11 Qualities to Look for in a Great Online Tutor

11 Qualities to Look for in a Great Online Tutor

11 qualities of a great online tutor

With the world all connected online now, sometimes it is hard to find what you are looking for.  Especially when you don't really know what you are looking for.  When hiring an online tutor you will want to make sure that they have certain qualities.  I have narrowed them down to just 11 qualities to ensure you find the right tutor for the job.

A great tutor is: patient, self-confident, resourceful, persistent, professional, internet savvy, enthusiastic, results oriented, adaptable, and compassionate. Let’s take a look at each of these and how they play a part in molding a great online tutor so that you can find the very best one for your child.


This falls on a spectrum. Each student will command a certain level of patience.  For example,  patience gives a tutor the ability to return to a problem that a student hasn’t learned or yet mastered. Patience can be given from the tutor when he or she is having trouble being patient with the tutoring process. Sometimes students can become easily frustrated, and showing the student patience can give him or her a model to emulate.


A great online tutor needs to be able to sell themselves. They need to believe in their strengths and believe in their service.  If they don’t believe in themselves, then it will become extremely difficult for you to want to move forward with their services.


One of the beautiful things about teaching online is the access to a world of knowledge. Online tutors have unlimited resources that can aide in instruction: online dictionaries, photos, videos and graphs.  You want to hire an online tutor that takes advantage of these tools.

Accessing material on an as-needed basis affords the student some independent lesson control: if a student wants to delve deeper into a concept, typing a few key words will populate innumerable hours of information.

You will want a tutor that will encourage listening and speaking skills, especially in younger students, by engaging in casual conversation as media is loading.


You will want a tutor that will refuse to give up on your child, and tailor a method that works. Some kids are used to people giving up on them.  This has been a pattern in their lives and they have become quite accepting of it.  Some kids will test their tutor. Find a tutor that will not give up on them. Also, make sure the tutor has some form of assessment they use to determine the growth that has been made.  Your tutor should do an assessment every 3 months to determine growth and to re-evaluate how instruction is going based on your child's needs.


Professionalism is key, on and off the screen.  Make sure the tutor dresses the part of an education professional. Working from home is not necessarily a free pass to conduct tutoring sessions in pajamas. It is important that they carry themselves with a quality that you want your child to see (and possibly copy).

Professionalism necessitates starting and ending tutoring sessions on time. You want a tutor that respects this as you most likely have a very busy life and do not want it hindered because a tutor is unable to show up on time.

Optimized Online Presence

Make sure the tutor that you are looking to hire has an optimized online presence.  You should be able to do research on the tutor ahead of time to learn all about them.  Go to their Linked In page and website.  Type in their first and last name and analyze the information that is available on the internet about them.  If you are able to find a lot of information that is positive and you like what you see, then they may be a good fit for your child.  However, if there is very little information available, be wary because they could be hiding something.

Content Knowledge

Obviously you want to hire a teacher that has a lot of content knowledge in the area they specifically teach.  If a tutor says that they are a jack of all trades, then beware.  This usually means they haven't studied extensively in any of those areas and they only have a general knowledge base.  If you hire a specialist in the specific area that your child is struggling, then you will be much happier with the results they are able to produce during the tutoring session.

Results Oriented

Tutoring is a results-oriented practice.  You should be committing to tutoring services for an anticipated result (improved grades, increased confidence, performing at or ahead of grade level, increased motivation, et al). Your tutor should set up some goals to be reached with your feedback.

By the end of three months (or a tutoring package, for example), the tutor should be able to provide an assessment that describes student achievement, room for improvement, and whether the goal was met.

Personable Demeanor

Find an online tutor that is pleasant to work with. Personable people focus on the relationships with their students and make the students feel comfortable working through problems and making mistakes.

An excellent tutor encourages and guides the student to figure out the answer, especially to a question the student wonders aloud. Creating a personable relationship that a student wants to be a part of is critical in maintaining student interest and cooperation in a session even when he or she doesn’t feel like cooperating.


One of the biggest gifts you will want to look for  is the ability to adapt. If  your child all of a sudden needs help understanding an old concept or a new idea, then the tutor should be able to focus on that material using a variety of tools in their toolbox. Adaptability also affords the student to take responsibility for his or her learning; the student can begin the session by sharing what he or she doesn’t know, or would like to know more about.

With adaptability comes autonomy: the ability to determine what avenue will best explain a concept. Your child may be able to memorize anything if it’s put into a song, so the tutor might provide a video that sings the Preamble to the US Constitution. If your child is struggling with a meaning of a word and is a visual learner, the tutor may ask him or her to draw a picture of the definition of the word. If the student learns best by doing, the tutor may ask the student to use the word in a variety of role-play scenarios. Words can be added to a list of words to build long-term memory and increase word usage. (We will discuss the different learning styles and how to determine a student’s learning style in a separate post)


Compassionate listening is the tool that a great tutor  will utilize to determine what your child needs during instruction.  It is also a tool that can be used for empathy. Sometimes your child may have a rough day, may be distracted, or may feel sick. A compassionate tutor is able to identify when the student has an “off” day and adapts to the student’s needs, expresses patience throughout the lesson, and the skills discussed in this article to instruct the student effectively.

What are your thoughts?  Are there some qualities that you think should have made the list.  If so, I would love to hear what they are.  Or, maybe you really agree with one of these qualities.  If so, then which one do you connect with and why?  Type your response in the comments section below.