new tutor hiring

Hello, all,

I've got hiring on the brain because of significant percentage of my tutor staff is about to graduate.

The current tutors and I met last week to re-craft our job description with two main goals: (1) to attract applicants who can really wrap their heads around the notion of collaborative peer tutoring (rather than the top-down editing model that seems so hard-rooted in the minds of so many smart undergraduates) and (2) to attract applicants from a wider variety of disciplines than we have been able to in the past. 

I would love to see the job descriptions that you all use when you are doing your new hiring.  I'd also appreciate any comments on how you structure your hiring process.  Last year, we had over 160 applicants for 4 postions.  It was terrifying.  I'm also told by people outside academia that I conducted far too many interviews for that number of positions.  I am hoping to hear people's thoughts both on what criteria you use to whittle your "short list" and on what qualities you have learned to prize in applicants that show best potential for healthy tutoring practices (or at least trainability).  Thanks!

-Jenny (UW Seattle) 

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Bellevue College Position Description

Hi Jenny,

We don't usually have many applicants for work in the Writing Lab, and often those who do apply are reffered to us by their instructors. As part of the application, all applicants answer 4 questions:

  1. Why are you interested in tutoring for the Writing Lab?
  2. What is the most important part of being a tutor?
  3. A student has just been referred to the Writing Lab for tutoring because he/she is getting a C- in his/her class. What do you think this student expects  from a Writing Lab tutor?
  4. How would you work to meet those expectations?

Also, here's our current job description (although we are still tweaking it a bit).

Writing Lab Tutor


  • An “A” in English 101
  • Basic knowledge of English grammar, rhetoric, and the writingprocess
  • Advanced knowledge of the expectations in academic writing
  • Ability to quickly assess a document’s writing strengths and weaknesses


  • Ability to work evenings and weekends


  • Commitment to tutor for one academic year (September through June)
  • Knowledge of the form and function of punctuation and the parts of speech
  • Familiarity with MLA and APA style writing, research, and documentation


  • Work with students to break large tasks into manageable parts and prioritize learning
  • Reinforce learning goals by focusing on one or two concepts in-depth
  • Demonstrate the use of writing resources found in print and online
  • Communicate with people from diverse cultures, ages, writing levels, and learning styles
  • Facilitate learning and empower students to succeed independently
  • Be patient and empathize with students who are frustrated by writing difficulties
  • Maintain calm under pressure
  • Work independently and as a member of a team to tutor students and increase own knowledge about writing


  • Individually tutor 1-2 students per hour in grammar, organization, and clarity of English writing
  • Address students’ writing needs while acknowledging students’ concerns and goals
  • Explain the same writing concept in many different ways depending on student’s writing level and comprehension
  •  Log notes for all tutoring sessions in the computer

Good luck,

 Amanda Karim

Our Online Responders Position Description


160 applicants sounds overwhelming! The first thing I'd consider looking at to "filter" the number of applicants would be increasing the requirements for the position, so fewer students think they're qualified.

Here at OSU, most applicants are a bit naive about what our writing assistants do, so I craft position descriptions that first disabuse them of expectation that they'll be required to edit student papers.

Here's an example:

Position: Online Writing Lab Writing Assistant

The Writing Center is hiring Online Writing Lab (OWL) writing assistants. OWL writing assistants will work with undergraduate and graduate students from all disciplines and majors facilitating their growth as writers by responding to student writing online. As such, this position requires excellent written and online communication skills. Demonstrable success writing for an academic audience is a must. Experience writing in an online context is preferred. However, you need not be an English major in order to be a successful applicant for this position.

To apply for this position email Dennis Bennett (, Assistant Director of the Center for Writing and Learning.

Rate of Pay $8.95/hour


I treat the email that they send me as a cover letter. If their tone is too informal or if they don't discuss their experience in the context of the position description, then I don't follow up with them.

We advertised for this position a year ago, and we had less than 10 applicants for 3 spots. For our receptionist positions--which had less demanding requirements--we had dozens of applicants.

Let me know if you have any follow-up questions.


Dennis Bennett
Oregon State University