First Impressions Last

Among one of my weekly tasks is the review of the new crop of  registrants on the Tutors International database.

Some may think that this is an automated process, but as the person who has looked at all the registrations since we set up the database I can assure you that there’s nothing automatic about it. Our system has been designed to sort all new registrations into complete and incomplete. This afternoon, there were 22 completed and 1015 incomplete waiting for me to check through.  I decided to work through the 22 completed ones.

Among the information we seek from registrants are their interests. This is an open question that allows for great flexibility and expansion by those completing our form. We’re obviously looking for people with a broad range of interests and some passions. We ask that registrants choose the level of their interest on a sliding scale from 1 to 5, where 1 is least and 5 is most.

One of today’s completed profiles had just one interest – cricket – to level 2.  Really!  Just one slight interest in life!!   Another had a decent list of interests all to level 4. No passions that reached to a 5, and no dabbles around the 2 or 3 line…so unlikely.   Yet another had a long list, all at level 1 or 2. Which either means that they didn’t understand the instructions about the scale (which says quite a lot about someone), or that they have a lot of interests all at a trivial level. It seems obvious to me that if you’re going to be successful working full time for just one family and dedicated to the educational and personal development of just a handful of children (or, more usually, just one child), that you will need a plethora of interests that you can share and explore, including some of which you are really rather good at.

Then there’s the summary section. We ask for about 200 words of self-description. It’s a chance for registrants to demonstrate their command of English, to summarise their teaching ethos, to introduce themselves in their own words. It seems that many would-be private tutors feel that it’s also an opportunity to demonstrate their lack of competence and suitability. Among today’s clangers were these two gems:

“I am passionate about education (I have not stop studying since school, college, etc). My philosphy is that children are our future and we need to investt in our children and since knowledge is power, we too need to invest in education as much as we invest in our market shares, pensions and futures… My aspirations and plan is to stop working full time in an office and work full time educaiton and teaching. This is my way of giving back.”

“I have been recognised though Ofsted, over the 10 year, as a ‘excellent’ – level 1 teacher, who’s strengths in differentation, innovative teaching approach for meeting students strengths, and building them into academic sucess.”

[Note: I think by ’10 year’ she meant ‘tenure’.]

We also ask for photographs to be uploaded. Here, the old adage about never getting a second chance to make a first impression could not be more appropriate. Among today’s fallers was the person who uploaded a picture of a group of people – which one was she? Another was the person who uploaded a sketch pencil-drawing of herself instead of a photograph. And yet another was someone who uploaded a picture of themselves, glass in hand, looking the worse for wear, in a nightclub or bar at night. Come on people, you must know that these are not the kind of things that will impress a prospective employer.

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I have never had the experience of sorting through applications and making decisions. It is interesting reading your perspective. I am one of the thousands of ‘incompletes’. I can’t even remember my sliding scales answers on the level of interest questions, but I hope it amuses you. Maybe to make the job even more amusing you should include a ‘please make me laugh’ question, at least then you will be laughing your way through the endless pile 🙂 I hope in future expansion of your site, you will educate us would be tutors on your own experiences of tutoring, and… Read more »


Hi Adam, Thank you for replying, I do use twitter, and I am used to commenting on other’s blogs, and I find it fun. Of course there is risk commenting on your blog, after all it could be your decision whether or not I am hired, but you will have probably realised, I don’t expect to get chosen, and expect my application to be binned with many of the others, but I promise I didn’t pose naked either with a life jacket or without 🙂 I like your humour; do you have a twitter account? You would be interesting to… Read more »


Loving 10 year….


Mr Caller,

Did it not occur to you that publishing the details of people’s applications is a breach of confidence? – morally if not legally.

These people have entered their details on your site in good faith, and you have abused it.

(And, grammar hammer, if you want to be a stickler for punctuation, that comma above is called ‘the Oxford comma’)


What a great blog


Dear Mr Caller, I have derived much enjoyment from reading your blog. It must be fascinating to consider such a raft of applications and then select which poor soul to write about here. Your time may well have been better spent by picking up the telephone and having the manners to contact those unsuccessful candidates whom you interviewed at the Landmark Hotel. An email may also have shown a level of professionalism. It seems easy to mock on this site, but basic manners cost nothing. It is thus rather interesting how none of the TI adverts ever mention a need… Read more »