This one seems like it goes without saying however there are some people in teaching positions that have a set agenda and schedule that they try to apply to every single student. What you want is someone who goes at your individual pace and listens to what and how you want to learn. Watch out for hobby instructors that forget that they are a professional suppling a service and think that having a short fuse is OK.
Personal hygiene is a must! Dancing is a physical activity that can work up a bit of perspiration. Dancing face-to-face with someone, literally in their arms means that you either need to have no sense of smell or that they (and you!) need to have good personal hygiene practices. The best teachers I know brush their teeth and change their shirt mid-teaching day as well as regularly top up on deodorant perfume or cologne. When meeting a prospective dance teacher, check out their overall appearance: Neat hair, nice makeup (if lady), professional clothing. The more someone cares about their appearance, the more likely they are to have good hygiene.
You want someone who is passionate about dancing, learning, teaching and most importantly: you! Someone who treats dance instruction as a career rather than just a job is someone who takes what they do seriously. Its also so infectious to be around someone who has passion for what they do, it makes you more excited and enthused to improve and achieve goals.
Having a comprehensive lesson plan is essential. You need a dance teacher that will work with you to set a personal goal for what you want to achieve in your dancing. Once your goal is set you should expect your teacher to project the time needed (and amount of lessons) to complete your goal. Step charts, lesson records and progress reports all help to keep you on track to be the best you can be in the shortest amount of time possible.
It seems as though everyone is an expert these days. Advertising, marketing, DIY websites: It’s getting harder and harder to sort out who are the real professionals. There are so many people that learn some dance steps then think to themselves “I should teach” or have done a partial traineeship but haven’t followed through with their own dance education. Ask your instructor if they have been examined as a teacher or find a dance studio that only accepts certified instructors or have an on-going certification program.
At the end of the day dancing is a social activity. Someone who is socially aware and adept will be easier to get along with than someone who only thinks about themselves. If they ask you lots of questions and listen well then they will also be better at working out how you learn and what it is that you need. Basically you will be spending anywhere from 20 minutes to 1 ½ hours with your teacher ata time, so you want to get along with them!