1. What is your area of expertise? Different tutors will have different strengths and weaknesses. Just ask the tutor what they feel comfortable teaching. Your high school sophomore might need help in Geometry, Chemistry, and Spanish. But it is unlikely you will find a tutor who is able to teach all 3 of these subjects. Often someone good with Math with also be good in Science, and someone good in English will also be good with a foreign language. But you might also find that someone with an English degree is also excellent with first year Algebra. You just never know. So you should find out what the tutor's credentials are and how much experience they have teaching the various subjects your student needs help with. Then make an informed decision about whether the tutor is qualified to help your student with the subject. High school students may need to see more than one tutor in order to get all their questions answered for each subject area.
2. What age student do you like to work with? Many teachers have definite preferences about what age student they like to work with. Some just enjoy helping younger students because they like the enthusiasm and energy little ones have. Also, many tutors feel that certain upper-level material is over their heads and feel more comfortable working with easier subject matter. On the other hand, some tutors prefer working with older students because they relate to teenagers better and haven't had the training necessary to be able to relate to smaller children. Of course there are some extra special teachers who can effectively work with students of any age. So just find out what age student the tutor feels comfortable with and make sure that matches the age of your child.
3. Do you have any references? Tutors who have been working for at least a year should be able to provide you with the names and phone numbers of other clients who are happy with their services. If tutors are just starting out, they may not have names of any past clients, but they should be able to give you the names of former employers, teachers, or friends who can vouch for their character. If any of the references you contact seem the least bit unsure about whether the tutor is good with kids, then you should look elsewhere for help. If a person is willing to give you references, then they should be good references that inspire confidence in the tutor's ability to teach your child.
4. Where do you tutor? Find out if a tutor prefers to work at his/her home, your home, or a neutral location like a library. Many tutors like to work at their own home. First of all, it is more efficient for them. They can line up clients back-to-back and not lose any time on the road or be caught out if their tutoring student cancels on them. Tutors also find it easier to have all their supplies and materials on hand without having to tote them around and possibly forget something they will need to effectively teach the student. If tutors use their own home, make sure that they are working at a well lit place conducive to studying with no distractions. Also, make sure you feel comfortable leaving your son or daughter alone with them. If not, ask the tutor to let you stay in a nearby room during the tutoring session. Other tutors will travel to your home. Expect to pay an additional fee for this service, since the tutor will be out additional time and gas money to travel to you. For tutors who feel their home is not suitable for tutoring (because they have young children or live in a small apartment), they prefer to travel to their clients' homes, and some of them will not charge any additional fee. Other tutors prefer a neutral location for tutoring like a library because they think it more conducive to studying, and it ensures the safety of both the tutor and the student.
5. What is your cancellation policy? Don't be surprised if your tutor requires you to sign a paper that says if you cancel a tutoring session without at least 24 hours notice, then you will be charged for that session. Tutors make their schedules based on an agreed upon time with their clients. Often they will have other clients who would like to tutor at the same time your student is scheduled, but they have to turn away this business because you are already taking up that time slot. If you cancel and the tutor is unable to fill that slot, the tutor has lost some of his/her anticipated income for that day. In the case of illness or an unexpected emergency, most tutors will allow you to make up that tutoring session at another time. Also, you should know what the tutor's policy is if he/she has to cancel on you. You should receive a make-up lesson or a refund for that session. If a tutor cancels on you more than 3 times in a semester, then you should consider looking for another tutor.