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How to Get Your Dream Mentor in Seven Easy Steps

How to Get Your Dream Mentor in Seven Easy Steps

A mentor is the quickest path to success in whatever you want to achieve. The joy of a mentor is that they’re someone who has already been there–they know the tricks of the trade, and who you need to connect with in order to succeed. They also know the life lessons you’ll need to have in order to make it, and have a better sense of just how hard it is.

But how do you get a mentor?

There are two huge misconceptions with mentorship:

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  1. That it has to be a rigid formal relationship, almost like an apprenticeship from hundreds of years ago
  2. That you have to know the person already

In fact, you don’t need to know someone or even have a relationship with them to make them your mentor, and it doesn’t need to be a formal structured relationship. You can get much of the mentorship experience simply by studying the lives of people you want to be like.

Find someone, learn their history, and start using them as your life mentor in 7 easy steps:

1. Pick your target

Before you can get started, you need someone you want to mentor you. Naturally you don’t want to pick just anyone–your mentor should be someone who really inspires you to be the best that you can be.

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Try to find people who have been very successful in the field that you’re interested in, and who aren’t averse to the public eye. For this “remote-mentorship” system to work, you need to be able to find out a lot about them.

They don’t necessarily need to be alive though–there are a lot of successful people from history who you can use as mentors that have very well documented histories. Benjamin Franklin, for example, has his own autobiography as well as multiply biographies written by others.

2. Find all of their personal work

Next you need to find as much as you possibly can of their original works. Have they written books? Gone on interviews? Do they have a blog or Twitter? Find as much of it as possible. Their blog and social media will give you snippets of their thoughts. Their books will give you deeper insights into their stances on things, and hopefully deeper insights into their lives. The interviews will help supplement some of the questions you wish you could ask but can’t yet, and you’ll get to see them interacting with another person as opposed to just throwing their thoughts out in the ether. 

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3. Find other people’s work about them

If they’ve been successful, then other people are talking about them as well. Try to find news articles, books, blog posts, and other commentary on things that they’ve done. It’s useful to see an outsiders perspective on how people were successful, and they might bring in insights that the mentor themselves never realized. This is also a great way to find other possible mentors–it’s likely that if someone wrote about your mentor, they also wrote about other similar people who you might be interested in learning more about.

4. Take careful notes

Once you’ve read through everything once, go back through it and try to figure out the big turning points in their life, big lessons, what makes up their philosophy today, how they view the world. Look for patterns, look for major life experiences, and look for things that they talk about a lot. If they make a habit to repeat the same quote over and over again, that’s a sign it’s really important to them. Or if they mention another author, philosopher, politician, a lot it’s a sign that you might be interested in that personas well.

5. Compare it to where you are now

Don’t get demotivated by how successful they are! They started somewhere too, and at one point they were at the same level you are now. Dig through their life until you find when they were roughly where you are now. What was their next step? What did they go out and learn? What did they experience? Who did they talk to? Instead of looking just at where they are now, focus on where they were and how that compares to your current situation.

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6. Replicate some of their big life experiences

Now that you know when they were at the same level you are now, you can start to look for the big things that helped them get to that next step. Maybe they went on a complete isolation camping trip for a week, maybe they tried starting a company and it failed, maybe they read a few select books. Figure out what their big turning points were and then recreate them for yourself. Some of this might be a little scary, but that’s alright. Doing the things you’re afraid of is part of how you can learn the most.

7. Keep the wheel turning

As you go through this process, keep repeating it as you get closer to your goals. Keep absorbing information about them, and keep working yourself towards their success. Don’t become a carbon copy, but absorb the important lessons as if they were there coaching you the whole way. You’ll have gotten all of the benefits of a mentor, without having them formally be there to tell you what to do.

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Nat Eliason

Writer and Host of Nat Chat

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Published on December 17, 2018

15 Important Interview Questions to Ask Employees During an Interview

15 Important Interview Questions to Ask Employees During an Interview

The importance of asking great questions cannot be overstated. Great questions help you discover new things, diagnose existing problems, and explore how well solutions are working in your life or business. Whether you work with consultants, executives, or entry-level employees, you cannot skip questions.

Now imagine running a company where sustainability and profitability depends on your ability to determine the brightest minds and skills in the industry in a single conversation:

How do you know they’re the perfect fit for you? How do you assess their communication skills? How do you know they won’t cost your team in the long run?

You know it already; ask great questions!

The concept of asking questions isn’t new but there is a great chance that you’re not taking full advantage of it. A Harvard Business Review article refers to questioning as a powerful tool that unlocks value, fuels innovation and performance improvement.[1] As a hiring manager or recruiter, how to you get this information when you’re meeting a candidate for the first time?

Ask great questions, of course.

Without further ado, here are 15 interview questions to ask employees during an interview:

1. “What are your career goals?”

Another version of this question is “What types of problems do you see yourself solving in the future?”

This question is almost never asked and when it is asked, most questions are geared towards knowing how long the employees intends to stay in the company.

Instead of asking leading questions that would steer employees into declaring undying loyalty for the organization, ask what types of problems they hope to solve in the future.

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This does two things:

  1. It reveals the skills and interest in your employees.
  2. It lets you know what types of candidates you are attracting in the first place.

With this, you’re able to trend this data to improve how you market your job opening. And if employee retention is pertinent to you, you can use this information to improve the job function so that future employees can see their future selves in this role.

2. “Why do you think you’re a great fit?”

It is important to go beneath the surface to ask questions that make the candidates speak about themselves in their own words. However, a surprising benefit of asking this question is that you’re able to determine how well-versed a candidate really is with the company’s challenges and goals, in addition to their personal attributes.

Instead of listing off accomplishments, an exceptional employee is able to help you see how these previous accomplishment can translate into helping your organization solve its current business problems.

3. “What do you hope to learn from this role?”

The answers to this question can reveal if there is a job-skill match and if a linear career progression is expected.

As you listen carefully and mind these answers from candidates, you begin to see trends in responses that help you refine how you develop roles, responsibilities, how employees see themselves, and what they want their career to look like.

4. “How do you deal with conflict between colleagues?”

Almost every breakdown in relationship is caused by miscommunication or lack of effective interpersonal skills. But a solid indicator of how well a person communicates is how they manage interpersonal conflict.

Conflict management skills is no longer something required only for corporations who wish to settle million-dollar lawsuits. It’s an essential skill that every worker ought to possess and can make or break an organization.

Tip: Ask for a time when they didn’t get along with a co-worker and how they resolved the conflict.

5. “How did you learn about this position?”

Asking how they learned about the position reveals how the brand is perceived by the outside world. This way, you know if your current employees is your biggest source of referrals for qualified applicants.

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This also lets you know how effective your current staffing processes are and which channels are worth the effort.

6. “Why are you interested in this position?”

Again, another seemingly basic question. But when you field applications from candidates who are transferring their skills from a different department or industry, you want to know why the change was made.

What led to the aha moment? What was the internal struggle like for them? What stands out to them about this particular position? Very important.

7. “What excites you the MOST about this position?”

After establishing how passionate they are about this position, it’s not unusual that you would want to know what tasks and responsibilities excite them most. With this knowledge, not only are you aware of their sense of ownership, you help nurture these skills by encouraging and facilitating the discovery of hidden potential in your employees.

For example, a hospital nurse might detest inserting intravenous catheters in patients but jump at the task of motivating colleagues and initiating stress-reduction activities on hospital units. An office employee might cringe at the thought of public speaking but excel at creating world-class presentations.

While you can’t exempt your employee from every task in the role because they favor one thing over another, you are more aware of how rich your existing talent pool is in your organization and can utilize your talents effectively.

8. “What do you consider your weakness?”

Why should you ask a candidate what his or her weakness is when all you want is someone perfect?

Admitting a weakness shouldn’t automatically disqualify a candidate. Rather, it reveals to you how self-aware the candidate is.

Self-awareness is essential to personal and professional development, and this is sometimes a precursor to how self-directed a person is regarding their career goals.

There are arguments about the need to abolish the weakness question from interviews because it reduces candidates’ accomplishments. I disagree.

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Asking employees about weaknesses lets you understand your employees better so you can not only create a work environment that is smart, you’re able to design professional development programs that can strengthen these weaknesses.

9. “What will you find challenging about this position?”

Maybe you don’t want to ask the ”weakness question.” Maybe you’re more concerned about the capacity to perform in the current job rather than their job history.

Still, you want to know if you have a creative problem solver and how they feel about potential problems when they arise. You also want to anticipate how your employees will adjust to their roles once they are successfully hired. Self-awareness about one’s ability and limits can be observed by asking this question during an interview.

Note: This question should never be asked with a malicious intent. Exceptional employees come with flaws and this should be expected. They key is knowing whether the successful candidate is willing to be a problem solver.

10. “What additional support will you need during your transition?”

This is a very important question during the interview question because not only is the labor market diverse, the response to this question can be used to develop the orientation process and additional training materials.

As a mentor to newer nurses, this is a question I repeat more than 50 percent of the time during the orientation period. The responses I get provide me with insights into what employees really consider as constraints so that I can make their transition as smooth as possible.

11. “What qualities do you desire in a leader or manager?”

Not everyone desires a manager who provides direction while giving you free rein to make your job your own. At the same time, some employees might prefer a manager who is detail-oriented and provides all the answers.

Knowing this before a candidate is hired can prevent conflict arising from differences in communication or management styles.

12. “What do you do if you don’t agree with your manager’s decisions?”

Conflict not only happens between employees. According to a study of conflict in the Canadian workforce,[2] about 81 percent of people leave the organization as a result of conflict.

The purpose of this question is to determine how adaptable an employee is to different communication styles, what they consider deal breakers, and how they model desired behavior when conflict arises.

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The responses to this question allows you to manage expectations and an indication for leaders to continuously work on their communication and conflict management skills.

13. “What would make this company an amazing place to work?”

Maybe you can’t provide free lunches or paid hours of free time at work like bigger companies. But answers to this question can reveal a lot about what employees think is crucial to well-being.

In a study of nearly 17,000 employees,[3] it was noted that an increase in stress level is directly correlated to workplace injury. While this interview won’t eradicate organizational constraints or stressors, feedback from candidates and employees on what makes a company a great place to work is the perfect place to start.

14. “What other questions do you have for me?”

Although this is a conversation to determine the best fit for your team, company, or organization, the interview goes both ways. Yes, you are also being scrutinized by your interviewee.

The purpose of this question is to create space to answer the candidate’s questions about your organization. You also get to provide insight on processes, expectations, team culture, and information that isn’t readily available on the company website.

15. “Tell me about yourself”

If everything else seems too much, lead with this timeless question. You simply cannot go wrong here.

Sometimes, the best answers come from open-ended queries. This is your best chance to know the candidate’s history, career accomplishments, and get a feel for their career goals all at the same time.

It is less intrusive and leading with this question makes it easier to approach other questions––depending on how sensitive the position is.

The Bottom Line

Conversation is a two-way street. Good questions can give you great insights into the value an employee can bring to your company. But there is an art and science to asking questions.

While you won’t become an expert right off the bat, these questions provide a good foundation to start from if you want to attract and retain top talent in your organization.

More Resources About Job Interview

Featured photo credit: Drew Beamer via unsplash.com

Reference

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