08 Finding mentees and mentors (part 2)

Now that you have considered how you will run the application process in Module 7 – Finding mentees and mentors – part 1, this module will assist you in drafting application questions and associated selection criteria, so that you can draft a call for applications.

After reading this section you should:

● understand your mentees’ needs

● know the qualities you are looking for in a mentor

● be able to draft a set of selection criteria for mentees and mentors

● be able to draft application forms for mentees and mentors.

Key questions to ask yourself

  1. What qualities are you looking for in a mentee and mentor?

  2. What professional qualities and skills in a mentor would meet the mentees’ needs, and the objectives of your program?

  3. What is important to know about your mentees and mentors?

8.1 Assessing applications: What do you need to know?

Now that you have decided on your approach to collecting applications (Module 7 – Finding mentees and mentors – part 1), it’s important to think about the kind of information you want to collect. The level of detail required for applications may also vary – consider people’s attention spans and time commitment (e.g. for reading program information and filling out a form) and what information is really critical to know.

From specifics...

After thinking about your audience and objectives (Module 1 – Getting started), you should have an idea of the kinds of mentees who would benefit from your program. Similarly, having thought about your program design (Module 5 – Planning a mentoring program), you may have identified some specific practicalities such as location, internet access, or language abilities that could affect participation in the program you are designing.

The application process will need to allow you to identify these important factors. For online or remote mentoring programs, it will be important to confirm that applicants have good internet access and IT skills; knowing their home country may also help avoid substantial time-zone clashes! For face-to-face programs, specific locations (e.g. city) of applicants could help in planning and logistics of face-to-face meetings. For an event-based program, you might want to ask about what sessions or activities they plan to attend, or what event-related themes they are most interested in. Start by noting down questions that will be important to ask for your program.

...back to basics

In order to select the right participants for your program, you need to understand applicants’ motivations and needs. As such, regardless of how you structure your application process, it’s important to answer the following questions:

● What are the mentees’ motivations? Are they committed? Do they really want to be a part of the program?

● What are the mentees’ needs? What are they hoping to achieve through mentoring? What sort of support do they need? Would they benefit from the kind of mentoring your program will offer?

● Do the mentees already have a mentor in mind? (Note: this may only be relevant for organisational/locally specific programs)

● What can the mentor offer? How will they support the mentee?

● What are the mentors’ and mentees’ interests outside the focus of the mentoring program – things that can help them bond?

It can also be useful to ask applicants to submit a short (two sentences max.) bio. This can be used in introducing them to their mentor/mentee if they are selected (and will save you a lot of time later!).

Not all mentees will have a clear idea of what they need – and that’s okay! The most important thing is that they are motivated, and willing and open to discuss their goals and work with their mentor towards achieving them.

8.2 What makes a good mentor?

Choosing the right mentor is critical to the success of any mentoring relationship.

It is important that the mentor has the right set of skills, knowledge, and/or networks to be able to respond to their mentee’s needs. In a professional mentoring program, this might mean ensuring that the mentor works in a similar discipline and sector, and has relevant experience to support their mentee’s particular professional goals. If the mentoring program is focused on getting a business or idea off the ground, it may be more important for the mentor to have extensive networks and experience in business development planning.

But a successful mentoring match comes down to more than just similar technical or professional interests. It is also about finding a mentor whose personality would fit with the mentee you plan to pair them with.

8.3 Key qualities to look for in mentors

● Commitment to the mentee’s learning and project goals

● Ability to provide positive feedback, encouragement, and advice when requested

● Interest in seeing and supporting the mentee’s growth and success in their professional or personal goals

● Ability to ask key questions to support the mentee to develop their problem-solving and creative thinking skills, and to be resilient and independent

● Ability to establish clear expectations and commitments, to express these to the mentee, and to ask for the same.

● Generosity with tools and approaches that support others to learn

● Willingness to share key contacts and networks with the mentee, and to source other areas of expertise when required

Take action!

  • Identify the factors and qualities that are important to know about applicants, based on your program design and objectives, and use these to draft a set of selection criteria.

  • Draft separate application forms for mentees and mentors.

Resources

The following mentoring programs are quite different and each has a slightly different approach, as will your program. Feel free to mix and match these and find a format that best suits your style and program.

Stories

Maggie, YPARD Philippines Mentoring Coordinator, talking about her process of deciding what questions to include in the mentee and mentor application forms, and why these were important for the face-to-face program