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Mentoring Questionnaire: 14 Thought-provoking Questions to Ask Your Mentor and Mentee

  • Omer Usanmaz
  • April 8 2024

Questioning is the ultimate learning and self-evaluation tool for anyone passionate about knowledge and excellence. Thoughtful questions enable the learner and instructor to explore new ideas and make the learning process seem more exciting. In education, politics, and science, questioning plays a prominent role, as, without it, there's no curiosity, creativity, and development.

Mentoring programs are no different from any learning experience. Most mentors love being asked many questions on various topics—whether it may be their professional timeline, educational background, personal habits that led them to who they are now, and more. This article discusses the importance of asking insightful and informed questions to your mentor and mentee in any mentoring culture. 

You will learn: 

  • Tips on asking effective questions in a mentoring session
  • 7 thoughtful questions to ask your mentees
  • 7 thoughtful questions to ask your mentors

Developing Effective Questioning Techniques

As one of the easiest yet trickiest soft skills, questioning can become overwhelming at times. Mentors love curiosity, but mentees need to understand the work pressure a senior employee would be going through, and they need to strike a balance with their mentoring questions. Moreover, a mentee should note that questioning just for the sake of questioning is not something your mentors would want to hear from you. They are usually more interested in transferring valuable insights to you. Here are some tips on how to ask powerful questions that your mentor would love to be asked:

  • Ask obvious mentor questions that are pertinent to your mentor's experience and expertise.
  • Vague questions are wrong questions. For example, "How do I become better at project management?" The better version of it is "What do you do to avoid anxiety and nervousness when taking over multiple projects?" It sounds more specific and focused on overcoming anxiety.
  • Never force a conversation. Ask type of questions that are aligned with your career goals. Most mentors prefer customized questions to generic questions.
  • Remember that asking questions is the first step to developing an authentic mentor relationship with your mentor and is the key to effective communication. So be prepared to empower your mentorship meeting with questions that positively impact you and your career development..
  • As questions are a powerful way of mentoring relationship building, ensure your questions are polite, thoughtful, and intelligent that support meaningful mentoring relationships.

7 Thoughtful Questions To Ask A Mentor 

To be successful in today's professional world, especially in a corporate setting, an employee should take advantage of every opportunity that comes their way. To do that, one has to constantly evolve and accept new ideas that always come with challenges. To help employees overcome those challenges and expedite their advancement in their career transition, most organizations in the world have mentoring programs. Here is a list of questions you should ask your mentor in your next meeting:

1. What Inspired You to Enter into This Industry? 

First thing first: Before you develop a potential relationship with your mentors, you need to know what made them choose the job they are doing. Not only does this help you get a clear picture of your mentor's career path, but this also boosts your confidence and self-esteem, knowing there's someone who started just like you and is in their targeted position. As humans are evolved to feel more connected when asked about their opinions and history, this question would encourage your mentor to open up and get comfortable with you. 

2. What Was That One Thing That Surprised You about This Line of Work That You Didn't Anticipate? 

To establish a healthy and successful mentoring relationship and a stable mentorship experience with your mentor, you should know more about their previous mentoring experiences and whether they have participated in a mentorship program in the past. This question helps mentees know more about the hardships their mentors have been through, ideally learning from their mistakes an the biggest challenges they faced. The more you know about your mentor, the easier it will be to find common ground with your mentor as the mentor-mentee relationship evolves. However, it is essential to remember that some mentors can be reticent about certain things.

3. Have You Had A Mentor in Your Career?

Knowing what kind of prospective mentors your mentor had and the mentoring relationship is a great way to know your mentor's mentoring culture and expectations to establish a strong relationship. It can also give you some perspective to set your mentorship quality and mentorship relationship that can be easily achieved. It is also essential that your professional goals should be aligned with your mentor's professional goals to increase your professional compatibility with your mentor. Only a mentor who has had a successful mentoring relationship with his mentor knows the value and importance of mentoring and mutual respect. With the most suitable mentor, the chances are that you'll have a memorable mentoring experience in your life, gain leadership skills, communication skills, and all key skills that you might need, which can significantly help you become an ideal mentor in the future  in your professional life.

4. How Should I Handle A Particular Situation Better? 

There are times your mentor might find it hard to understand where your weaknesses and passion lie. Asking a more customized and obvious question, such as how to handle a specific task or what kind of strategies can be applied to that situation, shows your passion for the mentoring program and establishing your career journey. More importantly, it helps your mentor identify where you need more training and understanding to master certain skills related to your professional development and career advancement. Not only has constructive mentorship meeting the abilities to help the mentees gain a deeper understanding of their jobs, but it also has the potential to make your mentor feel greater satisfaction with mentoring. That's why companies prefer formal mentoring programs to informal ones due to their capabilities to bring out an actual mentoring experience.

5. Do You Have Any Feedback on How I Can Improve My Mentoring Practices?

A study conducted by PwC reveals that nearly 60% of employees who are mostly under the age of 30 would like constructive feedback on a weekly or monthly basis to understand the company's expectations and enhance their productivity. When a mentor gives suggestions and constructive criticism on the performance of the mentees, it becomes easier for mentees to figure out where they need to improve and focus on their learning process. Moreover, it can also help the mentor identify what type of mentoring and study design their mentees need. 

6. How Can I Stay Competitive in My Line of Work? 

Staying competitive and resilient makes an employee successful in any professional environment. Training the new employees to effortlessly meet their expectations and demands is one of the significant aspects of mentoring programs. This question can help you highlight your passion and determination for the mentoring program you're participating in. 

7. How Will Our Industry Change in The Next Five or Ten Years? 

Considering your mentor's vast experience and strong knowledge about the industry, this is a thoughtful question to ask. This question will help you future-proof yourself for the future. Mentors understand the level of curiosity the young employees would possess in the beginning stage of their profession, which allows them to be prepared for the future and stay proactive. So you cannot go wrong with this question.

7 Thoughtful Questions To Ask A Mentee

Most times, it is not only the mentees who are filled with questions and curiosity but also mentors who need to build an individual relationship with their mentees. It can be nerve-wracking to start as a first-time mentor who will be a great role model for many young employees. Though it is your mentee's responsibility to stick up to the agreed agenda and meetings, it doesn't mean you should not take any initiatives to restructure or improve the mentoring sessions. 

One of the invaluable benefits of mentoring is an authentic individual relationship with the mentees. Sometimes, mentees could become good friends and business partners in a mentor's life. There are instances in history where mentees have transitioned from being just junior associates to best friends for the mentors. 

Mentors are not only known for being good listeners but also known for asking the right questions to prompt their mentees' thinking, self-esteem, and professional growth. Instead of letting your mentees occupy the mentorship meeting with their questions, here are some potential questions you could turn the table for a change. 

1. Why Do You Need A Mentor? 

This is a tremendous early question that will help you assess your mentees' reasoning skills and professional goals. Asking why your mentee needs someone like you will let you discover what they want to learn from you to move forward in their career transformation journey.

2. Where Do You See Yourself in Five To Ten Years? 

Well, this is a classic question. Anyone who would like to know more about their student's long-term goals and domain knowledge would ask this question. One of the benefits of asking this question to your mentee is that they could set a great goal for themselves even if they didn't in the first place. It doesn't matter if they didn't have a plan for another five or ten years; what matters is how capable they are of coming up with an answer to this powerful question. 

3. What Is The Most Important Thing for You in Your Career? 

It can be a tricky question, but the answer from your mentee could surprise you. As mentors intentionally sign up to work closely with their mentees, they must know what they are good at. A great answer can motivate you to work hard on bringing out the best in your mentee. So add this to your questionnaire and remember to ask your next mentee before getting on with the session. 

4. Do You Have or Have You Come up with Any Innovative Ideas That Helped You Surmount Any Particular Issue at Work?

As a mentor who gives professional ideas and suggestions to your mentee, knowing your mentee's superpower can help you tailor the mentoring session. Most importantly, this question is the best way to know if your mentee is smart or hardworking. Sometimes, your mentee might have a preferred method of learning and resolving certain issues. 

5. What Areas Do You Need More Support, and Where Do You Not? 

Imagine spending hours to train your mentee on something that they already know. Well, it can give a different perspective, but still, you wouldn't want to spend so much time on the skills they are already good at. This question helps you modify your mentoring practices and change the aspects of mentoring if your mentee lets you know where they need more attention and counsel.

6. How Do You Feel about Your Work-Life Balance?

Your mentee is just another employee who might experience a burn-out, juggling mentoring sessions and work. So getting to know your mentee and their take on work-life balance can help you work closely with your mentee. Generation Z is more focused on creating an effective work-life balance than the older generations. So this question is effective in modifying the meeting schedules and assessments that would align with your mentee's work-life balance goals. 

7. Would You Like to Modify or Add Anything to Our Action Plan? 

Not everyone is upfront about the meetings, mentoring materials, strict deadlines, and everything you have created in your mentoring sessions. As an experienced professional, you can understand your mentees can feel pressured to follow your mentoring practices. So being considerate about your plans and schedule could help your mentees and you get the most out of your mentorship meeting.

An individual mentoring relationship creates an accurate understanding of your mentee and the types of questions that prompt your mentee to go the extra mile to achieve their professional goals. Apart from the motto of efficient workforce utilization, firms also want their employees to take up more challenging tasks, effectively preparing them for their future and current role across the organization. Preparing the employees to level up needs personalized training and mentoring programs.

As most firms are aware that young employees are prone to hop around from job to job, they invest in mentoring programs that help the young associates lay a strong foundation in their specialized fields and help them get rid of their complacency in their career.

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