9 Must-Ask Questions for Your Career Mentor


Don't be shy, now.

Notebook on a wooden table beside a coffee

Sure, you’re well aware your new mentor is a Big Deal at a prominent company, but did you know they spend the majority of their mornings on the phone to the China office? Discussing what, exactly? And how does that help the business?

The opportunity to squeeze every last drop of lived experience out of a mentor is a fabulous position to be in and, as such, don’t waste it. In addition to nutting out exactly where you’d like to be in one, two and five years’ time (so says M&C Saatchi’s general manager, Mim Haysom), and knowing exactly what you want from your meetings, you first and foremost should prep a detailed agenda, so as not to waste your mentor’s time.

Not sure what to ask? We’ve listed the absolute musts:

What does a day in the life of you look like?
Knowing the nitty-gritty of what your mentor does gives a more rounded idea of life in their shoes, and what you should expect from roles that you might one day hope to step into.

What goals have you set for this year and how are you working to achieve them?
As someone who’s successful and done the work to achieve some of their professional goals, who better to ask about kicking career and life goals?

What’s the most effective daily habit you possess?
You never know what little tidbit you’ll pick up for the future.

What are you best at and how did you become competent in this area?
There’s a reason this person has reached a high enough level for you to ask them to become your mentor – what is it about them that helps them succeed? And how can you develop these skills for yourself?

What were some of your former weaknesses? How did you overcome them?
This question won’t only act as a way of strengthening any similar weaknesses you see in yourself, it also tells you whether your mentor is an open and candid person, willing to reveal and share both the positives and negatives of life experience.

What are some lessons you’ve learnt the hard way?
Nip future mistakes in the bud with this question – and get an insight into how others turn a perceived failure into a jumping-off point for growth.

What positive thing do you see in me that I need to focus on developing?
You’re asking for someone to externally assess your strengths and whatever they see in you, hold onto that and develop it further.

Was there ever a job position you were given or task you received that you felt you weren’t 100% qualified for?
Learning to harness your rookie advantage is a great skill and your mentor is sure to have found themselves in a position where they still needed to learn (if they’re not still in that position).

Where do you find inspiration?
It’s always fascinating to understand how successful people stay creative in their roles when they’ve been doing them for so long at such an elite level. Start incorporating these same techniques into your day-to-day and you might find your own creativity soar.

Read More: A Top Female CEO on the Importance of Building Women Up

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