The Mentoring Relationship Interview

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Strategies For The Initial Conversation

This first conversation is the opportunity for the potential mentor and mentee to ascertain whether this can be a viable relationship. It should entail more than the issue of "chemistry" and be more about whether this mentoring pair can be productive and further the goals of the mentee. Here are some strategies and things to consider during this conversation:

Get to know one another - this will establish a rapport and assist in identifying points of connection.
TO DO: Exchange CV's prior to meeting

Talk about mentoring in general - both parties can discuss their philosophy or view on mentoring, share previous experiences with mentoring, and what they learned from that experience.

Determine mentee's general goals - this will allow the pair to evaluate the mentee's clarity regarding broad career goals and objectives and what they want to gain from this mentoring experience (i.e., promotion, an administrative position, a change in career focus).

Discuss mentee's relationship needs and expectations - these needs have to be very clear between both parties for a functional relationship; each should be candid about what they are willing and capable of bringing to the relationship.
TO DO: Discuss any work and personal time/scheduling limitations that may impact availability           

Discuss general learning and work style preferences - discuss ideas about how to go about achieving mentee's learning goals, as well as implications of each other's styles and how that could affect the relationship.
TO DO: Discuss mentee's idea of the most useful type of assistance the mentor can offer
TO DO: Both parties should agree on when and how feedback is given and received

Talk about outcomes - the mentee should describe what success looks like to them and the mentor can outline any expertise or experience they have to help the mentee achieve this success.

Please use the Mentoring Relationship Interview Form (online version; paper version) to track your conversation. This tool is to be used by both prospective mentor and mentee.  

At the conclusion of your meeting you may decide that:

  1. You are interested in developing a mentoring relationship with this individual. If so, set up the next meeting date and time for when you can fill out the appropriate Mentoring Agreement form.


  1. You need time to reflect on whether to pursue this potential mentoring relationship. If so, thank the individual for their time and let them know that you need some time to reflect on the discussion before making any decisions.

When the conversation and forms are completed, please send a copy of each to the JUMP Manager: Diana Cornelison, OWIMS, PP II, Suite 101 or fax to 3-4228.

Source: Revised version from The Mentor's Guide by Lois J. Zachary, John Wiley & Sons, 2000

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Steven M. Block, MBBCH
Senior Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Career Development


Rita Groce
Program Manager


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Last Updated: 04-11-2014
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Disclaimer: The information on this website is for general informational purposes only and SHOULD NOT be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice, evaluation or care from your physician or other qualified health care provider.