Top 9 Questions for a Mentor
When it comes to dealing with a mentor or a senior, it’s not always about listening. You will be required to ask questions to make sure that you get the maximum out of your mentor’s expertise and supervision. This article discusses some critical questions employees should not be afraid to ask their mentors. It will mostly be helpful for professionals working in the software industry; however, some of the questions are general and can be asked to your mentor irrespective of the field or industry you are working in.
Mentor Questions you may ask
Asking the right kind of questions and in the right way is very important for your relationship to progress, and if managed well, it will definitely have a positive impact on your career.
- Is there anything I can help you with? – It is a question which may help you get a mentor, without specifically asking for mentorship.
- Am I doing something wrong? – You should ask this question frequently and take the feedback in the right spirit to make the required corrections.
- What would you have done if you were in my place? – This question will help you get a broader perspective from an experienced senior, even if it doesn’t solve your issue immediately.
- What is the proudest moment in your life? – It will help the mentor to open up a bit, and he/she will definitely enjoy speaking about their achievements.
- What are the professional organizations you are part of? – This question will give you an idea about the professional interests of accomplished persons in your profession and may work as a guideline for you.
- What is your biggest weakness? – This question can be asked only after you have established a working relationship with your mentor. If your mentor opens up about his/her weakness, you can learn from his/her mistakes, without making those mistakes yourself.
- May I have the permission to seek your advice, if I face any problem in the job? – It is a very open and straightforward question, and it is very unlikely that someone will say ‘no’ to this.
- Have you ever thought about quitting? – It’s also important to understand the negative sides of the job you are aspiring for. A person in that position will definitely know the negative sides of it, and hearing about his/her experience will help you to be ready for those challenges and to cope with them better.
- Are you planning to learn any new skills? If yes, what are they? – It is always better to be ahead of the curve, and your mentor will be in a better position to understand and evaluate the latest industry requirements. So, his advice can definitely help you to define your career path.
Checks before Asking Specific Questions
While these are some of the useful and general questions you may ask your mentor, some situations require the help of your mentor with a specific problem. Before approaching the mentor, you need to make sure of the following things:
- Check whether the question is worth the time of both you and your mentor.
- Try to solve the problem yourself in every possible way, without seeking the help of your mentor. If you have not done enough homework and if there exists some easy solution, you will lose face in the eyes of your mentor, which should be avoided at any cost.
- You have to do basic research and at least google your problem to make sure that you have not missed any critical information or development.
As you can see, mentors can help in many ways, but abusing their attention and working time is in no way acceptable in professional practice. Use these tips to take advantage of your mentor’s experience and wisdom in the most productive and valuable way.