25 Questions to Ask a Mentor

Whenever I’m asked “What are some of the best questions to ask a mentor?” I like to share this simple model for making the most out of every mentoring conversation.

To maximize the benefits of the relationship, come prepared to every conversation. It’s a way to show appreciation for your mentor and their time and commitment to you. Ultimately, both of you should leave every conversation feeling like it was time well spent. All it takes is a few minutes of thoughtful preparation.

Here’s how it works: Before every meeting with your mentor, prepare one question from each of these categories: stories, situations, self-awareness, and skill building.

In my workshops and group coaching programs, I like to share those categories, and then ask the participants to compile their own questions to ask a mentor. Here are some good ones they’ve come up with recently:

Stories

Ask your mentor to tell a story from his or her career. Some questions to consider:

  1. How did you land your current role?
  2. Think back to five years ago. Did you envision this is where you would be?
  3. Can you tell me about a time when you had a difficult boss? How did you handle it?
  4. How did you learn to embrace failure?
  5. What’s the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned and how is it valuable?
  6. Tell me about a recent setback and how you recovered?
  7. Was there ever a job position that you applied for and got, but you weren’t 100% qualified?
  8. How did you build the skill of always speaking so engagingly in front of others?


Situations

Identify a challenging situation and share it with the mentor. Ask your mentor to act as a sounding board. Some questions to consider:

  1. I’m considering a career transition. What do you see as the pros and cons?
  2. Who are the people I need to align with in this organization to achieve success?
  3. What advice can you offer on how to progress in my career?
  4. How do you successfully stay connected to key influencers who do not work in same office or geographical area?
  5. When trying to gain buy-in to implement a new program, what tactics have worked for you?

Self-awareness

Ask a question that invites your mentor to contribute to your self-awareness. Some questions to consider:

  1. Where do you see my strengths and what should I focus on to improve?
  2. What do you see as some of my blind spots?
  3. How do you think others perceive me?
  4. How I am viewed by leadership?
  5. Do I come across as poised and calm?
  6. How am I viewed (i.e., what’s my personal brand) in our organization?
  7. Did everyone understand what I presented at the last meeting?
  8. How could I have communicated my idea more clearly?


Skill-building

Identify a skill you currently want to develop, and ask your mentor for advice or resources. Some questions to consider:

  1. How do you approach risk-taking?
  2. What new skills do I need to move ahead?
  3. How can I become a more assertive negotiator?
  4. How can I become better at managing people who do not report to me?

Which of these questions could you ask your mentor?  Do you have any to add to this list? (For additional examples, try this list.)

By preparing thoughtfully for each mentoring session, you’ll avoid the awkwardness of feeling like you’re wasting your mentor’s time, and it guarantees that the mentoring relationship can continue to be gratifying for both of you for many years to come.

What are your favorite questions to ask a mentor? Leave your reply in the comments.

Facebook
Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Pinterest
Follow by Email
Jo Miller

A leading authority on women’s leadership, Jo Miller is a sought-after, dynamic, and engaging speaker, delivering more than 70 speaking presentations annually to audiences of up to 1,200 women. Her expertise lies in helping women lead, climb, and thrive in their corporate careers. Jo has traveled widely in Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East to deliver keynotes and teach workshops for women’s leadership conferences, women’s professional associations, and Fortune 1000 corporate women’s initiatives. Jo is founding editor of BeLeaderly.com. Learn more about her speaking engagements at www.JoMiller.net and follow @Jo_Miller on Twitter.

Facebook
Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Pinterest
Follow by Email
25 Questions to Ask a Mentor

Whenever I’m asked “What are some of the best questions to ask a ...

Four Types of Questions To Ask Your Mentor

Have conversations with your mentor gotten a bit repetitive lately? Perhaps you approached ...

25 Songs For Your Leadership Playlist

What are your all-time favorite leadership songs — the ones that make you ...

How to Shut Down a Colleague Who Takes Credit for Your Work

Has this ever happened to you? You’re in a meeting and the unthinkable ...

5 Ways to be a Leader, Not a Manager

Have you ever wondered about the difference between a manager and a leader? ...

11 Leadership Lessons Learned

Here are 11 lessons I’ve learned about leadership—mostly from much-admired colleagues, and just ...

10 Killer Leadership Skills: The Great Differentiators?

Last week at Hallmark I hosted a couple gentlemen from a partner company. ...

Influencing Without Authority—Using Your Six Sources of Influence

I am in the difficult situation of being unofficial project lead, responsible for ...

9 Traits of Exceptional Leaders

Truly great leaders are hard to come by, but it seems everyone thinks ...

100 Leadership Qualities

What are your leadership strengths? That’s a question I ask in a survey ...

Want to Help Other Women? Then Talk About Your Mistakes.
Want to Help Other Women? Then Talk About Your Mistakes.

When most of us think back to an agonizing mistake, the last thing we want

6 Presentation Pitfalls That Kill Your Credibility
6 Presentation Pitfalls That Kill Your Credibility

I recently attended a conference in London hosted by a very reputable organization featuring speakers

Leaderly Quote: Unapologetically unleash your potential.
Leaderly Quote: Unapologetically unleash your potential.

“Unapologetically unleash your potential. Don’t wait for permission and validation to lead.” — Dr. Cindy

How to Ace the Q&A (When You Don’t Know the Answer)
How to Ace the Q&A (When You Don’t Know the Answer)

Even the most confident communicators can fumble when fielding unpredictable questions in front of an

7 New Rules of Teamwork
7 New Rules of Teamwork

Have you ever been on a team project where you didn’t make much of a

The Top 5 Most-Read Articles This Month
The Top 5 Most-Read Articles This Month

Here’s what other emerging leaders have been reading at BeLeaderly this month. If you feel an

Leaderly Quote: Keep you mind where your feet are…
Leaderly Quote: Keep you mind where your feet are…

Be present. Be powerful. “I’ve been working on ‘keeping my mind where my feet are,’

4 Steps to Becoming a Powerhouse Public Speaker
4 Steps to Becoming a Powerhouse Public Speaker

Want to expand your reach as a leader? Deloitte partner Jennifer Knickerbocker has a tip

How to Get Over Your Pre-Presentation Jitters
How to Get Over Your Pre-Presentation Jitters

It’s no wonder that for many people, the fear of public speaking registers as more terrifying

Emerging Leader Spotlight: Lisa Bogart
Emerging Leader Spotlight: Lisa Bogart

Every month we ask an emerging leader we admire to share what they’re doing to

Ask Jo: How can I thank my mentor?

Question: I have an incredible mentor. She ...

Teamwork is a Skill. It Takes Practice!

Everyone wants to lead, or be a ...

It’s Worth the Risk (I promise)

This is Sarah. She’s one of my ...

100 Leadership Qualities

What are your leadership strengths? That’s a ...

Leaderly Quote: Great Leaders Know When to Step Aside

“Great leaders know when to step aside.” ...

At Be Leaderly, our mission is a simple one: To provide proven career strategies that help you lead, climb, and thrive as a rising woman of influence. If you’re ready to lead, we’re here to support and inspire you.

Subscribe

captcha

PRIVACY

We will never share, rent, or sell your personal information or email address. Read more.
Copyright 2018, Be Leaderly