When you're discussing career development with employees—veterans, juniors, and prospects alike—you probably focus a lot on the future with questions like "Where do you see yourself in two years?"
But you should also have a good mix of mentoring-focused questions as well. Below, you'll find three questions to ask (and what to look for in the answers).
1. Have you ever had a mentor? How did this person help you?
What to look for in an answer: If someone had a powerful mentoring experience, he or she will have no trouble answering this question on the spot and describing how the mentorship affected him/her. This is a good sign—and it shows someone who will likely blossom in your organization's mentoring program.
However, if the person is having trouble identifying a mentor and/or the person says that he or she has never been formally mentored, this uncovers a great opportunity as well. A person who goes through a formal mentoring program (one that lasts 9-12 months) will transform personally and professionally…a win-win for your organization.
2. Have you ever mentored someone else? If yes, tell me about the experience.
What to look for in an answer: Someone who speaks easily about his or her mentors, but who admits to never having formally mentored someone else is a perfect candidate for your mentoring program. In other words, he or she should be easy to recruit into a mentoring role since he/she understands mentoring's inherent value. Not to mention, the person might be interested in paying it forward.
3. What sort of mentoring opportunities are you interested in right now?
What to look for in an answer: Remember, mentoring isn't one size fits all. In fact, there are many different "flavors" of mentoring. While we're big advocates of formal mentoring programs that last nearly a year, we also know how effective other types of mentoring can be, such as reverse mentoring, group mentoring, and anytime mentoring.
Remember, different demographics might gravitate towards different types of mentoring. For example, people in the Baby Boomer generation might serve as mentors, but also be interested in reverse mentoring (i.e. having a junior employee mentor the senior employee in a specific area, such as social media).
What other career development questions do you feel more talent managers and HR professionals should ask employees? Share your thoughts in the comments.