Sky's the Limit 6 May 2022

5 Questions to Ask a Potential Mentor: You Must Know These!



Finding a mentor can provide you endless benefits in life, a career, or even a sport. They play a huge role in success, which is why 70% of fortune 500 companies have one. However, you need to find the right person for you, and the best way is to interview them. Because of this, you'll want to know these 5 questions to ask a potential mentor.

5 Types of questions to ask a potential mentor

When interviewing anybody, you can ask endless questions. However, you have a limit on time. Therefore, asking specific questions that extract the information you want is necessary. The best way to do this is by asking questions about their previous, current, and future lives. 

To make this post more understandable, we've broken the questions you should ask into five categories: Stories, self-awareness, situational, skill-building, and portfolio. By focusing on these areas, you can understand the potential mentor easier and determine if they're the right choice for you. 

1. Stories


Opening up with "story" questions is perfect when you begin the interview. It'll lighten the mood without question while you settle into each other's personalities. The questions you'll want to ask will relate to their personal growth and career path. 

Ideally, a good mentor should have more experience than you in a particular sector. Therefore, you'll learn whether they'll be a beneficial mentor by them answering questions about their story. 

Mentees are five times more lightly to get promotions than those without mentors. However, this is only possible with somebody that can provide you with additional advice. To determine this and learn about their story, asking the below questions can help.

  • How did you learn to embrace risk-taking?
  • Was there a time during your career you failed? How did you redeem yourself? 
  • What do you wish you had known before reaching your current success level? 
  • Is there anything you would change in your career? If so, what and why? 
    How did you develop the existing skills you have?

2. Self-awareness


A potential mentor should have good self-awareness skills. It isn't a skill you can learn as it comes from years of experience. When people have good self-awareness skills, they understand how they're perceived. 

In a working environment, perception is everything. You'll get confronted with lots of different personalities. With self-awareness, people understand how they're perceived. Therefore, they can shift their perception in ways that enhance relationships, careers, and goals. 

97% of people that have a mentor say they're valuable. However, they must have good self-awareness skills. To determine this, you'll want to ask them the following questions. 

  • How do people view you? 
  • What are some of your disadvantages, and how are you looking to improve this? 
  • Are you able to handle feedback to enhance your skills? 
  • How do people react to your mentorship skills? 
  • What do you think people say about you when you're not in the room?

3. Situational


Now you have the conversation rolling; it's time to dive deeper into their career. The next style of questions you'll want to ask are about their situational skills. When finding the right mentor, asking these questions will help identify whether they can handle specific circumstances. 

These questions should be aimed at the "how would You/I react if XYZ happened". Knowing their responses to somewhat difficult situations can further help you understand their mentorship skills. A good mentor can adapt, overcome, and resolve any problem within their specialty. 

Undoubtedly, these questions can vary from generic to industry-specific. We'll stick with generic questions for those reading this post, but you can always alter these into a more niched style. Some questions that you should ask consist of the following: 

  • How do you overcome this and solve an issue if it's difficult? 
  • What's the first action you take when you feel stuck on a project or job? 
  • How do you prepare yourself for quick, unscheduled meetings? 
  • When confronted with a question you don't know the answer to, how do you react? 
  • How did you rectify the problem if you have ever felt mistreated in an organization?

4. Skill-building 


Another category of questions you must ask is related to skill-building. Mentors should be continuously honing their skills to become a better version of themselves, and that's what you're trying to do also. 

Good mentors shine in this area. Because of this, 70% of small businesses that use mentors tend to survive longer than five years or more. But that's only possible if skills are enhanced, adaptation occurs, and you have a mentor offering that same level of eagerness. 

You'll want to angle these into industry-specific inquiries like the situational questions. Again, using the below is fine. However, alter them slightly to cater to your sector for the best possible interview. 

  • How do you continue building pre-existing skills? 
  • When do you know it's time to enhance specific skills?
  • Has there ever been a time when you've needed to learn something new to accomplish a goal? 
  • How do you motivate a team to adapt to new skills? 
  • What skills do you need to obtain to move ahead?

5. Portfolio


After asking the above questions, you should have a decent relationship with the mentor. However, before initially asking or paying for mentoring sessions, you need to see a portfolio. Therefore, the following questions will need to show they've performed the work they mentioned. 

  • How did you boost a mentee's career? What were the steps, and where are they now? 
  • What business did you improve in the most? Where are they now? Do you still work for them? 
  • How many people do you currently mentor? Are you able to mention a few? 
  • Who's your most successful mentee? What do they do? 
  • Do you have a LinkedIn profile or portfolio website I can look at? 


After reading the above, you should have a solid idea of the top 5 questions to ask a potential mentor. Asking these will undoubtedly help you find the right person. However, take your time. Mentors are excellent but finding the right one is even better.