Saturday, July 28, 2007

Interviewing For A Mentor - Page 3

What Questions Should You Ask To Find About Mentorship During Interviews?

While your primary goal during the interview process should be to sell yourself to the company, savvy candidates also use the process to learn if the opportunity and company are a good fit. One of the key items to look for should be mentorship opportunities.

Since you probably realize it’s not wise just to blurt out during an interview “Will you be my mentor?”, you’ll want to look for clues and ask a few pointed questions during the process.

Some direct questions to help discover mentors:
  1. Does your company have a mentorship program?” - Some companies have a formalized program to match senior managers with employees for a formalized mentorship program.
  2. One thing I’m looking for in my next employer is a great mentor. Do you have a mentor at the company? How were you able to find a great mentor here?
  3. Ask your network: Ask your contacts who work at the company, or contact others in your Linkedin network who work at the company. It’s ok to be direct here by asking contacts that you’re considering a position at their company, and you wanted to learn how your contact found a mentor at the company.” If you’re going through Linkedin, and you get a high percentage of non-responses, that may tell you something about mentorship opportunities at your target company.
More likely, you’ll find your answers more indirectly:
  1. Ask HR: What resources does the company provide to help employees succeed and increase company contribution?
  2. Ask the hiring manager: I’m interested to learn how you rose through your career at this company. What were some of the key factors of your success here?
  3. Ask the hiring manager’s boss (or boss’ boss): How do you develop employees for advancement?
  4. Ask Team members, your network, and your Linkedin contacts at the company: How do people stand out here? How have you navigated the internal politics here? How does management develop and choose employees for promotion?
The goal of mentorship questions isn’t to find a VP who’s willing to sponsor you after 5 minutes - That’s not very realistic. Instead, look to see if the managers you’ll be working for view mentorship as valuable in their organizations. Seek out peers to see how difficult the organization made it to find mentors, and if the company supports and promotes these types of professional relationships.

The New York Times Article quoted Joe Watson, chief executive of Without Excuses (a diversity consulting firm) who added: "Too many workers are waiting for the equivalent of the 'Career Fairy' to come down and appoint them a divine mentor who can look out for their interests. These types of relationships take chemistry, synergy and trust, none of which happen overnight."

Readers - Please share in the comments below how you’ve found clues about companies views towards mentoring, or how you’ve discovered a mentoring interest during your job search.

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