Questions to Ask Your Mentor

Questions to Ask Your Mentor

A mentor can be a key role for your career development.  Always come to your meetings with your mentor prepared for a conversation.  Be open and honest with your mentor, and always be willing to listen and learn.  You can pick up some great advice.  Make sure your conversations stay fresh by focusing on the four main types of questions.

  • Stories from their career or life
  • Feedback to increase your self-awareness
  • Advice or guidance about a situation you are going through
  • Advice or guidance about skills you want to build

Introductory Questions

  • Do you have a mentor? What was the best advice they gave you?
  • What is one thing you wish you had known when you were just starting out in your career?
  • How did you get to your current position? Is this where you thought you’d end up?
  • Book recommendations for professional development (or podcasts and other media)
  • Where do you get your news – industry and otherwise?
  • What is something I could do to help you?

Resume and Career Goals

  • Would you mind taking a look at my resume?
  • What do you look for in a resume?
  • What are your best interview tips?
  • What skills do I need to be able to advance in my career?
  • What is the best advice you can give to help plan a career long-term?
  • What have been the highlights of your career so far?
  • What would you do differently if given the opportunity?

Developing strengths and overcoming weaknesses

  • How would you recommend I develop my strengths?
  • What are your biggest strengths? How do you build them?
  • What skills do I need to be able to advance in my career?
  • What are your best tips for overcoming weaknesses?
  • What is one thing you still struggle with?
  • What was the most difficult challenge you had to overcome?

Core Values

  • What are your personal core values?
  • What do you consider your number one priority?
  • What are you most proud of? What do you consider your greatest achievement?
  • How do you spend your time outside of the office?

Leadership

  • How do you define leadership?
  • What is the difference between a manager and a leader?
  • Is there someone who you consider a strong leader who may not be in a management position?
  • What qualities does an effective leader have?
  • What makes an exceptional leader?
  • What is the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned?
  • How do you decide which risks to take?
  • How do you keep your personal feelings from clouding your decision making?

Management skills

  • What skills do you think are necessary to be an effective manager?
  • What do you find is the most effective way to manage people or projects?
  • What is the most effective way to coach or develop a direct report?
  • How do you decide what to delegate?
  • What do you think is the importance of giving credit to others?
  • Have you encountered challenges when working with or managing different kinds of personalities?

Time management and prioritizing

  • What is your biggest time management tip? Time-saving technique?
  • How do you decide when to say “no”?
  • How have you developed helpful habits? Broken time-wasting habits?
  • What are some areas where you want to increase efficiency?
  • How do you balance your work and home life?
  • What do you do to keep learning and growing?

Communication

  • What types of communication do you use most often? (Email, phone, face-to-face)
  • What was your worst communication blunder?
  • What is one thing I should never say?
  • How do you weigh or prioritize meeting with colleagues in person versus communicating via phone or email? When are each most valuable?
  • How do you establish lines of communication with colleagues and reports? How do you keep those lines open?
  • How do you navigate discussions with people who have different communication styles?

Relationship building and networking

  • Who has influenced you the most?
  • Is there anyone you’d recommend I meet in or outside the firm?
  • What qualities do you look for in people you spend time with?
  • Do you have any tips for networking/building professional relationships?
  • What challenges have you faced when establishing relationships with colleagues?
  • What is the most difficult challenge of working with a team?
  • How do you work with people who have different personalities?
  • Can you tell me about a time you had a difficult boss? How did you handle it?

Organizational change

  • How do you encourage innovative ideas from others?
  • What do you do to learn about what an area needs?
  • How do you overcome resistance to change?
  • How do you develop a strategic direction?
  • What are your best tips for establishing yourself in a new area?
  • How do you navigate technical, political, and/or cultural problems?

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