending on the niche a program aims to fill, some qualities may be more important than others. For instance, a program whose value proposition is its exceptional academic rigor compared to other programs in the community would need to place a higher emphasis on recruiting tutors who will hold students to high expectations. Consult with program staff to determine what strengths your OST tutoring program may be able to foster as the program grows - there is likely deep expertise within your local community that you can leverage to improve the OST tutor and K-12 student experience.
  • The training provided: Carefully consider what the program will select for versus what they will train for. Some programs select tutors with relationship-building soft skills, then provide training around both content knowledge and pedagogy. Others select tutors who are teacher candidates and embed teacher training course content into their training program. Consider including information about culturally responsive and sustaining education practices that will be part of training, such as those referenced in the Tutors: Onboarding, Training and Coaching section.

Clarify upfront your expectations for tutors to prevent tutor retention issues.

  • Prospective tutors need a clear understanding of the program’s expectations and the training it provides right from the start (i.e., during the recruitment and selection process) so that they know what to expect and can prepare appropriately. Programs have struggled to retain tutors when they fail to communicate concrete expectations for tutors until after tutor onboarding, particularly when OST staff are asked to manage multiple job functions at the same time.

Consider the requirements that are most necessary if you plan to scale up significantly.

  • The more selective the recruitment process, the harder it will be to recruit enough tutors in a short timeframe, so consider your plans to scale up the program when developing a recruitment and selection strategy. While some requirements are necessary, others may not be; the important thing is to establish which ones are which in a principled and equitable way.

Create a cohort of tutors that reflects the diversity of students being supported. Without a diverse candidate pool, a program cannot recruit a diverse cohort of tutors. To attract a diverse candidate pool:

  • Be explicit about your program’s prioritization of hiring tutors that reflect the diversity of their students and/or are part of the communities being served: Potential candidates may not assume that this is important to your program. Make it clear on your website and in promotional materials that this is a priority and why.
  • Make the application process accessible: The application tasks might be challenging to complete, but the directions should be easy to understand. The application itself should live on one platform, and completing it should not require too many steps. A convoluted application with confusing directions discourages qualified applicants from getting started. To increase diversity in applicants, consider following up with non-completed applications from racially diverse candidates.
  • Get input from stakeholder communities on where and how to recruit: Students, parents and schools involved in other community-based initiatives, OST staff, families and caregivers, local college students, and current tutors can be resources for tapping into pools of potential tutors. Some programs involve members of these stakeholder groups in their recruitment process (e.g., by having prospective tutors lead model sessions under interviewer supervision, then soliciting student feedback).
  • Recruit more tutors than you think you need. Some tutors will miss scheduled sessions. Particularly if your tutors are working multiple jobs, some tutors will consistently fall short of the program’s expectations (e.g., showing up on time) and may need to be counseled out of participating in the tutoring program. Dropoff is normal; plan for it ahead of time by “over-recruiting” at the outset. Consider tracking missed sessions by race, gender and first generation college student (at a minimum) in order to identify any institutional barriers that are contributing to tutors missing scheduled sessions. This is particularly important for retaining tutors of color and from marginalized communities.
  • Consider creating a “wait list.” If you’ve reached your recruitment goals, use your last application deadline to create a wait list of tutors. This wait list may also serve as pre-screened candidates for upcoming semesters. Provide clear communication and be transparent about when they can expect you to reach out with available opportunities and training schedules. Also consider tracking these data by race and gender to ensure a diverse tutor pool.